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William Shakespeare 1564-1616. “All the world 's a stage, / And all the men and women merely players.”——. Born in Stratford The 3 rd of 8 kids Married at age 18 (his wife was 26) Worked as an actor By 1594 at least 6 plays had been published. Shakespeare’s Life.

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William shakespeare 1564 1616

William Shakespeare1564-1616

“All the world 's a stage, /

And all the men and women

merely players.”——

William shakespeare 1564 1616

  • Worked as an actor

  • By 1594 at least 6

    plays had been


  • Shakespeare s life
    Shakespeare’s Life

    • Perhaps the most brilliant author in the English language.

    • Incredibly well-developed characters. He was tremendously perceptive in creating complex character with a full range of emotions and internal conflicts, intensely, deeply rich in psychological reality.

    • Exquisite use of poetic language.

    Shakespeare s life1
    Shakespeare’s Life

    • Plays are phenomenally well-crafted, and structurally, nearly flawless.

    • Thematically, Shakespeare is unmatched in his ability to touch the human soul, and to speak lucidly and profoundly to human lives.

    • Most quoted, most translated of any author on earth.

    Shakespeare s life2
    Shakespeare’s Life

    • He left London when he was about 50 years old, and went back to Stratford-upon-Avon, after investing in real estate, and buying the best house in town. He died in 1616, near his birthday, April 23rd, at age 52. He is buried in Stratford, in Holy Trinity Church.

    • He did not want to be buried in Westminster’s Abbey, in London, where many of England’s famous artists are buried. On his tombstone is the following verse:*

      Good friend for Jesus’ sake forebear

      To dig the dust enclosed here

      Blest be the man who spares these stones

      And curst be he that moves my bones

    Shakespeare s life3
    Shakespeare’s Life

    • In his will, he mysteriously left his wife his “second best bed.” His property largely went to his eldest daughter, Susanna.

    • Shakespeare did not think of himself as an intellectual, and during his life didn’t go out of his way to have his plays published. Although during his life some of the plays were published as quartos, individual versions of plays that folks could buy and read.

    • He did publish—with great success—his longer poems, and he published his sonnets in 1609; some believe they are autobiographical, although there is no concrete support for this, as Shakespeare left almost no personal correspondence or diaries.

    • For the most part, Shakespeare felt that plays were meant to be performed rather than read. After his death, his more intellectual friends did publish his plays in folio versions—something like a modern collection.*

    Queen elizabeth
    Queen Elizabeth

    What do you think she was like?

    Elizabethan fashion
    Elizabethan Fashion

    "She must be stifling in that thing"

    Elizabethan england
    Elizabethan England

    • Shakespeare’s life straddles the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I of England. This was England’s Renaissance.

    • The word renaissance means “rebirth.” During this time in Europe, there was a rebirth of humanism, or the classical ideal that humans were heroic, although certainly below the gods.

    • England, in a battle with Spain, had sunk the Spanish Armada in 1588, and had established itself as a world power. To control the seas meant control of world power, for there was an enormous economic expansion based largely on maritime trade.

    • This was a time of prosperity in Europe. Individual countries were gaining autonomy and power. They were actively trading with each other, with Russia, the New World, and the Far East and India. It was a time of nationalism, exploration and discovery.

    Elizabethan england1
    Elizabethan England

    • During this time, England became the most powerful country in the Western world, and would remain so until the end of the 19th century.

    • England was beginning to colonize the new world. The discovery of America and the presence of inhabitants very different from themselves in other parts of the world was a wonder to Europeans.

    • Elizabeth commissioned Sir Francis Drake (1577-1580) to circumnavigate the world, which he does in a really tiny little boat, The Golden Hind. He reportedly landed in San Francisco, and crossed the Pacific to return to England and glory.

    • Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, was inspired by a shipwreck bound for Jamestown colony in 1610.

    • This new wealth and rising merchant class fed into the intellectual pool of Elizabethan England. This rising bourgeoisie were interested purchasing tickets for plays, and sponsoring poets, musicians, and the arts.*

    Elizabethan england2
    Elizabethan England

    • The discoveries were not only of new continents and new wealth.

    • The Protestant Reformation had come about in 1517, and the authority of the Roman Catholic church was eroded. Kings and nations were making decisions on their own.

    • Henry VIII, Elizabeth’s father, was instrumental in dismantling the control of the Church over everyday affairs in England. He established the Church of England, and placed himself at the head of it, destroying all relics of Catholicism in churches, and ending ecclesiastic courts.

    • He seized all lands and property of the clergy, greatly increasing his own personal wealth, but also adding to the overall economy of England.

    • The door was now open to question Church teachings in areas of science as well as theology.*

    Elizabethan england3
    Elizabethan England

    • The world was opening up to new ideas, and in Shakespeare’s plays you see some of the old concepts questioned:

      The Divine Right of Kings

      Chain of Being

      Divine Providence

    • More and more, the individual human being was seen as taking a more active role in his or her own life.

    • In theater, especially notable in Shakespeare’s plays, was a new depth of characterization, requiring a new type of acting style. Now, actors had to embody the character, rather than simply orate lines.

    • This was reflected in Renaissance art as well as literature, where the human figure is more prominent, more realistically portrayed, and more powerfully depicted than ever before.*

    Elizabethan england4
    Elizabethan England

    • Henry VIII had six wives. He divorced two, executed two, one died, and one outlived him. Elizabeth I was the daughter of Anne Boleyn, whom Henry had executed. No wonder Elizabeth never married!

    • Elizabeth I came to the throne in 1558 after her half-brother Edward VI and half-sister Mary I (Bloody Mary) died, and a usurper to the throne, Lady Jane Grey (granddaughter to Henry’s sister) is executed. Elizabeth’s reign, remarkably, would be irenic.

    Elizabethan england5
    Elizabethan England

    • The Elizabethan Age is the time that she ruled,1558-1603. Elizabeth was known as “The Virgin Queen,” although she did have many admirers. The state of Virginia is named for her.

    • Before she reached menopause, she was pressed to marry. She refused, although there were efforts to wed her to princes of France and Spain. When these and other suitors failed to win her, and she passed the age of childbearing, the spin doctors of the time hailed her virginity. She never publicly discussed her choice.*

    Elizabethan england6
    Elizabethan England

    • James I, who succeeded her in 1603, was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, a distant cousin of Elizabeth, whom Elizabeth also had executed for treason. James had been King of Scotland, and his coronation united the two countries, ending centuries of strive between them.

    • During his reign, he commissioned the King James Bible, which is why this translation of the Bible sounds so much like Shakespearean English. Prior to Henry VIII and the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church had forbidden translation of the Bible into the vernacular. This was why, although no longer spoken, Latin was taught at the elementary school level—in order to read the Holy Scriptures.

    • Although James’ reign is relatively peaceful, he is not a man of the people, as was Elizabeth. He also advocates the absolute power of kings, which will not help his heir, Charles I, who will lose his head for such notions.*

    Elizabethan england7
    Elizabethan England

    • Life in London during Elizabethan times was pretty dirty. The city contained around 400 thousand people by Shakespeare’s time, who crowded into a very small part of the present day city. People rarely bathed, and there was no indoor plumbing.

    • When the water supply became tainted, typhus and cholera spread mercilessly through the town.

    • London was also hit by recurrences of the Black Plague, and when there were outbreaks, the theaters would close down. Smallpox, sexually transmitted disease, and malaria were also popular killers.

    • People used chamber pots for toilets, and would toss the contents out the window into the streets, occasionally on top of people below!

    • Beer was the drink of choice, for the water was far too polluted to consider drinking! Beer was very popular in Southwark, and was sold in the theaters, along with nuts and other snacks.

    Elizabethan england8
    Elizabethan England

    • There was no refrigeration, and you had to watch what you bought in the market, especially since there were chronic food shortages in London, due to a series of bad harvests and an increase in population.

    • London had its share of wealthy royal people, since the royal family lived there, but there was also a new, rising merchant class, a rising middle class of artisans, who were members of guilds, and many lower class folks who might be poor farmers or salespeople.

    • Education was improving. Towns frequently had church run grammar schools, and upper class members of the society went to Oxford and Cambridge University.

    • Still, literacy rates were fairly low, although this was changing. Books were published and sold to support poets and playwrights alike. St. Paul’s was a popular place to buy these small texts.

    Elizabethan england9
    Elizabethan England

    • Aside from attending executions, many, many people amused themselves by attending the theater.

    • London’s famous theaters, the Globe, the Rose, and the Swan, were located in the seedy side of town, along the south bank of the Thames River.

    • This section of town, known as Bankside or Southwark, could be reached by crossing the London Bridge, the only bridge across the Thames, or by taking a boat across the river.

    Elizabethan england10
    Elizabethan England

    • The neighborhood was also the place to place bets on animal sports such as cockfighting, bear baiting and bull baiting. Other gambling, on cards and dice, was also common. There were many pubs and taverns, where people could drink strong beers, and there were many thieves and prostitutes as well. This was the wrong side of the river!*

    • Since there was no electricity, the Globe and Rose theaters were open air theaters. Plays were performed only during the day, and if the weather was bad, the show was cancelled. A flag at the top of the theater would indicate if a play was performing that day.

    • These theaters did operate during the winter, although the Globe closed, since in the winter Shakespeare’s company moved to the Blackfriars Theater, which was enclosed.

    Elizabethan england11
    Elizabethan England

    • Women wore long dresses, and covered their arms and legs. Men, on the other hand, wore leggings and short pants. Women were not allowed to perform on stage, and all of Shakespeare’s female characters were acted by young men or boys.

    • Often, the audience who went to the theater, and stood in the “yard” in front of the stage were pretty rowdy, and would throw offal and other foul things at actors they didn’t care for. These folks were called, “groundlings” or “stinkards.”*

    • Shakespeare didn’t shy away from pleasing this crowd. In sword fights, the combatants would carry sacks of animal blood and guts that would add realism when a character was wounded or killed.

    Elizabethan england12
    Elizabethan England

    • The Blackfriars theater was an enclosed theater that was lit by candles. It had been originally part of a Dominican medieval monastery. It was located on the north side of the Thames, and its admission fees were high, the audience wealthier and better educated than the average playgoer. Shakespeare’s players performed here during the winter, and for special occasions.

    • Shakespeare also, notably, performed for Queen Elizabeth in the Temple Court, which was where the Knights Templar had once been housed in London. Today, you can still visit this large room where the Lord Chamberlain’s Men performed Twelfth Night for the Queen!

    • The Lord Chamberlain’s men had originally performed at a theater called, the Theater, which was built by the famous theater family, the Burbages, on the north side of the Thames.*

    The globe theater 1599
    The Globe Theater 1599

    Burned in 1613


    • The players were all men; the women's parts were played by boys.

      • --Shakespeare in Love

    • Specific parts were written for specific actors.

    Conventions of shakespearean drama
    Conventions of Shakespearean Drama

    • For Greek and Latin classical playwrights, the drama turned on how the protagonist would act, in the face of inexorable doom.

    • In Shakespeare, there is a real balance between fate and human choices, based on character flaws: Humans being are depicted as being in control of their own destiny. (Somewhat. Fate always plays a role!)

    • Renaissance playwrights also included many sub plots, and included scenes of comic relief in tragedies.

    Conventions of shakespearean drama1
    Conventions of Shakespearean Drama

    • In classical tragedy, the action is limited to one place and one day. There are limits to the numbers of characters, as well. Shakespeare freely breaks these rules in his plays, while neoclassical playwrights in France, such as Racine, adhere to them strictly.

    • In the late 1800’s a literary critic named Gustav Freytag noted that Shakespeare’s plays were tightly structured by act into five separate plot segments.

    • This is now called, “Freytag’s pyramid” whereby in Act One there is Exposition; in Act Two, there is Rising Action; Act Three is Turning Point; Act Four is Falling Action; and Act Five is Resolution.

    Conventions of shakespearean drama2
    Conventions of Shakespearean Drama

    • Of course, in tragedy, the turning point of the play is where the goals of the tragic hero seem within reach. The catastrophe at the end spells disaster for the tragic hero, who is in some ways responsible for his own demise, although his plan was noble.

    • In Shakespeare’s comedies, the low point happens in the middle of the play—where the protagonists seem destined for failure and loss. Of course, All’s Well That Ends Well, and a marriage (or two or three!) is usually the ending.

    • Shakespeare’s history plays usually follow the pattern of tragedy. His romance plays—those that end happily, but don’t have the problems of young lovers as a central theme—follow the pattern of comedy.*

    So how do we have shakespeare s work today
    So how do we have Shakespeare’s work today?

    • Published work comes from a variety of sources

    • Clean copy- copied by the scribe from Shakespeare’s original manuscript (kept in the playhouse)

    • Quarto- printed editions sold to the public after the play was popular

    • Folio- published by Shakespeare’s friends after his death

    Book sizes
    Book Sizes

    • 1. Folio: Sheet folded in half to make 4 sides

    • 2. Quarto: Sheet folded twice so as to make 4 leaves or 8 pages, (9 1/2" x 12")

    • 3. Octavo: Sheet folded so as to make 8 leaves or 16 pages (6 x 9" )

    • 4. Duodecimo: Sheet folded so as to make 12 leaves or 24 pages (about 5 x 7")

    The plays
    The Plays

    • Comedy

    • Tragedy

    • History

    Which plays have you heard of?


    • The Taming of the Shrew

    • Much Ado About Nothing

    • As You Like It

    • Twelfth Night

    • Midsummer Night’s Dream


    • Hamlet

    • Romeo and Juliet

    • Othello

    • King Lear

    • Macbeth

    Early editions of hamlet
    Early Editions of Hamlet

    First Quarto (1603)

    • For Hamlet, the First Quarto presents a "bad" or memorially reconstructed text.

    • Some scholars believe that these came from minor players remembering and dictating the play, although others have discredited this theory. In Hamlet, they believe that the actor playing Marcellus does this.

    Early editions of hamlet1
    Early Editions of Hamlet

    • The First Quarto text of Hamlet presents a much more sympathetic vision of Gertrude; she swears to assist Hamlet in his revenge, for example.

    • A scene between Gertrude and Horatio exists in this version and disappears in later ones. Gertrude is told the news that Hamlet tells in his letter to Horatio, thus establishing her as Hamlet’s ally.

    Early editions of hamlet2
    Early Editions of Hamlet

    Second Quarto (1604).

    • J. D. Wilson showed in 1934 that this quarto was prepared from Shakespeare’s original manuscript or possibly from a corrected edition of the First Quarto.

    • The Second Quarto has about 200 lines not in the Folio.

    Early editions of hamlet3
    Early Editions of Hamlet

    First Folio (1623)

    • Contains 18 plays previously printed in quarto editions and 18 others that would not otherwise have survived.

    Early editions of hamlet4
    Early Editions of Hamlet

    • The Folio edition has stage directions.

    • The Folio edition includes about 90 lines not in the Second quarto.

    To be or not to be in the folio
    “To be or not to be” in the Folio

    To be, or not to be, that is the question:

    Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer

    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

    And by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep—

    No more, and by a sleep to say we end

    The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks

    That flesh is heir to . . .

    To be or not to be in the quarto
    “To be or not to be” in the Quarto

    To be or not to be, ay there’s the point;

    To die, to sleep, is that all? Ay, all.

    No, to sleep, to dream; ay marry, there it goes.

    For in that dream of death, when we awake

    And borne before an everlasting judge,

    From whence no passenger ever returned,

    The undiscovered country, at whose sight

    The happy smile, and the accursed damned . .


    • Thomas Kyd's Hamlet in the 1580s (now lost); this is referred to as the “Ur-Hamlet.”

    • Thomas Kyd's Spanish Tragedy (1587) (Revenge tragedy)


    • Saxo Grammaticus's Historica Danica written in second half of twelfth century


    • Shakespeare also may have used volume 5 (1570) of Histoires tragiques, a free translation of Saxo by François de Belleforest.

    • The Hystorie of Hamblet, an English version of Belleforest's work, was published in London in 1608, after Shakespeare’s Hamlet had been performed.


    • From Harold Bloom, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human

    • Bloom believes that Shakespeare himself wrote the ur-Hamlet play from 1589 and that he made several changes in this version.


    • The Ghost (which Shakespeare probably played) is less prominent in the version of Hamlet that we know.

    Why is shakespeare s english so weird
    Why is Shakespeare’s English so weird?

    • Don’t be fooled by the excellence of the language! This is Modern English! It is, however, about 400 years old, and things do change over time.

    • The most obvious of changes is the use of distinct second person familiar pronouns. Today, we call this “you, singular.” But once this was not the same as “you, plural.” These singular pronouns are: Thou, Thee, Thy and Thine. See your grammar notes on usage!

    • Another change is obvious in the conjugation of certain verbs: hadst; wouldst; and the like.

    • Verbs occasionally took inflected endings in the past participle: closèd, blessèd, loathèd

    Why is shakespeare s english so weird1
    Why is Shakespeare’s English so weird?

    • Shakespeare often inverts the syntax of his sentences for poetic reasons, and this sometimes confuses students: Make sure you can tell where the subject and verb of the sentence are. Think about what the pronouns refer to. This will help a bit in understanding the sentence.

    • Shakespeare also uses many, many words, and is credited with creating many that are now in common usage. He is also good at making one word serve two purposes by using more than one meaning of a word at a clip! (Double entendres, or puns.) You will need a good dictionary when reading Shakespeare!

    Example of old english from beowulf
    Example of Old English (from Beowulf)

    • Sigon þa to slæpe. Sum sare angeald

    • æfen-ræste, swa him ful oft gelalmp

    • siþðan gold-sele Grendel warode,

    • unriht æfnde, oþþæt ende becwom,

    • swylt æfter synnum. þæt gesyne wearþ,

    • wid-cup werum, þætte wrecend þa gyt

    • lifde æfter laþum, lange þrage,

    • æfter guð-ceare. Grendles modor,

    • ides, aglæc-wif yrmþe gemunde,

    • se þe wæter-egesan wunian scolde,

    • cealde streamas, siþðan Cain wearð

    • to ecg-banan angan breþer,

    • fæderen-mæge; he þa fag gewat,

    Example of middle english from chaucer s canterbury tales
    Example of Middle English,from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

    • Whan that Aprill with his shoures sote

    • The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote,

    • And bathed every veyne in swich licour

    • Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

    • Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth

    • Inspired hath in every holt and heeth

    • The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne

    • Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,

    • And smale fowles maken melodye,