Shakespeare/college paper on Shakespeare term paper 12623

Shakespeare term papers
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William Shakespeare was a family man; he was a poet and a lasting literary

figure. He is considered to be the most fascinating Elizabethan dramatist due to

his writings and versatile life. Shakespeare’s career has endured for

centuries. He is one of the most studied authors of all time (Zender 22).

Shakespeare did not attend a university, yet he created 144 poems and many

plays, which are considered to be literary works of art. His writings in

comedies and tragedies show his talent is unbounded. William Shakespear’s

popularity must have extended beyond his own expectations as it touches people

even today (Zender 23). William Shakespeare was born in the year of 1564 and

died in 1616. His education consisted mostly of Latin studies- learning to read,

write, and speak the language fairly well and studying some of the classical

historians and poets. A bond, dated November 28, 1582, was executed by two men

of Stratford as a security to the bishop for the issue of a license for marriage

between Williams Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway of Stratford. One year later, a

daughter named Susanna was born on May 26, 1583. On February 2, 1585 twins were

born Hamlet and Judith. Shakespeare’s only son-died eleven years later (Groiler

1991). How Shakespeare spent the next eight years or so science 1585, until his

name begins to appear in London Theater records, is not known. There are stories

of stealing deer and getting into trouble with a local magistrate, of earning a

living as a school master in the country, of going to London and gaining entry

into the world of theater by minding horses of theater- goers. In the light of

evidence, exploits of Shakespeare’s life cannot be proved or dismissed.

Shakespeare has often been viewed from the internal evidence of his writings.

However, this method is unsatisfactory. One cannot conclude, for example from

allusions to the law that Shakespeare was a lawyer, although he clearly was a

writer who without difficulty could get whatever legal knowledge needed for the

composition of his works. It is not clear how his career in the theater began;

but from about 1594 onward, he was an important member of Lord Chamberlain’s

company of players, called the King’s Men after the accession of King James I

in 1603. The company had the best actor, Richard Burbage; they had the best

theater, the Globe; and the best dramatist, Shakespeare. It is no wonder that

the company prospered. Shakespeare became a full-time professional man of this

own theatre, sharing in a cooperative enterprise and intimately concerned with

the financial success of the plays he wrote (Groiler 1991). Shakespeare’s

will, made on March 25, 1616, is a long and detailed document. It included quite

extensive properties to the male heirs of his elder daughter, Susanna. As an

afterthought, Shakespeare bequeathed his second best bed to his wife, but no one

can be certain what this notorious legacy means. The signature to the will was

apparently in shaky hands. Perhaps Shakespeare was already ill. He died on April

23, 1616. No name was inscribed on his gravestone. Within a few years a monument

was erected. Its epitaph, written in Latin and inscribed immediately below the

bust, attributes to Shakespeare the worldly wisdom of Nestor, the genius of

Socrates, and the poetic art of Virgil (Groiler 1991). Shakespeare lived in a

time when ideas and social structures established in the Middle Ages still

influenced man’s thoughts and behavior. Queen Elizabeth was a firm believer in

divine power of the crown. She thought herself God’s deputy on earth, lords

and commoners had their due place in society under her, with responsibilities up

through her to God and down to those of more humble rank. The order of things

did not go unquestioned. Atheism was still considered a challenge to beliefs and

way of life of a majority of Elizabethans, but the Christian faith was no longer

the single religion, with expansion of the Anglican Church and the growing power

of the Puritans. Commoners were becoming more literate and could read the

scriptures for themselves. In philosophical inquiry, the question how became the

impulse for advance, rather than traditional why of Aristotle (Davidow 42).

Beginning in the summer of 1592, the theaters were closed almost continuously

for two years. This was the result of the bubonic plague. At this point,

Shakespeare turned his attention to writing narrative poetry. Fellow

Elizabethans considered this style of writing to be serious literature in

contrast with the popular drama entertainment of the day (Davidow 43).

Shakespeare’s manuscript of Venus and Adonis was printed and published by a

Stratford friend, Richard Field, in 1593. Shakespeare dedicated this poem to a

young nobleman, Henry Wriothesley, The Earl of Southampton. As was customary of

the time period, Shakespeare would have been rewarded with a gift. However,

there is no record to reflect the value of the poem for that time period (Davidow

45). Venus and Adonis met with instantaneous success. Davidow states, “In fact

this poem’s immense popularity led Shakespeare to write The Rape of Lucrece in

the following year.” This poem was also printed by his friend Field in 1594,

but was also published by another gentleman by the name of John Harrison. Again

the poem was dedicated to his friend The Earl of Southhampton (Davidow 60).

About this time Shakespeare wrote a series of 154 poems; all but three were

14-line sonnets. The formulation of these sonnets was spread over a number of

years. Some sonnets are thought to go as far back as 1588, the same time the

Spanish Armada attempted the invasion of England. According to Davidow, “The

entire collection of sonnets were not published until 1609; probably without

Shakespeare’s knowledge” (Davidow 65). Consequently, the last group of

English history plays Shakespeare chose to write about was Julius Caesar, who

held particular fascination for the Elizabethans. Julius Caesar was a solider,

scholar, and politician. Caesar’s greatest friend had killed him and Caesar

was seen as the first Roman to perceive and, in part, to achieve the benefits of

monarchial state. Caesar appears in three scenes and then is murdered before the

play is half finished. A variety of characters respond to and reflect upon the

central fact of the great man. This is the dramatic strategy of an ironist, a

writer such as Shakespeare, who wishes to question human behavior and to observe

interactions and consequences. In Northrop a point of fact is made; Caesar

influences the whole play, for he appears after his death as a blood stained

corpse and as a ghost before battle (Northrop 28). Both Brutes and Cassias dying

are conscious of Caesar; both men even speak to Caesar as if he were present. In

other ways Julius Caesar is shaped differently from the histories and tragedies

that precede, as if in manner as in subject matter Shakespeare was making

decisive changes (Northrop 33). The scene moves only from Rome to the

battlefield, and with this new setting, language becomes more restrained, firmer

and sharper. Extensive descriptive images are few, and single words such as

Roman, humor, love, friend, and proper names are repeated as if to enforce

contrasts and ironies (Northrop 33). This sharp verbal edge linked with

commanding performances holds attention. For example, exciting debates,

conspiracies and crises, which include mob violence and as well as personal

antagonisms lead to battle and many times death holds the reader’s attention

(Northrop 34). In contrast to Shakespeare’s tragedies are his comedic

writings. Comedies written between 1596 and 1602 have much in common. With the

exception of The Merry Wives of Windsor all comedies are set in some imaginary

country. A lioness, snakes, magic caskets, fairy spells, identical twins,

concealment of sex, and the sudden conversion of a tyrannous duke or the defeat

(off stage) of a treacherous brother can all change the course of the plot and

bring the characters to a conclusion in which almost all are very happy and

justice is found. Goddard states, “Lovers are young and witty and almost

always rich” (Northrop 105). The action concerns wooing and its conclusion is

marriage, beyond which the audience is scarcely concerned. In some ways these

are intellectual plays with each comedy having a multiple plot and moves from

one set of characters to another set. Shakespeare invites his audience to seek

connections and explanations. Despite very different classes of people in

different parts of the narrative, the plays are unified by Shakespear’s

idealistic vision and by his implicit judgment of human relationships.

Shakespeare’s characters are brought together with certain exceptions near the

end of his writings. Perhaps the most extraordinary achievement of these

comedies is the rapid changes in moods of his characters, from funny, then to

dangerous, then sad and then a return to humor. Recurrent moments of lifelike

feelings are expressed both eloquently in words and in actions that the audience

shares. The idea that Shakespeare’s plays and poems were not actually written

by William Shakespeare of Stratford has been the subject of many books and

scholars, and this theory is widely regarded as at least an interesting

possibility. Davidow said, “The source of all doubts about the authorship of

the plays rests in the disparity between the greatest Shakespeare’s literary

achievement and his comparatively humble origin, the supposed inadequacy of his

education, and the obscurity of his life” (Davidow 57). In Shakespeare’s

writings, readers have claimed to discover a familiarity with language and

literature, with such subjects as law, history, politics, and geography, include

the manners and speech of courts. Opponents to the one-man theory of

Shakespeare’s writings is regarded as inconceivable in a common player, the

son of a provincial tradesman. The range of knowledge expected at that time

period should have been created by a man with an extensive education, one

familiar with royalty and nobles, as largely figure in Shakespeare’s works.

Contemporary records have been regarded as incompatible with Shakespeare’s

prominence and suggestive of a mystery (Zender 72), in that none of

Shakespeare’s manuscripts has been evidential; they were destroyed to conceal

the identity of the author. The first suggestion, that the author of

Shakespeare’s plays might be Francis Bacon, Viscount of St. Albans, seems to

have been made in the middle of the 19th Century, inquiry at first centering on

textual comparison between Bacon’s known writings and plays. Zender states,

“In the later 19th Century a search was made for ciphered messages embedded

into the dramatic texts (Zender 74). Professional cryptographers of the 20th

Century, however, have examined all the Baconian ciphers, have rejected them as

invalid, and interest in the Shakespeare--Bacon controversy has diminished (Zender

76). Shakespeare’s popularity can be vividly noticed by his marked career as

one of The King’s Men, and his gigantic success with dramas, comedies, and

poetry. Let us not forget Shakespeare’s accomplished relationships as a

husband, father, and friend. Shakespeare’s writings were meant for all to

enjoy. However, if one lived during Shakespeare’s time and in that social

structure, one might ask oneself about socially superior, inferior, or equal,

since every aspect of one’s behavior would be dependent upon social status.

Nevertheless, there are all kinds of nuances in Shakespeare’s plays, tuning in

on social distinctions that would take special effort to notice (Zender 23). A

safe assumption is that William Shakespeare was the most fascinating of

Elizabethan authors whose works have graced and mesmerized stage and cinema

throughout the centuries. Like most of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, he

borrowed much from novels, older plays, history, mythology, and sources familiar

surrounding this worldly writer. Shakespeare’s plays have been divided into

three groups. His comedies represent a wide range of types, and time periods

vary throughout individual plays. It was in tragedy that Shakespeare displayed


must be ranked among the greatest tragedies ever written. For Shakespeare’s

works have been read and played out for Kings and commoners alike. Yes, William

Shakespeare was one of the most fascinating writers ever to be read throughout

time (Davidow 26).
BibliographyDavidow, S Leonard. The Comedies of Shakespeare. III: Chicago, 1955. Davidow,

S Leonard. The Histories of Shakespeare. III: Chicago, 1955. Davidow, S Leonard.

The Tragedies of Shakespeare. III: Chicago, 1955. Goddard, C Harold. The Meaning

of Shakespeare. III: Chicago, 1951. Groiler INC. Encyclopedia America. 1991 Ed.

Northrop, Frye. Shakespeare. Ontario: Markham, 1986. Zender, Thomas. Williams

Shakespeare; the Facts. NY: New York 1966.


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