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William Shakespeare
Widely regarded as the
greatest writer in English
Literature
Shakespeare
• 1563-1616
• Stratford-on-Avon, England
• wrote 37 plays
• about 154 sonnets
• started out as an actor
Stage Celebrity
• Actor for Lord Chamberlain’s
Men in the London Theater Co.
Principal playwright for them
• 1599: Lord Chamberlain built
the Globe Theater where most of
Shakespeare’s plays were
performed
Shakespeare wrote:
• Comedies
• Histories
• Tragedies- Macbeth is a
tragedy
The Theater
• Plays produced for the general
public- vernacular
• Roofless/open air theater
No artificial lighting
Courtyard surrounded by 3
levels of galleries
Spectators
• Wealthy: sat on benches
• Groundlings: poorer people stood
and watched from the courtyard
known as the “pit”
• All but wealthy were
uneducated/illiterate
• Much more audience interaction
than today- asides & comic relief
Staging Areas
• Stage: platform that extended into
the pit with people on 3 sides
• Dressing & storage rooms in
galleries behind & above stage
• Second-level gallery/upper stage
used for higher stage positioning
• Trap doors used for ghosts to appear
• “Heavens”: angelic beings (on upper
level)
Contrasts
• No elaborate scenery then
• Settings were established
using references in dialogue
• Elaborate costumes worn
then
• Plenty of mobile props used
then
Contrasts Cont.
• Fast-paced, colorful- 2 hours
• Contemporary adaptations
made to maintain audience
attention- changing settings,
using contemporary slang,
etc.
Actors
• Only men and boys performed
• Young boys whose voices had not
changed play women’s roles
• It would have been considered
indecent for a woman to appear
on stage- time period/ content
Plot
•The sequence of
events in a
literary work
Exposition
• The plot usually begins with
this.
–Setting, characters, and
situation
• Minimalized in plays because
information is learned
through actions of characters
Inciting Moment
• Often called “initial incident”
–the first bit of action that
occurs which begins the plot
–Ex. This starts immediately
with the 3 witches in Macbeth.
Conflict
• The struggle that develops
–man vs. man- Macbeth
–man vs. himself- Macbeth
–man vs. society
–man vs. nature
Crisis
• The point where the
protagonist’s situation will
either get better or worse
• Starts in Act I
Climax
• The turning point of the
story>everything begins
to unravel from here
–Thus begins the falling
action
–Typically Act III
Resolution
•The end of the
central conflict
Denouement
• The final explanation or
outcome of the plot
–If this is included in
literature, it will occur after
the resolution.
Tragedy (Shakespearean)
• Drama where the central character/s
suffer disaster/great misfortune
– In many tragedies, downfall results
from
• Fate
• Character flaw/Fatal flaw
• Combination of the two
• Both are seen in Macbeth.
Theme
• Central idea or
insight that can be
applied to real life
(more than 1 word)
Dramatic Foil
• A character whose
purpose is to show off
another character
– Macbeth and Banquo
Round characters
• Characters who have
many personality
traits, like real
people.
Flat Characters
• One-dimensional, embodying
only a single trait
–Shakespeare often uses them to
provide comic relief, even in a
tragedy.
Static Characters
• Characters within a story
who remain the same.
They do not change their
minds, opinions or
character.
Dynamic Character
• Characters that change
somehow during the
course of the plot. They
generally change for the
better.
Monologue
• One person is speaking on
stage while other character(s)
is/are on stage listening.
Soliloquy
• It is long speech expressing
the inner thoughts of a
character while s/he is alone
on stage.
Aside
• The words are spoken
(usually in an
undertone) to the
audience, not
intended to be heard
by other characters
Direct Address
• The character will acknowledge
the person being spoken to by
name or relationship.
• This is convenient when multiple
characters are on stage.
Dramatic Irony
• A contradiction between
what a character thinks
and what the
reader/audience knows
to be true
Situational Irony
• An event occurs that
directly contradicts the
expectations of the
characters, the reader,
or the audience
Verbal Irony
• Words used to
suggest the opposite
of what is meant
• Puns and sarcasm
Pun
• Shakespeare loved to use
them!!!
–Humorous use of a word with
two meanings; sometimes
missed by the reader because
of Elizabethan language and
sexual innuendo
–Tons in Macbeth
Comic Relief
• Use of comedy within literature
that is NOT comedy to provide
“relief” from seriousness or
sadness.
• Pay attention to when the Porter
appears in Macbeth