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Shakespeare 101 - ELA10H

A quick biographical landscape of William Shakespeare's life and legacy.

Misty Coller

on 17 November 2017

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Transcript of Shakespeare 101 - ELA10H

Shakespeare 101
Note: His head wasn't
that large. This is not a
A 10th grade Production
Brief Biography
Because record keeping was sketchy, we can't be certain of exact dates of Shakespeare's birth and death. All we need to know right now is he was born in 1564 (we can be certain of that).
He grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon (S-u-A), about 100 miles northwest of London.
He came from a working class family; there was really nothing in his childhood to suggest he would one day become known as the greatest writer in the English language.
We don't hear much about young Will growing up; in fact, the next time we hear from him, it's when he was 18 years old and just got an older woman, Anne Hathaway, pregnant. She was twenty-six years old. They were married six months before the child was born. (You do the math.)
They ended up having three kids. First up was Susanna, followed by a set of twins Hamnet (Hamlet?) and Judith (Juliet?). Hamnet died at the age of 11 from an illness.
The next stage of Shakespeare's life seems to have been filled with question marks. We know he left S-u-A, probably headed to London. Some theories say it was because he was being tracked down by the police for illegal deer poaching.
In London, he most likely worked as an actor and started to write plays. He wasn't a star in either right away.
Three significant events happened:
1. His acting company, Lord Chamberlain's Men, became the leading acting company in London. They performed Shakespeare's plays and, after the death of Queen Elizabeth, they were appointed by King James (not LeBron) to be the official acting group in London.
2. Because of the distinction of being the official acting group, Shakespeare became wealthy.
Who knew?!
In fact, he bought the second biggest house in S-u-A. He still went back there occasionally.
3. The Globe Theater was built with help from Shakespeare's funding. This became a place where all people, rich and poor alike, could enjoy plays.
"Retirement" didn't happen during Shakespeare's time, but his theatrical output definitely slowed down. Until his death, he spent time in both S-u-A and London.
Lasting Legacy
The "So what?" Part
Simply stated, he was ridiculously talented.
You may have heard Shakespeare invented words in his plays: words like bloody, eyeball, and lonely.
Shakespeare's plays are the most produced worldwide. Most play lists I found don't count Shakespeare plays because they would take too many of the positions.
Shakespeare's plays are constantly produced and, because of this, directors take different interpretations of the plays and make them unique. To help you understand this, here are some movies that have been based on Shakespeare's writings.
What good would this be without a bit of controversy?
One theory is that Shakespeare didn't actually write his plays. Since record keeping was shabby, there are theories that the William Shakespeare from S-u-A is different than the Shakespeare who is the actor/writer from London. The main argument is that Shakespeare, a man from a common family, could not have the knowledge he did regarding locations, foreign languages, astronomy, medicine, politics, and law. Further, he had an enormous vocabulary--more than double of the normal person during his time. To have this knowledge, one would have to had traveled Europe, gone to university, and been from a family above the rank of commoners.
I'm couldn't decide on the final stop on this voyage, so there are two of them. Enjoy.
Who KNOWS what happened in the mean time?
...sad. There are no Shakespeare descendents.
Good Friend, for Jesus sake, forbear,
To digg the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.
This is the part where you ask questions and talk about Old Bill a little before we move on. Questions, anyone??
But he was baptized on April 26, 1564.
Since most children were baptized three days after their birth, history has deduced that he was born on April 23.
Some suggest he may have traveled, as his plays feature a good knowledge of a vast range of places, but others say he couldn't have because he didn't have any money.
Either way, all we do know is that around 1592, he started to become known in London for his acting and his writing.
Sometimes the fun was ruined because of that pesky plague, which occasionally closed the theater.
Eventually, he was buried in S-u-A, with a very special inscription on his grave:
On top of that, he wrote about universal themes--life aspects that you and I can relate to 400 years after they were written.
He was not only a master playwright, but a carpenter, a poet, a historian, a musician, an artist, and part owner of his own theater. (Plus, the Queen loved him.)
He was funny, insightful, and innovative. And his characters could be people in your class right now as they share the same dreams and fears.
And he may HAVE invented them.
But, IN GENERAL, when people say Shakespeare invented words, they usually mean he was the one who was smart enough to write it down.
The first known place those words appear in a text are in Shakespeare's plays.
FYI - We get this information
primarily from two sources:
his works
various legal
& church
Full transcript