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Introduction to Shakespeare. Why do we STILL read Shakespeare?. William Shakespeare is regarded as the greatest writer in English literature. His works have influenced many other important figures. His ideas and words are still present in today’s culture.

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why do we still read shakespeare
Why do we STILL read Shakespeare?
  • William Shakespeare is regarded as the greatest writer in English literature.
  • His works have influenced many other important figures.
  • His ideas and words are still present in today’s culture.
  • Many of the issues in his plays still apply to today’s world.
queen elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth
  • Shakespeare wrote in England during the time of Queen Elizabeth 1558-1603.
  • Elizabeth’s father was Henry VIII, who caused political and religious conflicts.
queen elizabeth continued
Queen Elizabeth, Continued
  • Elizabeth was a strong, determined queen who solved many of England’s problems.
  • She was fond of the arts and was responsible for inspiring others to donate to the arts.
  • The Lord Chamberlin’s Men were created during this time. This was a group that wrote and performed plays for the royalty of England.
the renaissance
The Renaissance
  • The Renaissance was occurring during the time Shakespeare wrote his plays.
  • During this time period, there was a high interest in art, science, philosophy, and freedom of choice.
social hierarchy
Social Hierarchy
  • Society was divided into the following classes:
    • Royalty
    • Gentry (landowners)
    • Knights (chosen by royalty)
    • Peasants/Commonors
common beliefs
Common Beliefs
  • Membership in the Church of England was required.
  • Those who spoke out against the church were fined, incarcerated, or beheaded.
  • Your social status was determined by God (peasant or nobleman).
  • Marriage was a business transaction. Fathers chose who their daughters were to marry.
common beliefs continued
Common Beliefs, Continued
  • Boys went to school, while girls were educated at home.
  • People were superstitious. They carried a “pockets full of posey” to prevent the Black Plague. It was bad luck to cross the path of a black cat, spill salt, or break a mirror.
  • Using leeches was a common way to remove contaminated blood.
gardy loo
  • Indoor plumbing did not exist. People would warn others by shouting “Gardyloo!” before tossing sewage out the windows into the streets below. As a result, there were many illnesses.
william shakespeare birth and death
William Shakespeare- Birth and Death
  • Born April 23, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, England
  • Died April 23, 1616 (predicted) at age 52
marriage and children
Marriage and Children
  • Third of 8 children
  • Married Anne Hathaway at age 18- Anne was 26
  • Had 3 children with Anne
  • Shakespeare moved to London, while his family stayed in Stratford
start of career
Start of Career
  • By 1592, Shakespeare was an actor and a playwright.
  • In 1594, he became a member of the Lord Chamberlin’s Men (later the King’s Men). This was a group that was hired to write and perform plays for the royalty in England. Watching plays was their chosen form of entertainment.
end of career
End of Career
  • By the time he returned to Stratford to retire in 1612, Shakespeare had written 37 plays.
  • He had also written 154 sonnets (14-line poems).
  • The sonnets are addressed to several different subjects. Some speculate that the sonnets hint at Shakespeare’s romantic interest in men.
  • Shakespeare is also known as the “Bard” (bard = poet).
the theatre
The Theatre
  • Located on the banks of the Thames River in London.
  • Popular plays of the time (including those of Shakespeare) were performed there.
  • It was destroyed by a cannon during a production of Henry the Eighth in 1613 and rebuilt in 1614.
  • The theatre is a 3-story, open ceilinged structure with a courtyard in the middle.
  • Could hold as many as 3,000 audience members.
  • Wealthy people sat on benches.
  • The poor (called “groundlings”) had to stand and watch from the courtyard.
  • There was much more audience participation than today.
during the play
During the Play
  • There was no lighting and few sound effects during the plays.
  • A flag was flown during plays.
    • Black= Tragedy
    • White= Comedy
    • Red = History
  • Characters used swords, shields, brightly colored banners, and elaborate costumes.
  • Only men and boys were allowed to be in plays.
  • Young boys whose voices had not changed played the women’s roles.
  • It would have been indecent for a woman to appear on stage
  • These stories are light-hearted and always have a happy ending (usually a wedding).
  • Examples: Much Ado About Nothing, A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night
  • These stories are serious dramas with disastrous endings.
  • Examples: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth
  • These stories involve events and people from real life.
  • Examples: Henry VIII, Richard III, Julius Caesar
  • An aside is a direct address by an actor to an audience.
  • The characters true feelings are revealed.
    • It is not heard by any other actors UNLESS specified in stage directions.
    • Example:
      • Juliet (aside): I can’t stand my father.
      • Romeo (aside to Juliet): I want to marry you.
  • A soliloquy is a long speech given by a character who is alone on stage. No other characters can hear the speech.
  • The characters true feelings are revealed.
  • What is the difference between an aside and a soliloquy?
monologue and dialogue
Monologue and Dialogue
  • Monologue- a long speech by one character that is usually heard by the other characters
  • Dialogue- conversations between characters
  • A form of word play that occurs when characters make jokes with words that have more than one meaning.
iambic pentameter
Iambic Pentameter
  • All of Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays are written in iambic pentameter.
  • Iamb = An unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable (2 syllables per iamb)
  • Pentameter = 5 iambs per line
  • There is a total of 10 syllables per line.
  • Example:
    • When I do count the clock that tells the time
    • (ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum)
styles of writing
Styles of Writing
  • Rhymed verse- Iambic pentameter that rhymes
    • Example: Shakespearean Sonnets
  • Blank verse- Iambic pentameter that does not rhyme
  • Prose- Writing without a rhythmical structure (like natural flow of speech)
    • Shakespearean plays combine rhymed verse, blank verse, and prose.
  • Since Shakespeare’s time, the English language has evolved and changed.
  • Shakespeare used a dialect known as vernacular. Vernacular is the language common people use (slang).
popular shakespearean words
Popular Shakespearean Words
  • Thee/Thou = You
    • Thou art my friend.
    • I give thee all my love.
  • Thy/Thine = Your
    • Here is thy sword.
    • This sword is thine.
  • Ye = You all
    • Ye are mighty lords.

Aye = Yes Good-den = Bye

  • Whither = Where Fray = Fight
  • Hither = Here Shrift = Confession
  • Anon = Soon Visage = Face
  • Coz = Cousin Art = Are
  • Good morrow= Good morning
  • Fortnight = Two weeks
  • Fair = Beautiful
  • Thrice = Three times

Ignore –eth (speaketh = speak)

  • The words “do, did, and don’t” are typically absent in Shakespearean language. Instead of “Don’t be afraid,” he would write, “Be not afeard.” Translate these lines into Shakespeare’s language.
    • Do you have a pencil?
    • I don’t have a cell phone.
    • He doesn’t have his homework.
romeo and juliet
Romeo and Juliet
  • The play was written in 1595 and published in 1597.
  • It was one of Shakespeare’s first plays.
  • Shakespeare did not invent this story. It his own rendition of an ancient Italian tale.
the story
The Story
  • At the beginning of the play, two families (the Montague’s and the Capulet’s) are in a rivalry. The reason for their hatred toward one another is unknown.
  • Romeo, a Montague, falls for Juliet, a Capulet. Because of the family dispute, maintaining a relationship is a difficulty for them throughout the play.
the montague s
The Montague’s

Lord Montague – father of Romeo

Lady Montague – mother of Romeo

Romeo Montague – Lord and Lady Montague’s son

Benvolio – Romeo’s cousin and close friend

Balthasar – servant to Romeo

Abraham– Montague family servant

the capulet s
The Capulet’s

Lord Capulet – father of Juliet

Lady Capulet – mother of Juliet

Juliet Capulet – Lord and Lady Capulet’s daughter

Tybalt – Juliet’s cousin

Nurse – takes care of Juliet

Peter – servant to the Nurse

Sampson- Capulet family servant

Gregory- Capulet family servant

other characters
Other Characters

Prince Escalus – ruler of Verona, Italy

Mercutio – kinsman of the Prince and friend of Romeo

Friar Lawrence – Priest; Mentor to Romeo and Juliet

Friar John – Priest

Count Paris – relative to the prince and pursuer of Juliet

Chorus- Speaks directly to the audience about the characters

Rosaline- girl whom Romeo is enamored

Apothecary- Pharmacist