William Shakespeare
Simonetta Gatto
Istituto Comprensivo di Casella (GE)
Who was William Shakespeare?
He was:
 a poet
 a playwright
 an actor
His life
Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, in central England, in 1564 and he
died there in 1616.
When William Shakespeare was 18 years old he married Anne Hathaway and they
had three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith.
Then Shakespeare went to London to work as an actor and a writer.
He wrote and acted for two important monarchs: Queen Elizabeth I and James I.
He had a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men which later was called
the King’s men.
He produced most of his work between 1589 and 1603.
Stratford-upon-Avon : Shakespeare’s house
Shakespeare’s plays
Shakespeare wrote 38 plays These have been translated into every major
language and are performed more than those of any other playwright in
the world. His plays can be divided into three groups:
• Tragedies: for example Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, and Romeo
and Juliet.
• Comedies: for example A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Twelfth
Nightand Much Ado About Nothing.
• Historical plays: for example Richard III, Henry IV and Julius Caesar.
A tragedy is a play with a sad ending, in which someone suffers or dies.
A comedy is a play of a light, amusing kind. It is intended to make
people laugh.
A historical play is about historical events and characters.
Shakespeare’s poems
Shakespeare has written 154
sonnets.
The Shakesperean or English
Sonnet has 14 lines and is divided
into three quartrains and a couplet.
The rhyming scheme usually is abab,
cdcd, efef, gg.
Most of his sonnets are about love.
Sonnet 138
When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutor'd youth,
Unlearned in the world's false subtleties.
a
b
a
b
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue;
On both sides thus is simple truth suppressed.
c
d
c
d
But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O! love's best habit is in seeming trust,
And age in love loves not to have years told:
e
f
e
f
Therefore I lie with her, and she with me,
And in our faults by lies we flatter'd be.
g
g
Shakespeare Theatre: the Globe
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•
•
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It was built in 1599 by
Shakespeare's playing
company and was destroyed by
fire in 1613.
A modern copy of the Globe
was built in 1997
The modern theatre is located
in London on the banks of the
river Thames.
Today it is possible to see
Shakespeare’s plays at the
Globe.
The globe is an open-air
theatre because it took
inspiration from the Roman
amphitheatres.
The audience
In the XVI – XVII centuries
going to theatre was pure
amusement. Everybody liked it,
and poor people, too, went to see
the most popular plays.
The poor did not have a seat;
they stood “on the ground” in
front of the stage and for this
reason they were called
“groundlings”. This tradition is
still respected today.
THE ACTORS
In the Elizabethan Theatre women’s
roles were played by young men or boys.
Today at the Globe both men and
women interpret Shakespearean
characters, but some works are played
by men only to recreate the real
atmosphere of that period.
Elizabethan age
 Shakespeare lived and worked in the Elizabethan ge
 This period is called Elizabethan from Queen Elizabeth I who reigned between
1558 and 1603.
 It is considered a golden age in the history of Britain because the country was
healthy and powerful and it was a period of exploration and expansion abroad.
 In this period art and literature were very important and most popular of all was
drama, thanks to Shakespeare and other artists.
Shakespeare and his plays have
inspired some modern films
• Shakespeare in Love
• Romeo and Juliet