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Who was Shakespeare? ... Shakespeare!! – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Shakespeare!!

Who was William Shakespeare?
  • An English playwright and poet
  • Lived in the late 1500s and early 1600s
  • His plays are now performed all over the world in
    hundreds of languages.
  • He is known as one of the greatest writers of all

Why is his work so popular?
  • Shakespeare wrote about human nature and how
    people behave.
  • Although his words can be hard to understand, his
    ideas are as relevant now as they were four
    centuries ago.

Shakespeares Works
  • At least two of his plays have been lost, but 38
  • Two of these, Henry VIII and The Two Noble
    Kinsmen, were co-written with John Fletcher.
  • The other 36 are divided into comedies, tragedies
    and histories.

Shakespeares Works
  • No one knows exactly when each of his works was
    written there are approximate dates.
  • Some experts have even said that Shakespeares
    plays are really the work of other writers.
  • This may be because some people cannot believe
    that Shakespeare, who came from an ordinary
    background, could have written such great works
    of literature.

Performing Shakespeare
  • Whenever a new production of a Shakespeare play
    is staged, directors, designers and actors think
    of new interpretations, or ways to understand and
    present it.
  • Plays can be performed in modern dress, or set in
    any historical period
  • Directors sometimes cut or change the text of a
    play. The same scene can be funny, frightening,
    or exciting, depending on how the stage is set
    and how the actors say the words.

Shakespeares Language
  • The way people spoke 400 years ago was different
    from the way we speak now, and Shakespeares
    language can be hard to understand.
  • Most editions of his works help by providing
    notes which explain the meanings of words and

Elizabethan Beliefs
  • Life in Elizabethan England could be cruel and
    hard. The poor often went hungry, disease was
    widespread, medical remedies often felt more like
    tortures, and many women died in childbirth. But
    through their beliefs, people found ways of
    making sense of their existence.

Elizabethan Beliefs
  • Religion
  • People were, in general, much more religious than
    people today.
  • Almost everyone believed in God and expected to
    go to heaven or hell after death.
  • At this time, England was a Protestant country
    it had broken away from the Catholic Church of
    Rome. This was part of the European movement
    called the Reformation, which began with attacks
    on corruption in the Catholic Church.

Elizabethan Beliefs
  • The Chain of Being
  • A concept inherited from the Middle Ages
  • An attempt to give order, or degree, to the
    vastness of creation.
  • God created everything in a strict hierarchy, or
    chain, that stretched from God himself down to
    the lowest things in existence.
  • Humans occupied a place in the chain below the
    angels but above animals, plants and stones.
    Some humans were higher in the chain than others.

Elizabethan Beliefs
  • The Chain of Being, cont.
  • The monarch was the highest
  • Nobles and churchmen below
  • Gentlemen
  • Commoners
  • All women were considered to be inferior to men,
    with the obvious exception of Elizabeth I.

Elizabethan Beliefs
  • Chain of Being, cont.
  • Accepting ones place in the chain was a duty
    that would be rewarded by God in heaven.
  • Disrupting the chain was thought to lead to
    chaos, but of course many people still did
    challenge their position in society.

Elizabethan Beliefs
  • Myths and Magic
  • Fairies, magic, witches, spells and prophecies
    all formed part of their view of life.
  • Folklore and superstition were often as important
    to people as the official religious beliefs
    taught by the Church.

Elizabethan Beliefs
  • Myths and Magic, cont.
  • Many Elizabethans thought that fairies, goblins
    and sprites came out at night to play tricks on
    innocent people.
  • It was believed they could make people go insane,
    give them terrible nightmares, or even lure them
    into a devilish underworld.

Elizabethan Beliefs
  • Myths and Magic, cont.
  • Diseases and disasters were often blamed on
  • Many women who didnt fit into society were
    branded as witches and accused of working for the
  • Astrology the belief that the position and
    movement of the stars can foretell and influence
    events on Earth - was more important than it is

Elizabethan Beliefs
  • Little and Large
  • The human body was thought to be a miniature
    representation of the universe as a whole a
  • Various parts of the body were linked to the
    planets and signs of the zodiac

Elizabethan Beliefs
  • Little and Large, cont.
  • The body was thought to contain four humours or
    fluids black bile, phlegm, blood and choler.
  • A persons temperament depended on the way the
    humours were mixed.
  • Most people were thought to have one humour that
    was more dominant than the others.
  • Illnesses and mental disorders were blamed on an
    imbalance of the humours.
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Elizabethan Theatre
  • Until the mid-16th century, most plays were
    performed outside London.
  • Craftsmen or tradespeople put on traditional
    plays and on village greens
  • As it grew in size and importance, London became
    the center of English theatre.
  • While hugely popular, it was not, at first,
    considered a very respectable pastime most of
    the theatres were in the rougher parts of town.

Elizabethan Theatre
  • The first London theatre was called The Theatre,
    built in 1576.
  • The Rose 1587
  • The Swan 1595
  • All were deliberately built outside the City
    limits, so they were free from the restrictions
    of City regulations.
  • Queen Elizabeth I loved the theatre and often
    held performances of plays at her court.

Elizabethan Theatre
  • In London, plays were put on by theatre companies
  • By law, a company had to have a patron to
    support it financially. The company was named
    after its patron.
  • Shakespeare spent much of his career with a
    company called Chamberlains Men.

Elizabethan Theatre
  • The audience
  • It was an entertainment for everyone, like movies
  • The cheapest tickets cost a penny, which most
    ordinary people could afford.
  • Because of the crowds, theatres were popular with
    thieves and pickpockets.
  • People jeered at the actors and shouted out rude
  • Some even climbed onto the stage and joined in
    with swordfights.
  • People also brought food with them to eat during
    the performance, or to throw at bad actors.

Elizabethan Theatre
  • Stagecraft
  • Special effects and scenery did not play a big
    part in Elizabethan theatre.
  • Musicians provided sound effects with drums and
  • Actors often wore extravagant, showy costumes.
  • Audiences were expected to use their imaginations
    for different locations and backgrounds.

Elizabethan Theatre
  • Plague and Players
  • Theatre were closed during severe outbreaks of
    plague they thought it spread more quickly in
  • Many companies left London for tours of the
  • Players often had to sell their costumes and
    scripts in order to survive.
  • Some Puritans believed that plague was sent by
    God as a punishment for the wickedness of

Elizabethan Theatre
  • Shakespeares Players
  • He is thought to have joined the theatre as an
    actor and become a writer later.
  • It was normal for actors to help write plays or
    change them a lot during rehearsal.
  • Actors often specialized in one type of part
    tragic hero, clown, etc.
  • There were no actresses. Womens roles were
    played by boys. Women did not act on stage until
    the Restoration. (1660s)

The Globe Theatre
  • From 1599 onwards, Shakespeares plays were
    usually performed at the Globe, a huge, open-air,
    circular theatre.
  • It could hold 3000 people, and there were two
    performances a day.
  • Along with other members of his theatre company,
    Chamberlains Men, Shakespeare owned a share in
    the Globe and made a lot of money from it.
  • Shakespeares writing may sometimes reflect the
    design of the theatre. Some of the lines in his
    plays have three parts, or a word repeated three
    times. At the Globe, this allowed an actor to
    address the audience on all three sides of the
    thrust stage.

(No Transcript)
What kind of plays?
  • During Shakespeares career, fashions and tastes
    in drama changed.
  • He wrote mostly comedies and history plays during
    the Elizabethan period 1558-1603
  • Tragedies and tragicomedies during the reign of
    King James 1603-1625

What Kind of Plays?
  • Tragedy
  • Ends in the death of one or more of the main
  • Most of his tragedies involve historical
    individuals and events

What Kind of Plays?
  • Comedy
  • Usually has a happy ending
  • Can also include jokes, farce and innuendo
  • His are usually love stories
  • Settings are far away from England

What Kind of Plays?
  • Tragicomedy
  • A mixture of tragedy and comedy
  • Seems to move toward a tragic ending but a twist
    in the plot saves the characters.

What Kind of Plays?
  • History plays
  • Usually tell the stories of great leaders and
  • He sometimes altered what he found in the history
    books to suit his own dramatic purposes and make
    the plays more exciting.

  • Shakespeares most famous and popular plays
  • Romeo and Juliet Macbeth Hamlet Othello King
    Lear Julius Caesar

Tragic Hero
  • Often a man of high rank, such as a king or
  • Creates, or is put into, a difficult situation
    which he must try to resolve.
  • A combination of bad luck and bad decisions lead
    to his death.
  • Often a relatively sympathetic figure. His
    soliloquies show his feelings and motives, and
    show the audience how easy it would be to make
    similar mistakes.

Doom and Destiny
  • Many people believed in fate, or destiny, and in
    the power of the stars to foretell the future.
  • Shakespeare uses the idea of fate or destiny to
    add excitement and anticipation to the tragedies
  • Uses a prophecy as a way of holding the
    audiences interest, because everyone wants to
    see if it will be fulfilled.

Tragic Endings
  • Tragedies give a very bleak view of the world.
  • At the end, the hero, and usually several other
    characters, are dead, and the survivors are left
    to start again without them.
  • Although most tragic heroes are partly to blame
    for their own fates, death can be a very high
    price to pay for what may have seemed initially
    like a small failing.
  • In most tragedies, there is also a feeling that
    some good may have come out of the terrible
  • At the end of Romeo and Juliet, because the
    families fighting has partly caused the tragedy,
    they finally resolve to end their feud.

The Roman Tragedies
  • Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra and
    Coriolanus deal with political power
  • The hero is a state leader who has a
    responsibility to the people.
  • Tragedy results when he fails to meet his
  • These plays are not just about politics. They
    are full of personal emotions, dramatic power
    struggles, and brilliant writing, including some
    of the most famous writing in Shakespeares

The Roman Tragedies
  • Two Themes
  • Politics and Power shows how hard it is to be a
    political leader. The hero has power, but has a
    weakness which makes him vulnerable to being
    attacked or overthrown
  • Love and Duty people often have to make
    difficult choices between their emotions and
    their responsibilities