William Shakesperare Notes

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  • Created on: 03-04-18 11:39

William Shakespeare - Life Time

23rd April 1564 - Born in Stratford upon Avon

1569 - Goes to school - He went to King's New School (a grammar school in Stratford attended by the sins of civil servants' sons

1582 - He married Anne Hathwey. She was 26 and he was 18.

1583 - Six months later their first child Susanna was born

1585 - They have twins. They were named after two of Shakespeares close friends (Hamnet and Judith)

1590 - Shakespeare writes his first play (Henry VI, Part 1) He also leaves STratford to become a playwrite and actor in London

1596 - Hamnet dies at 11

1611 - The Family return to Stratford after Shakespear's new found praise

1616  - He dies on his 52nd Birthday

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What was going on when he was writing? - Political

Shakespeare wrote Macbeth in 1606. It is important to understand the political context in which it was written, as that is the key to the main theme of the play, which is that excessive ambition will have terrible consequences. Shakespeare was writing for the theatre during the reigns of two monarchs, Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. The plays he wrote during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, such as A Midsummer Night's Dream, are often seen to embody the generally happy, confident and optimistic mood of the Elizabethans. However, those he wrote during James's reign, such as Macbeth and Hamlet, are darker and more cynical, reflecting the insecurities of the Jacobean period. Macbeth was written the year after the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. The Gun Powder Plot was when Guy Fawkes and his men tried to blow up James and his parliament. The conspirators were betrayed, and horribly tortured on the rack until they confessed. They were then executed in the most brutal fashion as a warning to other would-be traitors. Shakespeare's play Macbeth is to some extent a cautionary tale, warning any other potential regicides (king-killers) of the awful fate that will inevitably overtake them.

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What was going on when he was writing? - Philosoph

Religious thinkers in the Shakespeare's day had upheld the idea of 'The Great Chain of Being'. This was the belief that God had designed an ordered system for both nature and humankind within which every creature and person had an allotted place. It was considered an offence against God for anyone to try to alter their station in life. After death, however, all would be raised in the kingdom of heaven, if they respected God's will. Since royal rank was bestowed by God, it was a sin to aspire to it. This meant that monarchs were answerable only to God. Any opposition to the King was an attack on God himself, and therefore sacrilege, the most heinous of sins.  All the Stuart kings strongly supported the belief in their 'divine right' to rule as it was an effective safeguard of their position. They even claimed Christ-like powers of healing. In Macbeth, Shakespeare alludes to King Edward of England successfully healing the sick: 'such sanctity hath heaven given his hand'. Queen Anne was the last British monarch who used 'the Queen's touch' in this way.

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What was going on when he was writing? - Royalty a

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Shakespeare's acting company was called the 'Chamberlain's Men', and it is known that they performed for the court. After the accession of James they changed their name to the 'King's Men' as a tribute to him. The patronage of the King and court was obviously valuable to Shakespeare (he had been very close to Queen Elizabeth and he wanted to have a good reputation with the new king). In Macbeth, Shakespeare seeks to flatter and please the King in various ways. Macbeth, the character who usurps the place of a lawful King, is shown as losing everything as a result – he becomes hated and demonised by all his subjects, as does his wife, who supports him in his crime. Banquo, whom the Stuarts claimed as their ancestor, is presented in a completely positive light. When the witches show Macbeth the future, he sees a line of kings descended from Banquo that seems to 'stretch out to the crack of doom'. This flatters King James with the promise of a long-standing dynasty, although in fact James's father, Charles I, would be executed, and the Stuart line was to die out with Queen Anne in 1714.

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WIlliam SHakespear's Most Famous Works (and are th

  • Romeo and Juliet - Tragedy 
  • Macbeth - Tragedy
  • Midsummer Night's Dream - Comedy
  • Hamlet - Tragedy
  • Merchant of Venice - Tragedy and Comedy
  • Twelth Night - Comedy
  • Much Ado About Nothing - Comedy
  • Taming of the Shrew - Comedy
  • Othello - Tragedy
  • The Tempest - Comedy and Tragedy
  • Julius Caesar - Historical
  • As You Like It - Comedy
  • Antony and Cleopatra - A bit of All Three
  • Henry IV - History
  • Henry VIII - History
  • Merry Wives of Windsor - comedy
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Where were his plays performed

The Globe Theatre situated in the Southward district eastwards as far as Porter Street and from Park Street southwards as far as the back of Gatehouse Square in London is associated with the great playwright William Shakespeare. It remained unknown until discovered in 1989. It was not only one of most famous playhouse's of all time, but the play house where Shakespeare was able to perform many of his greatest plays. The Theatre became as famous as he was during those times. As regarding the capacity and structure of the theatre, had a total capacity of between 2,000 and 3,000 spectators. There was no lighting facility availability and therefore, plays were conducted during the day time. Acoustics were poor and the actors were compelled by circumstances to shout their lines, stress their enunciation, and engage in exaggerated theatrical gestures. The theatre had a stage which was a level platform about 43 feet in width some 27 or 28 feet deep that was raised about five feet off the ground. The theatre operated outside the jurisdiction of the city officials and bureaucracy although the same was condemned by the London authorities. The audience was well educated and mostly those sections of the population who enjoyed a high status in the society. The Globe Theatre was destroyed by a fire in 1613. A year later a new Globe was constructed on the same site but it got closed in 1642.

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Interesting Facts!

1. He wrote close to a tenth of words that we now commmonly use (about 3000 words)

2. He never published his works. Fellow actors John Hemmings and Henry Condell recorded and published them for him.

3. His works have been translated into over 80 languages.

4. The King made the actors of Shakespeare’s company ‘Grooms of Chamber’, in response Shakespeare changed the company’s name from the ‘Lord Chamberlain’s Men’ to the ‘King’s Men’. The new title made Shakespeare a favourite with the King and in much demand for Court performances.

5. He didn't attend college

6. A play, credited to William Shakespeare and performed in his life time, has been completely lost

7. Shakespeare's true birthday is unknown, however, it is celebrated 3 days before his baptism.

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