William Shakespeare - Malibu High School

William Shakespeare
He was not of an age, but for all time! -Ben Jonson
About Billy
Born on April 23, 1564 in
Married Anne Hathaway
in 1582. On marriage cert.
his name is spelled “Shagsspere”. Not kidding.
She was likely pregnant at the
time, as were up to 40% of
brides in that part of England
at the time.
Children: Susanna
(1583), twins Hamnet &
Judith (1585)
Moved to London by 1592
Long affiliated with Lord
Chamberlain’s Men
Company began performing in
the Globe in 1599
Was not concerned with
preservation of works
Number of plays printed during
his life: 18
No certain chronology of
writings or performances
Shakespeare or Shakspe
We are not sure how best to spell his name- but
then neither, it appears, was he, for the name is
never spelled the same way twice in the
signatures that survive: Willm Shaksp, William
Shakespe, Wm Shakspe, William Shakespere,
Willm, Shakspere, and William Shakspeare.
 Curiously, one spelling he didn’t use was the one
now universally attached to his name.*
 According to one estimate 70% of men and 90%
of women could not even sign their own names
at the time.
*Many of the following slides come from Bill Bryson’s Book: Shakespeare
Shakespeare or Shakspe
It is perhaps worth noting that the spelling
we all use is not the one endorsed by the
Oxford English Dictionary, which prefers
Language of the Time
Some 12,000 words entered the language
between 1500 and 1650, about half of
them still in use today, and old words
were employed in ways that had not been
tried before.
 Spelling was variable…a dictionary
published in 1604, A Table Alphabeticall of
Hard Words, spelled “words” two ways on
the title page.
Shakespeare’s Words
He coined-or to be more carefully precise,
made the first recorded use of- 2,035
 Hamlet alone gave audiences about 600
words that, according to all other
evidence, they had never heard before.
 Here are some: countless, critical, frugal,
vast, horrid, excellent, hereditary,
leapfrog, dwindle, assassination, lonely,
Some of his inventions: one fell swoop,
vanish into thin air, be in a pickle, flesh
and blood, foul play, tower of strength,
with bated breath, foregone conclusion.
 If we take the Oxford English Dictionary
as our guide, S produced roughly 1/10 of
all the most quotable utterances ever
written or spoken in English!
Started off writing
histories and comedies
 Series of romantic
comedies starting 1595
 Wrote tragedies in early
1600s (Hamlet, Othello,
“Dark Comedy”-- Troilus
“Romances”-- patterns
of loss/recovery,
despair/renewal (Pericles,
& Cressida, All’s Well That
Ends Well, Measure for
Cymbeline, The Winter’s
Tale, The Tempest)
London was a city
where a single theatre
held more people than
in his hometown!
The Theatre
Theatres as dedicated spaces of entertainment
were a new phenomenon in England…used to be
in halls of great homes or inn’s yards.
 Plays were at 2pm because of no lights
 Lines of play let people know if it was supposed
to be night, indoors, etc…not much of a set
 The money for tickets was dropped into a box,
which was taken to a special room for safekeeping—the box office!
The Theatre
The disdain for female actors was a
Northern European tradition. In Spain,
France, and Italy, women were played by
 Even poor people went to the theatre,
especially during the depressed years, just
like movies were for Americans in the
The Theatre
To prosper, a theatre in London needed to draw
as many as 2,000 spectators a day-about 1% of
the city’s population-200 or so times a year!
 To keep customers coming back, it was
necessary to change the plays continually. Most
acting companies performed at least 5 different
plays a week…used all spare time to memorize
 Makes sense why Shakespeare would have
written so many (36) plays. And why he rewrote plays (Romeo and Juliet for example)
The Theatre
There were no formal directors in
Shakespeare’s day
 Actors could sometimes be required to
memorize 15,000 lines in a season. About
the number of words in a 200 page book.
 Shakespeare never used a plot from his
own times, and none were set in London
The Theatre
In classical drama plays were strictly
either comedies or tragedies. Elizabethan
playwrights refused to be bounded by
such rigidities and put comic scenes in
their darkest tragedies.
 In so doing, they invented comic relief
 Also, classical drama has no soliloquies
and no asides.
The Theatre
The practice of pausing between acts
didn’t begin until plays moved indoors,
late in Shakespeare’s career, and it
became necessary to break from time to
time to trim the lights!
End of a Career
Billy retired to Stratford-on-Avon in 1610
Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616 in Stratford
His epitaph reads “Good friend for Jesus’ sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosed here: Blest be the man that
spares these stones, And curst be he that moves my
What’s Happening in England?
Elizabethan London
Around Town
There was only one bridge across the Thames
until around 1800 (the London Bridge)
 In Shakespeare’s time, tea and coffee were still
 Such was the popularity of sugar that people’s
teeth often turned black, and those who failed
to attain the condition naturally sometimes
blackened their teeth to show they had had their
share of sugar, too!*
*From Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare
Around Town
Tobacco was introduced to London the
year after Shakespeare’s birth, was used
for pleasure but also for a broad range of
complaints. For a time, pupils at Eton
faced a beating if caught neglecting their
Monarchy in 16th and early 17th
Century England
Henry VII
m. James IV of Scotland
Henry VIII
James V
of Scotland
m. Jane Seymour
m. Catherine of Aragon
m. Anne Boleyn
Queen of Scots
Edward VI
Mary I
Elizabeth I
James I
Protestant married
to a Catholic
m. Anne, Katherine H,
& Katherine P
Key Events
 Low tolerance for religion (specifically
 Role of women (despite Elizabeth’s rule)
 Golden Age of Literature
 Sense of nationalism develops
 Cultural Renaissance
King James
He reigned from 1603-1616
He was not, by all accounts, the most visually
appealing of fellows. He was graceless, and had
a disconcerting habit, indulged in more or less
constantly, of playing with his codpiece. And his
tongue appeared too big for his mouth…made
his drinking and eating unpleasant to watch.
He didn’t bathe much and didn’t change his
clothes often either.
But he liked the theatre.
King James Version of the Bible finally influenced
a conformity of spelling.
The Plague
In non-plague years 16% of infants died
in England.
 In Shakespeare’s birth year 66% of infants
 In a sense, his greatest achievement in
life wasn’t writing Macbeth or the sonnets,
but just surviving his first year!*
*From Bill Bryson’s Book: Shakespeare
A person with an income of 20 pounds a year
was permitted to don a satin doublet but not a
satin gown, while someone worth 100 pounds a
year could wear all the satin he wished, but
could have velvet only in his doublets, but not in
any outerwear, and then only so long as the
velvet was not crimson or blue. Silk
netherstockings were restricted to knights and
their eldest sons…amazing S’s plays were so
deep if these were concerns of the day.*
*From Bill Bryson’s Book: Shakespeare
Shakespeare’s Works
154 Sonnets
12 Comedies
10 Histories
(Henry IV, Part I; Henry
IV, Part II; Henry V; Henry VI, Part I; Henry
VI, Part II; Henry VI, Part III; Henry VIII;
King John; Richard II; Richard III)
11 Tragedies (Antony and Cleopatra,
4 “Romances” (Pericles, Cymbeline,
(All's Well That Ends
Well, As You Like It, Comedy of Errors,
Love's Labour's Lost, Measure for Measure,
Merchant of Venice, Merry Wives of
Windsor, Midsummer Night's Dream, Much
Ado about Nothing, Taming of the Shrew,
Twelfth Night, Two Gentlemen of Verona)
Coriolanus, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, King
Lear, Macbeth, Othello, Romeo and Juliet,
Timon of Athens, Titus Andronicus, Troilus
and Cressida)
The Winter’s Tale, The Tempest)
Tragedy: A drama or
literary work in which the
main character is brought to
ruin or suffers extreme
sorrow, especially as a
consequence of a tragic
flaw, moral weakness, or
inability to cope with
unfavorable circumstances
 Protagonist “dies”
 Fault is moral
 Sense of waste
fall of person of high
 Own fault, not moral
 Catharsis- expulsion of
pity and fear
History of ‘That Play’
Written and performed
for King James I (1606)
Tragedy with a historical
Real Macbeth ruled from
1040-1057; killed
Duncan, revenged by
Malcom (son) in 1057-reigned until 1093
Banquo is said to be an
ancestor of James I
Assassination was key
issue for James-- had
already survived one
 Loosely based on
Gunpowder Plot of 1605
 Witchcraft punishable
by death (Salem trials in
 Some witch scenes
believed to be added by
Thomas Middleton after
Shakespeare’s death
The Curse
The "Curse of Macbeth" is the misfortune that happens
during the production of the play.
 The theory goes that Shakespeare included actual black
magic spells in the incantations of the weird sisters.
Those who appear in the play or those who mention the
play's name within the confines of a theatre risk having
these evils brought down on their heads.
 The tragedy of Macbeth is considered so unlucky that it
is hardly ever called by name inside the profession.
People refer to the play as "that play”, “the
unmentionable" or "the Scottish play." It is supposed to
be bad luck to quote from the play or to use any sets,
costumes, or props from a production.
August 7, 1606-- The boy actor playing Lady Macbeth
died back stage on opening night. Shakespeare had to fillin.
 Amsterdam, 1672-- the actor playing Macbeth substituted
a real dagger for the blunted stage one and with it killed
Duncan in full view of the entranced audience.
 New York, 1849-- performance at Astor Place, a riot broke
out in which 31 people were trampled to death.
 1934, four actors played Macbeth in a single week. In
1937, Macbeth had to be postponed for three days after a
change in directors and because of the death of Lilian
Boylis. In 1954, the portrait of Lilian Boylis crashed down
on the bar on opening night.
1934-- British actor Malcolm Keen turned mute onstage,
and his replacement, Alister Sim, like Hal Berridge before
him, developed a high fever and had to be hospitalized.
 1937-- when Laurence Olivier took on the role of Macbeth,
a 25 pound stage weight crashed within an inch of him,
and his sword which broke onstage flew into the audience
and hit a man who later suffered a heart attack.
 1942-- Macbeth production headed by John Gielgud, three
actors -- Duncan and two witches -- died, and the costume
and set designer committed suicide amidst his devilish
Macbeth creations.
 Bermuda, 1953--The indestructible Charlton Heston
suffered severe burns in his groin and leg area from tights
that were accidentally soaked in kerosene.
New York, 1970-- An actor's strike felled Rip Torn's
1971-- two fires and seven robberies plagued the version
starring David Leary
1981-- production at Lincoln Center, J. Kenneth Campbell,
who played Macduff, was mugged soon after the play's
The superstition is not so much about doing the play as about
naming it. You are not supposed to mention the title in a
The most common remedy to get rid of the curse is that the
offender must step outside, turn around three times, spit, and
say the foulest word he/she can think of, and wait for
permission to re-enter the theatre.
Other Act 1, Scene 1s
Romeo & Juliet-- fight
scene between Montague
and Capulet household;
Romeo professes love for
Othello-- Roderigo upset
with Iago; Iago upset
because Othello
appointed Cassio
lieutenant; Brabanzio finds
out about Desdemona’s
marriage to Othello
Julius Caesar-- Flavius
and Murellus are upset
over the city’s support of
Caesar and his victory
over Pompey (a leader
they used to support)
Much Ado About
Nothing-- Don Juan and
crew return victorious
from battle; Beatrice and
Benedick relationship set
up; plan to hook-up
Claudio and Hero
Macbeth Act 1, Scene 1
Three witches appear out of a storm and plan to
meet again after the battle to confront Macbeth.
They disappear as quickly as they appeared
(scene is 13 lines).
A desert place. Thunder and lightning. Enter three witches.
1st witch: When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
2nd witch: When the hurlyburly’s done,
When the battle’s lost and won.
3rd witch: That will be ere the set of sun.
1st witch: Where the place?
2nd witch:
Upon the heath.
3rd witch: There to meet with Macbeth.
1st witch: I come, Graymalkin!
2nd witch: Paddock calls.
3rd witch: Anon!
All: Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air.
[They vanish]
Literary Allusion
Act 4, Scene 1
Line 45
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