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William Shakespeare

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William Shakespeare biography

William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

English dramatist and poet, born at Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, on St George’s Day, 23 April. Very few of the traditional stories of his early life can stand up to serious examination. His father, John Shakespeare (c.1529–1601) was a glover and wool-dealer who became an alderman, bailiff and money-lender in Stratford and, after a period of financial difficulty and obscurity, received a grant of arms in 1596. His mother, Mary Arden (c.1537–1608), came from a landed family whose genealogy could be traced to Anglo-Saxon times.

Educated at the King’s New School (which had covert Jesuit connections), he would have been well grounded in Latin and rhetoric. Some scholars suggest that he was a servant or teacher in Catholic households in Lancashire 1581–82 (a variant of John *Aubrey’s story that he was ‘a schoolmaster in the country’) and he seems to have known five men who were executed as recusants.

The next positive evidence of Shakespeare’s existence is the licence to marry Anne *Hathaway (1582). The christenings of their children are recorded, that of his elder daughter Susanna in May 1583, that of the twins Judith and Hamnet in February 1585. The boy Hamnet died aged 11 but Judith married and survived her father; his granddaughter Elizabeth (d.1670), the daughter of Susanna, who had married John Hall, a Stratford physician, was his last known descendant.

A familiar, but less likely, legend relates that he left Stratford (c.1585) to avoid prosecution for poaching on the estate of Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote. He probably arrived in London between 1585 and 1587, drawn by the appeal of city life and growing realisation of his own talents, probably as an actor-writer with ‘Lord Strange’s Men’, an acting troupe, in theatres originally managed by James Burbage. A disparaging reference to Shakespeare in 1592 by the dramatist Robert Greene confirms that he was well established in London. Circumstances favoured him: nine openair theatres were built in London in Shakespeare’s lifetime, beginning in 1576, some accommodating audiences of up to 3000, remarkable for a city of 200,000 people.

There was an ever increasing demand for plays and spectacles (including bearbaiting), a situation unprecedented until the explosive impact of cinema and television more than 300 years later. London’s theatres were closed in 1592–94 because of the plague. When they re-opened, Shakespeare was with ‘The Lord Chamberlain’s Men’, which acted at court, as actor, writer and probably director. In 1603 the company was renamed ‘The King’s Men’, under James I’s patronage. Shakespeare’s writing mirrors the circumstances of his times: drama in the theatre filled a psychological gap after the suppression of the Mass and abandonment of mystery plays, the upsurge of patriotic feelings after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, and publishing poetry when the theatres were closed.

There was an extraordinary burst of creativity in drama towards the end of the Elizabethan and in the early Jacobean periods, unparalleled until the literary explosion in Russia in the 19th century. Shakespeare’s contemporary dramatists and poets included Spenser, Sidney, Greene, Middleton, Marlowe, Nash, Jonson, Kyd, Webster, Beaumont, Fletcher, Tourneur, Dekker, Ford, Thomas Heywood, George Wilkins, Donne and the Metaphysical poets. Francis Meres, in Palladis Tania. Wit’s Treasury (1598), rated Shakespeare highly both in comedy and tragedy. Shakespeare’s first published works were the narrative poems Venus and Adonis (1593), very successful and much reprinted, and The Rape of Lucrece (1594), both based on Ovid and dedicated to Henry Wriothesley, the young Earl of Southampton. Most of the sonnets may date from this period. Eleven plays (13 including disputed attributions) are based on mistaken /double identity.

Answers to the questions ‘Who are you?’ or ‘Are you who you say you are?’ could be matters of life or death in Elizabethan England, after convulsive changes from Catholicism, to Anglicanism, back to Catholicism and returning to modified strains of Anglicanism. Three of Shakespeare’s plays (As You Like It, Twelfth Night, The Tempest) do not specify a location, 14 are set (in whole or in part) in England, 12 in Italy (Northern Italy 6, Ancient Rome 4, Sicily 3,), 5 (in whole or part) in France, 2 in Turkey (Ephesus and Ancient Troy), 2 in Athens and Ancient Britain, 1 each in Bohemia, Croatia (Illyria), Egypt, Denmark, Scotland, Lebanon (Tyre), and Vienna. Some have several locations, for example Henry V in England and France, Antony and Cleopatra in Rome, Alexandria, Messina and Athens, Othello in Venice and Cyprus.

He drew on material from Homer, Terence, Plautus, Virgil, Ovid, Seneca, Plutarch, Boccaccio, Chaucer, *Caxton, Bandello, Holinshed, Montaigne and the Geneva Bible (especially Job and St Matthew.) In Shakespeare’s time, all the female characters, some of the greatest in all drama – Juliet, Lady Macbeth, Gertrude, Rosalind, Desdemona, Cleopatra, Portia, Beatrice – were played by men or boys.

There are only two functional marriages in the 38 plays, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Claudius and Gertrude, suggesting that Shakespeare took a bleak view of the institution. Bill Bryson’s conclusion that there is ‘no evidence that Shakespeare had a warm relationship with any other human being’ is probably correct. The earliest plays included the political-historical tetralogy Henry VI Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 and Richard III (1589–92).

The Henry VI plays, popular in their time, are now sometimes cut and bracketed together and performed as a single work. However, Richard III is a dramatic masterpiece, despite the unremitting Tudor partisanship of Shakespeare’s portrayal of *Richard. The Comedy of Errors (a free adaptation of Plautus) and Titus Andronicus (from Seneca) are also early and despite skill in plot construction and versification, there are crudities which disappeared as the playwright matured.

When the later tetralogy Richard II, Henry IV Part 1 and Part 2 and Henry V (1594– 99) is compared with the first, it is clear how far Shakespeare’s power and psychological insight have strengthened, notably in *Henry IV’s torment about the murder of *Richard II. Sir John Falstaff, fat, scheming and disreputable, Shakespeare’s greatest comic creation, is a central character in Henry IV, parts 1 and 2, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, and his death is reported in Henry V.

In comedy, Shakespeare was gaining an increased sureness of touch in combining farcical incident with subtle understanding of human nature, demonstrated in The Taming of the Shrew, which, with The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Love’s Labour’s Lost, was almost certainly written before 1594. Some of his most popular plays were written in the period 1594–99: Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, followed by The Merchant of Venice and The Merry Wives of Windsor, and another history play, King John, now rarely performed.

Increasingly rich, in 1597 he bought New Place, a substantial house in Stratford. In 1599 Shakespeare’s company acquired the Globe Theatre, which burned down in 1613. On the eve of *Essex’s rebellion in February 1601, his supporters commissioned a special performance of Richard II, where a weakening sovereign is overthrown. Shakespeare’s company was never accused of complicity in the plot: the play was well known and it was clearly a commercial transaction.

Shakespeare’s finest comedies were Much Ado About Nothing (1598), As You Like It (1599) and Twelfth Night (1600–02). As a playwright he now reached his zenith, beginning with Julius Caesar (1599), the first of three Roman plays based on Plutarch, with powerful characterisation of Brutus – by far the longest part, Mark Antony and Caesar, and a chilling cameo of Octavian (the future Caesar *Augustus.) The second and third of the Roman plays were Antony and Cleopatra (1606–07) and Coriolanus (1608). Antony and Cleopatra, written in 42 scenes, is a complex epic, involving love, betrayal and conflicting loyalties, and critical opinion has long been divided on its ranking. Shakespeare borrowed from Plutarch and Virgil (whose account of Dido and Aeneas was in part a tactful account of Cleopatra and Antony, their contemporary prototypes).

Frank Kermode marvelled at the play’s ‘glamour … and magnificence’ and the contrasts between ‘melting Alexandria and … rigid, stony Rome.’ Coriolanus, a dark, rarely performed, late play, considered superior to Hamlet by T. S. Eliot, is the most overtly political work in the canon, with a disconcerting contemporary relevance: the central character’s chilling sense of his own honour drives his ambition and self-justification. Hamlet (1600–01) is the longest, greatest, most performed, most filmed, most quoted of all the plays and the one most resembling a novel, with its seven interior monologues (soliloquies), exploring the problem of self-knowledge and emotional paralysis.

Then came Othello (1604), with its themes of sexuality, race and treachery, King Lear (1605–06), the darkest of all, with its paroxysms of grief, a metaphor for reversion from civilization to barbarism, and Macbeth, psychologically one of the most complex (1605–06). Troilus and Cressida (1602), Measure for Measure (1603) and All’s Well that Ends Well (1604–05) are sometimes described as Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays’, where the boundary between comedy and tragedy is becoming blurred and mood changes are sudden and sometimes inexplicable. Cymbeline (1610), set in Ancient Britain, is an extraordinary mixture of genres, full of anachronisms but with fine poetry.

The Winter’s Tale (1610–11) is a complex and uneven work about separation in families: a return to life after 16 years. Kermode points to ranting and pathology in the first part, then calm and acceptance in the last acts His last completed play, The Tempest (1610–11), shows his creative powers at their highest and the character of Prospero, the deposed Duke of Milan, a magus-like figure on a remote island, seems to be strongly autobiographical and may have been played by Shakespeare himself. The Tempest, the most musical of the 38 plays, represents a farewell to his creative life in the theatre. Montaigne’s influence, with its intense speculation about the inner life and its contradictions, is apparent in Hamlet and King Lear and he is quoted (without attribution) in The Tempest.

Montaigne’s Essays were translated by John *Florio who, like Shakespeare, enjoyed the patronage of the Earl of Southampton. The plays are not dated and attempts to arrange them in chronological order have provoked endless controversy. At least 18 were published in Shakespeare’s lifetime in quarto form, and they are of particular interest because of their relevance to specific productions, so that the name of an actor may appear in the text instead of the character played.

A collected edition of 36 plays, known as the First Folio, appeared posthumously in 1623, and the names of the editors, John Heminges and Henry Condell, friends and fellow-actors, vouched for its general authenticity, although the texts were drawn from actors’ reconstructions and spellings and rhymes are inconsistent.

The First Folio includes the pageant play Henry VIII (1613, mostly written by John Fletcher) but excludes the collaborations Pericles, Prince of Tyre (1607, with George Wilkins?), and The Two Noble Kinsmen (1613, Fletcher). Cardenio, based on a story in *Cervantes’ Don Quixote, and a collaboration between Shakespeare and Fletcher, performed in 1613, is now lost. About 750 copies were printed, selling for £1. Eighteen plays, including Macbeth, only survive because they appear in the First Folio. The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC holds 82 of the surviving copies. Shakespeare’s plays are generally far longer than those written by his contemporaries.

The Sonnets were published in book form, possibly without authorisation, in 1609: Sonnets Nos. 1–126 are homoerotic, addressed to a ‘fair youth’, Nos. 127– 154 to an unidentified ‘dark lady’. The dedication, by the publisher Thomas Thorpe (or T.T.) to ‘Mr W. H.’, as the ‘onlie begetter’ of the sonnets, has caused much unresolved speculation. Very little is known about Shakespeare’s life: what he read (other than the obvious sources), if he travelled, the inspirations for his powerful and original ideas, his political or religious beliefs, his sexual orientation.

The richness, diversity and depth of his work led to the rise of ‘bardolatry’ in the 18th century but the meagre evidence of his personal life raised some questions, although it was not until 1856 that alternative authors were proposed. Francis *Bacon came first, then Edward de Vere, Earl of *Oxford. The 19th-century fiction that creative writing had to be autobiographical was picked up by *Freud, who should have known better. Seventy-nine alternate candidates have now been proposed. Three are royal, 16 are peers or peeresses, one a cardinal, one a saint, and 32 are published authors.

None is remotely plausible. (J. S. *Bach also had an enigmatic interior life but his authorship is virtually unchallenged.) Slips in writing about Europe or classical antiquity provide support for Shakespeare’s authorship: no writer from a university would expose himself to such errors. Ulysses quotes Aristotle. There are clocks in Julius Caesar.

There are striking examples of anatopism, having something out of place. The Winter’s Tale refers to the coasts (and also a desert) of Bohemia. Characters in Two Gentlemen of Verona sail from Milan to Verona (although he might have been referring to travel by canal), and from Milan to the Adriatic in The Tempest. The only banks in Venice were mercantile and lovers would not be sitting on them.

Shakespeare was a man of genius who trawled and reworked the secondary sources rather than having direct exposure to life outside England. His Venetians, Romans, Athenians, Sicilians, Ancient Britons are essentially Londoners. Shakespeare’s last five years were divided between London and New Place, Stratford, where his wife had remained. He died there on his birthday, 23 April 1616 (the same date as Cervantes, but 10 days later under the unreformed Julian calendar), and is buried in Holy Trinity Church.

A GPR (ground penetrating radar) scan of Shakespeare’s grave (2010) suggests that the skull is missing, possibly stolen in the 1790s. New Place was substantially rebuilt in 1702, finally demolished in 1759. Archaeology continues on the site and the gardens have been imaginatively restored. Shakespeare’s plays remained popular in his lifetime and some 20 years after.

The theatres closed from 1642–60 during the Civil War and the Commonwealth, and as fashions changed his work suffered some eclipse. (After the Restoration, *Pepys recorded seeing 15 performances of plays by and 26 adaptations of Shakespeare and 76 performances of plays by Beaumont and Fletcher). However, *Dryden, and later *Johnson, proclaimed his pre-eminence, which has never been challenged since. Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, were the first plays by Shakespeare performed in Australia (1800). More than 270 operas are based on Shakespeare’s plays, the finest being by *Purcell, *Berlioz, *Bellini, *Thomas, *Verdi, *Gounod, *Vaughan Williams, *Tippett, *Britten, *Bernstein and *Adès. There have been more than 400 television productions or films of Shakespeare’s plays, beginning with short excerpts from the silent era, e.g. King John (1899). In Shakespeare’s hands blank verse became an instrument of great delicacy whether for dialogue, narrative, description or argument; adaptable equally to any plot or situation, tragic or comic.

His vocabulary was exceptionally large for his time: David Crystal cautiously estimates that Shakespeare used between 17,000 and 20,000 words, allowing for divergent spellings, definitions and ambiguities. Bill Bryson credits Shakespeare with the coinage, or first recorded use, of 2,035 words (including ‘accommodation’, ‘addiction’, ‘assassination’, ‘barefaced’, ‘bloodstained’, ‘courtship’, ‘fashionable’, ‘frugal’, ‘generous’, ‘gossip’, ‘hobnob’, ‘lack-lustre’, ‘leapfrog’, ‘majestic’, ‘moonbeam’, ‘mountaineer’, ‘negotiate’, ‘obscene’, ‘premeditated’, ‘quarrelsome’, ‘rant’, ‘restoration’, ‘scuffle’, ‘torture’ and ‘vast’), 170 of them in Hamlet. His works have been translated more than any other author and many characters are household names. No writer has given more continuous delight or shown greater insight into the heart and mind, although we know so little of his own.

Analysis of Shakespeare’s various techniques for creating different moods and atmospheres to reveal the characters

Shakespeare uses various techniques to create different moods and atmospheres and to reveal the characters. He uses comparisons in characters, the use of language and the use of tension. It is one of the most important scenes as it is where Romeo and Juliet first meet and where we learn the most about main characters. Being an important scene, Shakespeare has made it very tense and entertaining. The scene includes a lot of main key characters and we learn of the differences between the two families. The audience are already looking forward to this scene, as we want to find out about and see Rosaline! We are expecting fun as it is a party and want to know what happens with...

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To what extent is Macbeth persuaded by the witches and Lady Macbeth in his bloody deeds?

The intensity of this tragedy is dependent on whether the witches or Lady Macbeth are perceived to be able to control the otherwise innocent actions of Macbeth, or if he is entirely responsible for his own demise. The play, Macbeth, is littered with aspects, issues and ideas that would undoubtedly suggest that the play was indeed written to please King James, who was at the time, patron of Shakespeare"s theatre group. One of these themes deals with witches who James was quite unashamedly interested in; so captivated by the supernatural in fact, he wrote a book on the subject; Demonology. Although not a "secret, black, and midnight hag" Act 4. Scene 1. Line 48, as an evil female, Lady Macbeth could...

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Shakespeare’s Use of the Supernatural in Macbeth

Shakespeare's use of the Supernatural in Macbeth The supernatural is widely used in Macbeth, and covers major sections of it. It is used to generate interest, and to provoke thought and controversy. At the time the play was written, James the 1st was the English monarch. James the 1st was originally James the 4th on the Scottish throne, until there was a union of crowns between England and Scotland in the late 16th century. Shakespeare wrote the play for him, so the play Macbeth is popularly known as 'the Scottish play'. Also during this time there were many more occurrences when witches and heretics were burnt at the stake than at any period in history, because people believed they manufactured plagues,...

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Twelfth Night Literature Analysis

William Shakespeare"s 'Twelfth Night' is set in a province called Illyria on the coast of Italy. The play is about a brother and sister, Sebastian and Viola, who are separated after a shipwreck, and both think the other has drowned. The play tells the tale of how they were eventually reunited. There are a wide range of characters in the play; ranging from Malvolio, Olivia's steward, who is very self-centred with no sense of humour to Sir Toby who is always out enjoying himself and really just lives a life of pleasure. A caring character is Viola; she is not ne to upset other people. Olivia receives a lot of sympathy because she is mourning for her brother. Orsino has a...

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Macbeth: The theme that is brought up early in this play is fate and predestination

The theme that is brought up early in this play is "fate and predestination". This was very much part of the Protestant belief at the time of Macbeth. Ones future was mapped out to a certain extent ultimately leading to salvation or damnation. In Macbeth's case it was damnation and failure. This theme was displayed early in the play. Macbeth and Banquo have recently been in a tough battle with rebels and have won the victory for Scotland. Duncan rewards Macbeth for his courage by giving him the title 'Thane of Cawdor'. This title previously belonged to one who was a 'most disloyal traitor' so it seems Macbeth was destined to become one himself. But Duncan himself does not tell Macbeth. He...

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Macbeth: Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow

''Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle, Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury Signifying nothing. '' This speech illustrates the idea that a single life, in its whole, symbolizes nothing, and eventually, everyone's candle of life is blown out. The final demise of Shakespeare's character, Macbeth, an evil man, has been anticipated throughout the entire play. Language such as ''Tomorrow, and...

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The interpretation of Romeo and Juliet within the society of today

The interpretation of Romeo and Juliet within the society of today can be considered within a multitude of varying viewpoints. The technology that we currently use today is generally more enhanced in comparison to the seventeenth century, providing greater quality forms of entertainment such as television and radio. Various television programs and movies strive to deliver the same purpose and meaning that Romeo and Juliet provided in 1604, but in a much more efficient manner. There are soap operas, dramas and even multimillion-pound movies that demonstrate equal content, similar to that which Romeo and Juliet provides. There are a myriad of explanations that do not consolidate the relativity of Romeo and Juliet in this current era, one of the most frequent...

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Romeo and Juliet Who Is Responsible For Their Deaths?

Romeo and Juliet are two lovers who are kept apart by their feuding families and as a result, Romeo and Juliet both commit suicide as they cannot be together. The Capulets, Juliet's family, and the Montagues, Romeos family, are the two families that are at war. Romeo and Juliet are not to blame for this but the other people in the play make the situation for the two lovers even more difficult. Capulet, the father of Juliet, may be responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet because if it were not for the quarrel between the two families, Romeo and Juliet could have been together without the fear of their families. "My sword, I say! Old Montague has come and flourishes...

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Irony In the Play Hamlet

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Act 1 Scene 3 of Othello

In Act 1 Scene 3 of Othello, we have soliloquies from both Othello and Iago showing their inner feelings, and goes deeper into Iago's character. Firstly, we have Othello's soliloquy towards the Duke. This is prompted by Brabantio's accusation that Othello has stolen his daughter, Desdemona, by use of spells and potions bought from charlatans. The duke is initially eager to take Brabantio's side, but he becomes more sceptical when he learns that Othello is the man accused. The duke gives Othello the chance to speak for himself. Othello admits that he married Desdemona, but he denies having used magic to woo her and claims that Desdemona will support his story. He says that "her father loved me; oft invited me", explaining...

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Biography William Shakespeare Essay

In the year of 1564 the man known as William Shakespeare was born, in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. The exact date of birth is unknown but is traditionally celebrated on the 23 of April. To Englanders this day is known as The Feast of St. George. The third-born of eight children to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden Shakespeare, William was their eldest son. John Shakespeare was a glove-maker and a tanner. Earlier in his life John had served a term as the mayor of Stratford, was a town councilman, one of Stratfords justices of peace, and an ale taster. John, unfortunately, could not write. In 1601, when William was 37 years old, John Shakespeare died. William inherited what small portions of land John had...

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Shakespeares great novels essay

In all of Shakespeares great novels there are many experiences, tragic or otherwise that one can learn from. Shakespeares novel Othello is not an exception this rule. Throughout Othello there are many examples of mistakes made by the characters that a reader can learn from. Learning from the flaws of others is one way that one can learn form Shakespeares Othello. In the novel Othello there are many of these flaws throughout the story. There are many ways one can learn from the novel Othello. The major theme throughout Othello is that a man named Othello has made the mistake of letting his emotions get in the way of his reasoning. In the novel the main character Othello is a intelligent,...

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William Shakespeares Life Essay

William Shakespeare was a supreme English poet and playwright, universally recognized as the greatest of all the dramatists. A complete, authoritative account of Shakespeare’s life is lacking; much supposition surrounds relatively few facts. His day of birth is traditionally held on April 23, and he was baptized on April 24, 1564. He was the third of eight children, and was the eldest son of John Shakespeare. He was probably educated in a local grammar school. As the eldest son, Shakespeare would of taken over his father’s business, but according to one account, he became a butcher because of reverses in his ather’s financial situation. According to another account, he became a school master. That Shakespeare was allowed considerable leisure time in...

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William Shakespeare – Shakespearean Authorship Research paper

Many persons say that William Shakespeare of Stratford is the original author of all 38 dramas and 154 sonnets. It is argued that person else other than Shakespeare wrote these dramas. William Shakespeare was born April 23. 1564 in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Shakespreare was a lower middle-class adult male. William Shakespaeare. boy of John Shakespeare. a baseball mitt shaper and town functionary and Mary Arden who belonged to a household of the local aristocracy. Besides. male parent of Susan and Judith Shakespeare. Shakespeare attended King Edward VI School. a boys’ grammar school and academy in Stratford-upon-Avon. Warwickshire. England. Overall. there was ne’er adequate information to lucubrate on who Shakespeare truly was and what he did. which leads to open sentiments and arguements on...

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Victims Of Circumstance

The Shakespearean piece, The Tragedy of Hamlet, is a story of many themes. This is perhaps why students worldwide are taught it in school. Or perhaps it is because of the diversification of these themes, and thus the diversification of responses it invokes, that makes Hamlet so well received by both students and scholars alike. Of these themes, the strongest theme, or rather, the most obvious, is that of revenge. That is not to say that because it is obvious, it is therefore simple. No one knows the extent of William Shakespeare's genius, but it is known that when it comes to his works, things are hardly simplistic. In fact, it is believed that the theme of revenge is also one...

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Love In William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare defines love in different ways in his writing as either being romantic love, lust, or mature love. He describes to the reader how love can sometimes be so mature that you would do anything for that person or how love can come between a couple that could ruin the rest of their lives. However there is also the unpleasant love that can be artificial and have its up and its downs. This type of love may not always be perfect. This makes you realize that love does not always have a fairytale ending. Romeo and Juliet" is a play written by William Shakespeare, which has a romantic love, but however, ends as a tragedy. Romeo and Juliet is a...

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Review and history of Shakespeare’s play ‘As You Like It’

    In the aforementioned play Oliver is dressed in rich bright colours (thus creating a sense of prosperity which is predominant at court) and initially appears controlled yet forceful, reflecting the manner in which one is expected to behave at court. Oliver also appears rather rotund and physically unfit, which may contribute towards his poor fighting skills, as referred to by Orlando in line 43 of act one, scene one- "You are too young in this". Also, Oliver originally strikes Orlando thus betraying his aggressive nature, which is also typical of the court. However, it may be difficult to draw parallels between the court and Oliver in terms of the orchard where the first scene is set. The orchard is in no...

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Portrayal of women in Hamlet

    Because of his mother's over-sensual affection for her son, Hamlet developed a sexual attraction towards his mother. Yet he repressed these incestuous urges, stifling them with a cloak of depression and despair, until he witnesses the sudden rekindling of Gertrude's sexuality. His intrinsic wish to replace his father as his mother's lover is reawakened when he sees someone else, a member of his own family, namely Claudius, doing just this. This explains why Hamlet delays in killing Claudius - he cannot punish someone for doing exactly what he has fantasised about doing himself, as he would be punishing himself. He is, however, blinded to the true, subconscious reason for this reluctance, and is furious at his apparent cowardice, criticising himself, saying,...

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In Shakespeares Messina

  The perfect woman has the face of Angelina Jolie, the legs of Megan Fox, the breasts of Madonna and the IQ of Britney Spears, proof indeed that today’s man wants both sexual and emotional dominance over us women. However Shakespeare’s comedies give us hope that things can change, when we examine a strong woman such as Beatrice will at some point dress in men’s clothing as a sign of strength and equality in a male dominated world. But, more often than not, Beatrice uses merely her wit to protect herself, a far more effective weapon. Within Beatrice and Bennedick’s merry war, we can see layer upon layer of manipulation and ulterior motives camouflaging their previous relationship. As a result of this...

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Michael Almereyda’s Hamlet

    This scene draws attention to the theme of innocence and corruption while showing a man at odds with his identity. The scene cuts directly to Hamlets 'o that this too too solid flesh would melt'29 soliloquy, and shows him in his hotel room viewing corresponding images of his Father, Mother and Ophelia. According to Amereyda, Hamlets first soliloquy is restricted to his hotel room due to time restrictions when filming, but it remains identical to the play text. It shows him surrounded by modern technology, a close up of his eyes shows the intensity with which he views the images. According to Katherine Rowe this is an editing technique called a shot/response it is used to establish 'the fiction of an...

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The Knights of the Middle Ages

Shakespeare’s 16th century portrayal of Messina in southern Italy is a place where social conventions rule and order is kept through the strong bond of honour that exists among men. Honour is the only measure of the man and serves as a way for others to determine and evaluate that person’s character. Thus a person ‘becomes’ their honour. While women’s honour revolves around the womanly virtues of chastity and fidelity, men, being more complex beings, naturally have a more intricate and structured honour paradigm. The Knights of the Middle Ages epitomised honour systems with their strict adherence to the chivalric code. Knights were elite warriors, holding immense military and political power, and honour was a central component in the concept of...

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Justice in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

In today's society, those who have done wrong are taken to court where they go through a long trial before justice can be served - that is if it is served at all. That is not to say that there were no courts or civilized means of punishing wrongdoers in the past, though many people tended to take justice into their own hands. Those who do wrong should be punished and their victims should have some sort of relief. At some times, the villain gets away with his crime, although at other times he makes mistakes which can come back to haunt him. This is the case in Shakespeare's Hamlet. Many of the characters have done wrong to another, the biggest...

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In conclusion the attitudes towards women in the plays Hamlet

    When this is delivered we have to remember that women could not perform on stage in Shakespearian England. Therefore Rosalind would have been played by a male character, showing again the limitations of women. In conclusion the attitudes towards women in the plays Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida and As You Like It are that women are weak. This weakness is shown in different ways. In Hamlet and in Troilus and Cressida it is shown by women giving in to temptation and not being strong enough to withhold from it. However in As You Like It the form of weakness is shown by the need of a male presence. Due to the position of women in Shakespearian society all these plays show...

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The tragedy cannot exist in your analysis of Hamlet?

  In the situation wherein God is dead, then, tragedy of an Aristotelian nature categorically cannot exist, whether in terms of strict form or in terms of audience reaction to the situation presented. Conversely, suppose that God is indeed clearly known: under such circumstances, Hamlet is highly likely to let God judge the fate of Claudius, even to forgive Claudius, thus revenge cannot be exacted, directly violating Freytag's Pyramid in that there would be no rising action or climax, meaning that the situation does not become worse for the tragic hero, inhibiting mythos. Additionally, the lack of climax would mean the eradication of any feeling of catharsis, a crucial aspect of tragedy. It is the feeling of catharsis, according to Aristotle, which...

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Shakespeare’s Hamlet as a Tragedy

Hamlet, the story of a young prince who seeks to revenge his father's death by killing his uncle, Claudius, is one of the most favorite and complex Shakespearean tragedies. Hamlet is unsettled by Claudius taking over the throne and his mother's hasty remarriage but does nothing except verbalize this discontent. Encountering the ghost of his dead father, who tells Hamlet that he was murdered by Claudius, gives reason to Hamlet to seek revenge; however, Hamlet continually postpones his actions and, this being his tragic flaw, leads to his downfall. Shakespeare's Hamlet is the classic example of a tragedy as defined by A. C. Bradley. Bradley says that a Shakespearean tragedy is the story of a hero who encounters significant suffering. The...

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Shakespeares Much Ado About Nothing

Honour, honourable and dishonour, are such profound words because they embody honesty, respect, integrity, fairness, trustworthiness, dishonesty, social standing and dignity. Shakespeare's tragi-comedy ““Much Ado About Nothing”” encapsulates the role that honour plays and will always play in a loving and caring relationship and forces us to hold the mirror up to the conflicts and dilemmas that revolve around honour in our own lives. Although to love, honour and obey is the wedding vow where we pledge to honour and cherish one another in good times and in bad times, it seems without doubt that honouring thy partner is one of the first vows to be disregarded and this is wrong because without honour how can we love? Honour is one...

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A devil, a born devil, on whose nature nurture can never stick

    Furthermore, varying definitions can co-exist: an individual might argue that it is perfectly reasonable to falsify a tax return, but would define burglary as a crime. Differential association theory argues that all behaviour is learned and that learning is through association with other individuals, within close social groups. Furthermore, differential association theory posits that learning includes techniques for executing particular crimes and the motivations and attitudes that are conducive to criminal behaviour. These attitudes and so on are learned from the individuals' perception of the law (either favourable or unfavourable). An individual will display criminal behaviour if their definitions of law violation are more favourable than their definitions for non-violation. The learning experiences - differential association - will vary in frequency,...

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Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Language

- second essay Choose any two plays from the texts we have discussed this term and show how they develop a critique of the court as an institution. Many of Shakespeare's plays are saturated with the political world in the light of the presentation of its ideals, effects on character and their relationships and above all, typical human nature. It reveals unconsciously Shakespeare pessimistic attitude towards the court. He considers it to be a cultural structure, which signifies that it carries stereotypes and expectations. He implicitly challenges, in almost all his plays, the conventional ideologies that are built up around the institution of the court. These are of courtesy and good relations towards other members of the court and the public...

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The Portrayal of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Cinema

    This indecisiveness is apparent again in this quotation from Rothwell (1999) 'Prince Hamlet as misogynist is but one of the princes multiple masks that include avenger, wit, actor, manager, director, philosopher, murderer, duelist, soldier, courtier, "glass of fashion", and almost every other imaginable human trait...

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Theme and imagery in Hamlet

In the story Hamlet written by William Shakespeare, the Arthur had used the theme and imagery of Nature, Religious and Sexual to illustrate his poetic sentences and to convey his ideas to his audience. His creativity and imaginative approached charmed his audience by not fully stating the ideas he wants but more to allowing his audience to interpret and understand it in their own mind. To begin with, William Shakespeare had used the theme and imagery of Nature in his story. First, he wrote the phrase Hamlet was saying "I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw. " pg 72. Hamlet was in madness of his father's death in the 'north' which...

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