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Revision "Abitur"

Mara Jochims

on 16 March 2015

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Transcript of Shakespeare

A literary giant in the 21st century
Table of contents

1.) Who is Shakespeare?
2.) Shakespeare's language
3.) The Elizabethan world view
4.) Shakespeare's theatre
5.) The historical background
culture and society
6.) Shakespeare's plays
7.) A Midsummer Night's Dream
8.) Sonnets
9.) Shakespeare: man of the millennium
10.) Should Shakespeare still be read in
German classrooms?

Shakespeare's biography
The Bard
date of birth:
23.04.1564 (baptized 26th)
home town:
Stratford-upon-Avon, near Birmingham
family background:
first son of a prominent businessman
actor, playwright and poet
attended local school
1582 to Anne Hathaway ( a 26-year old farmer's daughter)
3 ( son Hamnet died)
the " Lost Years":
Shakespeare left his family and disappeared for seven years -> no record
first publication:
1593, a narrative poem
part owner of the Globe Theatre
1610, he left London and settled in Stratford
date of death
: 23.04.1616 -> his birthday

=> he wrote about 36-40 plays of different genres
and a number of notably sonnets

=> most important features
- he introduced nearly
new words into
the English language

- used many languages to form new words
-> huge variety of words of different origin

- flexible word order/grammatical structure

- different rules for spelling

- some words have completely disappeared
( aye=yes)

- words have acquired a different meaning

- he formed new words from already existing ones

- made words up from scratch

- words or syllables could be left out

Understanding the language

thou- informal for you (subject form)
thee- informal for you (object form)
thy/thine- your ( possessive pronoun)

verb endings

2.person singular-> -st / -est ("thou lookest")
3.person singular-> -th/ -eth ("he looketh")

after forms of "be"/"will" -> -t ( "thou wilt"/
"thou art")

-> doth(=doth)/hath(=has) !
List of words used by Shakespeare
which have a different meaning today:
Elizabethan meaning
modern meaning
fine, splendid
task, duty
room in which work
is done
family, descendants

- ordinary language/no pattern

- rules of capitalization

- spoken by people of lower status/ comedy

- express madness

- for written texts that were read out loud

- no line breaks

- no rhythm

- don't have same number of syllables

- a certain rhythmic pattern

- used in official/ dramatic situations (especially in
history plays or tragedies)

- used by high status characters

- begins with capital letters

=> Shakespeare did not always adhere to the
rules/ never followed any rules slavishly
Blank Verse
- standard verse in Shakespeare's plays

- unrhymed iambic pentameter
-> ten syllables alternating unstressed
and stressed syllable
( da

-> resembles human heartbeat

- pentameter: five iambs in a line

-> the lines usually do not rhyme
The Elizabehan world view
- time of upheaval -> people were longing for order

- unusual events such as floods or unexpected
death were considered as unnatural

- links between humors and elements
-> choler, blood, melancholy, phlegm
-> fire , air , earth , water
-> ideal mixture = harmony/ no proper proportion = illness

- all beings have the moral duty to accept the order
which is given by god; keep their position

- supernatural beliefs (e.g. witches)

The Great Chain of Being
- concept of the world
-> hierarchy/universal order

- if one element breaks, the
whole chain is destroyed

- correspondence between order of universe
(macrocosm) and man ( microcosm)

- the order of macrocosm is reflected in the
-> e.g. sun and heart

- microcosm affects the

Shakespeare's Theatre

playhouse and stage

no scenery/lighting or special effects

- no curtain

- open to sky

- could draw over 2,500 spectators

- platform stage

- groundlings on three sides

- audience were allowed to smoke,drink or eat

- galleries for upper classes

- used for bear baiting

-> London Globe

- popular form of entertainment

- for all social ranks

- only few stage directions

- actors were given a transcript

-> the effect of his plays had to be created by words


- audience took a lively part

- they used spectacular costumes

- realistic props


- no women

- all skills needed( facial expression,gestures)

=> hold the crowds' attention

- no breaks or intervals during the plays

- they had the reputation of being vagabonds

The historical

culture and society

- Anglo-Spanish war (1585-1604)
-> reasons: religious,economical and political differences
-> Britain: strongest naval force
(defeat of Spanish Armada)

- Queen Elizabeth was the patron of the Theatre

-prosperous time

-> citizens had much money in opposite to other times
-> Queen E. governed in a fair and supported way -> was
economical/ had the country under control

- Government was seen as a monarch's private business
- brutal politics ( torture of the criminals)
- social laws were made to stabilize the inner politics

-> England emerged as a world power

visitors from abroad
-> increased mobility, growth
of cities
- London became the cultural and commercial
center of England

new trade routes
-> international trade -> rise of capitalism
- rising prices
- iron industry became more important

- many
new inventions-
> good accomplishment
-> influenced the cultural movement
-> spreads all over the world
- Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh

=> end of middle-age -> beginning of modern-age

internal problems
: constant clash between catholics
and protestants

-> in 1533 Elizabeth's father, Henry VIII( 1509-1547) broke
with the Roman Catholic Church
- Catholics were persecuted
- Protestants were trying to make the church less Catholic

Head of Church of England:
- Queen Elizabeth I : re- established the Church of England
and kept many of the costumes of the Catholic church
-> she was never as radical as the Protestant European churches

- 1559: Act of supremacy
-> bill that gives the reigning monarch the full authority of
the church

- uses many religious words and symbols in his plays

-> a lot of criticism because divorce and suicide was not

-> Martin Luther

- Bible in Latin
- Bible in the language of
-> everyone should understand

- depending on financial situation and social class

- women were not allowed to got to school/

- could be educated at home (higher classes)

- children were brought up to fear and respect
their parents

social order
1.) monarch
2.) nobility
3.) gentry
4.) merchants
5.) yeomen
6.) indigents

- limited

-expected to be housewifes and mothers


- big celebration

- arranged by both families

- women had no choice

- designed to bring prestige and wealth to families


- lower class fashion: basic materials
- upper class fashion: rich, sumptuous materials
- form of art
- way of expression


- major form of entertainment


- two meals a day
-> lunch: around 11 - 12 and lasted 3 hours
-> supper: was held in the evening
-commoners ate bread, eggs and dairy products
- wealthy households ate a lot of meat

The Golden Age:
- term used for the
in Britain
- renewed interest in classical literature, access to
- cultural flowering: theatre, music,poetry, art
- short period of relative peace, stability, prosperity
- London doubled its population to 200,000

era was dominated by contrast:
- life for ordinary people could be hard but
economic growth meant better conditions
for many

negative aspects:

- harsh criminal laws e.g. death penalty
-> police state

- illiteracy

- short life expectancy, many diseases/ deaths
-> bad hygienic situation

- no rights for women

- cruel forms of entertainment e.g. public

positive aspects:

- public provision for the poor (possible
because of economic growth)

- few beggars
General Information
A Midsummer
Night's Dream

=> an example for a
Shakespeare - man of the millennium !?
Should Shakespeare
still be read in German
=> Time to discuss!
widens students' horizons
-> plays invite students to reflect on their
own life/ attitudes

students participate in the cultural life

his themes are timeless (e.g. love, death, hatred)

difficulties at the beginning can be overcome
-> student's don't need to understand every single
word to enjoy the play

his plays acquaint students with different values/beliefs

active study of Shakespeare generates personal development

insights into the human mind are still valid

study Shakespeare acquires all kinds of knowledge

addresses huge range of people

he inspired other writer e.g Goethe -> better understanding
of literature in general

- he is one of the best known dramatist today
-> his plays are played all over the world;
translated into all modern languages

- timeless themes; fascinating characters;
eloquent language

- value is tangible in the idioms/ metaphors which
have been passed on over generations

problem of understanding the language (language just changed in the last generation)

outdated world picture; religion or social hierarchies

gender roles have changed fundamentally
BUT he does not exclusively present
conventional gender roles

parts of his plays are old- fashioned/ not realistic anymore

many students lack interest -> reading texts is not very fruitful

teachers often want to push trough their way of interpretation/ not enough time

=> All students should have the
opportunity to make up their own
mind about what Shakespeare
might mean to them !

=> solution: voluntary reading

=> active study

Film adaptions
practice for
a possible task
in your A-level
-> When it comes to Shakespeare you
can expect
three different types
of text
argumentative text

analysis of a sonnet

fictional text -> play
-> many words and phrases
are coined by Shakespeare
-> have become everyday expressions

=> can you name these phrases or idioms?
- It´s Greek to me
(Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof)

- Love is blind
(Liebe macht blind)

- He wears his heart on his sleeve
( Er trägt sein Herz auf der Zunge)

- All that glisters is not gold
( Es ist nicht alles gold was glitzert)

- It smells to heaven
( Es stinkt zum Himmel)

A. Hence
B. Fare ye well
C. Aye, by my life
D. I will keep my word with thee
E. Thou lik' dst not that
1. yes, honest!
2. Go!
3.) Trust me.
4.) you didn't like that, did you?
5.) Have a nice day
A task for you

=> combine Shakespeare's phrases
with the appropriate English
(Hence!) ->

(Fare ye well) ->
(Have a nice day)

(Aye,by my life) ->
(yes, honest!)

(I will keep my ->
( Trust me)
with thee)

(Thou lik'dst not ->
( you didn't like
that) that, did you?)
- there are films based on his plays
and film adaptions of his plays
-> Hollywood blockbusters,opera, musicals

- opens him up to a
broader audience

- present-day success is evidence that
Shakespeare is still relevant

- television is a medium students are
familiar with
modern technology
adds a new
dimension to the presentation of the

- accessibility to many cultures

History play
we have dealt with
Sonnet 147
Sonnet 130
Sonnet 129
Sonnet 60
Sonnet 29
Sonnet 18
- addresses the Dark Lady

- she is presented as unfaithful/evil

- the poet develops the image of love as a

- addressee causes the speaker great pain
-> he suffers from lovesickness
" My love is a fever, longing still"
- addresses the Dark Lady

- follows the Anti-Petrarchan scheme

- the speaker states that he truly loves
the addressee
- he reject the petrarchan convention

- couplet contrasts with the rest of the
"My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun"
" lust is perjured, murderous,
bloody, full of blame"
- the speaker explores the true nature of love

- he is mainly concerned with lust
-> ambiguity

- metre is irregular

- enjambements are used
"Like as the waves make towards
the pebbled shore"
- cruelty of time/ transience of time

- images of nature: speaker compares
passage of time to movements of waves
- couplet has an antithetical function
-> power of poetry
" When in disgrace with Fortune and
men's eyes"
- reminds himself of the pleasure he feels when
he is with the addressee

- comes to the conclusion that love makes rich

- rhyme scheme : abab cdcd ebeb gg

- speaker promises to make the
addressee immortal

- does not want to compare the lover
to a summer's day
-> it entails negative qualities

Italian Sonnet
Romeo and Juliet
linguistic devices

pun/ play on words -> a word has two meanings

repetition -> dramatic effect

figurative language -> metaphors, similes,

dramatic irony -> audience knows something
that a character on stage does
not know
an example :
Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day;
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear;
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale

It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
I must be gone and live, or stay and die.
Act III, Scene V (abridged)
Richard III
=> history play as well as a tragedy
- Shakespeare dramatizes
historic events

- changes details

- themes:
fate of English kings
struggle for power
just/unjust rule
-> built in 1599
-> could house up to 3,000 spectators
-> amphitheatre without roof

=> The sonnet form was initiated
and established in Italy (over 300
years before Shakespeare)

- poem consisting of 14 lines, falling
into an octave and one sestet

- famous Italian sonnet writer:

Francesco Petrarca
( 1304- 1374)
-> Sonnets to Laura
English Sonnet
- Sonnet was brought to England
Sir Thomas Wyatt

-> stuck to the Italian model

Earl of Surrey
developed the English sonnet
-> 14 lines: three quatrains; one heroic couplet

- follows the
iambic pentameter
rhythm pattern

- typical structure: thesis, antithesis, conclusion

- extended metaphor: conceit

- symmetrical patterns

-Elizabethan world view is mirrored
Themes of Elizabethan
- The Petrarchan concept of love

- Antithesis

- The cruelty of time/ transience

- Poetry as a monument
Typical Features of
Shakespearean sonnets
- published in a collection in 1609

- 154 sonnets
Sonnets 1- 126:
addressed to a young man
Sonnets 127- 154:
addressed to a woman:
"the Dark Lady"

- probably dedicated to Henry Wriothesley
-> Third Earl of Southhampton
( initials W.H)

- basic metre: iambic pentameter

-> love is seen as reciprocal
and real ( sonnets to dark lady)

-> often speak directly to the
object of love

-> Anti- Petrarchan scheme

-> complex pattern of imagery

-> less symmetrical

=> Shakespeare's sonnets are
connected with Elizabethan
ideas BUT are
more complex, less
Shakespeare in love
-> depicts a love affair involving
Shakespeare and a woman while
he was writing Romeo & Juliet

-> fiction but several of the characters
are based on Shakespeare's plays
The Elizabethan Age:
period of the reign of
Elizabeth I
-> reign of 45 years(1558-1603) => leitmotif change
- end in a catastrophe
-> death

- result of a character's flaw

- serious themes

- happy ending

- provide comic relief -> sexual
allusions, undertones

- instruct by pleasing

- amusing, strange situations

-> be aware of the fact that no
literary text shows features of
only one genre
- tells the story of two lovers from
feuding families (Monatgues-> Romeo
and Capulets-> Juliet)

- Romeo and Juliet meet at a ball
-> both fall in love immediately

- they secretly meet and then get married
- Romeo is banned from Verona after killing
a Capulet in a fight

- Juliet's parents ( unaware of her daughter's
secret marriage to Romeo) informs her that she
will marry a man named Paris

- The Friar who married the couple hatches a
plot to pretend that Juliet is dead -> they can escape

- Juliet drinks a potion that makes her
appear dead -> Romeo believes that she is really
dead->kills himself -> Juliet too

written between 1591 and 1594
- play is about the rise to power by Richard
( Duke of Gloucester)

- Edward IV lies dying, his brother wants to become
King although he is not the next line

- manipulation, deception, he kills anyone he has
to in order to become king

- reign of terror

- Richard is killed in a battle by the Earl of
Richmond , he is crowned Henry VII

=> written in 1591
The three main groups
of characters

1.) Four lovers (and Hippolyta and Theseus)
-> lovers are very young
-> primarily concerned with their love lives;
how to achieve happiness

2.) The Mechanicals
-> ordinary working men
-> are keen to perform a play at the duke's wedding

3.) The fairies

Three storylines
1.) the problematic story of the lovers
-> attempt to avoid parental interference

2.) The Mechanicals' rehearse their play

3.) Conflict between Oberon and Titania
(king and queen of the fairies)
=> storylines all unite in Act 2

The Characters
role of women
- Love
-> unrequited love , irrationality/
fickleness of love
-> "the course of true love never did run

-> begins with preparation of wedding and
ends with wedding of three couples
-> marriage as a movement from generation to generation

- generation conflict

-> power of a father over his child

- friendship
-> trust and betrayal

-order vs disorder
-> love between different social classes

at the beginning:
- assertive
- self-confident
during the conflict:
- naive
- confused

- brave
- self-confident
- honest
- cruel
- heartless
- thoughtless
- arrogant
- abusive/ aggressive
The relationships
Theseus- Hippolyta
Theseus is keen to get married;
her feelings are unclear

Hermia- Demetrius:
He woos Hermia, she does not like
him-> loves Lysander

Demetrius- Lysander
active dislike

Helena- Demetrius:

she is hopelessly in love with him;
he loves Hermia

Titania- Oberon:

accuse each other of unfaithfulness;

- no self-esteem, self- hatred
-disappointed, unhappy
-jealous of the two lovers

an exercise for you!
=> fictional text: excerpt of a play
work in
and present your
results afterward!
=> Macbeth, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet
=> Henry V, King John, Henry VIII
=> As you like it, The Merchant of Venice
- poetry as a monument

- transience of human life
-> comparison to the movement of waves
What do you think?
Can Shakespeare be regarded as a
man of the millennium?

Can you list some positive and negative aspects of the Golden Age?
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