“Soul of the Age! The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage.” -- Ben Johnson, “To the Memory of My Beloved Master William Shakespeare, and What He Hath Left Us” Renaissance playwrights were greatly influenced by Humanism, looking not only to the Bible but also to Latin and Greek Scholarship for wisdom and knowledge. All of Shakespeare’s plays, like most drama, are about one great general theme: . What is the order in this society? How is that order violated? How do the characters respond to the loss of traditional order? How is order restored? Is the new order at the end of the play something healthy or is it shot through with ironic resonance? A story written to be performed by actors. Sophisticated (classical) dramas originated in Greek religious ceremonies honoring Dionysus (god of wine, new life, illusion & fertility). • Always involves conflict • Opening scene conveys a sense of a normal society • A society which is held together by shared rules • Large group scene as symbol of social unity • Something unusual and often unexpected happens to upset the normality • Creates confusion and conflict • Source of humor OR political, personal, and psychological torment • Attempts to understand what is going on or to deal with it simply compound the conflict, accelerating it and intensifying it. • Finally, the conflict is resolved ’ “Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions.” -- Aristotle, The Poetics, Part VI ’ “Tragedy, then, is an of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions.” -- Aristotle, The Poetics, Part VI (from Greek mimesis, or mimeisthai which means to imitate) The attempt to capture the essence of reality in artificial form. ’ “Tragedy, then, is an of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions.” -- Aristotle, The Poetics, Part VI (from Greek eleos, which means “pity” or “mercy”) The feeling of pain one experiences when watching another suffer. ’ “Tragedy, then, is an of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through and effecting the proper purgation of these emotions.” -- Aristotle, The Poetics, Part VI (from Greek phobos, which means fear, panic or flight) The sense of panic or loss of self in terror. ’ “Tragedy, then, is an of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through and effecting the proper of these emotions.” -- Aristotle, The Poetics, Part VI (from Greek katharsis, which means "purging, cleansing) Removing impurities, as when metal is purified to remove trace elements so that only one material remains. Tragedy “purifies” pity and fear so that we feel only those two emotions. Cleansing, as when something harmful is forcefully removed. Tragedy “purges” harmful emotions like pity and fear from the body. The purification or concentration of a substance, as when alcohol is distilled to make it stronger. Tragedy “distills” and “purifies” pity and fear so that they become even more intense for the audience. Depicts the downfall of a basically good person through some fatal error or misjudgment, producing suffering and insight on the part of the protagonist and arousing pity and fear on the part of the audience. An outstanding person of high rank whose downfall is caused by his own flawed behavior. Part of the hero’s character that leads him to make a fatal mistake. A cleansing through the emotions (pity, fear, awe) generated by the play. An unhappy ending featuring the destruction of the hero. . : occurs only with the death of the main character who usually discovers (just before his death) that he brought about his own demise. : 1) Hero dies 2) Group laments over the body of fallen hero & reflects upon the significance of his life 3) Hero’s body is carried out & the social group is reformed (thanks to the sacrifice of the main character(s)) Depiction of ordinary people in conflict with society. Conflicts are always happily resolved, and typically arise from misunderstandings, deceptions, disapproving authority figures, and mistaken identities. Emphasis is on human foibles & weaknesses of society. Arouses sympathy & amusement. Plots full of wild coincidences (full of zaniness, slapstick humor, and hilarious improbability) and seemingly endless twists and complications (i.e. deception, disguise, and mistaken identity). Love plot featuring 2 lovers who tend to be young, likeable, and apparently meant for each other, but are kept apart by some complicating circumstance until, surmounting all obstacles, they are finally wed. Exploration of human vice & folly through plots that trace the rising fortune of a central character who is likely to be cynical, foolish, or morally corrupt. . Occurs when everyone recognizes what has been going on, learns from it, forgives, forgets, and re-established his or her identity in the smoothly functioning social group. Typically ends with a group celebration (especially one associated with a betrothal or wedding), often accompanied by music and dancing. The emphasis is on the reintegration of everyone into the group, a recommitment to their shared life together. All sources of anti-social discord have reformed their ways, been punished, or is banished from the celebration. “The play’s the thing.” Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii ’ How can you tell what kind of Shakespeare play you’re reading/watching? Just follow the 3 C’s: Count the , , and at the end, and you know what your play is. – somebody’s named King. – everybody gets married. – everybody dies. Factually based with dramatic liberties. Keeping the monarch, Queen Elizabeth, happy (and, consequently, staying out of jail) means ignoring potentially great dramatic material. Showing the messy divorces and deaths of Henry VIII’s six wives might have sold a lot of tickets, but at what cost? Synopsis of all the History plays (they’re all pretty much the same): An English king (usually named Henry, sometimes Richard, and once John) is fighting the French. At the same time, someone at home is trying to take over the throne of England from the reigning king. Constructing a Shakespearean comedy is like ordering from a Chinese restaurant: Choose one item from Column A (setting), two items from Column B (characters), five items from Column C (unnecessarily complicated plot points), then select a title from Column D. It’s simple & fun! Setting Characters Plot Points Title Verona Long-lost identical Shipwreck Love As You Like It twins Venice Mistaken Measure for Gentleman Parents who don’t identity Arden The Comedy of Nothing understand Unrequited love Tyre Twelfth Night Dream Dimwitted lower-class Arranged An island A Midsummer’s Winter character marriages A forest The Taming of the Girl disguised as boy A pound of Comedy Athens Cuckolded husband flesh Much Ado About Ends Denmark Nondescript young Magical potions Troilus and Cymbeline Syracuse lovers Pretending to be Love’s Errors Lost Schenectady Half-human/half-beast dead Pericles, Tyred of Shrews A quarrelsome couple Drunkenness Magical fairy or Sibling rivalry sorcerer Broken vows Jews! In Shakespeare’s tragedies you know going in that the title character is going to die by the end of Act V. “Knowing the ending does not diminish the experience. It’s like the movie Titanic. You knew from the title that the ship was going down, but you still enjoyed watching Leonardo DiCaprio freeze to death” – From Reduced Shakespeare ’ climax ’ Language changes all the time. The way people spoke 400 years ago was different from the way we speak now. When reading Shakespeare, remember that his words were intended to be performed. The first rule of learning how to read Shakespeare is !!! The second rule is that you must read it more than once. ’ “ ” Forms of “do” were not necessary in forming questions or making imperative statement or their negatives. How long within this wood intend you stay? How long do you intend to stay in this wood? Using “do” was reserved for its emphatic use. I love you not. I do not love you. What said she? What did she say? I think not of them. I do not think of them. Slept she here? Did she sleep here? ’ Negatives were often compounded for emphasis. Today, we would classify the following as “double negatives” and consider them improper. “Which never shook hands, nor bade farewell to him . . .” “Nor will you not tell me who you are?” “No, nor I neither.” ’ The pronouns thee, thou and thy are seldom, if ever, used today. They are occasionally employed to suggest elevated language or a style of “classical” English. During Shakespeare’s day these words were commonplace and followed a more or less specific structure. Thee and thou, rather than you, were used as objects of a verb or preposition. God give thee joy! You OR thee/thou were used as subjects with only subtle distinctions if any. Would’st thou have me? Thou hath killed my child! If you would not, it were a good sign. Likewise with your and thy as possessive pronouns: I do not fear your favours or your hate. So well thy words become thee as thy wounds. ’ The apparel oft proclaims the man. It’s gotta be the shoes. There is small choice in rotten apples. Beggars can’t be choosers. Now I am in a holiday humor. Party on . . . Suit the action to the word, the word to the action. Just do it. An honest tale speeds best being plainly told. To make a long story short . . . What’s gone and what’s past help should be past grief. Don’t cry over spilled milk. And thereby hangs a tail. That’s all, Folks! ’ Many of Shakespeare’s idioms or words/phrases have become part of the English language. That boy is always hungry! He’ll eat us out of house and home! “He hath eaten me out of house and home.” – Henry IV, Part 2 II.i.75-6 “There’s a method in my madness” “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.” – Hamlet, II.ii.99 The world is your oyster. “Why then, the world’s mine oyster.” – The Merry Wives of Windsor, II.ii.4-5 Plays are divided into sections called acts and scenes. The following line reference is typically utilized when quoting a Shakespearean play: Macbeth, II.i.35 The play’s title is written in italics. The act is written in capital Roman numerals. The scene is in small Roman numerals. The line number is written as a normal number. Reading Shakespeare for Due to the nature of the theater, Shakespeare had to create atmosphere and setting though language. He used words to paint scenery and language to achieve lighting effects. People went to “hear” a play, not “see” it. Questions to ask about comprehension: • Who are the characters in the play? (The way characters speak and the language they use tell us a great deal about them and their situation.) • What is the situation in the play? • Where do the events take place? • When do the events take place? • How can the words be lifted off the page and hold the attention of the audience? Reading Shakespeare for Identify literary devices and figurative language: imagery repetition puns antithesis onomatopoeia malapropism simile rhyme monosyllables metaphor lists apostrophe hyperbole bombast synecdoche personification rhetoric assonance irony alliteration oxymoron Reading Shakespeare for Some Common Shakespearean Themes: conflict, appearance & reality, order & disorder, change (metamorphosis) Questions to ask about theme: • Is there a specific point the author is trying to get across to the reader/viewer? • How does the theme or controlling idea relate to your world? Historical Context You Need to Know Age of Consent, for a female child: (from The Law’s Resolution of Women’s Rights, 1632) 7: “Father shall have aid of his tenants to marry her” 9: “she is able to deserve and have dower” 12: can “consent to marriage” *”A woman married at 12 cannot disagree afterward. But if she be married younger, she may dissent till she be 14.”* 14: considered to be outside wardship 16: “to be past the Lord’s tender of a husband” 21: “able to make a land grant” Worthiness: (from A Very Fruitfull and Pleasant Booke called Instruction of a Christian Woman, 1523 ) “. . . first let her understand that chastity is the principal virtue of a woman.” Fairies, magic, witches, spells and prophecies all formed part of the Elizabethan view of life. Folklore and superstition were often as important to people as the official religious beliefs taught by the church. Many Elizabethans thought that fairies, goblins and sprites came out at night to play tricks on innocent people. It was believed they could make people go insane, give them terrible nightmares or even lure them into a devilish underworld. Diseases and disasters were often blamed on witches. Many women who didn’t fit into society were branded as witches and accused of working for the devil. There were many explanations of a ghostly visit during Shakespeare’s time. A ghost could be . . . a hallucination brought about by stress, poor diet, or exhaustion. a specter seen as a portent or omen a spirit of a dead person returned to perform some deed left undone in life a spirit of a dead person returned from the grave or from purgatory by divine permission an angel disguised as a dead person, or a devil disguised as a dead person to tempt a living relative into eternal damnation The human body was thought to be a miniature representation of the universe as a whole. Various parts of the body were linked to the planets and the signs of the zodiac. Things that happened in the universe (the “macrocosm”), were suppose to happen on a much smaller scale within the human body (the “microcosm”). The body was thought to contain four “humours”, or fluids – black bile, phlegm, blood & choler. A person’s temperament depended on the way the humours were mixed. In Julius Caesar, Mark Anthony describes Brutus as a man in whom all these humours are mixed perfectly. But most people were thought to have one humour that was more dominant than the others. Illnesses & mental disorders were blamed on an imbalance of the humours. For example, melancholia (depression) was thought to be caused by an excess of black bile. Characters have mental problems in several of Shakespeare’s tragedies. They go insane with grief or with the pressure of having to make a decision. Feelings of guilt may come out in strange ways. Some examples: Lady Macbeth pretends to be tough and mocks Macbeth for feeling guilty for their crimes, but her own horror is revealed when she starts sleepwalking and imagines she can see blood on her hands. Ophelia in Hamlet goes insane with grief, eventually committing suicide, when Hamlet rejects her and kills her father, Polonius. A concept inherited from the Middle Ages as an attempt to give order or “degree” to the vastness of creation. The idea was that God created everything in a strict hierarchy, or chain that stretched from God himself down to the lowest things in existence. Everything had its own place. Humans occupied a place in the chain below angels but above animals, plants, and stones Humans, from Highest to Lowest: Monarch Nobles Churchmen Gentlemen Commoners All women were considered to be inferior to men; except Queen Elizabeth – her position as monarch outweighed the fact that she was a woman. Accepting one’s place in the chain was a duty that would be rewarded by God in heaven. Disrupting the chain was thought to lead to chaos.