The Elizabethans cared as little for spelling as they did for the Spanish and nowhere is their comical disregard for simple consistency more evident than in their treatment of the surname Shakespeare. And how did Shakespeare spell his own name, anyway? Find out...
The Stratford Bust, located on the wall of the chancel of Holy Trinity Church at Stratford-upon-Avon, is the oldest and, along with the Droeshout Portrait, most credible of all the known images of Shakespeare. But there are many representations of the Bard that have been handed down throughout the centuries, each with its own fascinating story to tell.
So how do you pronounce Jaques, anyway? Here is our comprehensive list of every Shakespearean character and the play in which he or she appears. Included is our spelled pronunciation guide, essential for all drama students and teachers.
During Shakespeare's lifetime Elizabethan playwrights cared little about seeing their work in print. Only the rare drama was actually intended to be read as well as performed. Writers would usually sell their plays to the theatrical company which staged the performances, and if the company committed a particular play to paper, it would create only one copy - the official copy - in the form of a prompt-book. A prompt-book was a transcript of the play used during performances, cluttered with stage directions, instructions for sound effects, and the names of the actors. If a play was printed for a reading audience, it was often without the author's consent. Unprincipled publishers would steal the prompt-book, and sell copies for about fivepence apiece. Read on...
Ben Jonson anticipated Shakespeare’s dazzling future when he declared, "He was not of an age, but for all time!" in the preface to the First Folio. While most people know that Shakespeare is the most popular dramatist and poet the world has ever produced, students new to his work often wonder why this is so. The following are the top reasons why Shakespeare has stood the test of time.
There are no records of any significant tributes to Shakespeare by his fellow actors and writers at the time of his death. The great eulogies praising the Sweet Swan of Avon appeared much later, in the First Folio of 1623. The situation was quite different for Shakespeare's friend and legendary actor, Richard Burbage. When he died in 1619 the nation mourned and eulogies poured forth from distraught writers whose characters would surely die with him. The shock and sadness over Burbage's passing may be the key to our understanding of why so little was written on Shakespeare's death just three years earlier. Read on...
Many of Shakespeare's plays have fallen in and out of favour throughout the centuries, but Othello has remained one of his most popular. Productions of Othello have brought us the first woman on the English stage, the tragic final performance of the greatest actor of the 19th century and many other significant historical moments. Read on...
In Elizabethan England, during the times when plays were not completely outlawed, going to the theatre was the favourite activity of the masses. When disease ravaged London, actors would travel across the English countryside, entertaining farmers. There were also many days devoted to feasting, such as Mad Day, Midsummer Day, and Ascension Day (just to name a few), when people would drink and make merry. Dances were popular, whether you lived in London or in a small town, and so was getting together at the local pub for sing-alongs. Read on...
The story of King Lear and his three daughters is an old tale, well known in England for centuries before Shakespeare wrote the definitive play on the subject. The first English account of Lear can be found in the History of the Kings of Britain, written by Geoffrey Monmouth in 1135. However, it is clear that Shakespeare relied chiefly on King Leir, an anonymous play published twelve years before the first recorded performance of Shakespeare's King Lear. Read on to find out more about Leir and see side-by-side versions of Leir and Shakespeare's masterpiece.
If music be the food of love, play on...
As you probably guessed, the famous line above opens Shakespeare's comedy Twelfth Night. But which Shakespearean drama opens with the line, "I wonder how the king escaped our hands?" Take our quiz and see how well you know your Shakespeare! To the quiz...
This selection of questions and detailed answers is part of our Julius Caesar study guide, which provides students with a general overview of the play, an introduction to its central characters, excerpts from Plutarch, a list of essay topics at both high school and college levels and much more. To the full study guide...
Many scholars believe that the history plays contain Shakespeare's own political philosophy regarding the role and nature of a truly great monarch. Others contend that "writing the philosophy of history was not Shakespeare's business." But all will agree that Shakespeare could dramatize English history like no other. The following quiz will test your knowledge of Shakespeare's histories. It is a challenge, but detailed answers are provided. Good luck! To the quiz...
Macbeth is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy and one of his most popular plays. Although the story of Macbeth and his downfall may be familiar, sometimes recalling specific events and minor characters in the play is a challenge. Take our quiz and see how you measure up. Detailed answers are provided. Good luck! To the quiz...
We have the Elizabethans to thank for many of the jewels of Western literature. But they were also responsible for some of the worst fashion disasters the world has ever seen. With ruffs so large that ladies had to eat soup with a two foot spoon and men's hose so stuffed with bran that they popped and spilled onto the floor, the Elizabethans showed no fashion shame. Find out more about Clothing in Elizabethan England.
"The language of flowers is very ancient, and was to Ophelia, like to most young maidens, a fond subject of study. Rosemary is emblematic of remembrance, and was distributed and worn at weddings, as well as at funerals. The pansy is a symbol of thought, of pensiveness, and of grief. The daisy represents faithlessness and dissembling. Fennel designates flattery, or cajolery and deceit; and columbine, ingratitude; and these two flowers Ophelia befittingly presents to the guileful and faithless Claudius." Read on...
It is the stars,
The stars above us, govern our conditions. (King Lear)
Have some fun while you let Shakespeare predict your future. Choose from nine questions on long life, love, prosperity and happiness and you will receive your answer from the wisdom of Shakespeare's timeless verse. Your future awaits...
One of the most respected Shakespearean actors of all time, Edwin Booth, scribbled down on the study copy of his play that "of all the hateful rhyming exits this is the worst." So which lines gave this master thespian so much grief? Find out...
Giddy Fortune's furious fickle wheel,
That goddess blind,
That stands upon the rolling restless stone. Henry V, (3.3), Pistol to Fluellen
We have a Roman scholar named Boethius to thank for the medieval and Renaissance fixation on "fortune's wheel." Queen Elizabeth herself translated his hugely popular discourse on fate's role in the Universe, The Consolation of Philosophy. Although the idea of the wheel of fortune existed before Boethius, his work was the source on the subject for Chaucer, Dante, Machiavelli, and of course, Shakespeare. Read on....
Word of the Week: Hecuba
Down, down I come;
What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
That he should weep for her? What would he do,
Had he the motive and the cue for passion
That I have? Hamlet, (2.2), Hamlet
Hecuba ] Trojan queen and heroine of classical mythology.
Earlier in this scene Hamlet asks the First Player to recite a monologue retelling Hecuba's response to the death of her husband, King Priam. The Player tells us that Hecuba's grief was profound and "Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven/And passion in the gods." The contrast between Gertrude and Hecuba should be noted. To Hamlet, Hecuba has responded appropriately to her husband's death, while Gertrude has not. Read on... More Hamlet Resources Revenge in Hamlet All About Yorick Philological Exam Questions on Hamlet
Cobloaf! Troilus and Cressida (2.1), Ajax to his deformed jester, Thersites.
O, wither'd is the garland of the war,
The soldier's pole is fall'n: young boys and girls
Are level now with men; the odds is gone,
And there is nothing left remarkable
Beneath the visiting moon.
Antony and Cleopatra, (IV. xv. 64), Cleopatra, standing over the corpse of Mark Antony
Mark Antony is one of Shakespeare's most exciting characters. As M.W. MacCallum explains, "he has a gust for everything and for everything in the highest degree, for each several pleasure and its exact antithesis. In what does he not feel zest? Luxury, banqueting, drunkenness, appeal to him, so that Pompey prays they, "may keep his brain fuming" (ii. i. 24)." Read on...
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High school students looking for outstanding math videos should check out Math 10C: Explained and Math 30-1: Explained. These resources are aligned to the Alberta mathematics curriculum, but many of the topics are relevant to all students taking high school math.
Shakespeare had the most comprehensive sense of humor of any of the world's great writers, a humor that was closely related to his sympathy. It has been said that he
saved his tragedies from the fatal disease of absurdity, by inoculating them with his comic virus, and that his sense
of humor kept him from ever becoming shrill. This faculty enabled him to detect incongruity, to keep from overstressing a situation, to enter into the personality
of others, to recover quickly from "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," and in one of his last plays, The
Tempest, to welcome the "brave young world" as if he would like, to play the game of life again. It was largely
because of his humor that the tragedies and pain of life did not sour and subdue Shakespeare. Reuben Post Halleck (1859-1936), Halleck's New English Literature