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Brief shakespeare introduction
 

Brief shakespeare introduction

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An introduction to Shakespeare and his life and times for World literature students.

An introduction to Shakespeare and his life and times for World literature students.

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    Brief shakespeare introduction Brief shakespeare introduction Presentation Transcript

    • A Brief Introduction to:
      Shakespeare’s England
      and
      Shakespeare’s Life and Times
    • Shakespeare’s England
      During Shakespeare’s time (1564-1616), England was:
      A relatively small nation (under 5 million)
      Virtually absent from continental concerns
      Not yet united with Scotland, and only united with Ireland in name
      England was small and isolated, but yet a proud nation with a strong sense of national identity
    • Shakespeare’s England: London
      16th century London was at once more attractive and less attractive than 20th century version
      190,000-200,000 inhabitants, and was the largest city of Europe
      Green fields, streams, meadows, etc. all were contained in London.
      Yet London also had ugly side: beheaded traitors, small, crowded homes, filthy streets (open sewers), epidemics, prostitution and theatres (which often fled restrictive laws of London proper).
    • Shakespeare’s England: a Rising Power
      During Shakespeare’s times, English ships assumed dominant positions in Mediterranean trade, while various trading companies grew, all of which set the stage for the English empire.
    • Shakespeare’s England: Political and Religious Background
      England under the Tudors suffered from almost unceasing religious conflict, especially affecting politics.
      Tudors united England after so-called War of the Roses (Lancasters and Yorks)
      Henry VII had a weak dynastic claim, but England was exhausted from civil strife.
    • Shakespeare’s England: Political and Religious Background
      Henry VIII inherits a more secure throne, but has marital “difficulties.”
      Break with Rome occurs in 1534, a few years after Martin Luther’s momentous break with Papacy (1517).
      Leads to establishment of Anglican church
      His successor, the sickly Edward VI, dies and brings further religious crisis.
    • Shakespeare’s England: Political and Religious Background
      After 5 bloody years, Elizabeth replaces Mary (a Catholic) and returns nation to Protestantism.
      Tact and moderation were required to prevent open religious war at home and abroad—Elizabeth’s genius at compromise prevented war.
    • Shakespeare’s England: Queen Elizabeth
      As queen, Elizabeth had to deal with a divided nation (including extremists); she was a woman (in an age that was openly skeptical of a woman’s ability or right to rule).
      Her success was in part due to her personal style:
      Strong will
      Feminity
      Brilliant handling of male admirers/suitors.
    • Shakespeare’s England: Political Ideas of the Time
      Tudor conceptions of order dictated that monarch rules in accord with divine plan
      To Machiavelli (in The Prince), politics was a manipulative science governed by dictates of social expediency—survival is the ultimate goal.
      Machiavelli’s theories would provide fodder for Shakespeare and others (in the construction of a Machiavellian Villain)
    • Shakespeare’s Life and Times
      The early years (1564-1594):
      Shakespeare was born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon (central England), and baptized on 26 April at Holy Trinity Church
      Father: John Shakespeare, a glove maker and prominent citizen of the town. He married extremely well
      Mother: Mary Arden, the daughter of a well-to-do landowner.
    • Shakespeare’s Life and Times
      Education:
      Although we don’t have school records, it is almost certain that Shakespeare attended Stratford’s Grammar School.
      Curriculum was based around teaching pupils Latin-both spoken and written
      He probably would have studied Cato, Virgil, Ovid, Seneca to name a few.
    • Shakespeare’s Life and Times
      Marriage:
      In November 1582, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway (who was 8 years older).
      First child: Susanna, born 26 May 1583.
      Two years later, twins followed, Hamnet and Judith.
      The period that follows (from 1585 to 1592) are usually called the “the lost years” since there are virtually no details about his life.
    • Shakespeare’s Life and Times
      Early Career:
      Shakespeare probably arrived in London around 1586/7.
      By 1592, Shakespeare’s reputation was established.
      His earliest plays were Henry VI, TheTwo Gentlemen of Verona, and Titus Andronicus.
      In 1594, Shakespeare joined the Lord Chamberlain’s men (with Richard Burbage as its leading actor).
      For almost 20 years, Shakespeare was its regular dramatist.
    • Shakespeare’s Life and Times: The Theatre
      Compared to today’s theatres (even high school ones), Shakespeare’s theatres were hopelessly limited.
      Plays were:
      Performed in daylight
      Scenery was simple (if present at all)
      Imagination and script integration was required (for both audience and writer)
      Stage was versatile
      Buildings were typically round or octagonal
    • Shakespeare’s Life and Times: The Globe
    • The Globe
      The Globe :
      Was located to the south bank of the Thames
      This was the equivalent of a red light district
      Open to all social classes for a penny
      An extra penny bought a bench, cushion, and protection from the rain (and the masses)
    • Shakespeare’s Life and Times
      During the period that follows, Shakespeare wrote works such as:
      Midsummer Night’s Dream
      Romeo and Juliet
      Julius Caesar
      Twelfth Night
      Hamlet
      Othello
      King Lear
      Macbeth
      The Tempest
      And many others
    • Shakespeare’s Life and Times
      Shakespeare’s plays were performed for two monarchs (Elizabeth I and James I)
      He was well-loved by audiences
      Even critics like Ben Jonson spoke well of him
      In short, he was a celebrity, of whom Jonson said paradoxically “Not of an age, but for all time”
    • Shakespeare’s Life and Times
      Around 1615, Shakespeare retires from the theatre and returns to Stratford-upon-Avon.
      There, he has purchased a number of homes, including the large home named, New Place, and lives a peaceful life to the end.
      April 23, 1616 Shakespeare dies and is buried at Holy Trinity Church, Stratford
      A copy of his will remains.
    • Shakespeare’s Life and Times
      After his death, friends and colleagues, Heminges and Condell, collected his plays into the First Folio
      names of principle actors
      title page