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William Shakespeare
Born Stratford-upon-Avon
Grammar School education
Married at 18 – Anne Hathaway
Elizabeth I – patron of the arts
The democracy of the theater
Actor and author
The Plays
• 37 plus sonnets
• Conspiracy regarding authorship
• Bacon, Marlowe, Queen Elizabeth, William
Stanley, Edward de Vere
• Lord Chamberlain’s Men
• The King’s Men
• The Globe
The Death 1616
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 bones.
Elements of Tragedy
Tragic Hero
Tragic Flaw
Recognize flaw – sympathy
Doom met with courage
Carl Jung’s Theory of Personality
It is meant for the stage
• The language and word play are key
• Read it out loud, just as an actor rehearsing
would have to do. That will help you
understand how one thought is connected to
Keys To Understanding
• When reading verse, note the appropriate
phrasing and intonation.
LINE unless there is a mark of punctuation
The Merchant of Venice, Act IV,
Scene i
• The quality of mercy is not strain'd, (short pause)
• It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
• Upon the place beneath: (long pause) it is twice blest;
(long pause)
• It blesseth him that gives, (short pause) and him that takes;
(long pause)
• 'tis mightiest in the mighties; (long pause) it becomes
• The throned monarch better than his crown; (long pause)
Read from punctuation mark to
punctuation mark for meaning
LUC. Tranio, I saw her coral lips to move,
And with her breath she did perfume the air;
Sacred, and sweet, was all I saw in her.
TRA. Nay, then, 't is time to stir him from
his trance.
• I pray, awake, sir: if you love the maid,
• Bend thoughts and wits to achieve her. (I,i)
In an inverted sentence, the verb comes before the subject.
Some lines will be easier to understand if you put the subject
first and reword the sentence.
• “Never was seen so black a day as this:”
(Romeo and Juliet, IV, v)
An ellipsis occurs when a word
or phrase is left out.
• In Romeo and Juliet, Benvolio asks Romeo's father and mother if they
know the problem that is bothering their son. Romeo's father answers:
• “I neither know it nor can learn of him” (Romeo and Juliet I,i).
• This sentence can easily be understood to mean,
• “I neither know [the cause of] it,
• nor can [I] learn [about it from] him.”
As you read longer speeches, keep track of the
subject, verb, and object – who did what to whom.
• ROSS: The king hath happily received,
• The news of thy success: and when he reads
• Thy personal venture in the rebel's fight…
(Macbeth I, iii)
In tracking the line of action in a passage, it is useful to
identify the main thoughts that are being expressed and
paraphrase them.
• O God! a beast that wants discourse of
• Would have mourn'd longer – married with
my uncle,
• My father's brother, but no more like my
• Than I to Hercules. (I,ii)
Shakespeare frequently uses
metaphor to illustrate an idea in a
unique way
• I have begun to plant thee, and will labour
• To make thee full of growing. (I,v)
• An allusion is a reference to some event, person, place, or
artistic work, not directly explained or discussed by the
writer; it relies on the reader's familiarity with the item
referred to. Allusion is a quick way of conveying
information or presenting an image.
• ROMEO: Well, in that hit you miss: she'll not be hit
• with Cupid's arrow, she hath Dian's wit;
• and in strong proof of chastity well arm'd (I,i)
Contracted words are words in
which a letter has been left out.
Some that frequently appear:
be't on't
'tis e'en
ta'en i'
know'st 'twill
Archaic, obsolete and familiar
words with unfamiliar definitions
may also cause problems.
• thee, thou, thy, and thine
• Betwixt
• Obsolete Words – look for footnotes/margin
• Beatrice: Scratching could not make it
worse, an 'twere such a face as yours were.
Wordplay: puns, double
entendres, and malapropisms
• Nurse tells Romeo that she needs to have a
“confidence” with him, when she should
have said “conference.” Mockingly,
Benvolio then says she probably will
“indite” (rather than “invite”) Romeo to
Pass The Character
Social class
Historical era
Leisure pursuits
Walk and talk
Pass The Character 2
Hamlet Quotes
• "To be, or not to be: that is the question". (Act III, Sc. I).
• "Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both
itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of
husbandry". Act I, Sc. III).
• "This above all: to thine own self be true" (Act I, Sc. III).
Pass The Character 2
Hamlet Quotes
• "Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't."
Hamlet quote (Act II, Scene II).
• "That it should come to this!". Hamlet quote (Act I, Scene
• "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it
so" Hamlet quote (Act II, Sc. II).
Pass The Character 2
Hamlet Quotes
• "What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how
infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and
admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension
how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of
animals! " Hamlet quote (Act II, Sc. II).
• "The lady doth protest too much, methinks". Hamlet (
Quote Act III, Sc. II).
Pass The Character 2
Hamlet Quotes
• "In my mind's eye". Hamlet quotation (Quote Act I,
Scene II).
• "A little more than kin, and less than kind". (Hamlet Quote
Act I, Scene II).
• "The play 's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of
the king". Hamlet Quote (Act II, Scene II).
Pass The Character 2
Hamlet Quotes
• And it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not
then be false to any man". (Hamlet Quote Act I, Scene
• "This is the very ecstasy of love". - ( Hamlet Quote Act II,
Sc I).
• "Brevity is the soul of wit". - Hamlet Quote (Act II, Scene
Pass The Character 2
Hamlet Quotes
• "Doubt that the sun doth move, doubt truth to be a liar, but
never doubt I love". Hamlet Quote (Act II, Sc. II).
• "Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind". - (Hamlet
Quote Act III, Scene I).
• "Do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe?"
Hamlet Quote (Act III, Sc. II).
• "I will speak daggers to her, but use none". - (Hamlet
Quote Act III, Sc. II).
Pass The Character 2
Hamlet Quotes
• "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in
battalions". - (Hamlet Quote Act IV, Scene V).
ACT I Vocab
Ghost, spirit
Church law
Face, expression
Ready to happen,
ACT I Vocab
Wasteful, extravagant
Tarnished, stained, dirty