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									                     History and Politics in Shakespeare


The playwright Thomas Nashe wrote about the importance of the history play as a genre,
stating that they helped to preserve the memories of glorious English heroes. Nashe said that
the history play creates a collective memory of the national past for the masses, celebrating
the realm's heroes and particularly patriotic moments in English history.

Shakespeare drew on historical records of the times about which he wrote, but he condensed
dates and events, reordering things if necessary in order to create dramatic tension and
compelling plots. He makes Henry VI older than he was at the time of his succession; he was
actually only nine months old, but in the play is of marriageable age. Some of the plays most
striking scenes are of his own invention, not based in fact: for example the scene in the
Temple Garden, in which the followers of Richard Plantagenet pick white and red roses as
emblems of their opposing opinions on a point of law. This scene provides an explanation as
to the origin of the War of the Roses. Without developing any consistent philosophy of
history, Shakespeare gives equal voice to two predominant theories on the cause of 15th
century British turmoli: one theory reasons that the history is the re sult of human choises and
actions; another posits that a higher power watches and judges our actions and rewards or
punishes accordingly - by this theory the violence of the 15th century came as punishment for
Britain's illegal dethroning of Richard II. In Henry VI some events certainly result from
human decisions - and particularly human rivalries, yet we see also evidence of other higher
powers at work. With court struggles Shakespeare sends message that petty rivalries and
internal divisions among the nobility can be as dangerous to England as foreign enemies. His
Joan of Arc and Queen Elizabeth are similar, since Joans identity slips between the two
polarities of innocent virgin and immoral whore, as people assume a woman able to influence
men must draw her power from sex. Queen Elizabeth too, had the body of a woman yet the
role of a man. So too her situatuion provoke both admiration and demonization, both the title
the Virgin Queen and malicious rumours of infertility or a sexual defect.

In Henry VI, Shakespeare keeps us on the plane of the political consequences of Bolingbrokes
usurpation, putting at the forefront questions of political power, legitimacy and obligation.
The quality of restricting the action and the characterization to the political realm clearly sets
the Henry IV plays or Henry V apart from say Macbeth and King Lear. These plays also have
an important political- historical dimension, but they move far beyond that into the deep
personal suffering of the main characters.

About a fifth of all Elizabethan plays were histories, but this was the genre that Shakespeare
particularly made his own, dramatizing English history from Richard II to Henry VII in two
four-play sequences. The first sequence, comprising the three Henry VI plays – Henry VI,
Part 1, Henry VI, Part 2, and Henry VI, Part 3 - and Richard III, begins as a patriotic
celebration of English bravery against the French. But this is soon superseded by a mature,
disillusioned understanding of the world of politics, culminating in the shocking portrayal of
Richard III. He apparently monumentalizes the glorious accession of the dynasty of Tudor,
but its realistic description of the workings of state power subtly undercuts such cliches and
appeal of Richards individuality is deeply unsettling, preventing any easy moral judgements.
The second sequence Richard II, Henry IV, Part 1, and Henry IV part 2 and Henry V begins
with the overthrow of the bad but legitimate king and follows its consequences through two
generations, probing relentlessly at the difficult questions of authority, obedience and order
that it raises. In the Henry IV plays Shakespeare cuts scenes among the rulers with scenes
among those who are ruled, to create a many sided picture of national life at a particular
historical moment. The tone of these plays, though, is increasingly pesimistic, and in Henry V
patriotic fantasy of English greateness is hedged around with hesitations and questions about
the validity of the myth of glorious nationhood offered by the Agincourt story. Through all
these plays runs a concern that is essentially tragic. Shakespeare's other history plays, King
John and Henry VIII approach similar questions through material drawn from John Foxe's
Actes and Monuments.

Julius Caesar is a political play, a play debating dictatorship. Shakespeare's themes here are:
ideals in the real (political) world, the tragedy of corrupting power, the swaying of the public
support, politics vs truth and beauty. Shakespeare rises questions: What is a good leader?
What happens to a person when he becomes a great public figure? Does power corrupt? Can a
good man survive in a political world or will he be corrupted? Is the answer to be found in
politics or somewhere else? The audience gets a sense of the inevitable repetition of history.
Leaders fall and rise. Julius Caesar is also a play about history, how it revolves. There is a
sense of irreversible forces at work which the individual can do little about. History is a flood
you have to move with. History is bigger than ma n. The murder of Caesar was futile. It only
results in another leader rising up and taking his place (Antony). Just like it has happened
before, and is likely to happen again. The pattern of political strife repeats itself.




                     Depiction of violence in Shakespeare′s Tragedies


Some of Shakespeare's most violent plays were by far his most popular during his lifetime.
Although modern audiences are often repulsed by its gore and brutality, "Titus Andronicus"
was a huge success in Tudor England, coveted by several of the finest touring companies.
And certainly it is no coincidence that Shakespeare's most profound psychological
masterpieces have their share of sensational melodrama. Shakespeare often deviated from his
sources to include more titillating details. Hamlet's father is poisoned with a potion so potent
that it immediately causes bubbling scabs on his body; King Duncan is lured to Macbeth's
castle to be slaughtered in his bed, and so on.

There is a possibility of feminist psychoanalitic interpretation of Shakespeare′s works and in it
we see that they depict violence. In Shakespere′s tragedies there is a shared fiction on the part
of the heroes about femininity and about their own vulnerability in relation to women -
fictions interwoven with violence, which generate a particular kind of heterosexual dilemma.
Whether playfully resolved in the comedies or brutally exposed in the tragedies, at some
level, all his works symbollically explore the conflict between male and female. Particulaly in
his tragedies, his characters link masculinity with control, strenth and success and femininity
with weakness, loss of control. The prospect of heterosexual union arouses emotional
conflicts that give shape to the plot, unleashing a kind of violence that in the comed ies
remains symbolic, imagined rather than enacted.

In Macbeth Shakespeare makes a fictional social order that is completely based on violent
masculine domination and the suppression of the feminine side. Even more so than in Hamlet
or King Lear, masculinity is a means to domination and success. In a world where male
supremacy is being protected by brute force, honour, compassion and trust cannot survive.

In Romeo and Juliet to participate in the masculine ethic of this play is to participate in the
feud, which defines relations among men as intensely competitive, and relations with women
as controlling and violent. What is striking about the relationship between, for example,
Romeo and Juliet is the extent to which it anticipates and ultimately incorporates violence.
Both lovers have a lively imagination of disaster. While Romeo ponders: «some vile forfeit of
untimely death», Juliet speculates: «If he is married/My grave is like to be my wedding bed.».
Premonition, for both, has the force of self- fulfilling prophecy. While Romeo seeks danger by
courting Juliet and death by threatening suicide in the wake of Tybald′s death, Juliet, under
pressure, exclaims: «I′ll to my wedding bed;/And death, not Romeo, take my maidenhead!».
The paradigm offered by Romeo and Juliet, with some modifications, may be read in the
major tragedies as well. Here the structure of male dominance involving various strategies of
control expressed in the language of prostitution, rape and murder, conceal deeper structures
of fear, in which women are perceived as powerful and the heterosexual relation is seen as
either mutually violent or deeply threatening to the man.

Hamlet′s violent behaviour in his mother′s bedroom expresses some of the violence of his
impulses toward her. Obsessed as he is with sexual betrayal, the problem of revenge for him
is less a matter of killing Claudius than one of not killing his mother. Hamlet′s anger against
women, based on his perception of his mothers conduct, finds expression in the language of
prostitution in his violent outburst against Ophelia. For a aman to be betrayed by a woman is
to be humilited or dishonoured. To recover his honour he must destroy the man or woman
who is responsible for his humiliation, for placing him in a position of vulnerability. Adultery
is a form of violence and as a great crime, Hamlet who reacts as an injured husband in seeking
revenge against Claudius, also seeks retribution against his mother. That his manner sugests
physical violence is confirmed by Gertrude′s response: «What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not
murder me?/Help, ho!» It is at this point that the violence Hamlet seeks to contain in his
attitude towards his mother is deflected onto another object presumed to be appropriate. This
single act of displaced violence, moreover, has further ramifications in terms of Hamlet′s
relation to Ophelia, whose conflicted responses to the fact that her lover has killed her father
increase the burden of double messages she has already received from the men in the play,
culminating in her madness and death. It is not his mother whom Hamlet kills but Ophelia.
Only when she is dead, is he free to say clearly that he loved her.

Similarly Othello, whom the pathology of jealousy, the humiliation and rage that plague the
man supposedly dishonoured by the woman he loves, are more specifically and vividly
portrayed, will say of Desdemona late in the play: «I will kill thee,/ And love thee after». Once
Othello is convinced of Desdemona′s infidelity, he regards her not as a woman who has
committed a single transgression but as a whore, one whose entire behaviour may be
explained in terms of lust. As such, he may humiliate her in pub lic, offer her services to the
Venetian ambassadors, pass judgement on her, and condemn her to death. Murder in this light
is a desperate contempt to control. It is Desdemona′s power to hurt that Othello seeks to
eliminate by ending her life. It is the fear or pain of victimization on the part of the man that
leads him to victimize women. It is those who perceive themselves to be powerless who may
be incited to the acts of greatest violence. The paradox of violence in Othello, not unlike that
in Macbeth, is that the exercise of power turns against the hero. In this case the murder of a
woman leads to self- murder, and the hero dies attesting to the erotic desstructiveness at the
heart of his relationship with Desdemona. If murder may be a loving act, love may be a
murdering act, and consummation of such a love is possible only through the death of both
parties.

Interwoven into the patriarchal structure of Shakespeare′s tragedies is an equally powerful
matriarchal vision. They are even, aspects of one another, both proceeding from the masculine
consciousness of feminine betrayal. Both inspire a violence of response on the part of the hero
against individul women, but more importantly, against the hero′s perception of himself as
womanish, in which he ultimately hurts himself. The concurrence of these themes is
particularly evident in Antony and Cleopatra, a play that both recalls the ritual marriage
conclusion of the comedies as it deepens the sexual dilemma of the tragic hero.

Throughout Shakespeare′s tragedies, the imagery of heterosexual union involves the threat of
mutual or self- inflicted violence. Violence against women as an aspect of the structure of
male dominance in Shakespeare′s plays may be seen to obscure deeper paterns of conflict in
which women as lovers, are perhaps more importantly as mothers, are perceived as radically
untrustworthy. In this structure of relation, it is women who are regarded as powerful and men
who strive to avoid an awareness of their vulnerability in relation to women, a vulnerability in
which they regard themselves as feminine.




                         Shakespeare and the Jacobean Era



The term Jacobean comes from James I (from Latin Jacobus), King after Elizabeth's death,
who reigned from 1603-1625. The distinction between the early Jacobean and the preceding
Elizabethan styles are subtle ones, often merely a question of degree. During the unstable
reign of James I there were disillusion and pessimism. The 17th century was to be a time of
great turmoil - revolution and regicide, restoration of the monarcy. During this time the
literature became sophisticated, sombre, and conscious of social abuse and rivalry. The plays
become even more complex, even more passionate and violent than the plays of the
Elizabethan age, as they go more deeply into problems of corruption and human
weakness.The Jacobean Age produced rich prose and drama as well as the King James
translation of the Bible. Shakespeare and Jonson wrote during the Jacobean Age, as well as
John Donne, Francis Bacon, and Thomas Middleton.

The division between Shakespeare's Elizabethan phase and his Jacobean phase is real and
significant. During the Jacobean age he wrote the darker, problem comedies, virtually all the
great tragedies and finally a group of predominantly tragicomic romances. The recognizable
distinction between the Elizabethan and the Jacobean Shakespeare is a tribute to the
extraordinary intellectual and artistic consistency of this dramatist as he sought constantly to
develop new forms. It is easy to oversimplify the possible motives underlying Shakespeare's
change of direction by seeing a politial reflection in his plays, an indication of a shift from the
great Elizabethan compromise to an era under James I of political and religious confrontation,
impasse, and eventually drift toward civil war. More broadly, it is tempting to invok e a
change of cultural and philosophic outlook from Elizabethan optimism to Jacobean
pessimism.

James I detested war and Shakespeare knew he would not write any more fire-snorting plays
like Henry V. What the King loved best was a masque. The themes of the masks were
abstract. Virtues and vices were personified in very sophisticated costumes and the virtues
always won. It had much of morality interlude and it was an anticipation of opera. It had only
one act but it was extavagant and it interest was more sensuous than intelectual. Shakespeare
could have given up five-act tragedies and make a fortune out of one-act masques, but the
artist got better of the man of business and he never wrote any masques. He instead continued
to write his plays for the Globe, for royal command purposes and for the indoor theatre at
Blackfriars.so at the globe and the Blackfriars Shakespeare worked out the climax of his
career. He had everything he had ever wanted and he proceeded to present human life as a
tragedy.

During the Jacobean age Shakespeare's company were at the height of their prosperity. Drama
continued to flourish until the theatres at the beginning of the English Revolution in 1642.
James I liked drama. He turned the Lord Chamberlain's Men into the King's Men in 1603.
King thought highly of the company that bore his name His reign was glorious with dramatic
achievements, though there was much sickness and corruption in the plays. To this period
belong Shakespeare's greatest tragedies and they are increadibly be atiful and moving products
of disillusionment. His comedies of the time All's Well That Ends Well and Measure for
Measure are not meant for laughs and are diffficult to categorize. We will no longer find the
simple quality of gaiety in his plays.

As already stated this was the age both of Shakespeare and of Johnson. While Jonson's
interests were social and political Shakespeare turned from social issues to the proper study of
mankind. In the space of four years 1604-1608, he appears to have composed Othello, King
Lear, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus and perhaps some lesser works. King Lear
was performed in 1605-06 and published in a quarto edition in 1608. The play displays
pessimism and nihilism that make it a modern favourite. For Shakespeare the interest lay not
in political events but in the personal character of the King. Othello was possibly composed
while Elizabeth was still alive. The first performance was recorded in 1604. Trusting to false
appearance and allowing ones reason to be guided by ones passions had been a theme of
many Shakespeare's comedies. In Othello he showed that the consequences of doing so can be
tragic as well. Shakespeare adapted the story from an Italian model. His principal innovation
consisted in developing the character of Iago. Shakespeare was keenly interested in a villain
who could successfully preserve an appearance of honesty. Macbeth exploits one of the
preocupations of King James – witchcraft. To Shakespeare witchcraft was good dramatic
material. Plays written between 1608-1612 – Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter s Tale, and
Henry VIII – are commonly known as late plays or last plays, and sometimes with reference
to their tragicomic form they are called romances.

The shift from English history to the Roman tragedy of Julius Caesar and the Trojan tragedy
of Troilus and Cressida freed Shakespeare od certain presuppositions. Roman society lacked a
divine sanction, or at least it seemed to the Christian tradition to have done so, it was therefore
a fit ground in which to explore the political behaviour of men empirically, freed from the
assumption of a providence shaping their ends.
After 1608 Shakespeare worked for the closed theatre at Blacfriars as well as for the open
stage at the Globe. The enigmatic and puzzling nature of the latest products of Shakespearean
workshop would seem to indicate that he was experimenting to integrate old and new
conventions of the stage, conscious of the widening gap between the forms of his youth and
that of his age.




                       Shakespearean Theatre


         The theatre as a public amusement was an innovation in the social life of the
Elizabethans. It developed with amazing speed. London's first theatre was built when
Shakespeaare was about 12 years old, and the whole system of the Elizabethan t heatrical
world came into being during his lifetime. Many strolling troupes went about the country
playing wherever they could. They consisted of three or at most four men and a boy ( to take
the women's parts). They gave their plays in pageants, in the open squares in the town, in the
halls of nobleman and other gentry, or in the courtyards of inns. Some of the troups were
composed of low characters, little better than vagabonds, causing much trouble. The monarch
attempted to regulate matters by granting licences to the aristocracy for the maintenance of
troupes of players. For a time it was also a rule that these performers should appear only in the
halls of their patrons. But this was ignored. Elizabeth granted the first royal patent to the
Servants of the Earl of Leicester in 1574. Respectable people and officers of the church
frequently made complaints of the growing number of play actors and shows. Regulations and
restrictions were constantly being imposed and constantly broken. In 1575 the city authorities
imposed a Code of Practice upon Players which so displeased them that they withdrew
outside the city boundaries.

Compared to the technical theatres of today, the London public theatres in the time of Queen
Elizabeth I seem to be terribly limited. The first playhouse opened in 1576 and its founder
was James Burbage. It was called simply The Theatre. Others followed including the Curtain,
the Rose, the Swan, the Globe etc. The Theatre was home to many acting companies but it
was used primarily by Shakespeare's acting troup The Chemberlain's Men. Unfortunately it
was closed by the government, along with other theatres, due to the production of Thomas
Nashes Isle of Dogs. The Theatre did not reopen forcing the Chamberlain's Men to find
another home. The Curtain was the second playhouse in London. Built in 1577 next to the
Theatre. It had the same structure. Between 1597 and 1598 the Curtains was the home to the
Chamberlain's Men before they moved to the Globe in 1599. The Rose was built in 1587
above an old rose garden on the Bank-side. After 1592 the Rose seem to have been very
popular and many companies performed on its stage. During the plaque in 1593 the Rose
closed down for a time. After the reopening it had many successful years. However new
theatres were built beside it and it is assumed it was torn down in 1606. The Swan was built
about 1594 close to the Rose. It was one of the largest and most distinguished playhouses, and
it is known for the following facts: first it was at the Swan that Pembroke's Man staged the
infamous play The Isle of Dogs. Secondly the Swan is presented in the only contemporary
drawing of the inside of the Elizabethan playhouse known to exist. The Globe theatre was
constructed in 1599 out of timber taken from the Theatre. It stood next to the Rose. It was
built by the company in which Shakespeare had a stake. The audience stood in the yard or pit
or sat in the boxes built around the walls. In 1613 during the performance of Henry VIII the
theatre was demolished in a fire. It was soon reopened and it lasted until 1644. Today's Globe
Theatre is a faithful reconstruction of the old one. The theatre season runs from May to
September with productions of the work of Shakespeare, his contemporaries and modern
authors. Today, audiences of this „wooden O‟ sit in a gallery or stand informally as a
groundling in the yard, just as they would have done 400 years ago. This third version was
completed in 1996 and opened by Queen Elizabeth II with a production of Henry V in 1997.
The Globe now stands near the original site, and is, not surprisingly, the venue for several
Shakespeare plays every year.

Much of our knowledge of the Elizabethan theatre is merely conjectural, built up from odd
bits of evidence that have survived the ravages of time. So me of this is visual evidence, such
as the drawings of London and of the Globe but perhaps the most important piece of evidence
is an extant copy of a very detailed agreement made between the builder of the Fortune
Theatre, one Peter Street 'citizen and carpenter of London' and Philip Henslow and Edward
Alleyn. This agreement specifies all sorts of details about the theatre and in particular
establishes its measurements. These theatres could hold several thousand people most
standing in the open pit before the stage, though rich nobles could watch the play from the
chair set on the side of the stage itself. The space had a shape of a horseshoe at whose one end
was the stage and everywhere around the audience, on the ground as well as on the galleries.
The boards of the stage went as forward as almost to the middle of the yard into the audience.
Not that they only witnessed the action happening on the stage but they almost participated in
it. Above the stage was a higher acting area which symboized balcony or porch. As for
scenery, it has been estimated that a major part of the plays were acted on the bare stage. It
had to be kept very simple with just a table, a chair, a throne and maybe a tree to symbolize a
forest. Plays like Henry V, that are very conscious of being a play(for instance, the proloque
in Henry V apologiyes to the audience for the inadequacy of the stage) can teach historians
and students of literature alike how Elizabethan theatre worked. When available the costume
was as elaborate and lavish as possible but it appears that there was little attempt to present
historical accuracy. Many times there were musical accompaniments and sound effects such
as gunpowder explosions and the beating of a pan to simulate thunder. The beginning of the
play was announced by the raising of the flag and the blowing of a trumpet. The theatre was
like a circus, with a good deal of noise and dirt. If spectators dissapproved of an actor they
would shower him with oranges or just about anything and there was booing, hissing and
shouting. A visit to the theatre in Shakespeare's days was a noisy and a very lively experience.
Theatrical companies were gradually transformed from irregular associations of men
dependent on the favour of the lord, to stable bussines organisations. At the end of the reign of
Elizabeth there were 11 theatres in London including public and private houses. Various
members of the royal family were the apparent patrons of the new companies. A play might
be written, handed over to the manager of the company of actors and produced with or
without the authors name. If changes were required perhaps it would be given to some well
known playwright to be doctored before the next production. The plays were the property, not
of the author, but of the acting companies. If the piece became popular, rival managers often
stole it by sending to the performance a clerk who took down the lines in shorthand. Public
performances generally took place in the afternoon, beginning about three o'clock and lasting
perhaps two hours. The price of entrance varied, but it was roughly a penny to sixpence for
the pit, up to half a crown for a box. Once a play was sold to a company the author received
no further benefits from either performance or publication.

A playwright had to please all members of the audience. This explains the wide range of
topics in Elizabethan plays. The companies offered as many as thirty plays a season,
customarily changing the programs daily. The actors thus had to hold many parts in their
heads.

Simultaneously with the growth of the outdoor theatres, a number of indoor ones were built
for the companies of Boy Actors. These theatres that developed from the pattern of the Great
Halls. They were smaller than the outdoor theatres and, like the Halls themse lves, they were
rectangular, roofed and lighted by candles. They were attended by a somewhat different class
of audience; admission was more expensive and they housed something like 700 spectators.
The first of these was the Blackfriars Theatre. These private theatres were mostly used by boy
companies that presented a more refined type of drama.




                             Shakespeare's Life



       «All that is known with any degree of certainty concerning Shakespeare, is - that he
was born at Stratford upon Avon, -married and had children there,-went to London, where he
commenced actor, and wrote poems and plays, returned to Stratford, made his will, died, and
was buried.» Thus wrote a great Shakespearean scholar of the eighteenth century, George
Steevens. His remark has been often quoted, and others have made essentially the same
comment in less memorable words. But Stevens exaggerated, and since his time much has
been learned about the poet, his ancestors and family, and his Stradford and London
associations.

William Shakespeare was born in 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon. Located in the centre of
England, the town was (and still is) an important river-crossing settlement and market centre.
His father, John, trained as a glove-maker married Mary Arden, the daughter of Robert Arden,
a farmer from the nearby village of Wilmcote. John and Mary set up home in Henley Street,
Stratford, in the house now known as Shakespeare's Birthplace. John Shakespeare was a
prominent citizen, serving on the town council for many years and becoming Bailiff, or
Mayor, in 1568. Besides his craft as a glover, he traded as a wool dealer and was also
involved in money- lending. John and Mary lost two children before William was born. They
had five more children, another of whom died young. As the son of a leading townsman,
William almost certainly attended Stratford's 'petty' or junior school before progressing,
perhaps at the age of seven, to the Grammar School, which still stands. The grammar school's
curriculum was geared to teaching pupils Latin, both spoken and written. The classical writers
studied in the classroom influenced Shakespeare's plays and poetry; for example, some of his
ideas for plots and characters came from Ovid's tales, the plays of Terence and Plautus, and
Roman history. The Brief Lives of John Aubrey, written in the restoration period, have a great
deal that is totally unreliable to say about Shakespeare′s brief life, but they have this
observation: «Though as Ben Jonson says of him, that he had but little Latin and lesse Greek,
he understood Latine pretty well: for he has been in his younger yeares a School-master in
the Country»

It is not known what Shakespeare did when he left school, probably at the age of fourteen, as
was usual. In November 1582 he married Anne Hathaway, the daughter of Richard Hathaway,
a local farmer. There is a statistical proof of this. On November 28, 1582, two Warwick-shire
farmers stood surety for the legality of a marriage between a certain William Shagspere and a
certain Anne Hathwey. It is all there in the Bishop of Worcester′s register. Her home, now
known as Anne Hathaway's Cottage, still stands in the village of Shottery, a mile from
Stratford. At the time of their marriage William was eighteen and Anne was t wenty-six.
Burgess believed that he wished to marry a girl named Anne Whateley but surrendered to lust
and had intercourse with Anne Hathaway who was left pregnant. He then married the wrong
Anne. Burgess thinks that he entered on a forced marriage with a woman he did not really
love and the lovelessness of the marriage was one of the reasons for his leaving Stratford and
seeking a new life in London. Their first-born child, Susanna, was baptised on 26 May 1583.
Two years later twins followed, Hamnet and Judith.

We do not know when or why Shakespeare left Stratford for London, or what he was doing
before becoming a professional actor and dramatist in the capital. There are various traditions
and stories about the so-called 'lost years' between 1585 and 1592, a period for which there is
virtually no evidence concerning his life. One tale tells how he was caught poaching deer in
Charlecote Park, near Stratford, and went off to London to avoid prosecution. A plausible
early tradition claims Shakespeare was a schoolmaster for some years. When he was growing
up, drama was a significant part of Stratford's social life. Not only did local people put on
amateur shows, but the town was visited regularly by London-based companies of actors and
Shakespeare may have joined one of them. He probably arrived in London around 1586/7.

Shakespeare's reputation was established in London by 1592; in that year another dramatist,
Robert Greene, was envious of his success and called him 'an upstart crow'. Shakespeare's
earliest plays included the three parts of Henry VI, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Titus
Andronicus. Shakespeare's first printed works were two long poems, Venus and Adonis (1593)
and The Rape of Lucrece (1594). These were both dedicated to the Earl of Southampton, a
young courtier and favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, who had become Shakespeare's patron.
Most of the Sonnets were probably written about this time, too, although they were not
published until 1609.

1n 1594, Shakespeare joined others in forming a new the atre company, under the patronage of
the Lord Chamberlain, with Richard Burbage as its leading actor. For almost twenty years
Shakespeare was its regular dramatist, producing on average two plays a year. He also acted
exceedingly well, according to Aubrey. James Wright heard otherwise, that "he was much
better poet than player". The top of his performance, according to him, was the ghost in his
own Hamlet. He is also believed to have played Adam in As you like it. He remained with the
Chamberlain′s Men ( known as the King′s Men from 1603) for the rest of his workinglife.

In 1596 Shakespeare's father was granted a coat-of-arms, and it is likely that in this matter the
dramatist took the initiative with the College of Arms in London. On his father's death in
1601, he inherited the arms and the right to style himself a gentleman, even though, at the
time, actors were generally regarded as rogues and vagabonds. Shakespeare's success in the
London theatres made him wealthy and in 1597 he bought New Place, one of the largest
houses in Stratford. Although his professional career was spent in London, he maintained
close links with his native town.

His career bridged the reigns of Elizabeth I (ruled 1558-1603) and James I ( ruled 1603-
1625). He was a favourite of both monarchs. Indeed, James granted Shakespeare's company
the greatest possible compliment by endowing them with the status of king's players.
From around 1611 Shakespeare seems largely to have disengaged himself from the London
theatre world and to have spent his time at his Stratford house, New Place. In March 1616 he
signed his will, in which he left substantial property and other bequests to his family and
friends, including theatre colleagues in the King's Men. Shakespeare died in Stratford, aged
fifty-two, on 23 April 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church two days later. The lines
above his tomb (allegedly written by Shakespeare himself) read:

Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones
And cursed be he that moves my bones.

His widow, Anne, died in 1623 and was buried beside him. Shakespeare's family line came to
an end with the death of his grand-daughter Elizabeth in 1670. The story of Shakespeare s life
includes many unsolved puzzles, explained differently by different biographers, concerning
his marriage, the early start of his writing career, his will, his relationship with his wife, his
possible homosexuality etc. «He was indeed honest », johnson summed up after Shakespeare's
death, «and of an open and free nature; ha dan excellent fancy, brave notions and gentle
expression».


                          Supernatural in Shakespeare' s Tragedies


Shakespeare introduces the supernatural into some of his tragedies, he introduces ghosts and
witches who have supernatural knowledge. This supernatural element certainly cannot in most
cases, if in any, be explained as an illusion in the mind of one of the characters. And further, it
does contribute to the action, and is in more than one instance an indispensable part of it: so
that to describe human character with circumstances, as always the sole motive force in this
action would be a serious error. But the supernatural is always placed in the closest relation
with character. It gives a confirmation and a distinct form to inward movements already
present and exerting an influence; to the sense of failure in Brutus, to the stifling workings of
conscience in Richard, to the half formed thought or the horrified memory of quilt in
Macbeth, to suspicion in Hamlet. Moreover, its influence is never of a compulsive kind. It
forms no more than an element, however important, in the problem which the hero has to
face; and we are never allowed to feel that it has removed its capacity or responsibility for
dealing with this problem. So far indeed are we from feeling this, that many readers run to the
opposite extreme, and openly or privately regard the supernatural as having nothing to do with
the real interest of the play.

 In addition to the spirits and fairies that appear in some of the early comedies, Shakespeare
includes both witches and ghosts in some of his tragedies. Althought spirits of Shakespeare's
imaginative fairy realms are only real within their domains, and while the ghosts who appear
in Richard III and Macbeth are quilty-ridden hallucinations, the ghost in Hamlet and the
witches in Macbeth are given real substance. Belief in ghosts and witches remained
widespread in Elizabethan England. Shakespeare may not have believed in supernatural, but
he was certainly aware that such beliefs were held by many within English society. That being
so, he used the supernatural as both a device to advance or decorate his plots or in a
metaphorical sense.
The witches in Macbeth are named by Shakespeare as the "weird Sisters". These witches
have many animals but in this play a cat and a toad are used – who are actually evil spirits
who have taken this form. In Macbeth we hear about the owl quite often which has to relate to
the witches. The owl gives a sense of sinister atmosphere which makes the play thrilling to
read. Macbeth had many nightmares which were caused by the witches, even hallucinations.
The very word nightmare often called in Shakespeare's time the riding of the witch, which
refers to a witch riding wildly through the night on horseback, visiting bad dreams on her
victims. The witches have malicious intentions and prophetic power.

The three witches in the tragedy are introduced right at the beginning of the play. The
expression "weird sisters", used from the 1400's, means "Fatal sisters". The word "weird" was
actually a noun meaning Fate. In Act 1 the three Witches describe themselves as fore-tellers
of destiny, and they introduce themselves to Macbeth and Banquo as "The weird sisters, hand
in hand". The appearance that the three Witches possess is that of pure evil. Each of the three
Witches describe their wickedness with a proud manner. For example, when they asked the
Second Witch where she had been, she replied, "Killing swine". This statement shows how
the Witches enjoyed being devilish. The impression that the audience gets of Witc hes is that
they are hideously evil. In Shakespeare's time, witches were believed to have supernatural
powers, they could transform themselves into other shapes, usually animals. When the First
Witch describes where she had been, she referred to sailing across the sea and transforming
into a rat without a tail.

        The influence of Witch scenes on the reader differs greatly. On the one hand the
Witches, whose contribution to the “atmosphere” of Macbeth can hardly be exaggerated, are
sometimes described as goddesses, or even as fates, whom Macbeth is powerless to resist. On
the other hand, we are told that, they are merely symbolic representations of the unconscious
or half-conscious guilt in Macbeth himself. Shakespeare took, as material for his purposes, the
ideas about witchcraft that he found existing in people around him, and in books like Reginald
Scot‟s Discovery (1584). He selected and improved these ideas, and used them without
changing their substance. The Witches are not goddesses, or fates, or in a ny way supernatural
beings. They are old women, poor and ragged, skinny and hideous, full of vulgar spite,
occupied in killing their neighbours‟ swine. There is not a syllable in Macbeth to imply they
are anything but women.

        But again, in accordance with the popular ideas, they have received from evil spirits
certain supernatural powers. Many of these ideas are taken from Scot‟s first chapter, where he
is presenting the current superstitions of his time. Shakespeare read in Holinshed‟s that,
according to the common opinion, the women who met Macbeth “were either the weird sisters
- goddesses of destiny, or some Nimphes or Feiries”. But Shakespeare did not use this idea.
He used nothing but the phrase “wierd sisters”. His witches owe all their power to the spirits,
they are described as “instrument od darkness”, the spirits are their “masters”.

If we are to explore the significance of these witches we must do so by treating them as vital
poetic symbols in the play, essential manifestation of the moral atmosphere of Macbeth's
world. The most obvious interpretation is to see them as manifestations of evil in the world.
They exist to tempt and torment people, to challenge their faith in themselves and their
society. They work on Macbeth indirectly that is by ambiquous promises of some future state.
These promises come true, but not in the way the victim originally believed. The witches thus
make their appeal to Macbeth's and Banquo's desire to control their own future, to direct
toward some desireable ends. They have no power to force beliefs, but they can obviously
appeal strongly to an already existing tendency. Banquos importance in the play stems in
large part from his different response to these witches. Like Macbeth he is strongly tempted
but he does not let his desires outweigh his moral caution. Macbeth cannot act on this
awareness because his desires constantly intrude upon his moral sensibilities. The witches in
other words appeal to what Macbeth wants to believe. They don't make him belive it. And
they do not tell him what to do in order to achieve what they prophecy. They say nothing
about killing Duncan. In that sense they cannot be the origin of the idea of the murder. Hence
these witches exist as a constant reminders of the potential for evil in the human imagination.

Ghosts were usually believed to inhabit the netherworld and to be capable of returning in
some form to the world of the living. Individuals who are haunted are believed to be
responsible for, or associated with the ghost's unhappy past experience. Ghost in Hamlet (who
appears looking like the late King of Denmark) is reluctant to speak to anyone except a person
who will be affected by his story and who will act out his wishes. The person is his son
Hamlet. He informs Hamlet about the circumstances of his death and ask him to avenge his
death. When the ghost reappears in the queen's chamber he warns Hamlet to spare his mother.
With this the dead husband shows a tender regard towards his wife. The ghost proves his
identity by showing the same characteristics as were visible on his first appearance – the same
insistence on the duty of remembering and the same concern for the Queen. In this context,
the ghost can be seen as the sign of doubt. He appears only to those who question the honesty
and righteousness of the present king. The ghost does not apear when the plot starts to
develop thus he may be seen as a mere device to start the action and to retain the intensity of
our intention.

Ghost appears in Macbeth too. It is Banquos ghost who is m,urdered by Macbeth. The
appearance of Banquos ghost provides insight into Macbeth s character. When he sees the
ghost he reacts with horror. The ghosts in Macbeth an Hamlet differ greatly as do the
reactions to them. I(n Hamlet the ghost appears se veral times and is seen bz manz persons.
The ghost makes requests for things to be dodne. The ghost in Macbeth is only seen by
Macbeth and is never heard. In Hamlet the ghost appears in full bodz armour dressed for
battle and puts thoughts in Hamlets mind. The gost of King in Hamlet does not cause Hamlet
to go insane as Banquos ghost does to Macbeth. Similaritz between the two ghosts is that both
men represented bz the ghosts are wrongfully murdered.

The supernatural in Shakespeare's tragedies includes also hallucinations of the characters
which was believed to be a sickness caused by the spells of incorporeal beings: insanity,
somnabulism and other abnormal conditions of mind. Deeds issuing from these conditions are
not expressive of character. These abnormal conditions are never origin of deed of any
dramatic moment. For example, Laday Macbeth's sleepwalking does not influence the events
that follow. Her sleepwalking just shows her quilty conscience. Macbeth doesn't kill Duncan
because he saw a dagger in the air. He saw the dagger because he was about to murder
Duncan. Neither Lear's nor Ophelia's insanity is the cause of a tragic conflict it is the result of
the conflict.

Supernatural is clasified as the unnatural or the explainable mysteries of our universe. In
Shakespeare's time many people would relate many of the unusual happening against the
supernatural, since this was the most simplistic of an answer to give. Elizabethans have
several beliefs in superstitions. Some of these superstitions include that they believe in
witches, ghosts, destiny and the foretelling of the future. The supernatural was believed by
everyone from the educated to the non-educated.




                                  10. Moral Order in Trage dy


The ultimate power in the tragic world is not adequately described as a law or order which we
can see to be just and benevolent as a 'moral order'. The tragic world is a world of action, and
action is the translation of thought into reality. We see men and women confidently
attempting it. They strike into the existing order of things in pursuance of their ideas. But
what they achieved is not what they intended. They understand nothing of the world on which
they operate. They fight blindly in the dark, and the power that works through them makes
them the instrument of a design which is not theirs. And it makes no difference whether they
meant well or ill. No one could mean better than Brutus, but he contrives misery for his
country and death for himself. Othello agonizes over an empty fiction, and, meaning to
execute solemn justice, butchers innocence and strangles love. Everywhere in this tragic
world, man's thought, translated into act, is transformed into the opposite of itself. All this
makes us feel the blindness and helplessness of man. Yet by itself it would hardly suggest the
idea of fate, because it shows man as in some degree, however slight, the cause of its own
undoing. We find practically no trace of fatalism in its more primitive, crude and obvious
forms. Nothing again makes us think of the actions and sufferings of the persons as somehow
arbitrarily fixed beforehand without regard to their feelings, thoughts and resolutions.

What then is this fate, which the impressions already considered lead us to describe as the
ultimate power of the tragic world? It appears to be a mythological expression for the whole
system or order, of which the individual characters form an inconsiderable and feeble part;
which seems to determine, far more than they, their native dispositions and their
circumstances, and, through these their action; which is so vast and complex that they can
scarcely at all understand it or control its workings; and which has a nature so definite and
fixed that whatever changes take place it produse other changes inevitably and without regard
to men's desires and regrets. And whether this system or order is best called by the name of
fate or no, it can hardly be denied that it does appear as the ultimate power of the tragic world.

Whatever may be said of accidents, circumstances and the like, human action is after all,
presented to us as the central fact in tragedy, and also as the main cause of the catastrophe.
That necessity which so much impresses us, is after all, chiefly the necessary connection of
actions and consequences. The catastrophe is the return of this action on the head of the agent.
It is an example of justice and that order, which, present alike within the agents and outside
them, infallibly brings it about, is therefore just. The rigour of its justice is terrible, no doubt,
for a tragedy is a terrible story. But in spite of fear and pity, we acquiese, becouse our sense of
justice is satisfied. We also find that villainly never remains victorious and prosperous at the
last. But an assignement of amounts of happiness and misery, an assignment even of life and
death, in proportion to merit we do not find. We might not object to the statement that Lear
deserved to suffer for his folly, selfishness and tyranny; but to assert that he deserved to suffer
what he did suffer is to do violence not merely to language but to any healthy moral sense.
And this being so, when we call the order of the tragic world just, we are either using the
word in some vaque an unexplianed sense, or we are going beyond what is shown us of this
order, and are appealing to faith. When we are immersed in a tragedy, we feel towards
dispositions, actions and persons such emotion as attraction and repulsion, pity, wonder, fear,
horror, perhaps hatred. But we do not judge. This is a point of view which emerges only
when, in thinking about the play afterwards, we fall back on our everyday legal and moral
notions. But tragedy does not belong, any more than religion belongs, to the sphere of these
notions; neither does the imaginative attitude in presence of it. While we are in its world we
watch what is, seeing that so it happened and must have happened, feeling that it is piteous,
dreadful, awful, mysterious, but neither passing the sentence on the agents, nor asking
whether the behaviour of the ultimate power toward them is just.

The ultimate power in the tragic world is moral orde r. The ultimate power or order is moral
to mean that it does not show itself indifferent to good and evil, or equally favourable or
unfavourable to both, but shows itself akin to good and alien from evil. In Shakespearean
tragedy the main source of convulsion which produces suffering and death is never good. The
main source, on the contrary, is in every case evil, and what is more it is in almost every case
evil in the fullest sense, not mere imperfection but plain moral evil. If it is chiefly evil that
violently disturbs the order of the world, this order cannot be friendly to evil. If we confine
our attention to the hero and to those cases where evil is not in him but elsewhere, we find
that the comparatevly innocent hero still shows some marked imperfection or defect. The
ultimate power which shows itself disturbed by this evil and react against it, must have a
nature alien to it. Evil exhibits itself everywhere as something negative, barren, weakening,
destructive a principle of death. When the evil in him masters the good and has its way, it
destroys other people through him, but it also destroys him. If existence in an order depends
on good, and if the presence of evil is hostile to such existence, the inner being or soul of this
order must be akin to good. The moral order acts not capriciously or like a human being, but
from the necessity of its nature, or, if we prefer the phrase, by general laws-a necessity or law
which of course knows no exception and is as ruthless as fate. The evil against which it
asserts itself, and the persons whom this evil inhabits, are not really something outside the
order, so that they can attack it or fail to conform to it; they are within it and a part of it.

Thus we are left at last with an idea showing two sides or aspects which we can neither
separate nor reconcile. The whole or order against which the individul part shows itself
powerless seems to be animated by a passion for perfection. We cannot otherwise explain its
behaviour towards evil. Yet it appears to engender this evil within itself, and in its effort to
overcome and expel it it is agonised with pain, and driven to mutilate its own supstance and to
lose not only evil but priceless good. That this idea, though very different from the idea of a
blank fate, is no solution of the riddle, of life is obvious; but why should we expect it to be
such a solution? Shakespeare was not attempting to justify the ways of God to men, or to
show a Universe as a Divine Comedy. He was writting tragedy, and tragedy would not be
tragedy if it were not a painful mystery. Nor can he be said even to point distinctly, like some
writers of tragedy, in any direction where a solution might lie.




               The Pattern of Shakespeare's Tragedies


Shakespearean tragedy brings before us a considerable number of persons (many more than
the persons in the Greek play, unless the members of the Chorus are reckoned among them),
but it is preeminently the story of one person - the hero. It is only in the love tragedies Romeo
and Juliet and Antony and Cleopatra that the heroine is as much the centre of the action as the
hero. The rest, including Macbeth, are single stars. The story, next, leads up to, and includes,
the death of the hero. On the one hand, no play at the end of which the hero remains alive is,
in the full Shakespearean sense a tragedy. That is why we no longer class Troilus and
Cressida or Cymbeline as tragedies. On the other hand the story depicts also the troubled part
of the hero's life which proceeds and leads up to his death. It is in fact essentially a tale of
suffering and calamity conducting to death. The suffering and calamity are, moreover,
exceptional. They befall a conspicuous person. They are also as a rule, unexpected, and
contrasted with previous happiness or glory. Such exceptional suffering and calamity
affecting the hero, generally extend far and wide beyond him so as to make the whole scene a
scene of woe, are an essential ingredient in tragedy, and a chief source of the tragic emotions,
and especially of pity. Proportions and the directions of the pity wary. In king Lear it has
much larger part than in Macbeth, and it isdirected in the first case chiefly to the hero and in
the other chiefly to other characters.

Tragedy with Shakespeare is concerned always with persons of high degree, often with kings
or princes, if not, with leaders in the state like Coriolanus, Brutus, Antony, at the least, as in
Romeo and Juliet, with members of great houses, whose quarrels are of public moment. The
fate of the hero affects the welfare of a whole nation or empire and when he falls suddenly
from the height of the earthly greatness to the dust, his fall produces a sense of contrast, of the
powerlessness of men and of the omnipotence-perhaps the caprice-of fortune or fate, which
no tale of private life can possibly rival.

Shakespearean tragedy as so far considered may be called a story of exceptional calamity
leading to the death of a man in high estate. The calamities of tragedy do not simply happen,
nor are they sent. They proceed mainly from actions, and those the actions of men. We see a
number of human beings placed in certain circumstances and we see certain actions. This
series of inter-connected deeds leads by an apparently inevitable sequence to a catastrophe.
The hero always contributes in some measure to the disaster in which he perishes. The story
or action of a Shakespearean tragedy does not consist, solely on human actions or deeds, but
the deeds are the predominant factor. The centre of the tragedy, therefore, may be said with
equal truth to lie in action issuing from character, or in character issuing in action.

Shakespeare occasionally represents abnormal conditions of mind, insanity, for example,
somnambulism, hallucinations. But these abnormal conditions are never introduced as the
origin of deeds of any dramatic moment. Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking has no influence
whatever on the events that follow it. Shakespeare also introduces the supernatural into some
of his tragedies, he introduces ghosts and witches who have supernatural knowledge.
Shakespeare in most of his tragedies allows to chance or accident an appreciable influence at
some point in the action. It may be called an accident that Romeo never got the Friar's
message about the potion, and that Juliet did not awake from her long sleep a minute sooner.
It appears that these three elements in the action are subordinate, while the dominant factor
consists in deeds which issue from character.

The heroes, as already stated, are exceptional human beings. Besides being a person of high
degree or of public importance, his nature is also exceptional. This does not mean that he is an
eccentric or a paragon. Some, like Hamlet or Cleopatra, have genius. In almost all we observe
a marked one-sidedness, a predisposition in some particular direction. This is for Shakespeare,
the fundamental tragic trait. In the circumstances where we see the hero placed, his tragic
trait, which is also his greatness, is fatal to him. He errs, by action or omission, and his error
joining with other causes, brings on him ruin. This is always so with Shakespeare.

Usually there are two persons, of whom the hero is one---OR, Two Parties or Groups, one of
which the hero leads---OR, The passions, tendencies, ideas, principles, forces which animate
these persons or groups. In Richard II, for example, we have the King on one side and Henry
Bollinbroke on the other. In Macbeth, we have the hero, Macbeth, and the heroine, Lady
Macbeth, opposed to the representatives of Duncan, Malcolm, and Macduff. In all these cases,
the great majority of the Dramatis Personae fall without difficulty into two antagonistic
groups, and the conflict between these groups ends with the defeat of the hero.

Shakespeare's tragic hero, though he pursues his fated way, is, at some point, torn by an
inward struggle. A comparison of the earlier and later tragedies shows this struggle is most
emphasized in the later tragedies. The conception of outer and inner struggle includes the
action of "spiritual forces." Whatever forces act in the human spirit, whether good or evil,
whether personal passion or impersonal principle; doubts, desires, scruples, ideas--whatever
can animate, shake, possess, and drive a man's soul--these are the "spiritual forces" generating
the internal turmoil for the hero. Treasonous ambition collides in Macbeth with loyalty, the
laws of hospitality, patriotism in Macduff and Malcolm; this is the outer conflict. But these
same forces collide in the soul of Macbeth as well; here is the inner conflict. It is a
combination of the pressures of the external and internal struggles or conflicts that make
Shakespearean tragedy. All of this leads us to once again expand our definition of the tragic
hero/protagonist. External conflict will be there, but there is more to it than that. The type of
tragedy in which an undivided soul is opposed to a hostile force is not the Shakespearean
type. But, we must also be aware of the internal conflicts the hero tries to deal with, while
hostile forces begin to surround him, and eventually overwhelm him.

The tragic hero with Shakespeare, then, need not be good, thought generally he is good and
therefore at once wins sympathy in his error. But it is necessary that the tragic hero should
have so much of greatness that in his error and fall, we may be vividly conscious of the
possibilities of human nature. Hence, in the first place, a Shakespearean tragedy is never
depressing. No one ever closes the book with the feeling that man is a poor, mean creature.
Man may be wretched and he may be awful, but he is not small. His lot may be heart-rending
and mysterious, but it is not contemptible. With this greatness of the tragic hero is connected,
the impression of waste, a profound sense of sadness and mystery, which is due to this
impression of waste. What a great man the tragic hero could have been, indeed, should have
been! With Shakespeare, at any rate, the pity and fear which are stirred by the tragic story
(Aristotelian requirements of tragedy) seem to unite with, and even merge in, a profound
sense of sadness and mystery which is due to this impression of waste. With Hamlet, we say,
"What a piece of work is man," so much more beautiful and so much more terrible than we
knew. And from this comes the mystery, the existential question Lear would also come to
understand so well: Why should man be so, if this beauty and greatness only tortures itself
and throws itself away?

As a Shakespearean tragedy represents a conflict which terminates in a cata strophe any such
tragedy may roughly be divided into three parts. The first of these sets forth or expounds the
situation or state of affairs out of which the conflict arises and it may therefore be called the
exposition. The second deals with the definite beginning, the growth and the vicissitudes of
the conflict. It forms accordingly the bulk of the play, comprising the second, third and fourth
acts, and usually a part of the first and a part of the fifth. The final section of the tragedy
shows the issue of the conflict in a catastrophe. Shakespeare's usual plan in tragedy is to begin
with a short scene, or part of a scene, either full of life and stir, or in some other way
arresting. Then, having secured a hearing he proceeds, to conversations at a lower pitch,
accompanied by little action but conveying much information. When Shakespeare begins his
exposition thus he generally at first makes people talk about the hero but keeps the hero
himself for some time out of sight, so that we await his entrance with curiosity, and
sometimes with anxiety.

Within the first two acts or so we will become aware of the driving force within the hero that
ids almost if not entirely obsessive in nature. We will also witness the nature of the inner
torment he goes through as he follows his obsession. We see both Macbeth potential to
greatness and his obsessive ambition. We see both Othello greatness as a general and a human
being and his naive, trusting nature that so easily becomes twisted into an obsessive jealousy
by Iago. As the hero faces conflicts, we see time becoming more and more important. A sense
of urgency develops within the plot and the conflict that not only creates tension, but also
cretes the effect of inevitablility rearding the hero′s fall. Te pace and urgency generally pick
up significantly in the third act. Contributing to the obsession are misreadings, supernatural
suggestion and accident or chance. Things happen a split second too late: the hero operates on
what he believes to be the case rather than on what he actually knows to be the case. Soon
they are one and the same thing to him. New conflict and complications arise which bring
about the death or gradual alienation of all forms of support for the hero, so that by the end, he
must face the opposing forces and the responsibilty for his actions alone. What we see during
this process of alienation and isolation is suffering, rage, confusion, hallucination and
violence as the internal conflicts intensify to an almost unbearable pitch. At some point in the
play, the opposing forces will begin to mobilize against the hero to bring the tragedy to its
conclusion. Often the hero is confronted by an enemy in the 5th act who has good reason to
seek his death (Macduff in Macbetf for example). At about this point in the play, the hero will
realize the error that is bringing about his fall. Knowing tht he alone is to blame is called
Tragic Recognition. It takes place when there is no chance to correct the error. Once
recognition occurs death speedily follows.

Important question is whether we can trace any distinct method or methods by which
Shakespeare represents the rise and development of the conflict:
-there are in the action certain places where the tension in the minds of the audience becomes
extreme.
-in Shakespeare's theater, as there was no scenery, scene followed scene with scarcely any
pause, and so the readiest, though not the only way to vary the emotional pitch was to
interpose a whole scene where the tension was low between scenes where it was high.
Speaking very roughly we may say that the first and fourth are relatively quiet acts, the third
highly critical.

In all the tragedies, one side is felt to be on the whole advancing up to a certain point in the
conflict, and then to be on the whole declining before reaction of the other. There is therefore
felt to be a critical point in the action, which proves also to be a turning point. This crisis as a
rule, comes somewhere near the middle of the play, and where it is well marked it has the
effect, as to construction, of dividing the play into five parts instead of three, these parts
showing: 1. a situation not yet one of conflict 2. the rise and development of the conflict in
which A or B advances on the whole till it reaches 3. the crisis, on which follows 4. the
decline of A or B 5. the catastrophe.
                       Bawdy in Shakespeare′s Plays


When Shakespeare's plays were first performed, they were popular with everyone. The stories
were good entertainment for the masses, with a bawdy streak a mile wide. Certainly
Shakespeare's depth and insight into human nature was appreciated, but surely some came just
for the dirt. Shakespeare's contemporaries didn't need a glossary to get the jokes, but we do.
Thus, "hardening of one's brows" (The Winter's Tale) refers to being cuckolded, "laced
mutton" (Two Gentleman of Verona) is a prostitute, "riggish" (Cleopatra) means lascivious,
and "groping for trout in a peculiar river" (Measure for Measure) means copulating with a
woman.

Modern well-annotated editions of Shakespeare often explain bawdy usages in Shakespeare
which today's reader cannot - yet should - understand. Even so, this area is still often
comparatively weak in current commentaries. If we take plays in the convenient division into
Histories, Comedies, Tragedies and Tragi-Comedies, we notice that, the Histories are
sexually, much the purest, then the Comedies, then the Tragi-Comedies, whereas the
Tragedies are, as a class, the most indelicate.

When it comes to non-sexual bawdy in Shakespeare′s plays, it comprises of nothing more
than a few references to urination and chamber-pots; to defecation and close-stools; to
flatulence; to podex and posteriors. The reference to urine and urination are hardly worth
mentioning except for two. Of that clay-footed piece of austerity, Angelo, somebody remarks
«When he makes water, his urine is congeal′d ice» (Measure). And in Macbeth the Porter lists
urine as «one of the three things of which drink is a great provoker». Flatulence was in
Shakespeare′s day the source and the target of humour and wit among all classes. When it
comes to Shakespeare′s allusions to the butt of the human body, he refers to it as: the bumm,
buttocks or holland or posteriors or tail or tale or rump or, to adopt the deliberat e perversion
ass. In these passages Shakespeare is never filthy: he is broad, ribald, natural, humorous and
healtily coarse.

When speaking about sexual bawdy, Shakespeare mentions pudendum muliebre (the
pudend). He provides us with such terms as: glass o f virginity, hymen, maidenhead, velvet
leaves...To judge by the number of synonyms, the pudend was, to Shakespeare, of
considerably greater importance and significance singly than all the rest of woman′s sexual
features collectively. For female brests he used words such as: bossom, cliff, fountain,
throbbinhg breast, world, neck...There are also references to the female lap: mount of Venus,
the pubic hair, the thighs. That central fact must never be forgotten by those who are repelled
by the innumerable manifestations of Shakespeare′s interest in women and their sexual
features. It was part of his character and his temperament, nor did he wish to hide it, he did
not even wish to represent it other than it was.

When it comes to the male generative organ, the two most generally known synonyms-are
cock and prick, but also: bugle, pike, pistol, horn, carrot, needle, organ, instrument, pen, pipe,
tale, thing, weapon, tool, stump, pizzle, sword.. Certainly this synonymy does not offer so
large a proportion of poetic or pleasing – picturesque terms as does the pudendum muliebre
synonymy: althought that is probably to be explained by the obvious yet too often
unconsidered fact that Shakespeare was less likely to idealize a man′s than a woman′s body.
Sexual organs and features, primary and secondary, evoke the idea of what is done with them:
the needs and desires they subserve demand suitable instruments and agents, and they lead to
certain anamatory contacts, which in turn lead to definitely sexual actions: kissing, clasping,
caressing, copulation. Clasping ranges from the almost meaningless waist-encirclement of the
merely familiar to the passionate embraces of loovers: clasp, embrace, hoop with embraces
hug...Caressing provides a richer synonymy, in which some of the terms are innocent enough,
whereas several are either profoundly erotic or extremely sophisticated: cherish, comfort,
mutual entertainment, provoke and provocation, stir and stir up, ticke, touch, penetrate, play.
Kissing is described with verbs: to mouth, kiss with cloven lips,tonqueing. For love- making
some synonyms have been drown from the farming and gardening-colt, horse, ram, mount,
vault; from entertainment, chase, sport come these verbs: break the pale, jump, make one s
play; from warfare occupy. Nouns used to describe sexual act are: adventure, amorous rite,
copulation, occupation, trick. Verbs used from the man s standpoint: assail, attempt, beseige,
try, corrupt, dishonour. For rape and violation: deflower, force, enforce, pollute, ransack,
rape..For peostitute: beagle, common customer, creature of sale, ha re, concubine, a bitch.. For
womaniser: bed-presser, bull, diver, doer..

The crowds at Elizabethan amphiteatres included a conspicuous number of idlers, ruffians,
thieves and prostitutes: the plays they watched including Shakespeare′s were often violent,
provocative and bawdy. Shakespeare usually avoided the censor, and he managed to keep his
plays emotionally provocative. His philosophical musings and soaring speeches are regularly
punctuated by violence, humour, personal abuse, passionate outbursts, bawdy episodes, and
other material we now find more offensive. Verbal extravagance, violence, bile, and bawdy
were hallmarks of literature high and low. Passion, corruption, disease and death were
handled boldly and frankly. Scenes of anguish, terror and lust were played to audiences
openly.

How in this matter of sex and bawdiness, does Shakespeare compare with other Elizabethan
and Jacobean dramatists? With restoration playwrites and with those who came later? Of all
the dramatists flourishing in the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, Shakespeare is the
wittiest, profoundest, most idealistic yet most cynical. The Restoration dramatists are in their
sexual repartees often nearly as witty and almost as abundant, but never so profound rarely so
pobjective as Shakespeare. As for the post-1720 dramatist in England, none of them has been
so free, so liberal as Shakespeare, not even the most daring.




                      Moral Order in Tragedy


The ultimate power in the tragic world is not adequately described as a law or order which we
can see to be just and benevolent as a 'moral order'. The tragic world is a world of action, and
action is the translation of thought into reality. We see men and women confidently
attempting it. They strike into the existing order of things in pursuance of their ideas. But
what they achieved is not what they intended. They understand nothing of the world on which
they operate. They fight blindly in the dark, and the power that works thro ugh them makes
them the instrument of a design which is not theirs. And it makes no difference whether they
meant well or ill. No one could mean better than Brutus, but he contrives misery for his
country and death for himself. Othello agonizes over an emp ty fiction, and, meaning to
execute solemn justice, butchers innocence and strangles love. Everywhere in this tragic
world, man's thought, translated into act, is transformed into the opposite of itself. All this
makes us feel the blindness and helplessness of man. Yet by itself it would hardly suggest the
idea of fate, because it shows man as in some degree, however slight, the cause of its own
undoing. We find practically no trace of fatalism in its more primitive, crude and obvious
forms. Nothing again makes us think of the actions and sufferings of the persons as somehow
arbitrarily fixed beforehand without regard to their feelings, thoughts and resolutions.

What then is this fate, which the impressions already considered lead us to describe as the
ultimate power of the tragic world? It appears to be a mythological expression for the whole
system or order, of which the individual characters form an inconsiderable and feeble part;
which seems to determine, far more than they, their native dispositions a nd their
circumstances, and, through these their action; which is so vast and complex that they can
scarcely at all understand it or control its workings; and which has a nature so definite and
fixed that whatever changes take place it produse other changes inevitably and without regard
to men's desires and regrets. And whether this system or order is best called by the name of
fate or no, it can hardly be denied that it does appear as the ultimate power of the tragic world.

Whatever may be said of accidents, circumstances and the like, human action is after all,
presented to us as the central fact in tragedy, and also as the main cause of the catastrophe.
That necessity which so much impresses us, is after all, chiefly the necessary connection of
actions and consequences. The catastrophe is the return of this action on the head of the agent.
It is an example of justice and that order, which, present alike within the agents and outside
them, infallibly brings it about, is therefore just. The rigour of its justice is terrible, no doubt,
for a tragedy is a terrible story. But in spite of fear and pity, we acquiese, becouse our sense of
justice is satisfied. We also find that villainly never remains victorious and prosperous at the
last. But an assignement of amounts of happiness and misery, an assignment even of life and
death, in proportion to merit we do not find. We might not object to the statement that Lear
deserved to suffer for his folly, selfishness and tyranny; but to assert that he deserved to suffer
what he did suffer is to do violence not merely to language but to any healthy moral sense.
And this being so, when we call the order of the tragic world just, we are either using the
word in some vaque an unexplianed sense, or we are going beyond what is shown us of this
order, and are appealing to faith. When we are immersed in a tragedy, we feel towards
dispositions, actions and persons such emotion as attraction and repulsion, pity, wonder, fear,
horror, perhaps hatred. But we do not judge. This is a point of view which emerges only
when, in thinking about the play afterwards, we fall back on our everyday legal and moral
notions. But tragedy does not belong, any more than religion belongs, to the sphere of these
notions; neither does the imaginative attitude in presence of it. While we are in its world we
watch what is, seeing that so it happened and must have happened, feeling that it is piteous,
dreadful, awful, mysterious, but neither passing the sentence on the agents, nor asking
whether the behaviour of the ultimate power toward them is just.

The ultimate power in the tragic world is moral orde r. The ultimate power or order is moral
to mean that it does not show itself indifferent to good and evil, or equally favourable or
unfavourable to both, but shows itself akin to good and alien from evil. In Shakespearean
tragedy the main source of convulsion which produces suffering and death is never good. The
main source, on the contrary, is in every case evil, and what is more it is in almost every case
evil in the fullest sense, not mere imperfection but plain moral evil. If it is chiefly evil that
violently disturbs the order of the world, this order cannot be friendly to evil. If we confine
our attention to the hero and to those cases where evil is not in him but elsewhere, we find
that the comparatevly innocent hero still shows some marked imperfection or defect. The
ultimate power which shows itself disturbed by this evil and react against it, must have a
nature alien to it. Evil exhibits itself everywhere as something negative, barren, weakening,
destructive a principle of death. When the evil in him masters the good and has its way, it
destroys other people through him, but it also destroys him. If existence in an order depends
on good, and if the presence of evil is hostile to such existence, the inner being or soul of this
order must be akin to good. The moral order acts not capriciously or like a human being, but
from the necessity of its nature, or, if we prefer the phrase, by general laws-a necessity or law
which of course knows no exception and is as ruthless as fate. The evil against which it
asserts itself, and the persons whom this evil inhabits, are not really something outside the
order, so that they can attack it or fail to conform to it; the y are within it and a part of it.

Thus we are left at last with an idea showing two sides or aspects which we can neither
separate nor reconcile. The whole or order against which the individul part shows itself
powerless seems to be animated by a passion for perfection. We cannot otherwise explain its
behaviour towards evil. Yet it appears to engender this evil within itself, and in its effort to
overcome and expel it it is agonised with pain, and driven to mutilate its own supstance and to
lose not only evil but priceless good. That this idea, though very different from the idea of a
blank fate, is no solution of the riddle, of life is obvious; but why should we expect it to be
such a solution? Shakespeare was not attempting to justify the ways of God to men, or to
show a Universe as a Divine Comedy. He was writting tragedy, and tragedy would not be
tragedy if it were not a painful mystery. Nor can he be said even to point distinctly, like some
writers of tragedy, in any direction where a solution might lie.




                       Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Age


Shakespeare lived in the period of changes – in literature, politics, religion and commerce, in
the habits of daily living, in the world of ideas. We are talking about a time some 400 years
ago when Queen Elizabeth I was on the English throne; she reigned for a long period from
1558 to 1603 - 45 years in all; Shakespeare was born in 1564 and he died in 1616, so he was
essentially an Elizabethan, though he survived the Queen by 13 years. During Shakespeare's
lifetime England had maintained a national unity and an international importance. The
Spanish Armada had been defeated, the kingdom of England and Scotland united, and the first
colony established in America. England vigorously asserted itself as a major European power
in politics, commerce and art. Their sense of self- importance produced new zest, energy and
love of life. There was a pride in their language and an urge to make a literature that would
match modern Italy's literature. It was probably the most splendid age in the history of
English literature. The theatre as a public amusement was an innovation in the social life of
the Elizabethans. It developed with amazing speed. London's first theatre was built when
Shakespeare was about 12 years old, and the whole system of the Elizabethan theatrical world
came into being during his lifetime. Elizabethan theatre and the name of William Shakespeare
are bound together. Yet there were others writing plays at that time. One of the most
successful was Christopher Marlowe, who many contemporaries considered Shakespeare's
superior.

The Elizabethan era was a period of great advances in world explorations and the study of the
universe. The period brought great advances in medical science, in the study of human
anatomy. Music, poetry and literature flourished under Elizabeth's reign largely due to the
Queen's love of the arts. Latin was still the language of literacy. Spenser's Faerie Queen was a
revelation of the possibilities of the English language in prose. Plays and playwrights
flourished after 1580 notably Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare. In the 1580s
the writing of the university wits –Marlowe, Kid and Green- defined the London theatre.
Shakespeare outdid them all- he combined the best traits of Elizabethan drama with classical
sources, enriching the mixture with his imagination and wit. Shakespeare first wrote for
Pembroke's men. By 1592 he became a well known playwright which enraged some of his
contemporaries among which Robert Green He was envious of his success and called him 'an
upstart crow'.

Shakespeare's earliest plays included the three parts of Henry VI, The Two Gentlemen of
Verona, and Titus Andronicus. Shakespeare's first printed works were two long poems, Venus
and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594). These were both dedicated to the Earl of
Southampton, a young courtier and favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, who had become
Shakespeare's patron. Most of the Sonnets were probably written about this time, too,
although they were not published until 1609. The chief sources of his plots were Plutarch's
Parallel Lives of Illustrious Men, Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland and
Ireland, and some Italian novella or short tales. What he did with the sources is more
important than the sources themselves. If his original gave him what he needed he used it
closely. If not he changed it. There were several stages to use during the performance: the
main action took place on the main stage, and because it was surrounded o n the three sides by
the audience the apron stage made for an intimacy we do not get today, soliloquies could be
spoken directly to the audience. The curtained recess at the back would be used for instace
for the Capulet's tomb in "Romeo and Juliet" or for Desdemona's bedroom; the balcony for
Juliet's bedroom; and a trapdoor to the space below the stage would be Ophelia's grave.

1n 1594, Shakespeare joined others in forming a new theatre company, under the patronage of
the Lord Chamberlain, with Richard Burbage as its leading actor. Shakespeare was an
important member of the Lord Chamberlain's men. They had the best actor Richard Burbage,
they had the best theatre the Globe, and they had the best dramatist Shakespeare. It is no
wonder that the company prospered. For the Globe Theatre Shakespeare wrote at least 37
plays. For almost twenty years Shakespeare was its regular dramatist, producing on average
two plays a year. He also acted exceedingly well, according to Aubrey. James Wright heard
otherwise, that "he was much better poet than player". The top of his performance, according
to him, was the ghost in his own Hamlet. He is also believed to have played Adam in As you
like it. He remained with the Chamberlain′s Men ( known as the King′s Men from 1603) for
the rest of his workinglife.

This was Elizabethan age - a point in history that he would make timeless. And this was the
backdrop to his work, the seething mass of divisions and everyday banalities that inspired a
critique of the human condition every bit as relevant today as it was revolutionary back then.



                       Shakespeare on the Elizabethan Stage


The theatre as a public amusement was an innovation in the social life of the Elizabethans. It
developed with amazing speed. London's first theatre was built when Shakespeare was about
12 years old, and the whole system of the Elizabethan theatrical world came into being during
his lifetime. Elizabethan theatre and the name of William Shakespeare are bound together.
Yet there were others writing plays at that time. One of the most successful was Christopher
Marlowe, who many contemporaries considered Shakespeare's superior.

1n 1594, Shakespeare joined others in forming a new theatre company, under the patronage of
the Lord Chamberlain, with Richard Burbage as its leading actor. Shakespeare was an
important member of the Lord Chamberlain's men. They had the best actor Richard Burbage,
they had the best theatre the Globe, and they had the best dramatist Shakespeare. It is no
wonder that the company prospered. For the Globe Theatre Shakespeare wrote at least 37
plays. For almost twenty years Shakespeare was its regular dramatist, producing on average
two plays a year. He also acted exceedingly well, according to Aubrey. James Wright heard
otherwise, that "he was much better poet than player". The top of his performance, according
to him, was the ghost in his own Hamlet. He is also believed to have played Adam in As you
like it. He remained with the Chamberlain′s Men ( known as the King′s Men from 1603) for
the rest of his workinglife.

The chief sources of his plots were Plutarch's Parallel Lives of Illustrious Men, Raphael
Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland, and some Italian novella or short
tales. What he did with the sources is more important than the sources themselves. If his
original gave him what he needed he used it closely. If not he changed it. There were several
stages to use during the performance: the main action took place on the main stage, and
because it was surrounded on the three sides by the audience the apron stage made for an
intimacy we do not get today, soliloquies could be spoken directly to the audience. The
curtained recess at the back would be used for instace for the Capulet's tomb in "Romeo and
Juliet" or for Desdemona's bedroom; the balcony for Juliet's bedroom; and a trapdoor to the
space below the stage would be Ophelia's grave.

There was no scenery or scene painting as such. Elaborate scenery, props or computer
generated imagery nowadays can set a scene, strike a mood or introduce and tell us something
about a character. Shakespeare had to do this by the words that he used in his plays. In
"Troilus and Cressida" Shakespeare sets the scene by what Troilus says thus informing the
audience about where the play takes place. Outdoor theatre performances always took place in
natural light so Shakespeare had to establish different times of day and night by the words his
characters spoke. Examples are: The moon shines bright from "A Merchant of Venice", or
The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve, from "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Again
from "Troilus and Cressida" when Achilles is about to kill Hector he exclaimes: Look Hector
how the sun begins to set. Everything had to be conveyed to the audience through words and
there is little doubt that the audience had better memories and probably higher powers of
attention than people do today. Perhaps the most significant influence upon the plays was the
nature of the Elizabethan stage. Being an apron stage it was not possible to draw curtains
across it and since it was essentially an open air stage it was never possible to hide it in
complete darkness. Problem was getting the dead of the sta ge at the end of a tragedy. A
modern playwright would be able to swallow up the end of Hamlet in darkness or draw
curtains across the front of the stage. So Shakespeare had to find methods to remove the dead:
Let four captains bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage, cries Fortinbras.

Much of our knowledge of the Elizabethan theatre is merely conjectural, built up from odd
bits of evidence that have survived the ravages of time. Some of this is visual evidence, such
as the drawings of London and of the Globe but perhaps the most important piece of evidence
is an extant copy of a very detailed agreement made between the builder of the Fortune
Theatre, one Peter Street 'citizen and carpenter of London' and Philip Henslow and Edward
Alleyn. This agreement specifies all sorts of details about the theatre and in particular
establishes its measurements. These theatres could hold several thousand people most
standing in the open pit before the stage, though rich nobles could watch the play from the
chair set on the side of the stage itself. The space had a shape of a horseshoe at whose one end
was the stage and everywhere around the audience, on the ground as well as on the galleries.
The boards of the stage went as forward as almost to the middle of the yard into t he audience.
Not that they only witnessed the action happening on the stage but they almost participated in
it. Above the stage was a higher acting area which symbolized balcony or porch. As for
scenery, it has been estimated that a major part of the plays were acted on the bare stage. It
had to be kept very simple with just a table, a chair, a throne and maybe a tree to symbolize a
forest. Plays like Henry V that are very conscious of being a play (for instance, the prologue
in Henry V apologizes to the audience for the inadequacy of the stage) can teach historians
and students of literature alike how Elizabethan theatre worked. When available the costume
was as elaborate and lavish as possible but it appears that there was little attempt to present
historical accuracy. Many times there were musical accompaniments and sound effects such
as gunpowder explosions and the beating of a pan to simulate thunder. The beginning of the
play was announced by the raising of the flag and the blowing of a trumpet. The theatre was
like a circus, with a good deal of noise and dirt. If spectators disapproved of an actor they
would shower him with oranges or just about anything and there was booing, hissing and
shouting. A visit to the theatre in Shakespeare's days was a noisy and a very lively experience

Little is known about the actors or players themselves. However we know that actors played
several parts, depending on their physical characteristics. For example, a tall fair boy and a
short dark boy would have taken the parts of Helena and Hermia in "A Midsummer Night's
Dream" and then follow with Celia and Rosalind in "As You Like It". A player would have to
have been prepared to perform in nine or ten plays, knowing the lines from perhaps two or
three roles in each play. Shakespeare wrote many of his plays while maintaining such a
schedule. Between 1590 and 1613 he wrote 38 plays.




                              Shakespeare's England


Shakespeare lived in the period of changes – in literature, politics, religion and commerce, in
the habits of daily living, in the world of ideas. We are talking about a time some 400 years
ago when Queen Elizabeth I was on the English throne; she reigned for a long period from
1558 to 1603 - 45 years in all; Shakespeare was born in 1564 and he died in 1616, so he was
essentially an Elizabethan, though he survived the Queen by 13 years. Elizabeth was suceeded
by the Stuart king James VI of Scotland, who took the title James I of England (1603-1625).
The period of his reign is called Jacobean age. The court in Elizabethan England was very
important. Its nobles and retainers, its courtiers and hangers-on made up a considerable
portion of the population. Under the Tudors and still more under the Stuarts, the court aimed
at increasing the central authority so as to bring e very affair under its direct control. In
London however this effort of centralization met with a strong opposition.
During Shakespeare's lifetime England had maintained a national unity and an international
importance. The Spanish Armada had been defeated, the kingdom of England and Scotland
united, and the first colony established in America. England vigorously asserted itself as a
major European power in politics, commerce and art. Their sense of self- importance
produced new zest, energy and love of life. There was a pride in their language and an urge to
make a literature that would match modern Italy's literature. It was probably the most splendid
age in the history of English literature.

When Elizabeth came to the throne England was still largely Catholic, as it had been for nine
centuries. She restored England to protestantism. It was a kingdom with a population of about
4 or 5 million people compared to nearly 60 million today. The majority of the people lived in
the south and the society was predominantly rural. Society began to form along new lines in
the Tudor years. If feudal England was an age of community, Tudor England was one of
individuality. Nobility and knights were still at the top of the social ladder, but the real growth
in the society was in the merchant class. Elizabeth‟s government enacted legislation known as
the Poor Laws, which made every local parish responsible for its own poor, created
workhouses, and severely punished homeless beggars. Parliament also passed bills to ensure
fair prices in times of shortage and to regulate wages in times of unemployment.

The Elizabethan era was a period of great advances in world explorations and the study of the
universe. The period brought great advances in medical science, in the study of human
anatomy. Music, poetry and literature flourished under Elizabeth's reign lagely due to the
Queen's love of the arts. Latin was still the language of literacy. Spenser's Faerie Queen was a
revelation of the possibilities of the English language in prose. Plays and playwrights
flourished after 1580 notably Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare.

Within the nobility there was a distinction betweeen the old families and new. Most of the old
noble families were Catholic, and most new noble families were protestant. It is easy to think
of the nobility as the idle rich. They may have been rich but they certainly were not allowed to
be idle. Often high office brought debt rather than profit. Honorific offices were unpaid, and
visiting nobles to England were the responsibility of the English nobility to house and
entertain at their own expense. The most expensive honour of all was that of housing Queen
Elizabeth. She saved a great deal of money by making the nobles with whom she stayed pay
the bill for her visit. There are so many places all around England that advertise today:
"Queen Elizabeth slept here."

The nation's center of power as it had been from late Roman times was London, which was
home to an increasingly diverse population of around 200,000. Clearly anyone with a
yearning for political power or the greatest possible audience for their art would find
themselves on the road to London eventually, as would country-born William Shakespeare.
London had been a pioneer in welfare matters as in so much else. And here in the capital was
gathered the greatest talent in politics, law and administration. Here were the palace, its law
courts, Parliament, the city guilds and compainies; here was diversity, here were poets,
church-men, polititians, lawyers. Never before in English history had there been such a
concentration of wealth, talent and opportunity. It was the center of government, fashion, taste
and culture. London was still medieval city in appearance, surrounded by a defensive wall,
guarded by the tower and crowned by the cathedral. It was a city of narrow streets, open
sewers, wooden houses, without an adequate watter supply in constant danger from fire or
plaque.
The Tudor era saw the rise of modern commerce. A prosperous merchant class emerged from
the ashes of the Wars of the Roses. Architecture of the period became expression of wealth
and status. House designs became more balanced and symmetrical, with E and H shapes
common (possibly as a tribute to Elizabeth and Henry VIII). Tudor houses were generally
timber framed. There were few passages, one room opened directly into the next. Houses
began to be built with many more windows. Gardens were a very important feature of Tudor
life. In Tudor period there was a beautiful woodwork. The movement began in the 15 century
with church carvings, and by Elizabeth's time the carvings had spread to house interior s. Great
attention was paid to beds, and they were so highly valued that they are given special mention
in the wills of the time. Meals were complex and large. Breakfast was simply a light snack,
while the main meal of the day was dinner which began at 11 o clock and lasted three hours.
A smaller supper was usual at 6 o'clock. The lower classes had dinner at noon and supper at 7
or 8 in the evening.

The overwhelming majority of Englishmen in the time of Shakespeare did not possess the
right to vote, and of those who had it, few ever had the opportunity to use it. Direct partonage
or agreement between factions, usually determined who should sit in Parliament. The basic
assumption was that the leading man of the shire, however they were elected, spoke for there
whole community. England was essentially a rural country, and land the measure of a man's
wealth and standing. Cloth, the only English industry of major importance, was still mainly a
rural industry. But most men did not possess land, for example, the agriculture labourer, the
textile worker in town and country, the retailer, the seaman, the schoolmaster and many
others. During the whole of Shakespeare's lifetime there was not a single year when Europe
was not engaged in war. England was not itself enga ged the whole time. From his birth until
1585 – roughly the time when he came to London - England was at peace. But for the rest of
Elizabeth's reign, that is, for more than half the time he spent in London, she was at war,
deeply committed, and at a prodiguous cost, to a stubborn struggle in the Netherlands, in
Ireland and on the high seas. The new reign brought peace but there could have been no
period during Shakespeare's adult life when he would not see broken men returning from
battle.

This was Shakespeare's England - a point in history that he would make timeless. And this
was the backdrop to his work, the seething mass of divisions and everyday banalities that
inspired a critique of the human condition every bit as relevant today as it was revolutio nary
back then.


                       Shakespeare's Rhetoric


Shakespeare's language is what makes him great. It is not so much the characters, as what
they say. Shakespeare's language is the primary source of our pleasure in his plays, not an
obstacle to appreciation, not something we must overcome in order to understand the
stories.The language Shakespeare spoke can present difficulties to modern readers. It was
itself a language in the midst of a radical and rapid transition, so many features Shakespeare
uses were either conservative forms, or else fell out of use soon afterwards. Syntax too has
changed since Shakespeare's day: word order is now fairly rigidly fixed as it was not in the
16th century. Shakespeare's vocabulary itself can present us with proble ms - he had a
vocabulary of 29.000 - about twice that of the average educated person today. A lot of these
he coined himself, but that was pretty common.
It was widely believed that English did not have the flexibility of a language like Latin, and so
its 16th century users coined many words, ink-horn terms, many of which have since fallen
out of use. The Elizabethans seem to have been proud of their language and many saw the
power that resided in words. Punning appealed to Elizabethan audiences. Double meanings,
the kind found most obviously in puns and other forms of wordplay, pervades Shakespeare's
work. Puns provide intelectual pleasure - they point the way to themes in Shakespeare's
works. For example, Falstaff 's punning ways mirror the struggle in the play between Hotspur
an Bolingbroke over the doubtfull succession. It's more obvious in Macbeth, where double
meanings are the protagonists downfall. In the early 1590s, Shakespeare suddenly seems to
have awoken to the power of language, and a couple of plays Love's Labour Lost and Richard
III use language as their themes. Richard uses language to get his way, he uses fascinating
sounds and images to manipulate other characters. Later on, Iago uses the same techiques.


Rhetoric in its original sense means the art or study of using language effectively and
persuasively. Here are some of the more common devices Shakespeare employed for
emphasis:

Aliteration: "When to the sessions of sweet silent thought..." (Sonnet XXX)
Anadiplosis: The repetition of a word that ends one clause at the beginning of the next.
"My conscience hath a thousand several tonques,
And every tonque brings in a several tale,
And every tale condemns me for a villain". (Richard III)
Anaphora - repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses:
"Mad world! Mad kings! Mad composition! " ( King John)
Anthimeria – substitution of one part of speech for another:
"Il'l unhair thy head" (Antony and Cleopatra)
Anthitesis: juxtaposition, or contrast of ideas or words in a balanced or parallel construction.
"Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more". (Julius Caesar)
Assonance: repetition or similarity of the same internal vowel sounds in words of close
proximity.
"Is crimson in thy lips, and in thy cheecks. " (Romeo and Juliet)
Chiasmus – two coresponding pairs arranged in a paralel inverse order:
"Fair is foul, and foul is fair".
Diacope: repetition broken up by one or more intervening words.
"Put out the light, and then put out the light" (Othello)
Ellipsis – omission of one or more words, which are assumed by the listener or a reader:
 "And he to England shall along with you" (Hamlet)
Epistrophe – repetition of a word or phrase at the end of successive clauses:
"I'll have my bond! Speak not against my bond! " (Merchant of Venice)
Hyperbaton – altering word order, or separation of words that belong together, for emphasis:
"Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall. " (Measure for Measure)
Malapropism: a confused use of words in which an appropriate word is replaced by one with
similar sound but inappropriate meaning
"I do lean upon justice, sir, and do bring in here before your good honour two notorious
benefactors"
"Are they malefactors?" (Measure for Measure)
Metaphor – implied comparison between two unlike things achieved through figurative use of
words:
"Now is the winter of our discontent,
Made glorious summer by this son of York." (Richard III)
Onomatopeia – use of words to imitate natural sopunds:
"There be more wasps that buzz about his nose" ( Henry VIII)
Simile – an explicit comparison between two things using like or as:
"My love is as a fever, longing still"
Synecdoche – the use of a part for the whole, or vice versa:
"Take thy face hence" (Macbeth)
Parallelism – similarity of structure in a pair or series of related words, phrases or clauses:
"And therefore since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well spoken days,
 I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days" (Richard III)
Paralepsis: emphasizing a point by seeming to pass over it:
"Have patience, gentle friends, I must not read it.
It is not meet you know how Caesar lov'd you. " (Julius Caesar)
Metonymy: substitution of some attributive or suggestive word for what is meant(eg. Crown
for royalty):
"Friends, Romans, countymen, lend me your ears." (Julius Caesar)
Parenthesis: insertion of some word or clause in a position that interrupts the normal syntactic
flow of the sentence:
"Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered. " (Henry V)
Polysyndeton: the repetition of conjunctions in a series of coordinate words, phrases or
clauses:
"If there be cords, or knives,
Poison, or fire, or suffocating streams, I'll not endure it". (Othello)




                      The Definitions of Tragedy


Tragedy shows us the downfall of a once prominent and powerful hero. Ancient Greeks first
used the word in the 5th century BC to describe a specific kind of playwhich was presented at
festivals in Greece. The questions of why and how tragedy came into being, how it developed
in subsequest ages and cultures, questions about general and problematic source of tragic
conflict with questions of the affective power of tragedy, were investigated and discussed by
historians, philologists and philosophers.

The most influential theorist of the genre is Aristotle whose Poetics has guided the
composition and critical interpretation of tragedy for more tha n two millenia. Although the
Poetics was not known historically until the early Renaissance, his definition of tragedy has
been applied (often incorrectly) to every age in literature. This work is important insofar as it
represents the first work of literary criticism (post-Platonic) in the West. Aristotle's general
definition is that tragedy depicts a downfall of a basically good person through some fatal eror
or misjudgement, producing the protaginists suffering and insight and arousing pity and fear
of the audience. The Greek term for error or frailty is hamartia, which is sometimes translated
as "tragic flaw." The idea of hamartia is that any human being might make mistakes,
regardless of social station. According to Aristotle, pity and fear are the natural human
response to spectacles of pain and sufering –especially to the sort of suffering that can strike
anybody at any time. Aristotle goes on to say that tragedy affects the catharsis of these
emotions - in effect arousing pity and fear only to remove them. The tragic hero must be
essentily admirable and good because the fall of a villain evokes applause rather than pity. As
a rule, the nobler and more admirable a person is, the greater will be our anxiety or grief at his
or her downfall. In a true tragedy the hero's downfall must come as a result of some personal
error or decision. In other words, in Aristotle's view there is no such thing as an innocent
victim of tragedy, nor can a genuenly tragic downfall ever be purely a matter of blind accident
or bad luck. Instead authentic tragedy must always be the product of some fatal choice or
action , for the tragic hero must always bear at leats some responsibility for his own doom. In
Aristotelian tragedy the action generally involves revolution (unanticipated turarounds of
what is expected to occur) and discovery (in which the protagonis t and the audience larn
something that had been hidden). The third part of the fable, disasters, includes all destructive
actions, deaths, etc. Tragedy evokes pity and fear in the audience, ledaing finally to catharsis.

Aristotle's ideas concerning dramatic structure established the terms of the debate and were
never seriously challenged. Based on his unquestioned authority, critics who discussed
tragedy assumed his categories to be valid for all time. A closer look, however, reveals that
Aristotle's formal definition excludes many plays which are commonly thought of as
tragedies. Not all tragic heroes suffer because of a tragic error, nor does recognition always
occur within the tragic plot. Numerous types of drama have developed over the centuries
which Aristotle never envisioned. Other renowned thinkers besides Aristotle have offered
alternative definitions of tragedy.

In Freud's essay 'Psychoppatic Characters on the Stage', the dramatic function of the hero is
linked to the origin of the drama in sacrifical rites, where the sacrifice iself is shown to
appease 'as it were, a rising rebelion against the divine regulation of the universe, which is
responsible for the existence of suffering.' He says that the struggle that causes the suffering is
fought out in the hero's mind itself – a struggle between different impulses, and one which
must have its end in the extinction, not of the hero, but of one of his impulses. Freud's driving
of the scene of tragedy into the realm of the psychological permits a reconstitution of the
conflict in terms of an opposition between repressed material and consciousness, which serves
to relocate the tragic struggle at the primal scene of triangulated Oedipal desire. For Freud,
Hamlet charts the emergence of repressed psychic material in a displaced form, and the
dramatist's function is to induce the same illness in us as spectators, who follow its course
along with the tragic protagonist. In this way the audience is colectivelly encouraged to
identify with the tragic hero, to move through the same experience as a figure such as Hamlet,
in order to reach a point where the working out of the charavcter's neurosis onstage produces
a catharsis in the spectators through which tension is relieved.

Hegel defines a tragedy as a dynamic contest between two opposing forces, a conflict of
rights. The most tragic events are those in which two esteemed values or goals are in
opposition and one of them must give way. Such is the situation of Sopochle's play Antigone,
whose title heroine finds herself caught between her religious and family obligations and her
duties as a public citizen. Both Antigone and Creon stand for principles -- loyalty to family
and obedience to the state -- which are morally justifiable if taken by themselves, but when
these ethical positions conflict, tragedy results for both sides. From Hegels' point of view, the
only tragic confrontation is one in which good is up against good. Friedrich Nietzsche found
the origins of tragedy symbolically represented in the confrontation of Apollo and Dionysus,
the Greek gods of order, restraint, and form on the one hand and impulse, instinct, and ecstatic
frenzy on the other. By capturing the dynamic energy of life in a rational form, tragedy coaxes
order out of chaos to create art. Both Hegel's and Nietzsche's views are helpful in describing
aspects of tragedy not addressed by Aristotle.

Medieval tragedy is a narrative, not a play, concerning how a person falls from high to low
estate as the Goddess Fortune spins her wheel. In the middle ages medieval theatre in England
was primarily liturgical drama, which developed in the later middle ages as a way of teaching
scripture to the illiterate. Medieval tragedy was found not in the theatre but in collections of
stories illustrating the fall of great men. These narratives owe their conception of fortune in
part to the Latin tragedies of Seneca, in which Fortune and her wheel play a prominent role.

Senecan tragedy was developed by the Roman philosopher-poet Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c.
4 B.C. –A. D. 65). Composed in five acts with intervening choruses, they employ long
rhetorical speeches, with important actions being recounted by messengers. Their bloodthirsty
plots, including ghosts and horrible crimes, appealed to the popular English dramatists of the
late sixteenth century, who presented such horrors on stage in their revenge tragedies. The
conventional five-act structure of Renaissance drama owes its origin to the influence of
Seneca. Additional elements common to Senecan tragedy include: the use of stock characters;
the employment of sensational themes drawn from Greek mythology, involving much use of
"blood and lust"; and a dramatic study of human emotion.

Renaissance tragedy derives less from Medieval tragedy than from the Aristotelian notion of
the tragic flaw. Unlike classical tragedy it tends to include subplots and comic relief. In his
greatest tragedies (Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth), Shakespeare trancends the
conventions of Renaissance tragedy.

Most modern theorists build upon Aristotelian notion of tragedy. Two examples are the
victorian critic A.C.Bradley and Northrop Frye. A.C.Bradley divides tragedy into the
beginning, growth, changes of the conflict and the final tragic outcome. Bradley emphasizes
the Aristotelian notion of the tragic flaw: the tragic hero errs by action or omission, this error
joins with other causes to bring about his ruin. Bradley's emphasis on the tragic flaw implies
that Shakespeare's characters bring their fates upon themselves. A.C. Bradley in
Shakespearean Tragedy offers the following definition derived from his study of the work of
Shakespeare. A Shakespearean tragedy, he says, has the following characteristics: Although a
tragedy may have many characters, it is preeminently the story of one person, or at most two.
The story leads up to and includes the death of the hero.The story depicts also the troubled
part of the hero‟s life which precedes and leads up to his death.The hero is a conspicuous
person, a person of high degree.The suffering and calamity are exceptional, of a striking kind.
They are as a rule unexpected and are a strong contrast to previous happiness or glory.The
suffering and calamity extend far beyond the protagonist so as to make the whole scene one of
woe.This scene becomes the chief source of the tragic emotions, especially pity. He wrote the
essay "Hegels theory of tragedy" where he emphasizes that tragedy is a conflict of spirit. The
ultimate power in the tragic world is moral order, one that is similar to good, and differe nt
from evil. For Bradley, it is evil that disturbs the order of the world.
Recent critics see a strong social pattern to tragedy. A tragedy presents its own world with its
own rules. Through the course of the play, the social order of the play becomes so mehow
corrupted. The contamination becomes so severe that nothing can cure it. In order to cure the
corruption, the principles in the play have to be killed and a new social order has to forcibly
replace the old one.

								
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