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William Shakespeare

A quick rundown of William Shakespeare and his relevance in today's world.
by

Antonina Siemionow

on 17 July 2015

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Transcript of William Shakespeare

He helped shape the English language.
His complete works include 38 plays, 154 sonnets, and two long narrative poems.
Countless authors from the 17th century onwards have been influenced by his work: Milton, Coleridge, Tennyson, Dickens, Melville, and Faulkner.
What's the big deal?
The Iambi-what-a-metre?
The

iambic pentameter
is the meter (or rhythm) that most of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and the blank verse of his plays, conform to.
Still don't get it?
This was also a culmination point of the "Age of Exploration" – Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe and Sir Walter Raleigh began the colonisation of "Virginia" named for the "Virgin Queen".
The Elizabethan Era
His Life and Times
William Shakespeare
Shakespeare came of age during the Renaissance, a flourishing of arts, culture, and thought that took place across Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Still Not Convinced?
Firstly, what do you already know about William Shakespeare - the Bard?
References:
Shakespeare's Biography: http://www.shmoop.com/william-shakespeare/
Shakespeare in Statistics [Infographic] : http://www.nosweatshakespeare.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/shakespeare-in-statistics.jpg
Open University: The History of English in Ten Minutes (Part 3) [YouTube]
Akala - Hip Hop & Shakespeare? [YouTube]
What's it all about Shakespeare: Iambic Pentameter - http://whatsitallaboutshakespeare.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/what-is-iambic-pentameter-and-how-did.html
"The Music of Shakespeare"
An
iamb
is a metrical foot that consists of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one [
de
DUM
], and
penta-

means five. The word
meter
refers to a regular rhythmic pattern usually found in poetry.
Created by Ms A Siemionow
For Year 9 English
2014 @ UCHSK
Phrases Coined by Shakespeare
"All that glitters is not gold"
The Merchant of Venice
"Break the ice"
The Taming of the Shrew
"Dead as a doornail"
Henry VI
"Fancy-free"
A Midsummer Night's Dream
"Forever and a day"
As You Like It
"Jealousy is the green-eyed monster"
Othello
"Laugh yourself into stitches"
Twelfth Night
"Love is blind"
The Merchant
of Venice
"Melted into thin air"
The Tempest
"Murder most foul"
Hamlet
"A sorry sight"
Macbeth
"Tower of strength"
Richard III
"Wild-goose chase"
Romeo & Juliet
The Iambic Pentameter
Iambic Pentameter (Cont'd)
The iambic pentameter is a rhythmic pattern that consists of five iambs per line... almost like five heartbeats:


u
/
u
/
u
/
u
/
u
/

de
DUM
de
DUM
de
DUM
de
DUM
de
DUM
Let's try it out on the first few lines of
Romeo & Juliet
:

Two households, both alike in dignity,

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,

From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,

Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
Try it out!
Shakespeare lived and died over 400 years ago. His language is archaic and sometimes hard to understand. So why do we all still read him?
Firstly, he wrote a great deal and is considered one of the the greatest writers in the English language.
But Shakespeare’s magic could not copied be;
Within that circle none durst walk but he.

- John Dryden (1631–1700) Essay of Dramatic Poesy
During Shakespeare's lifetime, English grammar, spelling, and pronunciation were not as standardised as they are today.
The ways in which he used language helped to set a standard for the way we still use language now.
He also created a large number of new words and phrases that are commonplace today.
He wrote about themes that we're still concerned with today.
He was not of an age, but for all time!

- Ben Jonson (1573-1637), Preface to the First Folio
He was the man who of all modern, and perhaps ancient poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul.

- John Dryden (1631-1700), Essay of Dramatic Poesy
The most common themes found in his works include:
love
DEATH
war
fate
violence
greed
lust
FEAR
aging
youth
humanity
morality
He lived during one of the major turning points in British (and world) history.
In part, we read Shakespeare to learn about the concerns, hopes, fears, and dreams of the Elizabethan Era (and the dawn of the Renaissance) – a time when the new world was just being colonised, and England was turning into a world superpower.
(1558 - 1603)
An Era of Tensions
Queen Elizabeth I - "The Virgin Queen"
Often referred to as the "golden age" of British history, it was an era of general peace, prosperity, and creativity.
Also called the "English Renaissance" – theatre was a popular art form during this time, and several other famous playwrights (Marlowe, Jonson, etc.) were writing at the same time as Shakespeare.
Queen Elizabeth I ascended to the throne when England was in a state of religious turmoil. Her predecessor, Mary, had spent excessively, rendering the country's currency so worthless that coins would be shaved because the materials they were made of were more valuable than the coins themselves. Mary, who was married to Philip II, heir to the Holy Roman Emperor and later king of Spain, had also added to years of instability, dividing the country with her strict Catholic directives and involvement with foreign wars.

A decade into the reign of Elizabeth I, England become more settled at home and abroad. England was emerging as Europe's economic powerhouse. As a consequence of the new-found prosperity and peace, London was becoming increasingly enriched culturally. A strong merchant class emerged, bringing with them continental fashion and style. Education and standards of living improved. Elizabeth encouraged foreign exploration and expanded England's navy. Her crowning achievement was the English Navy's defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.
Life & Culture
Religion
Politics
Crime & Punishment
Medicine
The Plague
Rivalry with Spain
The New World
Back to Shakespeare
A Brief Biography
Born in 1564, grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon, a country-side town
Parents were common, "middle-class" folks
Shakespeare was educated in a Grammar school. This was like the "public school" of the day. He would have studied Latin and classical authors - folks who wrote during the era of Greco-Roman dominance.
At the age of 18, Shakespeare married a woman named Anne Hathaway, who was 26 years old at the time.
Something potentially fishy about the marriage: it happened fast for that day and age and six months after the weeding, Anne gave birth to daughter
Actor & Playwright
Sometime in the late 1580s or early 1590s, Shakespeare began his career in London.
Records show that several of his plays were being performed throughout London in 1592, and by then he was well known enough that other playwrights were attacking him in writing.
Theatre company: The Lord Chamberlain's Men, name changed to The Kings Men after the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603.
1599 - The Globe Theatre constructed on the bank of the river Thames.
Theatre became HUGE during this period. Lots of new playhouses were constructed in and around London. In the summer of 1580, around 5,000 people were attending plays each day. By 1610, theatre capacity had increased to 10,000.
Plays were performed at court and at public playhouses. In this era, drama was a unifying force, in that the Court and the commoners all saw the same works. Poor citizens could gain ground-level entry for just a penny ("groundlings").
The public theatres also became sites for bear-baiting, gambling, and other "immoral" activities - they were therefore a target of opposition from Puritans and church officials.
No women were involved - boys or young men played all the female roles.
No lights, special effects, or elaborate backgrounds like we have today (this is why you'll see so many lines discussing what time of day it is, or what characters see nearby).
Elizabethan Theatre
The Globe Theatre
The Bard's Writing Style
Blank Verse
- unrhymed iambic pentameter; the popular form for plays at that time.
Puns
- plays on words. Shakespeare is especially good at using multiple meanings of words that sound the same when spoken. Ex: "sole" vs. "soul." These are called "homophones." He also uses "homonyms" - words that are spelled and pronounced the same but can mean different things. Ex. "grave" as in serious, vs. "grave" as in a place for a dead body.
Bawdiness
- indecent sexual humour. "That's what she said," sort of jokes. Shakespeare often uses double entendre and puns to create secondary, sexual meanings.
Soliloquies
- literally means "talking alone." These are long speeches in which a character wrestles with a big issue and reveals their inner thoughts. Shakespeare used these speeches more than many of his predecessors to dig into the psychology of his characters.
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