William Shakespeare's World To be, or not to be, that is the question... This above all, to thine own self be true...
Queen Elizabeth I – ( 1558-1603 )
Ruled England for 45 years.
Nicknamed “the Virgin Queen”
and produced no heir to the throne
Restored Protestantism and formalized the
Church of England
During her reign, the economy was weakened by inflation, food shortages, and high rent.
Outbreak of the black plague, food riots, Catholic conspiracies, threats of invasion, etc.
During the Elizabethan Period , hundreds of people were convicted as witches and executed
King James I – ( 1603-1628 )
Renamed Shakespeare’’s acting troupe “The King’s Men”
Believed in the supernatural and interested in witchcraft
Religious and believed in the existence of supernatural evil
Commissioned a translation of the bible from Latin to English
Published a book about witchcraft called “Demonologie“ in 1597
Witches and witchcraft were a morbid fascination
Between 1560-1603, hundreds of people (nearly all women) were convicted as witches and executed
Witches could predict the future, bring on daytime and nighttime, cause fogs and storms, and change into animals
If convicted, people would be subjected to torture and death by hanging or burning at the stake
King James I was fascinated by witchcraft
Signs of possession were: trance, change of appearance, inability to pray, visions, disturbed behavior, lack of fear, indifference to life, and invitations to evil spirits to possess one’s body.
Shakespeare’s audience were religious Christians who believed in heaven and hell
Early plays, 1590’s, were mainly comedy
Comedy (and this could be extended to most of Shakespeare's history plays as well) is social--leading to a happy resolution (usually a marriage or marriages) and social unification.
Shakespeare began to focus on tragedy/dramatic themes in the early 1600’s
Tragedy is individual, concentrating on the suffering of a single, remarkable hero--leading to individual torment, waste and death
1608 marks a change in tone from tragedy to romance, light, magic, and reconciliation
Comedies Comedy of Errors 1592 The Taming of the Shrew 1592-94 Love's Labor's Lost 1594-95 Two Gentlemen of Verona 1594-95 A Midsummer Night's Dream 1595-96 The Merchant of Venice 1596-97 Much Ado About Nothing 1598-99 As You Like It 1599-1600 Twelfth Night 1599-1600 Merry Wives of Windsor 1601-02 Troilus and Cressida 1601-02 All's Well That Ends Well 1602-03 Measure for Measure 1604-05
Tragedies & Tragicomedies Titus Andronicus 1593-94 Romeo and Juliet 1594-95 Hamlet 1600-01 Othello 1604-05 The Tragedy of King Lear 1605-06 Macbeth 1605-06 Timon of Athens 1607-(?) Cymbeline 1609-10 The Winter's Tale 1610-11 Tempest 1611-12
Henry VI parts I, II, III 1590-92 Richard III 1590-92 King John 1594-96 Richard II 1597-(?) King Henry IV part I, part II 1597-98 Henry V (1599) 1598-99 Julius Caesar 1599-1600 Henry VIII 1613-(?) Antony and Cleopatra 1606-07 Coriolanus 1607-08 Historical
When in a play...
Only men were permitted to perform
Boys or effeminate men were used to play the women
Costumes were often the company’s most valuable asset
Costumes were made by the company, bought in London, or donated by courtiers
Stage -- platform that extended into the pit
Dressing & storage rooms in galleries behind & above stage
Second-level gallery & upper stage -- famous balcony scene in R & J
Trap door - ghosts
“ Heavens”- angelic beings
Plays were most often performed in outdoor theaters
Performances took place during the day so that the stage would be illuminated by natural light
The Globe Theater
THE GLOBE THEATER
Built in 1599
The most magnificent theater in London
Shakespeare was 1/5 owner
He earned 10% of the total profit, approximately £ 200-250 a year
The Bard retired to Stratford and lived on the profits he earned from the Globe
June 19, 1613 the Globe burned to the ground during a performance of Henry VIII
The Globe Theater –
Many of Shakespeare’s plays were performed here
The stage was a large, rectangle that jutted out into the yard
Held 2,000-3,000 people tightly packed
An open playhouse with a wooden structure three stories high
It was shaped like a 16 sided polygon
General admission = 1 Penny entitled a spectator to be a “groundling”-someone who could stand in the yard.
More expensive seats were in the roofed galleries and most expensive seats were chairs set right on the stage along its two sides
Rebuilt in 1900’s
Only men and boys allowed onstage
Young boys whose voices had not changed play women’s roles
It would have been considered indecent for a woman to appear on stage
Settings > references in dialogue
Plenty of props
Fast-paced, colorful>2 hours!
Wealthy got benches
“ Groundlings”>poorer people stood and watched from the courtyard (“pit”)
All but wealthy were
Much more interaction than today
The Cost of a Show
1 shilling to stand
2 shillings to sit in the balcony
1 shilling was 10% of their weekly income
10% of a teacher’s weekly salary
The Man That Would Be Shakespeare
He wrote 37 plays &
He started out as an actor
Background of the Bard
Born April, 1564 in Stratford on Avon
Parents John & Mary Shakespeare
Educated at Stratford Grammar School
Learned business as an apprentice for his father
Married Anne Hathaway November 28, 1582
She was 8 years his senior and 3 months pregnant when they married
The Tragic Hero
Aristotle’s Definition of Tragedy
A man of high standard who falls from that high because of a tragic flaw that has affected many ”
***Macbeth is one of the most famous examples of the tragic hero.
Ordinary writing that is not poetry, drama, or song
Only characters in the lower social classes speak this way in Shakespeare’s plays
Why do you suppose that is?
WHAT DID HE JUST SAY? Did people really talk this way? Prose - language without metrical structure Verse - poetic language and style Blank Verse : unrhymed iambic pentameter. Iambic Pentameter : five beats of alternating unstressed and stressed syllables; ten syllables per line. 'So fair / and foul / a day / I have / not seen '
What just happened?
Shakespeare will be some of the most difficult reading you will ever attempt. BE PATIENT!
Middle English vs. Modern English
Read the Introduction
Read everything twice
First time- try reading without looking at footnotes, mark any interesting or difficult items
4. Try reading aloud
5. Look up words you don’t know
6. Keep a list of characters
Set in Scotland
Written for King James I (formerly of Scotland, now England)
Queen of Denmark (James’s sister) was visiting
Shakespeare researched The Chronicles –
Banquo is an ancestor of King James I
Macbeth The tragedy of
“ The Scottish Play”
It is believed to be bad luck to even squeak the word ‘ Macbeth ’ in a theatre
Legend has it you will lose all your friends involved in the production—horribly.
Since 1606, hundreds of actors, stage crew, etc. have been hurt or have died during the production of this play.
It is believed that Shakespeare included black magic spells in the incantations of the weird sisters.
People refer to this play as “the Scottish Play”
The only remedy to get rid of this curse is that the offender must step outside, turn around three times, spit, and whisper a foul word, and wait for permission to re-enter the theater.