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Who was William Shakespeare ?


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  • 1. an overview of his life, times, and work an NAC English Theatre company educational publication THE NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE ENGLISH THEATRE PROGRAMMES FOR STUDENT AUDIENCES Peter Hinton Artistic Director, English Theatre This backgrounder was written and researched by Jane Moore for the National Arts Centre, English Theatre. Copyright Jane Moore, 2008. It may be used solely for educational purposes. The National Arts Centre English Theatre values the feedback of teachers on the content and format of its educational materials. We would appreciate your comments or suggestions on ways to improve future materials. Comments may be directed to Martina Kuska, either by email at mkuska@nac-cna.ca or fax at (613) 943 1401. Made possible in part by the NAC Foundation Donors’ Circle
  • 2. ! " ! # ! # $ % # & ' % # ' & ( ) & * $ ) ( + $ ) * %, & - . & ' **/ 0# % . *.) % . & 1 *.) *1/ 2 #3 1 *1/ */' , 3 1 */' *45 6 1 & / *45 *41 7 8 , / *4 *41 , 4 *41 .55 5 .5 .51 9 2: "9 ( # 5& .5/ . . , ; & ' + ! ' < 8 %2 & 1 ; # 8 %2 ; !8 2 8 & ) 2! = ) 6 # > ) 2? > * - ! ( 7 * %@! 8 * A . 9 ! ( . & 1 < % / & ') ! 2 8 $ / # #! $ / ! $ $ $ / & 4 % 9 4 & '5 ; ! .55 #$ ' ! % $ ' ! % #$ ' ! $ '' & ' ! # % #" , %6 $ ' 9 % # $ ' ! ( ! # : ! 9 $ ' & ') ; ! % # 0 $ ')
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  • 5. page 2 5 ' 7 ( ( @ " " @ . % & ( 7 ?3 A B " , 9 0% " " (( " " ( 7 9 ( ( ( : # ; .% 1( 24 6 . " (( " " C D % ( ( 5 B % & ( ' " 7 ( ( A & ( EE!% 8' 4E ' % & ' ( " ( % ( % * ( " ' " ( " ; , 0 " $" " * @ F > " " % & 3% 1 ' " @ ' ( G " " ' "" = " ' " % 7 ( ( " % ! % ( ( ? ? ! 3% ? $? ?E! 4% 22 2 24! % 22 2 34! % 2 2 33! % 2 2E 34! E% 2 2<! <% 2E 2< 34! ?% 2E 2< 34! 2% ! " $ 3 34! " % # $ % ?3 ? ! 3% # $ & ?3 ?4 ? ! 4% # $ ' ?3 ?4 34! % ? ?E 34! % # $ % ?E ?< ?<! % # $ & ?E ?< 22!
  • 6. page 3 E% # ?< ?? 22! <% 22 2 ?E! ?% 2 ?E! 2% # 3 4 34! # % ( ( ( ?4 ? 34! 3% ? 34! 4% ( ) # ? ? 34! % * + " + ? ? ?<! % ! , + - ? ? 22! % ! # ? ?E 22! E% ! " , ?< ?? 22! <% . / ?? 22 34! ?% ! 0 * 0 22 2 23! 2% 23 2?! % ( , 23 34! 3% + 0 0 23 24 34! 4% ! ! 2 34! % $ $ 2< 2? 2?! % ! % " 3 34! E% 0 + 3 34
  • 7. 5 $ 1 " ( ! H " ' ! : "! 5
  • 8. page 4 5 % 5 ( " ( ! " , 0 ' ' " " " " ( " " ( 8 " " 9 " " % ! $ % ! & ' 1 )" " ' " 322 8 % . " ' ( 6 ( ( " ( ' 9 ( " ( 6 % 5 " ! ( . " ( " " ( " E $" % 7 ( % 5 $ " ( " % 1 " ( " ' " " ( ( " * ' ( " ' ( % ! ! . D 322 " ( ) " ! = F 7 ' 8 " ( % ' ( ?E3%! “Lloyd Sullivan believed he knew this much from family tradition: the portrait was painted a dozen generations ago by his ancestor, John Sanders, born in 1576, the eldest son of a family in Worcester, England. Young John left home to make his fortune in London. There he became an actor, or at least a bit player, in Shakespeare’s company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, which was formed in 1594, when Shakespeare was thirty. John Sanders also dabbled in oils and did odd bits of painting around the theatre. He liked to try his hand at portraiture.
  • 9. page 5 And sometime in 1603, he prepared a sturdy oak panel and some bright oil paint and recorded the face of his colleague, William Shakespeare. At some point Sanders or one of his children labeled the picture ’Shakespere’ (in a spelling the poet himself used), and included the playwright’s birth and death dates, noting that this was his likeness at the age of thirty-nine. The portrait was handed down, passing from the first John Sanders to his son, and so on through the family.” (Nolen, 10) F ( % I ' ( ' " " ( " ' " ( % “However, the results of the tests that were done were conclusive: the painting was executed on wood that dated from the correct period; the materials and the way in which they were used were consistent with a painting done in England in 1603; no anachronistic material was found; and the label identifying the subject of the portrait was made of rag paper dating from 1640 at the latest. All these elements indicate that the painting is indeed an old painting and not a relatively modern copy or fake.” Marie-Claude Corbeil, Senior Conservation Scientist, Analytical Research Laboratory, Canadian Conservation Institute, Department of Canadian Heritage. 5 F > B 7 # "" ( " ( " + % 1"" B ) “In addition to the success of the scientific tests carried out on the Sanders portrait, recent genealogical evidence, together with a number of documents and letters that have been discovered over the past twenty years, go a long way to authenticate the portrait as being a true image of Shakespeare painted in his lifetime (1603).” 5 ) 1 B ( 8 5 ! F > B 7 JC! - 9 ( * 1 9 D " !% 5 $ " " " ( 6 A J ' 7 J ' ( D " # % . $ ' %
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  • 11. page 6 )% * ! & ++0 34 % 5 # % # ; . " : < ( ( D ! > (( " ( # " A 9 "% D # ; ( & K... L> M9 " ( # " 9 " ) " ( ( " .K!% H D 9 " " > % J > # ; 9 " # " " ( " % +,- % 1 34 ' ( ( $ $1' 6 D % & ; 1 3 & 5 > 9 " % ( " ( ( " ! ( % 5 " " !
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  • 13. page 8 • A " " ' ' " ' 9 " 7 " % • <4 6 ( >* " ' = : D ( ( ' % • < 1 & 6 % • < 6 ' ( * ( 1 % • <? " 6 7 % ) • <4 ! ( # ( 7 % 1 $ ! 7 * % +12* +1/ 8 7 % ) ) • ?2 ?3 # > 3 4% • ?3 # > " 7 D 7 ! % • ?3 " A B % . ) ( 0 ( ! " , " 0 " # $ $ $ % $ & $ ' ( ! ) # $ # # * # # + • 5 ( B & 9 ; " ( % 6 % H " 3 ?3 ( ( ( " " %
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  • 16. page 11 • 2 I ( " ( ! ! % • H " 3 2 I " ( " ( A " * % % • 2 ( 6 <% • 23 ( ( N432 F ' " " ( F > " % • 6 2E H % 6 & % • H " 2E # % ,20* , , ) " ) • 2< 5 " 7 % ( , %0 5 C D < % ! @ " % • 6 3? 4 5 ; ! % • 5 ; ! % • 2< $ % • 2? 5 5 % • I " ( " ( 0 + ! " " % I " ( !1 F ' 0 + ( " % % • 2< ! # ; & ; @ D 1 % • 3 B % • 4 A " %
  • 17. page 12 • D " 3 ( !% • 1 34 ( ( % • 1 3 " " ( & 5 9 " ( !% • & " , ! ! " ! # ! " # “Good friend, for Jesus’ sake Please leave my dust alone. Blessed be those that leave my tomb alone, And curses on those who move my bones.” $% ) • 1 34 1 & % • 34 5 ! " " ( " " & 9 % • 4E * 6 % • 5 > ! ; ! % • ? ! & ) ( " " ( & 5 9 " ( % • 3 6 ! : % 6 " ( ( % • E2 ! 7 # ; & * ' G " % $ F 22 ( " % ( * 6
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  • 20. page 14 • # A 9 " > (( " > & K...% F 9 " % • 1 * & # ; & % ( 1 ( ' 6 1 ( "" ( % & 6 ' # @ 6 3 ( " " ( % 5 > E 4! • 1( ' 1 ( 9 ' C & C > ! ( " " = % & 5 = " E ( ?% # " ! # % • # ( % H # E 4! 9 " ( # > ' % 5 ( ' " > " ( A 9 " ( 9 " % # ( " " ! % # % 6 ( 4 <! • & ( $ 6 ( 9 ( 1 & ( ( ! " ( # 4% A A 9 " ( D # " A 9 " % . 1" ( > " " & ' " ( 9 ( 1 # K. # ( > % • F 422 ( ( " > % 1 5 9 ( 1 " ( 9 @ F" A ( * ( 7 @ ( & 7 % 1 ( 4 D ( # ; D " ,* D 0% 1( ( ' D " ( " ! 3%
  • 21. page 15 5 ? ( < 24! • D ( 5 ? & 1 * " : < ( 3 % A > # ; . > (( " ( # % ' $ ( ( ( ( % & ' " " " ( !% • 5 1" ( " J ( $ # " ( > " " 9 " % # ; ( ( % & %% : # 8 A 9 " ( " " " > ( " • @ • " = % % = ' B ( B 7 6 ( ( !@ • ' K D @ • " ( " B ' (!@ • ( " @ • ( > @ • " 9 " % @ 7 • 1 9 " ' A 9 " % & " A 9 "% . ? 6 ( , 0 " " ,( ( ( " ( 0 " 9 " )" % . E E $ 9 " ( ( ( ( ( 6 ' 6 % "" ( " " % • 7 ' ' " % 5 ( & ( (( , " L M ( 0% 1 ( > ( 9 " % • ' " 9 "% - ( " " www.cummingsstudyguides.net/xCatholic.html
  • 22. page 16 < • ,Shakespeare’s debt to Scripture is profound; biblical imagery is woven into every play. No writer has integrated the expressions and themes found in the Bible into his own work more magnificently than Shakespeare.0 Amanda Mabillard, “Biblical Imagery in Macbeth”, in About.com; accessed September 9, 2008 • 5 * * ( 9 > " ( ( ( ) " " % & ' ' ' ' ' % • & = ( ( * " ( " $ $ # % $ % $ # & $ ' $ $ $ ( # $ # $ $ ) ( # ! $ ' # ( ! ) ! ( # ; : 5 B > ( 2 ( # 9 " C 6 . " ( > " " & ( > 8 F ' % ' ( B > " ( 6 " A 9 % & " " ( " ( $ " " ' " " “It was November, 1605, and high treason was on the mind of every English subject. A small group of angry Catholics, fed up with ongoing persecution at the hands of the Protestant monarchy, hatched an elaborate plot to blow King James I and his government to smithereens.
  • 23. page 17 “As luck would have it, a warning letter surfaced at the last minute and James ordered a search of his Palace. The most notorious conspirator, Guy Fawkes, was discovered in the cellar, match in hand, ready to ignite twenty barrels of gunpowder “all at one thunderclap.” “To say that Shakespeare would have been familiar with the conspirators is an understatement. These traitors of the realm had some deep connections to Shakespeare and his family. Shakespeare’s father, John (undoubtedly a covert Catholic), was friends with William Catesby, the father of the head conspirator, Robert Catesby. John Shakespeare and William Catesby shared illegal Catholic writings that eventually wound up in the attic of John’s home in Stratford. Moreover, the Mermaid Tavern in London, frequented by Shakespeare and owned by his closest friend and confidant, was a preferred meeting spot of the turncoats as they schemed to obliterate the Protestants once and for all….” A ( http://shakespeare.about.com/od/shakespearesbiograph1/a/gunpowderplot.htm
  • 24. = ! ! # A " ( - 5 B + & ( " 22 (( ( , " / " 0 " 1 " 7 9 D 2 5 B " ( > ' 5 B & " )
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  • 29. page 22 • 5 " " " 7 " I " A " * 1 > 6 & & 9 A 1 A " 9 , %0 • 5 " B ( 9 % 8 D " 2 " ' ( ( ( " ( " " ( 6 .% • 5 I I ( * " " 34! 3 " ,> " 1" 0 ( " B % • 7 < "% E$ ?! ( ( # ; % & ( " ( ( ( " " " & 7 8 % . ' ( * % A " * 9 = B % & * " ( 5 % 8 ( ,6 (( " 0 ' ( ' & . ( ( ( # # # # * ! ' ' ! / 0 # 1 # # ( # 2 # 3 # ( & # 2 # ( ! 3 ( # ( 2 # 3 ! ) # ! 2 ( ( & " 4 # • > C ! " " " ( 7 9 D ??% & ( = $ " ' % & " ( ' > H ! " , * ! , + - I (( # % • 7 $ " " " = " ??% 1 " " ( 5 " . / I ( , % 1 ( " " " ( I % & " ( " ( %
  • 30. page 23 • ( " % 5 B ( & I 1 . / 1 . 24 " 4 ( ( * 6 @ "" " " % " % ) # 6 : " ( 5 A 5 I 5 "" '' % & ( ( # ; " % & ' ( ( 7 1 D ( " 2 ( D " ?< 3 ' 3 # 5 3 . 6 3 7 ! 3 & & 65 & . 5 & . " & 3 3 & . ( 6 & ( 6 ( ( Best, Michael. Shakespeare’s Life and Times. Internet Shakespeare Editions, University of Victoria: Victoria, BC, 2001-2005. <http://ise.uvic.ca/Library/SLT/>. Accessed September 9, 2008. ! ; % " ( D 5 & B . & * " ( 5 % . 2? " ' * " ( + % . " % : ' ! ; 5 > " > ( " " ( 7 ( ( # ; .% 5 " ( 9 " ( # " % 5 ' " " ' ( ( ( ' % 5 " B 5 %
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  • 33. page 25 = ) % & ( " " ' % & " ( ' ( " ' $ " ' ( " $ ' ( % ( + + " ( / 1 5 # 5 9 EE3 <4 ! ( , 0 % & " " ( " ( % 5' : * 7 ' ( # = “If you cannot understand my argument, and declare ‘It’s Greek to me’, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you act more in sorrow than in anger, if your wish is father to the thought, if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool’s paradise— why, be that as it may, the more fool you, for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare.” From The Story of English. Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert MacNeil, eds. Viking: 1986, pp. 99- 100. = 5 ' " # $ ' " ( 222 222 % ' " 42 222 % • 3?2 (( << E %
  • 34. page 26 • ' ' E22 !% & " " (( ( " % & ) $ 3 %3 @ 9 " ( " ( http://shakespeare.about.com/library/weekly/aa042400a.htm ; ! %< : 6 ' % 5 ) ' % . ( " ' # = # ; ) " ' F " # % < ' " ( ( " 4 222 @ ( " + % #' = ( G , = 0 " • # ! • 8 ! ! 9 : ( + (( ( ( (( ! ( " " (( " % 7 (( " ( ' " " % 1 " (( 22 % " " " " $( % • '" 1 0- : # & ;3< , 02 * : 1 = '" 1 0- : 3 6 & = & & ! : > 7 6 ' # 1" K "% % < 3E! • /3* : ' ( ! 9 '" 1 0- : * ! 63 & & C + ,' ( ! 90 !% & ( " 9 C ! % 1" . "% % E!
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  • 50. page 40 = ! ! “It is curious, although edifying, that the plays we revere, century after century, are the tragedies. In them, and in them alone, lies the belief—optimistic, if you will—in the perfectibility of man.” + 6 5 ( ( ' % D " ; % & % %B! C 1 ( " B " ( ( ( $ 22 *9! ! 4 ! ! # # ( + # # ! & ( ( ! 5 " # $ # < / ( ( " " ' 9 8 9 ( " " ( " % # ! 1"" $ ' ' % , 0! % % ( ' " ' ( , % 0 " ( % 1 ( " ( 1 ( ( ' "% . 1 " ' ' " ' ( ) " * ( ( @ !% 5 ' ( " ( ( !% 7 ! 1%9% * ' A " " ( ' " "" I ! ( 1 ( % % J " " ' A " " " " (% . ! " ! " " ' ( A " ' %
  • 51. page 41 * 1 ( % " " ( ' ' % F I ( ' ( " % ' 5 " " Q ,( 0% 5 ( " " " ' $ " ( " ' ! ' ( " " % 3% ( % 5 ( ' ( " ) " " " % 4% # ) 5 " " " ) " ( ' ( % 1 ' ( " % 5 " " ) 8 ' ( ( @ "" =" ' ; ( " % % ( 5 " ) ( ; ( ( % > ( ( " " @ % % B " ! " ( " ( ' % % # % 5 " ! " ; % .( ) " " ' ( ( " % I " ' " ( " " ( " ' % 6 ! 5 1 " $ 6 ( - ! ( ! & “The tragic feeling is evoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing—his sense of personal dignity. The tale always reveals what has been called his “tragic flaw.” The flaw, or crack in the character, is really nothing—and need be nothing—but his inherent unwillingness to remain passive in the face of what he conceives to be a challenge to his dignity. But there are among us today, as there always have been, those who act against the scheme of things that degrades them, and in the process of action, everything we have accepted out of fear or insensitivity or ignorance is shaken before us and examined, and from this total onslaught by an individual against the seemingly stable cosmos surrounding us—from this total examination of the ‘unchangeable’ environment—comes the terror and the fear that is classically associated with tragedy.” From: Guth, Hans P. and Gabriele L. Rico, Discovering Literature. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1993, pp. 1461-1464.
  • 52. page 42 D % % % ! # 5 ( ' ( " ' % # 1 " ( ( ( % 5 ( ' 1 % " % E 5 " " ( " ( = " " % " 1 " % 1 " = ( ( ( % 9 5 ( " ( @ ( " " " " % 5 " ( ,= 0G ' %! ! . " " " ( ' " + " % & ( ' + ( " " ' + % & ' " ( " " " " " = ' ( % & " ( " ! " ( % & " " % 5 " " " ( ( ( ( % 5 " ( ' %
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