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Shakespeare’s Writing Style

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  1. Shakespeare’s Writing Style • Poetry vs. Prose • Prose - Ordinary speech or writing, without metrical structure • See letter to Lady Macbeth (I.v) • See Porter’s Speech (II.iii) • Shakespeare uses prose for 2 reasons: • Lower status • Familiar relationship

  2. Iambic Pentameter The poetic form used by Shakespeare is Iambic Pentameter Iambic Pentameter is a rhythmical pattern of syllables • Iambic: rhythm goes from unstressed syllable to a stressed one. Rhythmic examples: “divine” “caress” “bizarre” Like a heartbeat: daDUM daDUM Each iamb is called a foot • There are other rhythms. I.e., trochaic = DUMda • Pentameter = the rhythm is repeated 5 times – each line is 10 syllables: daDUM daDUM daDUM daDUM daDUM

  3. Iambic Pentameter Pentameter = the rhythm is repeated 5 times daDUM daDUM daDUM daDUM daDUM The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step On which I must fall down, or else o’er-leap, For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires! Let not light see my black and deep desires. • Shakespeare, will sometimes end iambic pentameter on an unstressed syllable, so that the last foot sounds like this: daDUMda. • To be, or not to be, that is the question. • Is this a dagger which I see before me

  4. Blank Verse • Blank Verse = unrhymed iambic pentameter • Exceptions: • Rhyming couplets often at the end of monologues/scenes, used for emphasis

  5. Verse/Prose • Averaging out all of Shakespeare’s plays, they were made up of about 70% blank verse, 5% rhymed verse, and 25% prose.

  6. Elizabethan Age – Jacobean Age • Shakespeare gains his notoriety during a time when theatre is flourishing – the Elizabethan Age. • Named after Queen Elizabeth I, who reigns until 1603. • King James I reigns during the rest of Shakespeare’s life. The Jacobean Age. Shakespeare writes Macbeth in 1606 to honor the King.

  7. Elizabethan Age – Jacobean Age • Queen Elizabeth (1558-1603) – Daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Protestant. The Virgin Queen. • Takes throne from Mary I (aka Bloody Mary), a Catholic who executed Protestants in large numbers. • Elizabeth I firmly establishes the Church of England (begun by her father) • England emerges as the leading naval and commercial power of the Western world. Elizabeth I's England consolidates its position with the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. • Elizabeth names James VI of Scotland to be the heir to the throne. • Takes the crown as James I, and rules from 1603-1625.

  8. Elizabethan Age • At this time, London was the heart of England, reflecting all the vibrant qualities of the Elizabethan Age. London became a leading center of culture as well as commerce. Its dramatists and poets were among the leading literary artists of the day. • London in the 16th century underwent a transformation. Its population grew 400% from 1500 to 1600, swelling to nearly two hundred thousand people in the city proper and outlying region by the time an immigrant from Stratford came to town. A rising merchant middle class was carving out a productive livelihood, and the economy was booming.

  9. Elizabethan Theatres • Flowering of theatre. The Renaissance (rebirth) grew from England’s medieval theatre of mystery and morality plays with some stylistic infusion from educated men’s common reading of the Roman playwrights (Terence, Plautus, Seneca). • City authorities would often ban theatrical productions… gatherings encouraged crime. • Theatres: The Theatre and The Curtain in North London; The Rose, the Swan, and The Globe (1599) in South London. • Christopher Marlow (1564-1593) – Tamburlane the Great, Faustus, Edward II • Ben Jonson (1572-1637) – Volpone, The Fox • Shakespeare (1564-1616)

  10. Elizabethan Theatres • Wooden, circular structure, open to the sun • The pit (groundlings) vs. the galleries • Audience close to the actors • Women not allowed on stage (teenage boys) • No scenery, few props, but elaborate costumes

  11. The Globe Theatre

  12. Shakespeare’s Life • Baptized on April 26, 1564 in Stratford-Upon-Avon. • Died April 23, 1616 • Married at the age of 18 to Anne Hathaway. • A daughter, named Susanna, was baptized on May 26, 1583. • On February 2, 1585, twins were baptized, Hamnet and Judith. (The boy Hamnet, Shakespeare's only son, died 11 years later.) • Shakespeare leaves (around 1590?) family in Stratford to pursue acting in London.

  13. Origins of Theatrical Career • Between 1585 and 1593…not much known • It is not clear how his career in the theatre began; but from about 1594 onward he was an important member of the company of players known as the Lord Chamberlain's Men (called the King's Men after the accession of James I in 1603). They had the best actor, Richard Burbage; they had the best theatre, the Globe; they had the best dramatist, Shakespeare.

  14. Stratford to London

  15. Shakespeare’s Plays 37 plays • Comedies • Tragedies • Histories • Romances

  16. Chronology of Plays 1589-92 Henry VI, Part 1; Henry VI, Part 2; Henry VI, Part 3 1592-93 Richard III, The Comedy of Errors 1593-94 Titus Andronicus, The Taming of the Shrew 1594-95 The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Love's Labour's Lost, Romeo and Juliet 1595-96 Richard II, A Midsummer Night's Dream 1596-97 King John, The Merchant of Venice 1597-98 Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part 2 1598-99 Much Ado About Nothing c. 1599 Henry V 1599-1600 Julius Caesar, As You Like It 1600-01 Hamlet, The Merry Wives of Windsor 1601-02 Twelfth Night, Troilus and Cressida 1602-03 All's Well That Ends Well 1604-05 Measure For Measure, Othello 1605-06 King Lear, Macbeth 1606-07 Antony and Cleopatra 1607-08 Coriolanus, Timon of Athens 1608-09 Pericles 1609-10 Cymbeline 1610-11 The Winter's Tale c. 1611 The Tempest 1612-13 Henry VIII, The Two Noble Kinsmen

  17. Shakespeare’s Death • Shakespeare's will (made on March 25, 1616) is a long and detailed document. It entailed his quite ample property on the male heirs of his elder daughter, Susanna. (Both his daughters were married.) • As an afterthought, he bequeathed his "second-best bed" to his wife; but no one can be certain what this notorious legacy means. The testator's signatures to the will are apparently in a shaky hand. Perhaps Shakespeare was already ill. • He died on April 23, 1616. No name was inscribed on his gravestone in the chancel of the parish church of Stratford-upon-Avon. Instead, these lines, possibly his own, appeared: Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbearTo dig the dust enclosed here.Blest be the man that spares these stones,And curst be he that moves my bones.

  18. Origins of Macbeth • Writes Macbeth for King James I • James was actually a patron of Shakespeare’s acting company, which is the reason for changing their name to The King’s Men. • The king was supposedly a direct descendant of Banquo. • Perhaps he is at the end of the line of kings in Act IV, scene 1.

  19. Origins of the Play • The Gunpowder Plot • An attempt to assassinate King James in 1605 – officials found a large amount of gunpowder in a basement below Parliament the day before he was to be there. • Arrested for treason, Henry Garnet, a Jesuit, wrote A Treatise of Equivocation, which provided a justification for lying (a statement is not a lie if it could possibly be true from another perspective).

  20. Origins of the Play • Witches • In 1591, 3 women from Forres were on trial in Scotland for using witchcraft in order to assassinate the King of Scotland – James. Court records show that James actually presided over the case. • James wrote a book about witches in 1597 entitled Daemonologie, which discusses how witches operate and the extent of their power.

  21. Motifs & Patterns • Paradox • “fair is foul,” “lost/won” “happy/not happy” “not great/greater” “father/fatherless” • Clothing metaphors • “borrowed robes,” “strange garments,” “lest our old robes sit easier than our new” • Hiding true thoughts (deceit) • Traitors, “There’s no art in finding the mind’s construction in the face.” “False face must hide what the false heart doth know.” “Look like the innocent flower but be the serpent underneath.” • Nocturnal/dark animals • Ravens, owls, snakes, wolf, scorpions, crickets, • Child-bearing • Blood • Sleeplessness • Equivocation • Masculinity – what it means to be a man.

  22. Shakespeare’s Effect on the English Language • 12,000 words entered the language between 1500 and 1650 (about ½ of them still in use today) • Shakespeare coined 2,035 words (Hamlet alone has 600 new words). A small sampling: • Bloody, hurry, generous, impartial, obsene, magestic, road, critical, frugal, dwindle, extract, horrid, vast, excellent, eventful, assassination, lonely, suspicious, indistinguishable, well-read, zany, countless

  23. Language • Shakespeare’s phrases are now our clichés: • One fell swoop, into thin air, fast and loose, in a pickle, budge an inch, cold comfort, flesh and blood, foul play, tower of strength, cruel to be kind, bated breath, pomp and circumstance, catch a cold, heart of gold, live long day, method in his madness, strange bedfellows, too much of a good thing, foregone conclusion, break the ice, dead as a doornail, fool's paradise, good riddance, love is blind, not slept one wink, wear my heart upon my sleeve, wild-goose chase, the world's my oyster, for goodness' sake

  24. The Curse of Macbeth • The story goes that the spells Shakespeare included in Macbeth were lifted from an authentic black-magic ritual and that their public display did not please the folks for whom these incantations were sacred. Therefore, they retaliated with a curse on the show and all its productions. • Those doing the cursing must have gotten an advance copy of the script or caught a rehearsal because legend has it that the play's infamous ill luck set in with its very first performance. John Aubrey, who supposedly knew some of the men who performed with Shakespeare in those days, has left us with the report that a boy named Hal Berridge was to play Lady Macbeth at the play's opening on August 7, 1606. Unfortunately, he was stricken with a sudden fever and died. • In a performance in Amsterdam in 1672, the actor in the title role is said to have used a real dagger for the scene in which he murders Duncan and done the deed for real. • In 1882, on the closing night of one production, an actor named J. H. Barnes was engaged in a scene of swordplay with an actor named William Rignold when Barnes accidentally thrust his sword directly into Rignold's chest. Fortunately a doctor was in attendance, but the wound was supposedly rather serious. • During the first modern-dress production at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 1928, a large set fell down, injuring some members of the cast seriously, and a fire broke out in the dress circle.

  25. The Curse of Macbeth • In the early Thirties, theatrical grande dame Lillian Boylis took on the role of Lady Macbeth but died on the day of final dress rehearsal. Her portrait was hung in the theatre and some time later, when another production of the play was having its opening, the portrait fell from the wall. • In 1934, actor Malcolm Keen turned mute onstage, and his replacement, Alistair Sim, developed a high fever and had to be hospitalized. • In 1936, when Orson Welles produced his "voodoo Macbeth," set in 19th-century Haiti, his cast included some African drummers and a genuine witch doctor who were not happy when critic Percy Hammond blasted the show. It is rumored that they placed a curse on him. Hammond died within a couple of weeks. • In 1937, a 30-year-old Laurence Olivier was rehearsing the play at the Old Vic when a 25-pound stage weight crashed down from the flies, missing him by inches. In addition, the director and the actress playing Lady Macduff were involved in a car accident on the way to the theatre, and the proprietor of the theatre died of a heart attack during the dress rehearsal. • In 1942, a production headed by John Gielgud suffered three deaths in the cast -- the actor playing Duncan and two of the actresses playing the Weird Sisters -- and the suicide of the costume and set designer. • In 1947, actor Harold Norman was stabbed in the swordfight that ends the play and died as a result of his wounds. His ghost is said to haunt the Colliseum Theatre in Oldham, where the fatal blow was struck. Supposedly, his spirit appears on Thursdays, the day he was killed. • In a production in St. Paul, Minnesota, the actor playing Macbeth dropped dead of heart failure during the first scene of Act III. • In 1988, the Broadway production starring Glenda Jackson and Christoper Plummer is supposed to have gone through three directors, five Macduffs, six cast changes, six stage managers, two set designers, two lighting designers, 26 bouts of flu, torn ligaments, and groin injuries. • In 1998, in the Off-Broadway production starring Alec Baldwin and Angela Bassett, Baldwin somehow sliced open the hand of his Macduff.

  26. The Curse of Macbeth • To many theatre people, the curse extends beyond productions of the play itself. Simply saying the name of the play in a theatre invites disaster. (You're free to say it all you want outside theatres; the curse doesn't apply.) The traditional way around this is to refer to the play by its nickname: "the Scottish Play.” • To dispel the curse, the person who spoke the offending word must leave the room, turn around three times to the right, spit on the ground, then knock on the door of the room and ask for permission to re-enter it.

  27. Act V Frivolity Scene/# of actors breakdown • V.i – 3 • V.ii - 3 – (if needed) • V.iii – 4 • V.iv & V.vi – 4 • V.v – 3 • V.vii – 4/5 • V.viii – 6 • Total: 28