Brief shakespeare introduction

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

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Brief shakespeare introduction

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

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