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William Shakespeare The life and times of the Great Will! What’s up with Will? What little we know comes from the Parish Register in Stratford, the 1st bio. Written by Nicholas Rowe in 1709, and conjecture. Born April 26th, 1564 (but fixed at the day of his death—April 23rd) Married Anne Hathaway in 1582 3 kids…Susanna, Judith, Hamnet Died in 1616 Him in a Nutshell William Shakespeare was born in 1564 to a successful middle-class glove-maker in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. School Years Shakespeare attended grammar school, but his formal education proceeded no further. Married Life In 1582 he married an older woman, Anne Hathaway, and had three children with her. Career Around 1590 he left his family behind and traveled to London to work as an actor and playwright. Public and critical acclaim quickly followed, and Shakespeare eventually became the most popular playwright in England and part-owner of the Globe Theater. From Ruler to Ruler His career bridged the reigns of Elizabeth I (ruled 1558–1603) and James I (ruled 1603–1625), and he was a favorite of both monarchs. More nutshells Wealthy and renowned, Shakespeare retired to Stratford and died in 1616 at the age of fifty-two. At the time of Shakespeare’s death, literary luminaries such as Ben Jonson hailed his works as timeless. On his tombstone GOOD FREND FOR JESVS SAKE FORBEARE, TO DIGG THE DVST ENCLOASED HEARE. BLESE BE Y MAN Y SPARES THES STONES, AND CVRST BE HE Y MOVES MY BONES. Translation: ―…cursed be he who moves my bone.‖ Early Works by Will 1st narrative poems: Venus & Adonis and Rape of the Lucrece Most agree that his sonnets were written during this time, but not published until 1609 Will’s $$ From financial records of the time we know: Partner with both Globe & Blackfriars Properties bought in Stratford & London Was paid for plays by his company: The Lord Chamberlain’s Men (he joined in 1594) later became King’s Men after the assession of King James Averaged 2 plays per year for 20 years. How we got Will’s Plays Plays were not usually published because of copyright issues, so companies kept them for themselves Sometimes ―bad‖ versions of the plays would surface that were based on an actors memories of their lines—16 of Will’s plays were published during his lifetime withOUT his permission To prevent against this pirating, companies registered playbooks w/the Stationer’s Register as ―BLOCKED‖ or ―STAYED‖; therefore, we can guestimate as to when a play was written The 4 Distinct Periods of Will’s Writings Early Comedies 1st History Plays Taming of the Shrew King John Comedy of Errors Titus Andronicus (based on Plautus’ Menaechmi) Composed between 1584-1594 Great Comedies 2nd History Cycle Romeo & Juliet Composed between 1594-1599 7 Great Tragedies Some darker comedies (called ―PROBLEM PLAYS‖) like Measure for Measure Composed between 1599-1608 Romances like The Tempest Composed later in his life, perhaps just before retiring to his home in Stratford Shakesperean Tragedy (Elizabethan Tragedy) Some resemblance to Aristotle's Poetics where the action is of high significance, the use of poetic language, tragic hero Here are some works you should know… Terms of Elizabethan Tragedy Hamartia: a mistake in judgment that make a hero fall from grace Hubris: excessive pride Peripeteia: reversal of fortune Anagnorisis: recognition Catharsis: purging of pity & terror How Will Changed Tragedy We see dramatic changes from Will’s Titus Andronicus (one of his first plays) to the later dramas. In Titus numerous people killed on state. Lavinia has her tongue cut out & her hands chopped off. Tamora is served her sons baked in a pie….so the violence changes. Will refines his concept of tragedy to a more loosely structured plot including subplots And the final shells The unprecedented admiration garnered by his works led to a fierce curiosity about Shakespeare’s life, but the dearth of biographical information has left many details of Shakespeare’s personal history shrouded in mystery. Some people have concluded from this fact and from Shakespeare’s modest education that Shakespeare’s plays were actually written by someone else—Francis Bacon and the Earl of Oxford are the two most popular candidates—but the support for this claim is overwhelmingly circumstantial, and the theory is not taken seriously by many scholars. In the absence of credible evidence to the contrary, Shakespeare must be viewed as the author of the thirty- seven plays and 154 sonnets that bear his name.
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