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William Shakespeare. The Man, His Writing Style, His Theater Oh, and Romeo & Juliet, too. I. A little about Will…. Born April 23, 1564 (we think ) Lived in Stratford-Upon-Avon, a small town NW of London Attended school, studied Latin and literature
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William Shakespeare The Man, His Writing Style, His Theater Oh, and Romeo & Juliet, too
I. A little about Will… • Born April 23, 1564 (we think) • Lived in Stratford-Upon-Avon, a small town NW of London • Attended school, studied Latin and literature • Married Anne Hathaway at age 18 (she was 26) • Daughter born in 1583, twins (one of each) born in 1585
More about Will… • Was successful playwright in London by 1592 • Wrote 37 plays • Romeo and Juliet written in 1594 • Owned part of the Globe Theater and The King’s Men acting troupe • Died April 23, 1616 (his birthday) • Buried in Holy Trinity Church
Shakespeare’s Grave The slab over his grave reads: Good Friend, for Jesus’ sake forbearTo dig the dust enclosed here:Blessed be the man that spares these stones,And curst be he that moves my bones.
So why do we bother reading him? • Huge contribution to the English language • His vocabulary was 30,000 words (average person is 15,000 words) • 1/10 of the words he used had never been used before – this means he gave us 3,000 words! • Popular culture – his plays are constantly turned into movies = $$$ • Universal themes & rich characters that still work today
Quoting Shakespeare • If you’ve ever said any of the following, you speak Shakespeare already: Forever and a day (As You Like It) Flesh and blood, make your hair stand on end (Hamlet) The devil incarnate (Henry V) Dead as a doornail (Henry VI) Charmed life (Macbeth) All that glitters is not gold (Merchant of Venice)
The Epic Poems • We know Shakespeare wrote two • The Rape of Lucrece • Venus and Adonis • Others exist, but their authorship is in question
The Sonnets • He wrote 154 of these • No titles; identified by number or the first line • Sonnets were THE way to express your love to your girl; young men also wrote them to entertain each other.
The Plays • Histories • Plays about historical events • Richard II, Henry VIII • Comedies • Plays that have happy endings • Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It • Tragedies • Plays that have unhappy endings • Macbeth, Julius Caesar
Tragedy • Drama where the central character/s suffer disaster or great misfortune • Downfall may be the result of • Fate • Fatal character flaw • A combo of the two
II. Writing Style • The Sonnets • Follow very strict form • Fourteen lines • Three quatrains • One couplet • Iambic pentameter • Rhyme Scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
Iambic Pentameter • One unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable • Iamb = U / such as pretend, annoy • When a line has 5 iambs, it is in iambic pentameter • Penta = 5; meter = rhythmic unit • But SOFT what LIGHT through YONder WINdow BREAKS?
The Sonnets • Three quatrains • Qua = 4, so three groups of four lines each • Main idea introduced and expanded • Couplet • Two, a “couple” of lines • Signals a “turn” in the meaning of the poem
Sonnet 18 • Look at rhyme scheme • Watch the main idea develop • The turn (couplet) at the end
Romeo & Juliet • Written in blank verse • Unrhymed iambic pentameter • Parts are written in prose • Ordinary writing that is not poetry or song • Characters of the lower social classes spoke in prose in Shakespeare’s plays • Why do you suppose that is?
Why is it so hard to read? • Gigantic vocabulary • Weird syntax (word order) • We say: The cow jumped over the moon. • He says: Over the moon jumped the cow. • We say: Why do you call for a sword? • He says: Why call you for a sword? • Words change in meaning over time • Soft used to mean “wait a minute” • Nice used to mean “stupid”
III. His Theater: The Globe • Opened in 1599 • Cost: 2 pennies to sit on a wooden bench, 1 penny to stand on ground in the pit • Plays produced for the general public • Roofless, open air theater with no restrooms
Theater Design • A flag would fly to signify performances • Stage was raised so audience members could not join in fight/battle scenes • Trap door in bottom of stage – characters from hell. • Second level gallery, upper stage (balcony scene in R&J)
Much Different from Today! • Plays could only be presented during daylight hours – no lighting! • No scenery • Very elaborate costumes • Male actors only – even for female roles • Audience members were active – yelling, throwing food on stage, etc.
The Globe’s History • Burned down in 1613 during a performance of Henry VIII when a cannon fired and ignited the thatch roof. It was burned to the ground in an hour. • Was rebuilt with a tile roof. • The Puritans closed all theaters in 1642 • Globe was torn down in 1644. • Has been rebuilt in London and you can see performances there today.
Acting Profession • Repertory theater • Several plays running at the same time • Actors had to know more than one part • Several skills required • Singing • Playing instruments • Dancing • Fencing
Theater Terminology • Pit – uncovered courtyard in front of the stage • Groundlings – people who paid 1 penny to stand in the pit and watch the play • Galleries – areas of seating for wealthy • Tiring House – area behind stage used for dressing rooms and storage
IV. Romeo and Juliet • One of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, along with Hamlet and Richard III • Story came from a poem by Arthur Brooke titled “The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet” • First published in 1562, two years before Shakespeare’s birth • Reprinted in 1587
Romeo & Juliet • Story also from Greek mythology – Pyramus and Thisbe • “…they would have married, but their parents forbade it” (Humphries 83). • “…they would fool their guardians…come outdoors, run away from home, and even leave the city” (83). • A lion scares Thisbe off and she drops her veil. Pyramus, seeing the bloody veil, kills himself thinking Thisbe is dead. • So Thisbe “…fell forward on the blade, still warm and reeking with her lover’s blood” (86).
Romeo & Juliet • Explores the effects of fate, secrecy, revenge, tragedy and love at first sight • THEMES (insight about life or human nature): • There are forces in life over which people have no control (fate) • Even well intended deceptions and secrets can be destructive • Revenge can destroy the avenger and victim
Dramatic Terms • You will need to know the following terms before we begin our study of the play: Flat character, comic relief, dramatic foil, pun, metaphorical language, dramatic irony, situational irony, verbal irony, direct address, aside, soliloquy, monologue.
Flat Character • One dimensional, embodying a single trait • Often used by Shakespeare in a tragedy to provide comic relief
Comic Relief • Use of comedy in literature that is NOT comedy to provide “relief” from the seriousness or sadness of the story. • Creates an emotional rollercoaster that deepens tragic feelings in audience
Dramatic Foil • A character whose traits contrast with and highlight those of another character • Benvolio to Tybalt • Look for other examples in the play
Puns • Humorous use of a word with two meanings • Shakespeare loved to use these but we often miss them due to the Elizabethan language.
Metaphorical Language • Comparison of two unlike things to describe one of those things • “Sweet flower, with flowers thy bridal bed I strew” Paris standing over Juliet’s “lifeless” body
Dramatic Irony • A contradiction between what a character thinks and what the reader/audience knows to be true • We know Juliet is not really dead • Romeo believes she is really dead • Dramatic irony is created when he sees her in the tomb and kills himself
Situational Irony • An event occurs that directly contradicts the expectations of the character, reader or audience • For example, a fire house burning down • R&J do end up together forever, just not alive
Verbal Irony • Words are used to suggest the opposite of what is meant • In the Prologue the families are described as “Alike in dignity” but we soon realize they do not behave with dignity; thus, they are similarly undignified
Direct Address • Words that tell the reader who is being addressed • “A right fair mark, fair coz, is soonest hit.” • “Ah, my mistresses, which of you all/Will now deny to dance?”
Aside • Words spoken in an undertone, not intended to be heard by all characters • Used to let the audience in on the character’s thoughts in the moment
Monologue • One person speaking on stage, others may be present as well • Lengthy speech • Mercutio’s Queen Mab speech • Prince of Verona commanding the families to cease feuding
Soliloquy • Long speech expressing thoughts of a character • That character is alone on stage
The End! Keep these notes in your R&J folder (formerly your short story unit folder!)