Elizabethan Age
and
Shakespeare
Notes




Era is named after Elizabeth I, monarch of
England (1558-1603)
During her reign, a Renaissance (French for
re-birth) of the arts and sciences was
occurring.
The Renaissance (1350-1600) marked a
transition from the medieval to the modern
world in Western Europe.
English drama produced during this time is
known as Elizabethan Drama

In general, there was not much scenery in
Elizabethan drama; costumes were quite
elaborate and there were many props



For example, a pig bladder full of blood was
used for Juliet’s death scene in Romeo and
Juliet.
All roles were played by men. Sometimes actors
had to learn as many as six parts at a time.
Young boys played the female parts. That is why
there are few romance scenes on stage.
Shakespeare’s Early Life



Born April 23, 1564
Birthplace: Henley Street, Stratford-on-Avon, not
far from London
Parents: John Shakespeare; Mary Arden, from a
wealthy family

inherited land to William because he was the
oldest of eight children




Married Anne Hathaway on November 27,
1582 (he was 18, she was 26)
Oldest daughter, Susanna, was born six
months later
1585- twins born - Hamnet and Judith
Hamnet died at age 11 (profoundly affected
Shakespeare; Hamlet is a variation of that
name)
Shakespeare’s Career





He wrote 154 sonnets and two long poems
He wrote 37 plays.
Most of his sonnets were written between
1592-1594 because the theaters were closed
due to the Black Plague
By the time he was 32, he was considered
the best writer of comedy and tragedy
He died on his 52nd birthday (April
23,1616)
Public Theaters


The Globe was the most important of the public
theaters
“Groundlings,” - paid a penny for admission, stood
in the open court





Usually from the lower class
liked to throw food
yelled at the actors on stage
and sometimes even sat on the stage, especially if they
didn’t like what they were seeing.
The higher priced tickets were two and three
cents.
History of The Globe




built in 1599
seated 2,100 people
Shakespeare was one of ten owners
1613—burnt down (waterproof thatch roof caught
on fire during a performance of Henry VIII--cannon)
Background to Romeo and
Juliet




written about 1595
probably his 13th play
idea taken from “The Tragical History of
Romeo and Juliet,” a poem by Arthur Brooke
(1562)
Unlike his other tragedies, Shakespeare
allows chance, or fate, to determine the
destiny of the hero and heroine (Romeo and
Juliet) more than their tragic flaws do.
Shakespearean Style
and
Figurative Language
Freytag’s Pyramid
Act 3 : Climax
Ac t 4: Falling Action
Act 2: Rising Action
Act 5: Resolution
Act I:
Exposition
Blank Verse

The chief poetic form Shakespeare used
was blank verse, or unrhymed iambic
pentameter.

Examples: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s
day?

Soliloquies: a speech made by an actor who is
alone on stage, intended to reveal his thoughts

Asides: remarks made by a character that are
meant to be heard by the audience and
perhaps one other character on stage, but no
one else.

Asides are usually ironic because they inform the
audience about something of which the other
characters are ignorant.

Conventions: agreements between the artist
and the audience.


For example, it was assumed that all
characters spoke in poetic form unless they
were commoners; the dialogue was meant to
be blunt or the dialogue was relating serious
information (as in a royal document or letter).
Anachronisms: out of place objects, customs
or beliefs.

For example, the Romans in the play Julius
Caesar didn’t wear Roman attire. Rather they
wore elaborate Elizabethan costumes.

Tragic flaw: a flaw, or error, in the
tragic hero that is the cause of his
downfall.

Foil: two contrasting characters,
used to highlight the differences
between the two.
Simile


A comparison of two different things or
ideas through the use of the words “like” or
“as.”
It is a stated comparison, where the author
says one thing is like another

e.g., The warrior fought like a lion.
Metaphor

A direct comparison of two seemingly
unlike objects



The author states the one thing is another.
It is usually a comparison between something
that is real or concrete and something that is
abstract.
e.g., Life is but a dream.
Personification

A kind of metaphor which gives inanimate
objects or abstract ideas human
characteristics.

e.g., The wind cried in the dark.
Hyperbole



A deliberate, extravagant, and often
outrageous exaggeration.
It may be used either for serious or comic
effect.
e.g., The shot that was heard ‘round the
world.’
Understatement (Meiosis)



The opposite of hyperbole.
It is a kind of irony which deliberately
represents something as much less than it
really is.
e.g., I could probably manage to survive on
a salary of two million dollars per year.
Paradox



A statement which contradicts itself. It may
seem almost absurd.
Although it may seem to be at odds with
ordinary experience, it usually turns out to
have a coherent meaning, and it reveals a
truth that is normally hidden.
e.g., The more you know, the more you
know you don’t know.
Oxymoron


A form of paradox which combines a pair of
contrary terms into a single expression.
This combination usually serves the
purpose of shocking the reader into
awareness.

e.g., sweet sorrow
Pun



A play on words which are identical or
similar in sound but which have sharply
diverse meanings.
Puns may have serious or humorous uses.
In Romeo and Juliet as Mercutio is dying,
he says, “Ask for me tomorrow and you
shall find me a grave man.”
Irony – contradiction between what is
real and what is expected

Verbal irony – when what is said has a
different meaning than what is normally
intended.

It is simple to stop smoking. I’ve done it many
times.

Situational Irony - When what happens
contradicts what is expected.


For example, Romeo tries to make peace with
the Capulets, ends up killing Tybalt, and is
banished.
Dramatic Irony – When the audience knows
something the characters do not.

For example, we know Juliet is not dead. Romeo
believes she is dead and stabs himself (dummy).
Sarcasm

A type of irony in which a person appears
to be praising something while he is
actually insulting it.

As I fell down the stairs head-first, I heard her
say, “Look at that coordination.”
Antithesis

A direct contrast of structurally parallel
word groupings generally for the purpose of
contrast

sink or swim
Apostrophe

A form of personification in which the
absent or dead are spoken to as if present

Oh William Shakespeare, What dost thou mean
by thy ramblings?


Or
The inanimate is spoken to as if it is animate
(alive).
Allusion

A reference to a mythological, literary,
historical, or Biblical person, place, or thing.

Hey Romeo, cool your jets and get your hands
off my daughter!
Synecdoche (Si-neck-da-key)



A form of metaphor
A part of something is used to signify the
whole.
Also, the reverse can be true where the
whole can represent the part.

Canada played the U.S. in the hockey finals. (In
reality, the Canadian team, played the U.S. team,
not the entire country.)
Synecdoche (cont’d)

Another form involves the container
representing the thing being contained.


the pot is boiling. (In reality, the pot isn’t boiling,
just the water in it).
Also, it can involve the material from which
an object is made standing for the object.

The quarterback tossed the pigskin.
Metonymy

The name of one thing is applied to another
thing with which it is closely associated

I love Shakespeare.

(A person doesn’t really love the man; he really
means he loves to read Shakespeare’s plays.)