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Copy of Introduction to Shakespeare

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fatma pathan

on 4 October 2014

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Transcript of Copy of Introduction to Shakespeare

An Introduction to Shakespeare
What Shakespeare plays have you heard of?
What Shakespeare plays have you read?

"Retellings" of Shakespeare's Plays
The Lion King
10 Things I Hate About You (The Taming of the Shrew)
Born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon
Married Anne Hathaway in 1582 after she was pregnant with their first child. Yep, Shakespeare had a shotgun wedding.
Anne then also gave birth to twins in 1585.
Shakespeare moved to London sometime after the twins were born and began writing.
Many aspects of Shakespeare's life are still a mystery.

What did Shakespeare bring to the English Language?
Shakespeare, along with his company, The Lord Chamberlain's Men, was also a primary investor of the Globe Theatre in London.
"Because all the world plays the actor"- The Globe's motto
The Globe was destroyed by fire in 1613, rebuilt in 1614, demolished in 1644 then FINALLY rebuilt again in 1997. It is now referred to as "Shakespeare's Globe."
Shakespeare's Surviving Works:
38 Plays
14 comedies
10 tragedies
10 histories
4 romances
154 sonnets
Several other poems
What else did W. Shakes do?!
West Side Story (Romeo and Juliet)
Even Queen Elizabeth I was a fan of bear bating. She was also a dedicated patron of the theatre.
Queen Elizabeth I
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Shakespeare created over 2,000 of the words in the English language.
The Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia
In his plays, he talked about motifs that were not only prominent during his lifetime, but are also prominent in today's society

class divide
class struggle... and many more!
We can learn a lot from him! Not only did he have "game".....
But, he also gave us witty, creative, skillfully-created lines:

"Shall I compare thee to a summers' day"
"What do you read, my Lord?" "Words, words, words."
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.."
"Brevity is the soul of wit."
“Love is not love, which alters when it alteration finds."
“In black ink my love may still shine bright.”

The Tempest
"The Tempest is generally regarded as Shakespeare’s last play, first performed in 1611 for King James I and again for the
marriage festivities of Elizabeth, the King’s daughter, to Frederick, the Elector Palatine. Scholars attribute the immediate of its performance at court, and the context of the playwright’s writing career suggest immediately some of its rich themes source of the play to the 1609 shipwreck of an English ship in Bermuda and travelers’ reports about the island and the ordeal of the mariners. The period in which it was written, the seventeenth century age of exploration, the circumstances and ambiguities. "
"The play can be read as Shakespeare’s commentary on European exploration of new lands. Prospero lands on an island with a native inhabitant, Caliban, a being he considers savage and uncivilized. He teaches this “native” his language and customs, but this nurturing does not affect the creature’s nature, at least from Prospero’s point of view. But Prospero does not drive Caliban away, rather he enslaves him, forcing him to do work he considers beneath himself and his noble daughter. As modern readers, sensitive to the legacy of colonialism, we need to ask if Shakespeare sees this as the right order; what are his views of imperialism and colonialism? What are our twentieth century reactions to the depiction of
the relationship between the master and slave, shown in this play? "
"The theme of Utopianism is linked to the explorations of new lands. Europeans were intrigued with the possibilities
presented for new beginnings in these “new” lands. Was it possible to create an ideal state when given a chance to begin anew? Could humans hope to recreate a “golden age,” in places not yet subject to the ills of European social order? Could there be different forms of government? Would humans change if given a second chance in an earthly Paradise?
"Finally, knowing that this is Shakespeare’s last play, it is intriguing to explore autobiographical connections. Does he see
himself in Prospero? Does he feel somehow isolated, in need of reconciliation? How is this play a culmination of other
themes he has explored?" (Mcginn et al. 2)

Through this play's complexities, readers really feel what the characters experience throughout the play. This tragedy allows readers to see the character's strengths, weaknessses, their flaws, and ultimately, allows us to analyze our own lives as we read through it.
The most exciting part of Othello lies in Shakespeare's ability to intertwine prominent motifs: love, greed, jealousy, betrayal, race, dependence, femininity and sexuality throughout the tragedy.
The fairytale world of
The Tempest
has important lessons for those in the real world, both of Shakespeare's time and today. It is better to choose forgiveness and belief in a brighter future-what Prospero calls "the rarer action"-thn to choose vengeance. It is better to spread the magic of human love than to practise the magic of spells, enchantments, and "altry charms." And it is better to choose life in the real world, even with its terrifying freedom, heartbreaks, and evil, over life in a fairytale.
The setting of
The Tempest
is an isolated island in the Mediterranean Sea, somewhere between Italy and the north coast of Africa. The play takes place roughly during Shakespeare's time, the early 1600s. Unlike Shakespeare's earlier plays, The
is not set in the real world but in an enchanted fairy-tale world, of the imagination that blends everyday people and the elements with monsters and spirits.
begins on a street in Venice (but is primarily set in Cyprus), and is considered one of Shakespeare's major tragedies. Some critics call this play a Morality play, where the characters are primarily symbolic figures who "fall from innocence." Other critics analyze the play through a cultural lens and focus on the status between the Venetians and the Moors (civilian vs. military, and barbaric vs. civil). Finally, critics also see this tragedy as commentary on human frailty, the fall of a innocent and noble man, and the destruction of an innocent and true love.
"Othello is equally, however, a story of malevolence and manipulation. One of the most intriguing characters in Shakespeare’s roll call of villains is Iago. From the beginning of the play until the final scenes, Iago plots and maneuvers to bring the people around him, especially Othello, to doom and destruction. Iago’s tactics are revealed in the opening scene as he draws first Roderigo and then Brabantio into his service. By presenting the relationship between Othello and Desdemona
in the crudest sexual terms, he rouses Brabantio and Roderigo to become willing workers in his scheme to revenge himself on the Moor. Just as clearly he enjoys each man’s alarm and anguish. His subsequent conversations with Roderigo, in which he draws him ever deeper into his plot, prepare us for the cunning with which he begins his cruel work on Othello." (James 3)
"By contrast, Othello is clearly not a dissembler. He is forthright with the senators when asked about his relationship with Desdemona. Instead of claiming that she was attracted by his noble bearing and grace, he tells them that she was first caught by his stories of the true adventures of his life and then drawn on to love through her pity for the trials he had endured. He is not a man who plays games. He accurately sums up his own character throughout the play. Othello and Iago, then, are the two characters at the crux of the play. The major action of the play is the tightening of Iago’s net around the noble Moor and the decay of the Moor’s nobility. It is this clash and the vulnerabilities of the humans involved that many critics agree provide the basis for the continuing interest and compelling attraction of Othello.
But wait...what is a 'Moor?'
Read pages XVI- XX of "Othello the Moor of Venice, to grasp the historical context of the play!

(make some notes on it!)

Hamlet has plenty of onstage action: a
ghost walks the stage; people are killed by
stabbing and poisoning; a young woman runs
mad, is drowned offstage, and is buried on
stage; two skeletons are dug up and scattered
over the stage; armies march, and there is a
fencing match that ends up in a general

—Edward Hubler, “Introduction to

"As Hubler indicates, Hamlet is filled with action.
It has long been one of Shakespeare’s most popular and frequently performed dramas, and part of its appeal undoubtedly lies in the dramatic action that takes place on stage. Yet Hubler also points out that one can hardly think of Hamlet as an action play. At the heart of
Hamlet are profound questions about the nature of good and evil, and the play contains some of Shakespeare’s most psychologically complex characters. They are people driven to dramatic action by anger, grief, love, and despair...
Hamlet is a tragedy, a type of drama that presents a heroic or noble character with conflicts
that are difficult or impossible to resolve. Maurice
Charney, in How to Read Shakespeare,
comments that in a tragedy. The characters involve themselves inextricably in that web of circumstances that will constitute their doom. Things change in tragedy, usually for the worse, and there is a sense that no one can resist the tragic momentum.
The greatness of Shakespeare’s technique lies in
the way he constructs this momentum through
intense action, rich language, and layer upon
layer of metaphor and symbols. Like many of
Shakespeare’s tragic characters, Hamlet has an
intensity that is revealed in his complex range of
emotions. The climax occurs not only in the out-
ward events on stage, but also, and perhaps more
importantly, within the character of Hamlet him-
self. " (Mcgraw-Hill 10)
"In Shakespeare’s play, indecision is a major
theme. Hamlet is haunted—literally—by his
father’s murder and a desperate need to avenge
the crime. But something holds him back from
acting on this desire for revenge. What that
“something” is has been debated for centuries.
Scholars at the University of Liège in Belgium
have commented that, "For Hamlet nothing is
simple, everything raises questions." (McGraw-Hill 10)
-Action vs. Inaction
-Appearance vs. Reality
-Religion, Honour and Revenge
-Poison, Corruption, Death
-Women's role in society

Hamlet, who is supposed to be seeking revenge, delays in doing so; he thinks too much, and acts too little!
However, as readers, we must really analyze him as a character to understand why he questions his actions the way that he does (EXISTENTIALISM!) :)
But, revenge is not only limited to Hamlet, and we will see that other's acts of revenge also do not work out (Claudius, Getrude, Laertes)
Appearance vs. Reality...

Every character is trying to figure out what the character is thinking because their appearance does not demonstrate the reality of things. The characters plot, and spy on each other, to try to understand each other, and even themselves, by asking philosophical, existential questions.


Hamlet consistently questions the role of women, especially his mother, he questions her loyalty, her social position, and even their whole existence. He darkly considers them powerless, immoral, and dependent.

(Great Chain of Being)
Religion, Honour, and Revenge
Hamlet questions the social norms of society, and how sometimes the codes of conduct of society go against religious values (i.e revenge). Characters are also constantly reiterating to other characters how they should act, and why they should behave in such a way.
Poison, Corruption, and Death
Themes in R& J

1) The power of love: The love that is portrayed in Romeo and Juliet is not only between the two main characters in the play, the idea of love is constantly idealized in the play by all of the characters. Each character believes that love is something different, so yes, love might be chaotic, and destructive to the families, each member of the houses views love in different ways.

2) The inescapable fate:
It is pretty evident in the play, no matter what anyone does, or says, no one can escape what is pre-destined for them. During the Elizabethan era, society strongly believed that there was a divine being who held power, and you could not escape your pre-written destiny no matter what you did. Throughout the play, Shakespeare uses the dialogue between the characters to foreshadow that eventually, they will be on their death beds, and not their wedding beds.
3) Individual vs. Society

Due to their "star-crossed" love, Romeo and Juliet end up fueling the fire that already exists between the two families. They try to hide their relationships and concept their true feelings in fear of their society and what their community expects the two individuals to behave like.
4) The power of language and how it is used as a tool of rebellion

Romeo and Juliet, along with other characters use langauge to conceal their true feelings. Shakespeare creates his characters to consistently use puns, metaphors, and oxymorons to hide their true motives, and sometimes to escape the suffocating world around them.

Light/Dark, and Day/night

This play is filled with imagery, and the imagery is symbolic as it usually represents "good," or "evil," but also symbolically represents when Romeo and Juliet are allowed to not conceal their love anymore: in the night.
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