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An Introduction to Understanding “The Bard”

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1 An Introduction to Understanding “The Bard”
William Shakespeare An Introduction to Understanding “The Bard”

2 Intro to William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare b. April 26th, 1564 (TODAY: Bill Shakespeare just had his 450th birthday!) Parents: John and Mary (Arden) Shakespeare Place of birth: Stratford-Upon-Avon (named so because the town was on the banks of the Avon river) Childhood home: Henley Street (can still be visited today)


4 Parents John Shakespeare: Married (Mary) the daughter of his landlord
Held many jobs: glover, money lender, wool and grain dealer Prestige: Bailiff (= to mayor) 1576 – Petitioned town for a coat of arms to become a gentleman Petition expired without being granted

5 Childhood Education: father’s prominent position suggests that Shakespeare would have attended: King’s New School (petty school=preschool): well respected, taught by Oxford grads Grammar School (6-7am until 5pm) Study Latin and some Greek Read Roman authors Plautus, Ovid, Seneca, and Horace Traces of these authors in his own later works Did NOT attend University (Greek/Latin education)

6 Wife and Children November 1582 (age 18): Married Anne Hathaway (age 26) May 1583 (6 mo. later): birth of first child, Susanna February 1585: twins Hamnet and Judith Hamnet would die at the age of 11 while Shakespeare was living in London away from his family

7 London and The Stage Went to London after twins’ birth (between 21 and 28 yrs. old) (Most likely) went as an actor and slowly gained attention as a playwright Jealous Much? Robert Greene (1592) warned other University colleagues that the uneducated Shakespeare was trying to parade as a legit playwright Shakespeare’s reputation for poetry provoked the envy of a failing competitor

8 London and The Stage 1593: All London theatres closed due to outbreak of the bubonic plague During this time Shakespeare wrote the poems Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594) Only two of his works that he seemed to have helped into print due to the presence of dedications 1594: Theatres reopened; Shakespeare joined the acting company Lord Chamberlain’s Men

9 London and The Stage Plays: Early years: Histories
: Henry VI, trilogy : Richard III 1590s: Romantic Comedies 1594: The Comedy of Errors : Love’s Labour’s Lost 1595: A Midsummer Night’s Dream 1598: Much Ado About Nothing

10 London and The Stage Plays (con’t) Total Plays: 37* Tragedies
1595: Romeo and Juliet 1599: Julius Caesar : Hamlet 1606: Macbeth Total Plays: 37* Histories: 10 Comedies: 17 Tragedies: 10 *This number is debated by scholars

11 The Theatre 1597: Success 1597: The boot
Secure a coat of arms = gentleman Purchase of New Place – one of the largest houses in Stratford 1597: The boot Lease expired with Lord Chamberlain’s playhouse (called The Theatre) The company had to perform in various playhouses until 1599

12 The Globe 1599: Opening of the Globe Theatre 1613: Fire 1642: Closed
Built with lumber from The Theatre Shakespeare just one of the shareholders in the theatre 1613: Fire Thatched roof caught fire during a production of Henry VIII – entire building demolished The Second Globe was rebuilt quickly 1642: Closed All theatres closed under Puritan rule Demolished in 1644 for tenements (apartments)

13 The Globe

14 The Globe


16 The (new) Globe 1996: Revival A replica built near original site
Built with techniques and materials that would have been used then Only added details that were required Exits, illuminated signage, fire retardant materials, etc. Go to see plays today!

17 The (new) Globe

18 The (new) Globe

19 Final Days William Shakespeare died on April 26, 1616 at the age of 52
(398 years ago today!) Exact cause of death unknown Believed to have been celebrating the marriage of daughter, Judith Contracted a fever Death imminent? Changed his will in March of same year

20 Publication The First Folio Published First collection published
7 years after his death (posthumous) By two members from his former company First collection published Printer folded each sheet only once (folio) Folio was a larger and more prestigious book (usually reserved for works such as the Bible) Contained 36 plays

21 “He was not of an age, but for all time!”
Legacy The First Folio was the beginning of the process of constructing Shakespeare as England’s national poet and “The Bard of Avon” Bard: Gaelic term for a poet Contemporary playwright and friend, Ben Jonson wrote: “He was not of an age, but for all time!”

22 Dramatic Terminology Tragedy: A narrative about serious and important actions that end unhappily, usually with the death of the main characters. The play is broken up into acts and the acts are broken up into scenes. Monologue: A long uninterrupted speech given by one character onstage to everyone. Soliloquy: A long uninterrupted speech given by one character alone on stage, inaudible to other characters Aside: A short speech given by one character, traditionally the other characters cannot hear.

23 Dramatic Terminology He who farts in church sits in his own pew.
Pun: A humorous play on words After that poisonous snake struck at me in the Arizona Desert I was really rattled. A carpenter must have been here. I saw dust. Energizer Bunny arrested - charged with battery. Corduroy pillows are making headlines. The executioner decided to drop out of Executioner School. It was just too cut throat for him. He who farts in church sits in his own pew.

24 Dramatic Terminology Dramatic Foil: A pair of characters who are opposite in many ways and highlight or exaggerate each other’s differences.

25 Poetic Terminology Blank Verse: Unrhymed meter; unrhymed iambic pentameter specifically. Iambic Meter: Each unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed syllable. Couplets: Two consecutive lines that rhyme (aa bb cc). Usually followed when a character leaves or a scene ends. End-stopped Line: Has some form of punctionat at the end of the line (,;.!?). Run-on Line: Has NO punctuation at the end of the line and meaning is continued to following lines. Sonnet: A fourteen line poem using iambic pentameter and the following rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef gg.

26 Poetic Terminology Internal Rhyme: Words rhyming inside one line.
End Line Rhyme: Words rhyming at the end of consecutive lines. Perfect vs. Slant Rhyme: ball & hall are a perfect rhyme (end sounds the same). Ball & bell are slant rhymes (beginning and end sounds the same; middle sound is different). Alliteration: the repetition of the same beginning consonants Assonance: the repetition of the same vowel sounds in the middle of words Consonance: the repetition of the same ending consonants Onomatopoeia: words that are spelled much like how they sound.

27 Shakespeare’s 5 Part Storytelling Pattern:
Act III: Crisis/Turning Point A series of complications Act IV: Falling Action Results of the turning point; characters locked into deeper disaster Act II: Rising Action A series of complications Act I: Exposition Establishes setting, characters, conflict, and background Act V: Resolution Death of the main characters and then the loose parts of the plot are tied up

28 Tips for Understanding Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is based on Arthur Brooke’s long narrative poem the Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet (1562). The play has a highly moral tone: disobedience, as well as fate, leads to the deaths of two lovers.

29 Motifs in Romeo and Juliet
Power of Love Violence from Passion The Individual vs. Society The Inevitability of Fate

30 MONTAGUE vs. CAPULET Romeo Juliet Lord Montague (his dad)
Lady Montague (his mom) Mercutio (friend) Benvolio (cousin) Juliet Lord Capulet (her father) Lady Capulet (her mother) Tybalt (cousin) Nurse

31 A Pair of Star Crossed Lovers…
“My only love sprung from my only hate! Too early seen unknown , and known too late!” ~ Juliet; Act I, Scene V (I.v.)


33 Prologue 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. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life; Whose misadventured piteous overthrows do with their death bury their parents' strife. The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love, and the continuance of their parents' rage, which, but their children's end, nought could remove, is now the two hours' traffic of our stage.

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