William Shakespeare



 

Biography:

1. Almost nothing known about his youth: except his early gunshot marriage.

2. Fruitful connection with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later the King’s Men: emerging out of hostile circumstances and moving into the Globe or the Blackfriars.

3. Profusion and Confusion of the editions of his works: quartos and folio.

4. Classification of his plays (roughly chronologically ordered):

i. History plays: Richard III as an early achievement; two parts of Henry IV and Henry V as exploration of England’s transition from feudal system to nation state).

ii. Romantic comedies: Twelfth Night as one of his greatest comedies.

iii. Tragedies: indicative of an existential and metaphysical darkening.

iv. Problem plays: comedies more biting in tone, uneasy with its conventions, questioning the values of the characters and resolution of the plots.
v. Romances: concerned with patterns of loss and recovery, suffering and redemption, despair and renewal.
5. Death in contemporary and subsequent honor: “He was not of an age, but for all time.”

Discussion of His Works:

(I) Sonnet sequence:

1. Circulated in manuscripts and winning Shakespeare great reputation.

2. Differences from sonnet conventions: addressed to a young man and later to a sensuous “dark” lady, intimating even love triangle in some sonnets
3. Shakespearean rhyme scheme and argumentative style: three quatrains with a closing couplet; often intense in emotion and dense in association
4. The theme of time, death, and eternity harped on.

5. The theme of female beauty, sexual lust, betrayal (II) King Lear:
1. An old, widely known story, believed to be historical: with a mythical quality of folktale and accidentally topical feature.

2. Departure from the source in its ending with Cordelia and Lear’s deaths: unacceptable in the 18th century and tampered for a different ending
3. A Double Plot: reinforcing the motif of the main plot and indicating that politics in aristocratic family could be a source of evil.

4. Strange Public Love Test: originated in Lear’s psychological needs and preservation of dignity, with Cordelia’s humiliating “truth speaking”.
5. Language: abuse, disuse , twisted .

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