2 To understand a difficult literary work, it’s helpful to know about… Life of the writerHistory of the eraHow the author used languageGenre(s) of the writing
3 Who was William Shakespeare? A husband and fatherAn actorA poetA playwrightHusband to Anne Hathaway (older than him, was pregnant when they got married)Father to Susanna, and then twins named Judith and Hamnet. Hamnet died when 11 years old and caused much grief to his father, which shows up in the type of writing completed in the years following the death.Actor in a group called The Lord Chamberlain’s (later King’s) Men.Poet—wrote sonnets and long narrative poems. Thought like a poet in his play writing.Playwright=“playmaker.” He was a poet who also made highly poetic plays.
4 Shakespeare’s Era Born 1564, died 1616 The Elizabethan Era April 23=supposed day of both his birth and deathElizabeth was older than Shakespeare and died in 1603.Powerful queen, never married.Shakespeare & Elizabeth=mutual fans
5 Elizabethan Theatre Popular with all classes Few props or costumes Performed in daylightNo female actorsKnowing the differences between theatre in Elizabethan times and now will help explain otherwise confusing things:Characters talk about the weather/time of day/scenery since it wouldn’t have been visible in lighting, set, or propsVery few stage directions mean that an all-male cast could make acting decisions that worked for them.Plays have high poetry and very unsophisticated humor to appeal to a very wide audiencePlays were popular since even an illiterate peasant could enjoy them (as opposed to reading a poem)
6 The NEW Globe TheatreThe new Globe in England, based after the original.Trap door in the floor for bringing up ghosts or other surprisesNo roof—they needed natural light since fire was a huge hazardPoorest people stood on the ground around the stage and were called “groundlings”; higher-paying audience had seats in the stalls around the sides.
7 Shakespeare’s Writing Stages of English:OldMiddleEarly ModernModernWhat stage of English do you think Shakespeare wrote in?Most people think Shakespeare wrote in Old English. Make a guess before moving on.
8 Old English= AD Observe how different Old English is from anything you know as English (but also notice the words that have been around long enough to pick out)Middle English= ADEarly Modern/Modern English=AD 1500-present. The early modern sample, from around Shakespeare’s time, is almost entirely understandable (other than a few vocabulary and spelling issues)
9 Old, Middle, Early Modern, or Modern? O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name; Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I'll no longer be a Capulet. --William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, c.1594Answer: Early Modern
10 The Language of Shakespeare’s Plays Early Modern EnglishPoeticFigurative languageIambic pentameter (10 syllables per line)Syntax is often inverted (like Yoda speaks)Early Modern English isn’t that hard. It’s the poetry that people find more problematic!Iambic Pentameter means that sometimes Shakes chose words just to keep the syllables right!Like any good poet, he loved figurative language, which is interesting but not as direct as literal language.Syntax is often inverted—like the way Yoda from Star Wars talks. “Help you I can”=I can help you.
11 The Plays 38 plays (37 alone, 1 collaborated) Four genres: History TragedyComedyRomance
12 History Plays English kings Battles Embellished the truth 10 plays Henry V, King John, Richard III…
13 Tragedies End in death (a lot of it) Show a great man’s downfall Dark magic, insanity, ghosts, superstitions10 playsJulius Caesar, Romeo & Juliet,Hamlet…