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Shakespeare Background

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Kathy Rodziewicz

on 4 November 2013

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Transcript of Shakespeare Background

O Romeo,
wherefore art thou
-"Romeo and Juliet"
by William Shakespeare
Born in April 23, 1564, or so most historians think. There is some uncertainty about his exact date of birth.
The Shakespeares were a middle-class family:
Father owned a glove making shop
Mother grew up on a farm
Eldest son of John Shakespeare
and Mary Arden
Had 7 brothers and sisters
Lived in Stratford - upon - Avon. (That means they lived in the town of Stratford on the river Avon.)
Quiet market town,
75 miles northwest of London
Shakespeare learned Latin in school. Some say that his Latin background had a significant impact on his ability to work with language. Shakespeare is credited with developing over 1,700 words in the English language. He did that by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words never before used together, adding prefixes and suffixes, and devising words solely on his own. Shakespeare is partially responsible for developing our language!
School day: 6 am - late evening
6 days a week
At 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway (26). The entire event was considered quite scandalous as Anne became pregnant and then quickly married the young Will Shakespeare. It is quite possible that Shakespeare was pressured into the marriage. At this point his life didn't have a very positive outlook: he was young, married an older woman, was living with her and their child in the family home, had no job, and was unable to attend the university or get a job.
Had daughter - Susanna
3years later had twins:
Hamnet & Judith
(Hamlet & Juliet?)
THE LOST YEARS: In the late 1850s, Shakespeare fell off the radar. Not much is known about his life at this moment. However, history tells us he had a family to support and the going was tough. He eventually left them behind (he pops up later on).... but why?
Shakespeare's Birth Place -
Today, this is a tourist attraction!
The Monarch at this time was Queen Elizabeth I
Thames River - was the center of life
There was a population boom!
It was noisy and over crowded!
There was very bad sanitation!
Indoor plumbing did not yet exist.
That led to disease - the PLAGUE!!!
Nearly 1/3 of the population died.
The Crime & Punishment practices
were quite brutal....
Varied according to class
(nobility v. low class)
Most serious crimes:
high treason, blasphemy, witchcraft
Common punishments:
the rack, scavenger's daughter, iron maiden
Shakespeare was an actor in Lord Chamberlain's Men - an acting group that still exists today.
Still exists today!
And, in the mean time, he
wrote 16 plays!
Shakespeare's biggest critic was Christopher Marlowe - a rival, educated playwright.
Shakespeare was gaining popularity and was criticized for stealing stories - there was no copyright!!! Some people found it difficult to believe that a person of a middle class upbringing without a formal, university education could write the way Shakespeare wrote.
This controversy surrounding Shakespeare still exists today.
It is at about this time that Shakespeare's name reappears on the grid... in London, of all places. Somehow in the midst of all the poor sanitation, noise, the over crowded living, going to the theater became popular. At this time, James Burbage opened the first public theater - "The Theatre" - and Shakespeare was an actor. This time period has become known as the
- it was a cultural rebirth or revival. Even though the times were tough, somehow the arts (plays and acting) began to flourish.
However, plays were considered
it was wrong to pretend to be something you're not (acting)
it kept people from work (staged during the day because of the lack of electricity)
it spread outbreaks of disease (too many dirty people too close together)
there was fear of disorder/riots (too many rowdy people together)
there was mixing of populations (anyone could go - upper and lower class)
Ben Jonson - a supporting playwright - helped Shakespeare get on his feet.
Eventually, Queen Elizabeth died, making James the First king. He appreciated the arts and often had performances put on at court.
At this point, Shakespeare was successful enough to have created the King's Men - an acting company that performed for King James I.
performed MASQUES -
elaborate plays for the royals at court
After some success, Shakespeare opened up
The Globe Theatre. The structure still exists today, still puts on Shakespeare's work.
(1599 - rebuilt The Theatre to create The Globe)
"yard" - one penny (groundlings)
"galleries" - two pence
"Lord's Rooms" - 6 pence
: signified which play was being performed
white flag: light subject or comedy
black flag: death or tragedy
red flag: blood or history
actors would descend onto stage; storage; protected from sun and rain
covered seating sections
supported the roof; painted to look like marble
the entrance to "hell:" depending
on their role, actors would rise up out of the
ground (some plays have ghosts, witches, etc.)

standing room

used for indoor scenes
built on marshy land
used for bedroom or balcony scenes
dressing rooms; storage
2 pm (summer)
several hours; no breaks
3,000 people
Died on April 23, 1616
Lots of mystery about his late life
1623 - First Folio published by his friends
includes 36 plays
wrote tragedies, comedies, histories and sonnets
Most famous characters and quotes
About 10
a speech a character makes when he or
she are on stage by themselves; help audience understand the main character (many of these in the tragedies)
Tragic hero:
a protagonist who creates or is
put into a difficult situation and must figure out
how to resolve the problem; bad luck or bad decisions
lead to character's death
Tragic ending:
most people are dead at the end, but there is a good feeling that some good may come from the suffering
Not necessarily funny,
but have happy endings
Romances: rooted in Greek myths
(human problems set in mythical worlds)
Later comedies: an intelligent and cunning
woman saves the day :)
Common theme: overcome
obstacles to find true love
Historical events on stage
Examine the people who made history
Look at
how power
lost and won
Ask the question:
What makes a good King?
poems about love, fame, and a mysterious relationship
Play Adaptations Today...
guy :)
Will was a
good looking fellow!
This is a map of London at the time. It was a busy place.
Hail Queen Elizabeth!
On the rack,
you get stretched...
In the scavenger's
you get
In the iron maiden...
Well, as you can tell
that doesn't look fun at
all! Once those doors shut...
The reason it is called "the Globe" is because it is a round building
What did it cost to go to
the Globe to see a play?
The YARD is the ground, directly in front of stage
Standing room
Wondering what GROUNDLINGS are?
Groundlings are commoners! Plain people
who don't have much money.
(Galleries are seats under a roof on lower level)
Expensive seats saved for the nobility.
This is the Globe today! Mr. Teske's been there and saw a performance of "Hamlet."
The reason it is called The Lord Chamberlain's MEN is because women and girls weren't allowed to perform. All female parts were played by men or young boys. Therefore, in Shakespeare's day, a young boy would have played Juliet. Boys whose voices had not yet become deep were ideal :)
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