William Shakespeare Biography - Cliffs Notes Personal Background Many books have assembled facts, reasonable suppositions, traditions, and speculations concerning the life and career of William Shakespeare. Taken as a whole, these materials give a rather comprehensive picture of England's foremost dramatic poet. Francis Meres, in his Palladis Tamia a work of criticism published in 1598, ed. As Shakespeare's career came to an end, he began to write what are now.
Critical Essay on Shakespeare's Macbeth Examples and Samples William Shakespeare is one of the most noted literary writer of all time. Almost all of his works have transcended over time. He and his writings are so famous that his literary works have always been used as examples or references in schools, colleges or universities. In the same manner, the works of Shakespeare are so great that Shakespeare essay writing is normally one of the requirements that students receive every semester or grading period. With Shakespeare's work, anyone – young or adult and male or female – can learn the most important lessons of life. Ethical actions, good deeds, principles, philosophies and many more are all incorporated in each of Shakespeare's work. That is why in every Shakespeare essay writing activities of the students, they will need to read carefully the particular literary artwork, analyze every meaning of the words, read between the lines and get a firm grasp of what Shakespeare wanted to impart to its readers. William Shakespeare seemed to know exactly how to appreciate beauty, human life and of course, love. It can be realized in all of his writings that he could find all the good side of anything and everything. Thus, if the teachers would be asking the students – high school or university students – to make a Shakespeare essay, it would just mean that the students must be able to really understand the essence of life, love and beauty. Shakespeare was able to produce not only poems or essay, but he also has a number of novels and plays which were all considered great by all literary analysts. Often the Shakespeare essay writing tasks that teachers will give to the students will include analyzing at least one of Shakespeare's poems, essays, novels or plays. This is to assess the students' level of awareness or understanding on the different qualities of each literary style. But, because Shakespeare's works are all so good and sometimes complex, it has always been a big challenge for the students to comply with the Shakespeare essay writing tasks. Let's face it, William Shakespeare is a genius in this field of literary writing. Not every student could easily comprehend his works. Not all students have the ability to write about his works, analyze, appreciate or even more - criticize it. Lastly, not all students have the knack in writing thus understanding another people’s literary output will be much harder. Normally, the students' excuses for not being able to submit a Shakespeare essay or if they received not-so-good grades in their Shakespeare essay are: "They lack resources". Yes, there could be thousands of possible resources on Shakespeare’s literary pieces, however the problem is that these resources just provide copies of the literary piece itself. What is lacking is resources or references about how to properly make a Shakespeare essay, because there is none. It will always be the students’ prerogative on how to write and go about his/her paper. It is really a big challenge, especially for students, to write a Shakespeare essay if he/she doesn’t even know how to start it, what to highlight, where to focus or even how to end his/her own paper. This particular problem is generally experienced by students who are not inclined to writing or even to reading literary works (and there are really students who are like this). One has to read the literary material first and then re-read it again and again just to grasp every highlights of the material. Thus, how can you finish your Shakespeare essay if you don’t even know what to do with it? And because there are other activities or assignments that students need to work on everyday, their tendency is to set aside the Shakespeare essay writing tasks and prioritize other things. Now, do you want to be among these students who usually give the above-stated excuses and have your grades suffer in the end? And we are here for you to make sure that you need not think of any excuse because you could not comply with your Shakespeare essay writing assignments. We are here to assist you in making sure that you will be able to submit your essay on the very date and time that your teacher assigned to you. We can definitely help you with your Shakespeare essay and to any other writing tasks for that matter. We are a company that caters to the needs of students like you. 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Shakespeare's reputation - pedia Introduction to Shakespeare's Sonnets A sonnet is a 14-line poem that rhymes in a particular pattern. In Shakespeare's sonnets, the rhyme pattern is abab cdcd efef gg, with the final couplet used to summarize the previous 12 lines or present a surprise ending. The rhythmic pattern of the sonnets is the iambic pentameter. An iamb is a metrical foot consisting of one stressed syllable and one unstressed syllable — as in dah-DUM, dah-DUM dah-DUM dah-DUM dah-DUM. Shakespeare uses five of these in each line, which makes it a pentameter. The sonnet is a difficult art form for the poet because of its restrictions on length and meter. Although the entirety of Shakespeare's sonnets were not formally published until 1609 (and even then, they were published without the author's knowledge), an allusion to their existence appeared eleven years earlier, in Francis Meres' Palladis Tamia (1598), in which Meres commented that Shakespeare's "sugred Sonnets" were circulating privately among the poet's friends. Approximately a year later, William Jaggard's miscellany, The Passionate Pilgrim, appeared, containing twenty poems, five of which are known to be Shakespeare's — two of the Dark Lady sonnets (Sonnets 138 and 144) and three poems included in the play Love's Labour's Lost. Apparently these five poems were printed in Jaggard's miscellany (a collection of writings on various subjects) without Shakespeare's authorization. Without question, Shakespeare was the most popular playwright of his day, and his dramatic influence is still evident today, but the sonnet form, which was so very popular in Shakespeare's era, quickly lost its appeal. Even before Shakespeare's death in 1616 the sonnet was no longer fashionable, and for two hundred years after his death, there was little interest in either Shakespeare's sonnets, or in the sonnet form itself. The text of Shakespeare's sonnets generally considered to be definitive is that of the 1609 edition, which was published by Thomas Thorpe, a publisher having less than a professional reputation. Thorpe's edition, titled Shake-speare's Sonnets: Never Before Imprinted, is referred to today as the "Quarto," and is the basis for all modern texts of the sonnets. The Quarto would have lapsed into obscurity for the remainder of the seventeenth century had it not been for the publication of a second edition of Shakespeare's sonnets, brought out by John Benson in 1640. A pirated edition of the sonnets, Benson's version was not a carefully edited, duplicate copy of the Quarto. Because Benson took several liberties with Shakespeare's text, his volume has been of interest chiefly as the beginning of a long campaign to sanitize Shakespeare. Among other things, Benson rearranged the sonnets into so-called "poems" — groups varying from one to five sonnets in length and to which he added descriptive and unusually inept titles. Still worse, he changed Shakespeare's pronouns: "He's" became "she's" in some sonnets addressed to the young man so as to make the poet speak lovingly to a woman — not to a man. Benson also interspersed Shakespeare's sonnets with poems written by other people, as well as with other non-sonnet poems written by Shakespeare. This led to much of the subsequent confusion about Shakespeare's order of preference for his sonnets, which appear to tell the story, first, of his adulation of a young man and, later, of his adoration of his "dark lady." The belief that the first 126 sonnets are addressed to a man and that the rest are addressed to a woman has become the prevailing contemporary view. In addition, a majority of modern critics remain sufficiently satisfied with Thorpe's 1609 ordering of those sonnets addressed to the young man, but most of them have serious reservations about the second group addressed to the woman. H.," the dedication has led to a series of conjectures as to the identity of this person. Another controversy surrounding the sonnets is the dedication at the beginning of Thorpe's 1609 edition. The two leading candidates are Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton, and William Herbert, third Earl of Pembroke. Because Shakespeare dedicated his long poem "Venus and Adonis" to Southampton, and because the young earl loved poetry and drama and may well have sought out Shakespeare and offered himself as the poet's patron, many critics consider Southampton to be "Mr. H." The other contender for the object of the dedication is William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. Shakespeare dedicated the First Folio of his works, published in 1623, to Pembroke and Pembroke's brother Philip. Pembroke was wealthy, notorious for his sexual exploits but averse to marriage, and a patron of literary men. Critics who believe that Mary Fitton, one of Queen Elizabeth's maids of honor, was the Dark Lady of Sonnets 12–54, are particularly convinced that Pembroke is "Mr. H.," for Pembroke had an affair with Fitton, who bore him a child out of wedlock; this extramarital affair is considered to parallel too closely the sexual relationship in the sonnets to be mere coincidence. In addition to their date of composition, their correct ordering, and the object of the dedication, the other controversial issue surrounding the sonnets is the question of whether or not they are autobiographical. While contemporary criticism remains interested in the question of whether or not the sonnets are autobiographical, the sonnets, taken either wholly or individually, are first and foremost a work of literature, to be read and discussed both for their poetic quality and their narrative tale. Their appeal rests not so much in the fact that they may shed some light on Shakespeare's life, nor even that they were written by him; rather, their greatness lies in the richness and the range of subjects found in them. Overview of Shakespeare's Sonnets Although Shakespeare's sonnets can be divided into different sections numerous ways, the most apparent division involves Sonnets 1–126, in which the poet strikes up a relationship with a young man, and Sonnets 127–154, which are concerned with the poet's relationship with a woman, variously referred to as the Dark Lady, or as his mistress. In the first large division, Sonnets 1–126, the poet addresses an alluring young man with whom he has struck up a relationship. In Sonnets 1–17, he tries to convince the handsome young man to marry and beget children so that the youth's incredible beauty will not die when the youth dies. Starting in Sonnet 18, when the youth appears to reject this argument for procreation, the poet glories in the young man's beauty and takes consolation in the fact that his sonnets will preserve the youth's beauty, much like the youth's children would. By Sonnet 26, perhaps becoming more attached to the young man than he originally intended, the poet feels isolated and alone when the youth is absent. Emotionally exhausted, he becomes frustrated by what he sees as the youth's inadequate response to his affection. The estrangement between the poet and the young man continues at least through Sonnet 58 and is marked by the poet's fluctuating emotions for the youth: One moment he is completely dependent on the youth's affections, the next moment he angrily lashes out because his love for the young man is unrequited. Despondent over the youth's treatment of him, desperately the poet views with pain and sorrow the ultimate corrosion of time, especially in relation to the young man's beauty. He seeks answers to the question of how time can be defeated and youth and beauty preserved. Philosophizing about time preoccupies the poet, who tells the young man that time and immortality cannot be conquered; however, the youth ignores the poet and seeks other friendships, including one with the poet's mistress (Sonnets 40–42) and another with a rival poet (Sonnets 79–87). Expectedly, the relationship between the youth and this new poet greatly upsets the sonnets' poet, who lashes out at the young man and then retreats into despondency, in part because he feels his poetry is lackluster and cannot compete with the new forms of poetry being written about the youth. Again, the poet fluctuates between confidence in his poetic abilities and resignation about losing the youth's friendship. Philosophically examining what love for another person entails, the poet urges his friend not to postpone his desertion of the poet — if that is what the youth is ultimately planning. Break off the relationship now, begs the poet, who is prepared to accept whatever fate holds. Ironically, the more the youth rejects the poet, the greater is the poet's affection for and devotion to him. No matter how vicious the young man is to the poet, the poet does not — emotionally can not — sever the relationship. He masochistically accepts the youth's physical and emotional absence. Finally, after enduring what he feels is much emotional abuse by the youth, the poet stops begging for his friend's affection. But then, almost unbelievably, the poet begins to think that his newfound silence toward the youth is the reason for the youth's treating him as poorly as he does. The poet blames himself for any wrong the young man has done him and apologizes for his own treatment of his friend. This first major division of sonnets ends with the poet pitiably lamenting his own role in the dissolution of his relationship with the youth. The second, shorter grouping of Sonnets 127–154 involves the poet's sexual relationship with the Dark Lady, a married woman with whom he becomes infatuated. Similar to his friendship with the young man, this relationship fluctuates between feelings of love, hate, jealousy, and contempt. Also similar is the poet's unhealthy dependency on the woman's affections. When, after the poet and the woman begin their affair, she accepts additional lovers, at first the poet is outraged. However, as he did with the youth, the poet ultimately blames himself for the Dark Lady's abandoning him. The sonnets end with the poet admitting that he is a slave to his passion for the woman and can do nothing to curb his lust. Shakespeare turns the traditional idea of a romantic sonnet on its head in this series, however, as his Dark Lady is not an alluring beauty and does not exhibit the perfection that lovers typically ascribe to their beloved. Quotes are taken from the Pelican Shakespeare edition of The Sonnets, published by Penguin books. Removing #book# from your Reading List will also remove any bookmarked pages associated with this title. Are you sure you want to remove #book Confirmation# and any corresponding bookmarks? The belief in the unappreciated 18th-century Shakespeare was proposed at. view of 18th-century literary criticism as mean, formal. playwrht who just written his plays in English.
Essay On Shakespeare - bestservicefastessay.services Personal Background Many books have assembled facts, reasonable suppositions, traditions, and speculations concerning the life and career of William Shakespeare. Taken as a whole, these materials give a rather comprehensive picture of England's foremost dramatic poet. It is important, however, that persons interested in Shakespeare distinguish between facts and beliefs about his life. From one point of view, modern scholars are fortunate to know as much as they do about a man of middle-class origin who left a small English country town and embarked on a professional career in sixteenth-century London. From another point of view, they know surprisingly little about the writer who has continued to influence the English language and its drama and poetry for more than three hundred years. Sparse and scattered as these facts of his life are, they are sufficient to prove that a man from Stratford by the name of William Shakespeare wrote the major portion of the thirty-seven plays that scholars ascribe to him. No one knows the exact date of William Shakespeare's birth. His father was John Shakespeare, a tanner, glover, dealer in grain, and town official of Stratford; his mother, Mary, was the daughter of Robert Arden, a prosperous gentleman-farmer. Under a bond dated November 28, 1582, William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway entered into a marriage contract. The baptism of their eldest child, Susanna, took place in Stratford in May 1583. One year and nine months later, their twins, Hamnet and Judith, were christened in the same church. The parents named them for the poet's friends Hamnet and Judith Sadler. Early in 1596, William Shakespeare, in his father's name, applied to the College of Heralds for a coat of arms. Although positive proof is lacking, there is reason to believe that the Heralds granted this request, because in 1599, Shakespeare again made application for the right to quarter his coat of arms with that of his mother. Entitled to her father's coat of arms, Mary had lost this privilege when she married John Shakespeare before he held the official status of "gentleman." In May 1597, Shakespeare purchased New Place, the outstanding residential property in Stratford at that time. Because John Shakespeare had suffered financial reverses prior to this date, William must have achieved success for himself. Court records show that in 1601 or 1602, William Shakespeare began rooming in the household of Christopher Mountjoy in London. Subsequent disputes between Mountjoy and his son-in-law, Stephen Belott, over Stephen's wedding settlement led to a series of legal actions, and in 1612, the court scribe recorded Shakespeare's deposition of testimony relating to the case. In July 1605, William Shakespeare paid four hundred and forty pounds for the lease of a large portion of the tithes on certain real estate in and near Stratford. This was an arrangement whereby Shakespeare purchased half the annual tithes, or taxes, on certain agricultural products from sections of land in and near Stratford. In addition to receiving approximately ten percent income on his investment, he almost doubled his capital. This was possibly the most important and successful investment of his lifetime, and it paid a steady income for many years. Shakespeare was next mentioned in historical records when John Combe, a resident of Stratford, died on July 12, 1614. To his friend, Combe bequeathed the sum of five pounds. These records and similar ones are important, not because of their economic significance, but because they prove the existence of a William Shakespeare in Stratford and in London during this period. On March 25, 1616, William Shakespeare revised his last will and testament. His body lies within the chancel and before the altar of the Stratford church. A rather wry inscription is carved upon his tombstone: 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. The last direct descendant of William Shakespeare was his granddaughter, Elizabeth Hall, who died in 1670. Career Highlights In similar fashion, the evidence establishing William Shakespeare as the foremost playwright of his day is positive and persuasive. Robert Greene's Groatsworth of Wit, in which he attacked Shakespeare, a mere actor, for presuming to write plays in competition with Greene and his fellow playwrights, was entered in the Stationers' Register on September 20, 1592. In 1594, Shakespeare acted before Queen Elizabeth, and in 15, his name appeared as one of the shareholders of the Lord Chamberlain's Company. Francis Meres, in his Palladis Tamia (a work of criticism published in 1598), called Shakespeare "mellifluous and honey-tongued" and compared his comedies and tragedies with those of Plautus and Seneca in excellence. Shakespeare's continued association with Burbage's company is equally definite. His name appears as one of the owners of the Globe Theatre in 1599. On May 19, 1603, he and his fellow actors received a patent from James I designating them as the King's Men and making them Grooms of the Chamber. Late in 1608 or early in 1609, Shakespeare and his colleagues purchased the Blackfriars Theatre and began using it as their winter location when weather made production at the Globe inconvenient. Other specific allusions to Shakespeare, to his acting and his writing, occur in numerous places. Put together, they form irrefutable testimony that William Shakespeare of Stratford and London was the leader among Elizabethan playwrights. One of the most impressive of all proofs of Shakespeare's authorship of his plays is the First Folio of 1623, with the dedicatory verse that appeared in it. John Heminge and Henry Condell, members of Shakespeare's own company, stated that they collected and issued the plays as a memorial to their fellow actor. Many contemporary poets contributed eulogies to Shakespeare; one of the best known of these poems is by Ben Jonson, a fellow actor and, later, a friendly rival. The question of authorship aside, Shakespeare had an illustrious career in London as both actor and playwright from the 1580s until the 1610s. He began by writing a series of history plays that were meant to chronicle England's past — an ambitious undertaking for a young man. During a forced closure of the theaters in 1592 because of an outbreak of the plague, Shakespeare wrote a long poem, Venus and Adonis. This was not his final effort at poetry: Over his career, he wrote a number of long poems, as well as a series of sonnets, which were popular in Elizabethan England. Shakespeare's sonnets were significant for their addressees (a young man and a dark lady), the subject matter, and the complexity of his metaphorical language. Generally, the early part of Shakespeare's career was taken up, aside from history plays, with writing comedies. One exception, Romeo and Juliet, written in 15, is known as a broken-back play because its beginning is comic and after the murder of Mercutio, it takes on tragic tones. In addition, Shakespeare wrote a straightforward revenge tragedy, Titus Andronicus. Until recently, this play was considered not up to the quality of his later plays, but its reputation has been reclaimed to some degree. In 1599, Julius Caesar was likely the first play to be performed at the newly built Globe Theatre. At the time, England was concerned about questions of unclear succession and consequent civil strife because Queen Elizabeth had neither provided nor named an heir. It is no surprise then, that Shakespeare turned to ancient Rome and their problems with leadership and violence to explore current issues of concern. During this period, from 1596 to 1604, Shakespeare continued to write comedies, but they gradually began to take on darker tones and, in fact, were not pure comedy but tragi-comedy. The darkness of his writing also took expression in a series of his greatest tragedies such as Hamlet (1600-1601), Othello (1604), King Lear (1605), Macbeth (1606), and Antony and Cleopatra (1606- 1607). As Shakespeare's career came to an end, he began to write what are now called his romances. Harkening back to more traditional romance motifs of quests, magical events, and great lessons learned, these plays are concerned with questions of religion and show a recognition that it is a younger generation who will affect the future. Shakespeare continued to write until 1613, but his works after the romances are often collaborations, reflecting his retirement from the fray. In a career spanning three decades, William Shakespeare provided works that became the basis of the Western canon of literature and that resonate with meaning for audiences to this day. Removing #book# from your Reading List will also remove any bookmarked pages associated with this title. Are you sure you want to remove #book Confirmation# and any corresponding bookmarks? William Empson Essays On ShakespeareA Critical Essay On Shakespeare. help me with an essay. Apex write my. to write my thesis paper by any professional.
Critical Essays on Shakespeare's The Shakespeare's Clowns and Fools Appearing in most of Shakespeare's dramas, the clown or fool figure remains one of the most intriguing stage characters in the Shakespearean oeuvre and has frequently captured the interest of contemporary critics and modern audiences. Taking many forms, Shakespearean fools may be generally divided into two categories: the clown, a general term that was originally intended to designate a rustic or otherwise uneducated individual whose dramatic purpose was to evoke laughter with his ignorance; and the courtly fool or jester, in whom wit and pointed satire accompany low comedy. The dramatic sources of Shakespeare's simple-minded clowns are at least as old as classical antiquity. In the plays themselves, such figures as Bottom of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Dogberry of Much Ado About Nothing are typically classified as clowns, their principal function being to arouse the mirth of audiences. The history of the courtly fool or jester in England is somewhat briefer, with these fools making early appearances in the courts of medieval aristocracy during the twelfth century. By the time of Queen Elizabeth's reign, courtly fools were a common feature of English society, and were seen as one of two types: natural or artificial. The former could include misshapen or mentally-deficient individuals, or those afflicted with dwarfism. Such fools were often considered pets—though generally dearly loved by their masters—and appear infrequently in Shakespeare's writing. The artificial fool, in contrast, was possessed of a verbal wit and talent for intellectual repartee. Into this category critics place Shakespeare's intellectual or "wise-fools," notably Touchstone of As You Like It, Feste of Twelfth Night, and King Lear's unnamed Fool. Critical analysis of Shakespearean clowns and fools has largely explored the thematic function of these peculiar individuals. Many commentators have observed the satirical potential of the fool. Considered an outcast to a degree, the fool was frequently given reign to comment on society and the actions of his social betters; thus, some Shakespearean fools demonstrate a subversive potential. They may present a radically different worldview than those held by the majority of a play's characters, as critic Roger Ellis (1968) has observed. Likewise, such figures can be construed as disrupting the traditional order of society and the meaning of conventional language, as Roberta Mullini (1985) has argued. As for so-called clowns—including the simple "mechanicals" of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Trinculo of The Tempest, and Launcelot Gobbo of The Merchant of Venice—most are thought to parody the actions of other characters in the main plots of their respective plays and to provide low humor for the entertainment of groundlings. Several critics, however, have acknowledged the deeper, thematic functions of Shakespeare's clowns, some of whom are said to possess a degree of wisdom within their apparent ignorance. Other topics of critical inquiry concerning fools are varied. Several scholars have studied the significance of certain Elizabethan actors who were thought to have initially enacted the roles Shakespeare wrote. Preeminent among these is the comedic actor Robert Armin, for whom several critics have suggested Shakespeare created the witty, even philosophical, fool roles of Feste, Touchstone, and Lear's Fool. Still other critics have focused on Shakespeare's less easily categorized clowns. [In the following essay, Ellis discusses Shakespeare's fools as figures who represent worldviews fundamentally different from those of the majority of society.] I Of all the characters in literature, hardly any has a longer life, runs truer to type, and is of more lasting significance, than the fool. Walter Kaiser (1963) has examined Falstaff's multifaceted function in the Henriad, which he has argued bears similarities to those of Shakespeare's other "wise fools." William Willeford (1969) has focused on the darker side of folly by exploring the title character of Hamlet as a unique form of the Shakespearean fool. Cox (1992) has investigated Shakespeare's characteristic blending of comedy and tragedy through the use of clowns and other purveyors of laughter in his tragic plays. As ancient as Pandarus, he is yet as modern as the tramps in Waiting for Godot. Roger Ellis (essay date 1968) SOURCE: "The Fool in Shakespeare: A Study in Alienation," in The Critical Quarterly, Vol. In him society's anxieties about itself find an outlet; yet the laughter which he arouses is at the same time a profound criticism of the forces which have made him what he is. The counterpart in his exaggerated non-involvement of the society of which he is a part, he is yet in his profound self-awareness and in his pity for those who suffer, its one hope of salvation. Of course, most of the time we do not see him in this way. For us, he is a man slipping on the beliefs of society, one always at odds with the standards it maintains: a man, as it seems, imprisoned in a world of fantasy, and whose sole function is to excite the laughter that assures us of the solidity of our beliefs. So we laugh at Chaplin's agonized incomprehension of a world of umbrellas, hats and lamp-posts that never seem to give us any trouble; we roar at Buster Keaton's unawareness of the logic of existence, from which only benevolent nature rescues him. The fool is often presented to us in this way, as an object merely for scorn or amusement. Consider the fools in Restoration drama, for instance: fops wishing to affect the graces they do not possess, country bumpkins who want to ape the manners of civilized London—these serve only to assure us that society is, after all, in the right. But this way of presenting the fool depends on the writer's having a fixed view about the nature of the world he is representing. At its simplest, as in the case of Restoration drama, it depends on his having taken on uncritically all the prejudices of his audience. The key to this presentation is that the fool is being studied from the outside. No attempt is made to see why he is a fool, or what it means to him to be a fool, and why he is the fool, rather than the characters who represent a different world-view. But literature which, like Restoration drama, is the embodiment only of the one world-view seems not to represent adequately the fullness of existence for which men long. It is of the essence that there will be many world-views, and literature which does not attempt to represent the totality of existence, but expounds the ethic only of a particular group, runs the risk of ceasing to be literature and becoming something else. 2-8) This speech is an airy dismissal of the whole fantastic action we have been witnessing—the fond illusions of love which drive people out of their minds. Shakespeare, at least, is not one to neglect the world in order to put forward a certain view. I never may believe These antique fables, nor these fairy toys. And, no doubt, it is fitting for a man in whom all opposites have harmonised to dismiss with such a wave of the hand all the imperfections of mankind. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, for example, he has Duke Theseus say: . Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend More than cool reason ever comprehends. I am not sure, however, that Shakespeare adopts the same attitude. The lunatic, the lover and the poet Are of imagination all compact . Perfection is no doubt an admirable thing, but not every man can hope to reach it, and Shakespeare will not risk the narrowness that would follow too rigorous and exclusive a definition of virtue. But there is a more important point to be drawn from Theseus' speech. Theseus is making an after-dinner joke about the way all imperfections are related, as springing from an incomplete way of viewing the world and as expressed in actions that are consequently rather silly. But Shakespeare, I think, sees another connection between 'the lunatic, the lover and the poet'. In a world where opposites have not harmonised, the poet is like 'the lunatic [and] the lover' because, like them, he is different from the majority of people. He is a trail-blazer, committed to probing the totality of existence, and unwilling to reject any of the views, however bizarre, that are a part of it. If we may borrow Laing's phrase, he interiorizes human existence. Where Theseus can consider a whole race of men from the outside, secure in the knowledge of his own perfection, the writer will present all existence from the inside. In this important respect he is like the fool, for the fool understands his own existence from the inside, as most other characters do not. Set in a world where he is early made aware that he is different and somehow unacceptable to the majority, he is forced to examine himself and the bases of his behaviour. This self-examination is foreign to the others, who have never needed to assess their own existence in this way, and for whom the source of behaviour is found in beliefs outside them and half-felt assumptions shared with everyone else. Consequently, they react to a person who acts on assumptions other than theirs, rooted in the logic of his own being, by dismissing him contemptuously as a fool—treating him as an outsider, and denying him all personality. This is how Goneril treats the fool in King Lear; it is what happens time and again to the tramps and beggars who erupt into the world of modern drama and who are the fool's spiritual descendants—for instance, the tramp in David Rudkin's Afore Night Come. But the fool is aware, as those who judge him are not, that their reaction, far from demonstrating Tightness or wrongness, merely shows that they have never examined their own existence, and have no way of interpreting difference except by labelling it folly. They can hardly respond to another person when they have never taken themselves seriously. Like the writer, then, the fool is aware of the complexities of social living in a way that most people are not. But there is a vital difference between him and the writer. The writer chooses to present sides of a problem; he creates this complexity, and is thus, however involved he may be in the viewpoints expressed, distant from the conflict, secure in the lordship of creation. As a man, he must act meaningfully in order to build community; as the outsider, he is deprived of the possibility of ever doing so, because he has no one with whom to share the vision which, expressed in action, has as its end the making of community. The fool, on stage and in real life, lacks this security. He is forced to a recognition of the double standard, his own and the world's, and to the knowledge that where he sees himself as a self, the rest of the world will mark his caperings solely as an excuse for laughter. To remain where he is is to be cut off from community; but the price of his integration into that community is the abandonment of all that he knows, all that makes him a self. The dotty old woman in The Whisperers, for example, is integrated, willy-nilly, into society. But this means the exposing of her 'voices', the only thing she has, as a fantasy, as nothing at all. Like the character of the parable, she is worse off in the end than she was before. This agony of indecision is the special mark of Beckett's characters. For them, 'the dreadful has already happened'; the world has passed them by, bound for destruction, and damnation is all about them. They cannot return to a world which they desperately need. And so they remain, waiting, standing at doors, unable to move out into the world. It is the same for Pinter's tramp in The Caretaker. Placed in a mad world, he cannot ever become a person without the papers that give him his identity. But they are at Sidcup, and we know he will never get them. The agony is the greater because the fool sees that the labels society has pinned upon him fit just as well upon society itself, and that it is all merely a matter of perspective. 'Handy-dandy', cries the mad Lear, 'which is the justice, which is the thief? ' Where does real madness lie—in the 'voices', or in the sterile cleanliness of a friendless observation ward? In a world where real living is not understood save by a minority, the real agony for the fool is to see that the rest of the world is mad. As Vendice observes in The Revenger's Tragedy: (Act III, Sc. 79-81) In art the finest expression of this agonizing dilemma is surely the work of Rouault. The clowns and prostitutes whom he so often makes his subjects embody a consciousness of life at odds with the rest of society: a world blindly self-seeking and hypocritical, summed up in the cruel judges and the helmeted soldier of the Miserere etchings. Fixed forever on the point of the world's rejection, they betray no individuality whatever. Even when they band together in community, as in La Petite Famille, they never seem to smile, as if they are only too well aware of the temporary nature of their refuge and the abiding reality of their rejection. The isolation of the Rouault clown or the Beckett tramp, and his consequent failure to act, is in real life an impossible situation. That is for the fool to cover his tracks and to pretend that he does not care. He covers his tracks by laughing at himself, by mocking the self-knowledge which is the reason of his existence, and by inviting our laughter along with his own. He has no other course of action open to him, for to see society committed to standards opposed to his own, and to fell his own powerlessness to change things, or to ever make people see him as a person, is for him to be given over to the despair that drives people mad. The cynic, for example, is a person who reacts to the misery of the world by retreating from it. He must therefore take on the mask of folly, deny his individuality, and parade his logicality as the illogicality the rest of us reckon it to be. For this reason we welcome him among us, and tolerate the sharp satire which he uses to relieve his feelings because we know he can do nothing about us. His agony is still with him, for he knows that at any moment we may reject him if he comes too close to the truth or if he bores us; and he knows that he has sold himself and accomplished nothing. Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov is just such a person. There is no doubt how strongly he feels about the inhumanity of the so-called enlightenment. As an illustration of the way in which enlightened man has failed to treat his neighbour any better than his 'backward Russian brother' does, he tells the story of a young man brought up like a beast and neglected by society until he has committed murder and is condemned to death. Then people come to visit him; but not with expressions of sympathy. No, their purpose is to convince him that the sole responsibility for his actions lies with himself, and that the society which tolerated the abomination in the first place is clear of any guilt. And so he retreats into a pose of non-involvement, assuming the detachment of a scholar reporting on insignificant facts in an abstruse journal. Man's complete indifference to the outsider, except as an object to be cajoled into subscribing to his own ideals, and his readiness to sacrifice the outsider to them rather than seriously examine them, strikes Ivan as loathsome Pharisaism. His cynicism, then, is merely a front for a deep despair. This means that he is where he was, powerless, able only to jest with the sufferings of the world. His only relief is to show it, beneath a cloak which it cannot penetrate, what it is really like. What if the fool lacks self-awareness, like the hero of Ivan's story? He will not suffer the agonies I have described, for he will never see how his existence is thwarted and his aims frustrated by the rest of the world. Yet, even so, his existence will have a kind of sadness about it—the sadness of a thwarted child—for he will almost certainly react subconsciously to the hostility of the world by the assumption of one rôle or another. The recent performance of Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream by Mr. Where I have been tempted to see in Bottom the eternal extrovert, as much at home in the world of the fairies as in the court of Theseus, the sensitive performance of Mr. Dale was a reminder that Bottom is at home everywhere merely because he is at home nowhere; that he is not so much actor as acted upon; and that extroversion is usually a mask for a deep insecurity. Marcel Marceau's great comic creation, Bip, is another example of this kind of fool. Raised for our laughter, he yet points to a malaise in society which prompts a man to retreat from authentic communication into a world of fantasy, and his humour, like Bottom's, is not without a deep sadness. The fool then is a person committed to a world-view at odds with that of society and powerless to effect acceptance by others of it. In the face of this powerlessness, he will, deliberately or subconsciously, assume the mask of folly in order to protect himself from the world. However it goes with him, he cannot be involved overtly, for that is to lay himself open to the rejection of the world. The 'natural fool of fortune' and the cynic are, I suggest, two expressions of the fool distinguished only by the greater degree of awareness possessed by the latter. There is a third kind of fool which it may be worth mentioning here, as representing a yet greater degree of self-awareness still, though we shall not be studying its occurrence in Shakespeare's plays. As Laing points out, the lunatic is a man whom the sense of the impossible demands of the world, and of the equal impossibility of ever realising his own aims, has drawn into himself in a state of permanent inaction. For him, the world is as frighteningly topsy-turvey as it is for the fool: (King Lear, Act IV, Sc. 166-9) But now he lacks all ability to come to terms with it. He sees the world destroying his ideals, and he hunches up into himself in terror. There is only this difference between him and the fool: the fool has bought time. II This account of the fool is surely unexceptionable. We can use it, for example, to account for the source of that ambivalent tone, something between comedy and tragedy but never siding with either, that is the mark of so much modern drama, and especially the plays of Beckett. It is not so easy, however, to apply it to the fools in Shakespeare's plays. This is because, if we are to share the fool's existence from the inside, we must have some expression of his troubled self-awareness; and we cannot expect this in any play where the fool is placed in a social context as accessory to the actions of other people, for this would inhibit his self-expression and, by confining him to the poses which he has to make in order to protect himself, prevent us from ever seeing him as he really is. If the fool is to be at all central, action has to be done away with, and a firm social context cannot be stated, but must be merely inferred, to be the source of this conflict within him. This is why society never appears in the Beckett world, and why in Tom Stoppard's recent play almost the whole action of Shakespeare's Hamlet is represented off stage. Only when the world of action, the world of other men, is somewhere else, can Rosencrantz and Guildernstern show us the real agonies of the fool. In the plays of Shakespeare, however, where the action of protagonists who exist in a firmly detailed social structure is of primary importance, no such opportunity is given to the fool to reveal himself, except in Hamlet. Stoppard is only doing for Rosencrantz and Guildernstern what Shakespeare himself did for Hamlet). Consequently, we can only interpret the significance of the fool through the understanding other characters have of him. But they will be able to see only that 'this is not altogether fool'; that the fool (As You Like It, Act V, Sc. 103-4) The secret agonies of the fool can thus only be brought to light by inference, or by a sensitive performance. But I do not see this as a bad thing, because I believe that, if we are not to rob literature of its power, we must allow it something of the range and implication we would allow to people in real life. We do not deal simply in words, but in a whole complex of nuances and half-guessed meanings. III Shakespeare's world is thronged with fools and madmen, and often a single play will treat of several levels of madness. The folly of Hamlet, the madness of Ophelia, the professional Yorick; the natural Touchstone, the melancholic Jaques; the mad Lear, the professional fool, the masquerading Bedlam; these, to choose a few only, present various aspects of the outsider's awareness of himself and a world at odds with him. With Shakespeare's fools we are at once in a world where moral certainties are being questioned: where the questioner proves fool by his question, and the fool proves a wise man by his answer: and where the insane alone seem to understand what the real world is like. In the early plays this uncertainty is used to express a comic rather than a tragic vision. Shakespeare came to the mature comedies with a deep conviction that man, for all his folly, was redeemable, and that sin was not so much destructive as laughable in its presumption. He is permitted to reveal inconsistencies in human behaviour, especially the follies that men commit in love ('wise men, folly-fall'n, quite taint their wit') but he does not directly challenge the bases of social living. Folly is, however, symptomatic of something deeper than itself, and it is clear even in the mature comedies that the corrupt world, as represented by Shylock or the usurping Duke Frederic, can only be done away with in the magic forests or by the perpetration on it of some holy deceit. In the event, Shakespeare does not turn again to the magic forest, after the mature comedies, until he has probed more deeply the implications of the fool's behaviour, and seen that the good, far from being the victors, are really fatally vulnerable; that, in a world given up to selfishness, they are the real outsiders: and that it is not sin, but goodness, that is the great folly. This is the world of the problem plays and the tragedies, where the implications of the earlier comic vision: 'Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly' are made terrifyingly manifest. And it is here, especially in King Lear, that the fool comes into his own as the agonized expositor of a disordered conscience, the figure who sees truly what the world is like and feels his powerlessness to change it. But we begin a long time before that—before even the world of the mature comedies. We begin with a small boy who is servant to a foolish knight, the braggadochio Armado: Armado: I am all these three [three faces of love] Moth: And three times as much more, and yet nothing at all. 45-54) Moth in Love's Labours Lost is not a true Shakespearean fool. Like the fool in King Lear, he is yoked to a blind and partial authority, and is quite as likely to receive punishment as praise if he put a foot wrong. Armado: Fetch hither the swain: he must carry a letter. Moth: Marry, sir, you must send the ass upon the horse, for he is very slow-gaited. Like the fool, too, he knows very well what a fool his master is. Moth: A message well sympathised: a horse to be an ambassador for an ass. But, as his servant, he can do nothing to make him aware of this, for he cannot confront him with his true self. He is therefore reduced to asides which Armado will not understand; and if he should happen to be caught out, he must instantly change the meaning so as to protect himself. Moth, then, is playing a part, pretending to be uninvolved, and taking upon himself, in order to protect himself, the guise of folly that he is ridiculing in his master. But this guise is no solution to the problem, for it merely encourages Armado and the others in their attitude towards him. When, for example, Holofernes is bested by Moth in quipping, he can still retort: 'thou disputest like an infant; go, whip thy gig'. Moth reacts to people viewing him from the outside, as it were, as a 'pretty infant'; but the rôle that is forced upon him involves a perpetuation of this attitude, which means that his position is insecure, and that he can do nothing to expose the world to itself. This does not mean for a moment that he has the wider significance of Shakespeare's fools; it means merely that he is placed in the same position as they are, and like them must have recourse to trickery—especially verbal trickery—to conceal his tracks. Likewise, the 'natural fools' of Shakespearean comedy—Launce and Speed, Lancelot Gobbo, Dogberry and Verges, Justice Shallow—do not have the wider implications of the fool. They are fools raised for laughter, not for any significance they may have as commentators on the action. They stumble across words, and break their shins on the conventions of the world, but without that sense of the world's hostility towards them that marks out the fool. They are so completely lacking in self-awareness that they do not even hear the laughter of the other characters. Yet we can see in them links at a number of points with the true Shakespearean fool. Consider, for instance, Launce and his dog in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. He has been obliged to suffer time and again for its misbehaviour in the hope that it will mend its ways. Launce's folly is that, just as Moth expects Armado to be more than Armado, he expects his dog to be more than a dog. On his departure for Milan, he tells us, 'this cruel-hearted cur shed (not) one tear: he is a stone, a very pebble-stone, and has no more pity in him than a dog'. Relationship of the kind he looks for is clearly not to be found with a dog. Shakespeare is here presenting the fool from the outside, since Launce's position is absurd and foolish. But he does have other characteristics in common with the fools of the later plays. Like them, he has a vision simple almost to the point of fixation. He is like a child in the way he can become so absorbed in turning the grief of parting into a game that he hardly has any room for grief. Lancelot Gobbo similarly plays games both with himself and his father in The Merchant of Venice, and he reacts to the threats of Shylock in the same way as, earlier, Moth had done to Armado. The naturals are also children in their incomprehension of the complexities of language. They do not use the right words; or if they have the right words, they lack the ability to string them together into meaningful sentences. Poor Peter Quince's stuttering version of the prologue to the mechanicals' entertainment earns this rejoinder: (Act V, Sc. 122-5) and it is not untypical of the reaction which the mechanicals provoke among the gentry. The court of Theseus, Leonato, the court of the Duke of Navarre—the sophisticated world brushes them contemptuously aside and views them only as subjects for laughter, as blocks, as children. The fool similarly uses language to confuse his hearers, deliberately masking the apparent connections in order to achieve startling results: (Twelfth Night, Act III, Sc. 11-13) Unlike the fools, however, these naturals are without agony, because they are without self-awareness. Their childlike absorption in their own world-view is total. This is why Costard's impersonation of Pompey at the end of Love's Labours Lost is a success, whereas Holofernes and Sir Nathaniel, characters whose social sense is more developed, are terribly put out by the mockery of the court. Because he is not aware of the court's attitude, Costard can respond to their ironical 'Great thanks, great Pompey', with the modest (Act V, Sc. 553-5) Characters somewhat like them, but with considerably more self-awareness, are Gratiano in The Merchant of Venice and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. Gratiano reacts to Antonio's heavy cheer in the opening scene with the words: (Act I, Sc. 79-80, 83-4) —which earn him Bassanio's tart: 'Gradano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all Venice'. But if, as Antonio has said, the world is a stage where people must play a part (and this is an important image for our understanding of the fool) why should Gratiano not play the part of the fool? Like the naturals, he seems to the others to be talking a great deal of nonsense. For him, however, it is merely a pose, and he knows it. Mercutio similarly talks a great deal, and is rebuked by Romeo for wasting their time: 'Peace, peace, Mercutio peace! The nothing is Mercutio's Queen Mab speech, and it is a great deal of nothing, as Mercutio himself recognises: (Act I, Sc. 96-8) Mercutio's attitude to dreams and to fantasy is much the same as Theseus': like Theseus, he takes his stand on the world of reality, the same world where men kill each other for the sake of honour. Yet he is unable to resist chasing an idea to its conclusion, however preposterous, or tilting at inconsistency in himself or his friends. When Romeo has jumped over the wall, Mercutio calls him: (Act II, Sc. 6-7) This is all great fun: lovers lay themselves open to this sort of treatment because 'all nature in love is mortal in folly'. But the fool is here a little late with his witticisms. Romeo is no longer conjuring 'Helen's beauty [out of] a brow of Egypt', but calling on the woman whom he loves to distraction. Like Mercutio, the fool has considerable verbal fluency, a device that stretches, as we have seen, all the way back to the early comedies: more important, like Mercutio, he comes too late to do anything. Gratiano and Mercutio adopt the pose of fool here for reasons we cannot fathom. It may be that in a world where misfortune is the common lot of man, and where the Shylocks and the Capulets are always out for revenge, it is simpler to whistle trouble away than to face it. Gratiano shows his commitment when in the trial scene he reproaches Shylock for his monstrous inhumanity; likewise, Mercutio shows his loyalty by dying for family ties. Comedian to the end, he attempts to externalise his situation by resuming the mask of folly; but the bitterness wrung from him in 'A plague o' both your houses' shows how even the fool's playing must sometimes give way to the realities which it is attempting to put aside. Secure though he may be for the moment, the time will come when he must face the realities symbolised, later, by the skull of Yorick. IV And so, by this roundabout way, we come to the fools of the mature comedies—Bottom, Touchstone, Jaques, Feste. The characters we have so far considered are not used by Shakespeare strictly as fools. The logic for their existence is little more than quirks of personality. They are expressions of the outsider introduced mainly for the sake of variety, and even if, like Mercutio, they jest about the world they find themselves in, they never compromise it by their wit, or express the sense of divided loyalties. Shakespeare's fools are of course descended from them. Both the natural folly of the mechanicals and the inspired wit of the courtiers have gone into their making. We might think of Bottom and Touchstone as descended from one side of the family, and Jaques and Feste from the other. But there are significant differences; they are all greater than their begetters. They crystallise for us the existence of different worlds, and reflect in the 'shivered mirror' of their language the opposites which in themselves make for destruction and which only benevolent nature harmonises. As I suggested earlier, he is, for all his extroversion, a character extremely sensitive to criticism, easily hurt, and with a child's need for the approval of the others and fear of being left out in the cold. Bottom and Touchstone may be very like the mechanicals in their misuse of language, and Feste and Jaques like the courtiers in the way they deliberately distort it; but they are rather more aware of their position vis-à-vis the world. This is plain from his dealings with Peter Quince, a character who has more sense of what is required by the world and who, like Holofernes, is terribly ill at ease when he has to recite the prologue before the clever lords and ladies of the Athenian court. Peter Quince sees Bottom only as a nuisance, someone who will never keep quiet and leave the managing of the play to its producer, and who has no respect for rank or the fitness of the occasion. He resorts to all kinds of pressure—flat contradictions, flattery, and so on—to persuade Bottom to stay in line. In acting like this he does not see Bottom as the self he is, and treats him only as the mask he presents. When the others flee from him in terror in the forest, he is convinced that they are playing a cruel game on him: I see their knavery: this is to make an ass of me: to fright me, if they could. 115-18) In a world where his own childlike games are misinterpreted as tiresome stupidity, the games other people play are full of menace, as it is with the game Goldberg devises for Stanley in Pinter's Birthday Party. But I will not stir from this place, do what they can: I will walk up and down, and I will sing, that they shall hear I am not afraid. Bottom knows that in this situation it is best to put on a brave face, to jest away his fear. But he is not at home, all the same, and his position is very much that of the fool—acted upon, unsure how to act himself. It is worth noticing in this connection how largely he takes his cue from the attitudes of other people. When the fairy queen addresses him, he seems to be terrified of her and desperately jests his way through the encounter for fear of being transformed into a beast. Not until the fairies greet him does he regain his assurance: from then on, all becomes grist to his mill. But this acceptance of him as a person, which allows him to indulge in his whimsy without rebuke, happens only in a magic world of fairies, in 'the fierce vexation of a dream'. Everywhere else, he seems to be faced with the dilemma of the fool: how to act and be himself. It may seem strange that a character who has so little to do in the play should bear the weight of such a detailed study. Yet it is clear that what Theseus does for the play symbolically, as it were, Bottom does for it by his participation in the various levels of the action. Where Theseus' non-involvement, as expressed, for example, in the opening speech of Act 5, is the symbolic expression of the unity to which all life aspires, Bottom's non-involvement represents dramatically the only feasible course of action a man can follow in a world where people are given over to the weakness and folly which Theseus condemns. Only once is he given the kind of speeches that point up the fool's function in the other plays: (Act III, Sc. 135-8) and this comment is worth setting alongside Theseus' utterance about the lunatic and the lover, in its expression of the same awareness of the divided self which we find Theseus rejecting from his godlike position. Yet the mere fact of his presence in the play shows us the outsider at odds with his society, unsure how to come to terms with it, and assuming, for his own protection, the mask of the fool. He is the other polarity in a play which has as its ideal the godlike Theseus. Touchstone is a more obvious instance of the Shakespearean fool. He possesses an awareness of the reality of existence not shared by the other characters. He sees life, for example, as a process of physical change: (Act II, Sc. 26-7) He sees love and marriage as a mere expression of instinct; likewise, he sees how the elaborate patterns of social custom are designed to prevent the natural from ever occurring. Above all, he sees the real wisdom to lie in those who know themselves for fools: 'the fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool'. He knows, moreover, that this awareness of his is ill-matched with the other characters in the play, and not merely the sluttish Audrey, who is unable to understand one of his classical allusions, and to whom he says (Act III, Sc. 10-13) He knows that the others, similarly, will fail to see the understanding behind his wit, and will not see the 'great reckoning' in his 'little room'. Nor is it wise for him to be too eager in putting his views to a world on whose sufferance he depends, and which has brought him into the forest simply 'as a comfort to our travel'. When, for instance, he satirises a foolish knight whom Rosalind's father loved, Rosalind replies: (Act I, Sc. 117-20) In the same way, when Rosalind attacks him for his attempt to reduce the love exemplified in Orlando's romantic verse to the level of his own awareness, he is silenced, and can only reply: 'You have spoken; but whether wisely or no, let the forest judge'. Like Bottom, he is poised uneasily between his awareness of what the world requires and where his own self-awareness would lead. It is for this reason that he takes the mask of fool upon him, and is quick to disclaim any wit if they should sense it in him: (Act II, Sc. 56-7) A man, as it seems, equally at home in court and country, he is really at home nowhere. Isolation seems to be an escape for him from the world of men, at least as Jaques reports him: 'who laid him down and bask'd him in the sun'. Yet this is no escape from his need for community, and in order to be in community with his betters he is obliged to cover his tracks, to play the fool. Yet, in himself, he does not represent the ideal of the play. He participates in the wedding rites at the end of the play for completeness' sake only. The reason for this lies in his perpetuating in himself the attitudes others have to him. At the same time as being one of nature's naturals, he has a hankering to be a courtier. This shows up most clearly in the way he treats the country-folk, not with the true respect given to them by men of sense, but with the scornful condescension others have used on him. ' he cries; or, like some gay sophisticate, 'It is meat and drink to me to see a clown'. Even in his dealings with the rustics, he does not have things all his own way. Corin, in his simplicity, is a match for him, and forces him to demonstrate that the illogicality which he parades before the court is the illogicality of a divided self; a self that likes the country but thinks the court better because it is more civilized—and yet fails to realise that the arguments he is advancing are only proving how like they are. If the play has a point, it is surely this: that a man's true self requires neither court nor country. But Touchstone gives only lip-service to the ideal. In his heart of hearts, he would rather be a courtier. That is why he barely belongs to the world of Hymen's rites at the end of the play. It is the others who, purified by the consistency of their inner vision, are incorporated into the marriage feast. Yet, even as he is, he is acceptable, and accepted, in the magic forests. If he but knew it, it is only here that he can hope to become himself. 58-62) This cynicism may be more than a pose, and may reflect a defensive reaction against a world which is all too prone to idealise its situation. But it is the lovers who become themselves, and leave him behind. When Jaques thinks himself alone, for instance, he is full of sententious moralising about the way of the world: perhaps he does really believe in what he is saying. He can never be one with the world because he has not learned to be one with himself. In a world where we seem to fear no tyranny but that of the bad weather, the voice of Jaques is early heard insisting that if court and country are not the same, it is not because man is less corrupt in the one than in the other. Moreover, the others view him unsympathetically: not even his isolation is free from malicious report, just as later, Touchstone's situation is gleefully reported back to the others. Indeed, for Jaques there is no difference: Thus most invectively he pierceth through The body of the country, city, court, Yea, and of this our life: swearing that we Are mere usurpers, tyrants, and what's worse, To fright the animals and kill them up . Yet much of what he says is clearly a pose: he can 'suck melancholy out of a song as a weasel sucks eggs'. He is, then, a character whose awareness of life is at odds with that of the society he mixes with, and who has therefore found retreat in a pose of cynicism which he hardly ever drops. He enjoys the existence which it provides, and the rôle of the baffling intellectual which his violent wit makes him appear. We see this very clearly in his speech to the Duke: 'I am ambitious for a motley coat'. In it he talks of using his rôle of licensed fool in order to cleanse 'the foul body of the infected world'; it matters most to him, however, that the fool is free to speak his mind and that he has 'a charter large as the wind'. That is, Jaques is not interested in the freedom which comes when inner and outer man are harmonised and the whole world is purified—a process which we see the fool aware of and trying to effect in himself. Jaques is interested only in the freedom from restraint which would enable him to snipe at anyone without suffering the consequences of it. It shows us, first, that he has no understanding of the fool, save as a pose like his own. He has not seen anything of the inner agonies of the fool. Second, if his pose is more than a pose, he has no awareness of what it signifies, for he has no awareness of himself based on anything stronger than Hedonism. Ultimately, he is committed only to his own rôle-playing, which he uses as end rather than as means. The pose of cleansing the foul sins of the world is thus the biggest pose of all. Yet the others tolerate him, except when he comes the self-righteous Pharisee, like Malvolio in Twelfth Night; then they round on him and remind him that he is no better than they are. So Jaques leaves the marriage feast, where he could have no place, and bequeaths to the others the community which he has implicitly denied. It is interesting that both fools in this play express the conscience of a divided world, not by being the victims of its tensions, but by expressing those tensions in their own characters. Shakespeare usually represents his fools as the conscience of a divided world because his drama is, in the end, symbolic, and its characters assume greater significance than they have in themselves. But in As You Like It the world is clearly a harmony. People who love are made self-consistent, and come to stand for the redemption of a whole society. In such a world, the fool's commentary, presented for the sake of fuller understanding of the real world in which this vision must be lived out, must perforce be a reflection of his own incompleteness as a person. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, on the other hand, where community and redemption are not certain, Bottom has more place as the expositor of a consistency at odds with the world's. Altogether more urbane than Jaques, he covers his tracks so completely that we never see what he stands for, but only the folly and affectation which he ridicules in all around him. He shapes his behaviour completely to the situation. He 'wears no motley in [his] brain' but what he does wear there we never find. His function is simply to expose, to laugh, to snipe. Malvolio's comment about him, while it tells us more about Malvolio, is thus important for us: 'I marvel your ladyship takes delight in such a barren fool'. Because he never lets us see what he is really like, he remains, throughout the play, a barren fool. He has no significant part to play in forwarding the action. The heroes and heroines work out their destiny without his help. The world whose signs he professed to read so clearly perhaps had more to it, after all, than the folly he observed: (Act I, Sc. 32-4) A concrete example of the way in which the world shows itself at odds with his interpretation of it is his confusing the newly-arrived Sebastian with his twin sister Viola. The fool deals in probables; he cannot be expected to know about miracles. He thinks he knows everything: but about the possibilities of redemption in the material order, like all the fools, he is uninstructed. V In the characters whom we have so far studied certain common features emerge—an awareness at odds with the rest of the world, failure to act, the assumption of a mask. How if the fool should choose to act, or should drop the mask? The result will be either his integration into a society to which he had no wish to belong, or his destruction by that society. For the fool to be other than overtly uncommitted is to bring about his own destruction. We see this in the relationship of Hal to Falstaff. It becomes the key to our understanding of the character of Hamlet, and perhaps also the fool in Lear. When we talk of Falstaff as a fool, we must remember that from the beginning he has committed himself to a state of misrule, and by putting himself outside the category of fool, has lost the immunity which he might otherwise expect. Nevertheless, his relationship to Hal is based on the apparent uncommitment of the fool, which conceals a deep affection that would not have otherwise been accepted, and which leaves the Prince free to express his ambiguous feelings towards him as he chooses. But Hal knows all along, as Falstaff does not, that the King's son is made for better things: (I Henry IV, Act II, Sc. 43-5) When he becomes King, Falstaff decides to step outside the rôles they have both been playing until now. It is true that he sees his relationship with the Prince still in material terms, but this matters to him really only as a return of affection which he sees as his due. He will be now, he thinks, treated as butt no longer. The rules of a game like that played by Falstaff do not have wider currency than the game; in the real world there is an entirely different set of rules. To identify the childish vision of society with that society's vision of itself is to invite disaster. And so Henry IV ends with Falstaff made humiliatingly aware of his folly, and, flung back into the world of the fool, making a game of his expectations to con himself out of his grief, like Launce in The Two Gentlemen: (Act V, Sc. 76-80) The world of the comedies is a benevolent one, so that the fool can exist and, to some extent, be himself. But the world of Henry IV is a world where policy reigns, and where men are altogether more calculating. The fool's only hope in such a world is to play his part and never step out of it. This is the world of Hamlet and above all of King Lear. 76-8, 83-5) In a world of changing customs and loyalties where 'the funeral baked meats / Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables', Hamlet is certain only of his love for his father and his grief at his death. 129-134) This awareness of the way the court regards him as a man playing a part also suggests to him, when he has vowed vengeance for his father's murder, the pose he is to adopt. He will play the fool and 'put an antic disposition on'. The fool is in a bad way; he must make himself ridiculous, or he is lost. In terms of this certainty, he sees how the mourning of the others was merely a pose, an affectation: even his mother did not mourn for her husband longer than 'a beast that wants discourse of reason'. He is not mad, as Ophelia is mad, though his sudden putting on of the mask makes everyone else think that he is. And even then, as Hamlet sees from the skull of Yorick, lost: (Act V, Sc. 183-86) Here the fool comes to the point where even self-mockery fails. But he also sees how his behaviour, springing from his inmost self, must look like a pose 'a man might play' to those who cannot see beyond the forms to the things they signify, and in whom self-interest is the dominant force. Probably, Shakespeare means us to see Hamlet as more right than not, because the whole play is mediated to us through his tortured self-consciousness. Right or wrong, he sees himself in the right: sees the rest given over to a folly that he cannot cure, at best degrading, at worst criminal: sees that other people do not see him as a person, but only as a mask. But for him, as for her, to play the fool is to arrest himself in a state of inaction. The reality which his jests concealed is expressed now in the changeless, impartial grinning of a skull. In the same way that the skull in The Revenger's Tragedy serves as the central symbol of the play, so the skull here points to the world's end, whether the world of men or the fool. This sense of his own isolation brings him to the despair that drives people mad, or makes them kill themselves: O that this too too solid flesh would melt, Thaw and resolve itself into a dew! How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable Seem to me all the uses of this world . He can only lie in wait and plot, revealing himself through a mask which even the obtuse Polonius senses to be concealing something deeper: 'though this be madness, yet there is method in it'. He cannot allay suspicion, and the mask of fool leaves him with only the bitterness of a knowledge that is powerless to effect its end. Hamlet is, above all, about a man who to be secure has to resort to the shifts of folly, and so puts himself in the agonizing position of the fool—a self-awareness that is powerless to act. That can denote me truly: these indeed seem, For they are actions which a man might play. Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd His canon 'gainst self-slaughter. If he is to bring anything about, he must remove the mask. When he does act, and throw aside the mask of fool, it is his destruction. 'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, Nor customary suits of solemn black . In the event, he does lower the mask, when he attempts to confront his mother with herself in her chamber. 47-8, 56-7, 59-60, 62) Therefore, he casts aside the mask of folly, and learns the logic of vengeance, the only language the world can understand. In it, self-interest is seen to be the driving force. Many words have been written about the character of Hamlet, and I cannot pretend that this interpretation will satisfy everybody. By an unhappy chance, the appearance of the ghost, which only Hamlet sees, convinces her of his madness, so that all he has said to her is merely a further proof of his disordered mind. There can be no more hesitating; only the fool has time to make the idea of vengeance square with the commandments of God. By putting himself on the side of the devils he proclaims that the world leads irresistibly to the grave. But where the other characters in Hamlet mostly stand for a simple opposite to virtue in a worldview that does not admit of great complexity, and are consequently flat characters, given prominence only as the searing light of Hamlet's awareness falls upon them, the villains in King Lear are presented much more fully. He disturbs her and perhaps even leads her to a greater awareness of him than she had before, but he does not bring about her repentance. They have reason for their actions in the self-interested behaviour of their elders, and in their fear of being outside the pale. Her treatment of him in the play may be read, as I think Hamlet reads it, as an attempt to salve her conscience in the face of his death's-head awareness; to treat the son more kindly for the father's sake. while to my shame I see The imminent death of twenty thousand men That . Goneril and Regan see themselves as deprived both of the power to express themselves and the love which alone makes self-expression possible. So she never sees him as a person and cannot do anything to help him. They are made to feel outside the pale by their wayward, domineering father. His confrontation with her, then, is a failure, and his failure to kill the King, and accidental killing of Polonius, mean that he has lost the upper hand, and must now take his chance with the mask of folly firmly in place (IV. His only safety, now that he has exposed himself, is flight. How stand I then That have a father kill'd, a mother stain'd . Consequently, when Lear commits the unparalleled folly of removing both the symbol of power and the one prop to his age, they are free to take out all their frustrations on him. He has passed his life in what the others see as a world of make-believe, with the power to make this world pass for the real. By removing all defences Lear puts himself out on to the heath, beyond the pale. This, as he recognises bitterly, only worsens his situation: Witness this army [of Fortinbras] of such mass and charge Led by a delicate and tender prince . Consequently, Cordelia's stepping outside the make-believe in the opening scene leads inevitably to the same reaction as Hal showed to Falstaff. In doing this he learns to see beyond the game to what it ought to have signified, and to what in fact it does signify. But it also leads to Lear's stepping, himself, outside the game into the real world, where old age, no longer protected by the mask of royalty: (Act I, Sc. 39-41) can be seen for what it is: 'Idle old man', and 'O sir, you are old . To remove the mask is perforce to come to the fool's awareness of the inner man. But for Cordelia, Lear would remain transfixed by this painful awareness of a rottenness, alike within and without, incurable. Parallel to Lear's removal of the mask, other characters are putting theirs on, notably the fool. The fool has a stronger motive for his motley than any of Shakespeare's other fools, for he is devoted to Cordelia and desolated by her banishment, as Lear himself recognises. That is, he is flung back into the hazardous world of the outsider, from which only the love of Cordelia could have protected him. Lear's action has shown the fool all too clearly the ways of the world. 14-16) His function is thus to remind Lear insistently of what he has lost by his own stupidity. He sees Lear much more clearly than Lear sees himself: how blind and self-seeking Lear was in his love, and how violently he reacted to anything that might disturb it, even the threat of Cordelia's openness. she will taste as like this as a crab does to a crab. But because Lear is erratic in his behaviour, affectionate and angry by turns, the fool cannot reveal this awareness fully to him. This behaviour is of a piece with the rest of the world, and it shows the fool the madness of Lear's expectations of humanity among a people as blind and self-seeking as he is: Shalt see thy other daughter will use thee kindly; for though she's as like this as a crab's like an apple, yet I can tell what I can tell . His only refuge is the perpetual movement from one proposition to another that we saw adumbrated in Moth's relationship with Armado—the distraction that soothes but cannot cure, because it cannot confront the king with himself. But it is not clear that the fool ever hopes for Lear's redemption. The way of the world is a vortex, and there is no escaping from it. Joined together in negation, the fool would reduce Lear to the same awareness of desolation that he has; but not, it seems, in order that he might lead him through it to an acceptance of his situation. Consequently, he cannot, any more than his master, be redeemed, for he rejects the openness that would exchange loss with loss and so build community—in the way, for example, that Behan's characters in The Quare Fellow build community by accepting each other's failure. He hugs his loss of Cordelia to himself as the source of his tormenting of the King which is his only relief. Both, then, are joined together, by a love and a pain which they will not or cannot share. Yet the bond between them deepens as, one by one, the doors are shut against them, and Lear is reduced to the desolation that the fool had foreseen and perhaps hoped for. In the face of his master's great grief the fool 'labours to outjest / his heart-struck injuries'. But he has not the capacity to respond to Lear as a person. In the fool, on the heath, Lear has the first sight of the human person (Tom o' Bedlam is to be the second) which can alone bring salvation to his fettered self-interest: (Act III, Sc. 67-9, 72-3) Like the characters in The Quare Fellow, Lear is opening his arms in the overwhelming sense of his own desolation to someone whom he dimly recognises as partner. It is Lear's inherent nobility that brought him to this point. The fool could never have done it, for his refusal to confront Lear openly with himself, or to share his own pain with him, were an insuperable barrier to his being an effective agent in Lear's redemption. In this simple gesture on the heath Lear has outstripped his teacher. The fool is still unable to share his loss, and unable to respond to another's pain, to which his own pain is not in any way commensurate. Like Hamlet's actions, the fool's words have all along proclaimed that the way of the world is damnation. He cannot be present when Lear learns at length that this is not the case. This portrait of the fool is the most compelling and finely drawn of all the fools in Shakespeare. A character who combines piercing insight with the narrowness of despair and who is arrested in the futility of disbelief, he is the perfect embodiment of the ambiguous relationship of the outsider to a world at odds with him. His jesting conceals an agony that is, for all its intensity, shallow. In the end, he fails, because he has not learned to free himself from the toils of his own playing, or to see that the other person matters most in the making of community. The path the fool takes has come a great way from the world of the comedies. There we leave him, forever outside the closed doors of a society which will admit him, if at all, only as far as the kennels. VI It remains to consider some of the imagery that Shakespeare uses to point up the fool's situation. It can hardly be accidental that in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Hamlet the play-within-the-play has. Indeed, we find in Antonio's speech and Gratiano's replay an indication of what the image meant for Shakespeare: Jaques' speech about the seven ages of man takes up the theme again. Human life is a pageant in which characters act out their destinies and disappear into the wings. The idea was a commonplace at the time: Raleigh uses it, for example, in the poem 'What is our Life? ' But Shakespeare develops the idea of playing a part to the point where the actor becomes obscured in the character he is representing. He is playing a part, and we can never be sure what is really him and what the lines the situation has forced upon him. Strangely, the image is only once used with direct reference to the fool, in Hamlet. Hamlet sees that the players, with no other 'cue for passion' but the need to please their audience, are able to act out vengeance and disaster. Someone in his position, on the other hand, with far more motive for passion, remains unable to act, but (Act II, Sc. 571-2) The illusion of action and emotion displayed by the actors is all that the fool in real life has. The image of the stage, then, points up the irony of the fool's position. The device of the theatrical entertainment is also used as a means of confronting various levels of society, especially nature's naturals and the courtly, and of commenting on the attitudes one level has to another. In the entertainment that concludes Love's Labours Lost, Costard amuses the court not simply because of the part he is playing but because of its unconsciously superior attitude which sees all behaviour different from its own merely as a curious part well played. One play is built upon the idea; it is referred to in Mercutio's Queen Mab speech; Hamlet uses it in the speech quoted above; it is how Hal describes his changed feelings to Falstaff: Charles S. Felver (essay date 1961) SOURCE: "Armin's Foolish Parts with Shakespeare's Company 1599-1607," in Robert Armin, Shakespeare's Fool: A Biographical Essay, Kent State University, 1961, pp. [In the following essay, Felver describes the fool roles in the plays of Shakespeare's middle period (1599-1607) that were likely performed by the versatile comedic actor Robert Armin.] John A. Hart (essay date 1966) SOURCE: "Foolery Shines Everywhere: The Fool's Function in the Romantic Comedies," in "Starre of Poets": Discussions of Shakespeare, Carnegie Institute of Technology, 1966, pp. [In the essay that follows, Hart probes Shakespeare's presentation of fools in his romantic comedies from A Midsummer Night's Dream to Twelfth Night.] The Romantic Comedies are carefully structured work, for all their appearance of casual gaiety. I would like to demonstrate the case for this by examining the way in which Shakespeare develops his clowns in five plays, giving emphasis not so much to the characters themselves as... William Willeford (essay date 1969) SOURCE: "The Tragic Dimension of Folly: Hamlet" in The Pool and His Scepter: A Study in Clowns and Jesters and Their Audience, Northwestern University Press, 1969, pp. [Below, Willeford views the character of Hamlet as a tragic fool.] According to an anecdote, the cross-eyed Ben Turpin fell into his métier as a slapstick comedian in the silent films from the tragic heights of Hamlet, as he tried on the stage to play the role straight. Whether or not the story is true, the image of Turpin as Hamlet is horrible, funny, and somehow legitimate. Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy has been... "Laughter in the Last Plays." In Later Shakespeare, Stratford-Upon-Avon Studies, edited by John Russell Brown and Bernard Harris, No. G. K. Hall's three series of critical essays give comprehensive coverage of major authors worldwide and throughout history. The full range of literary traditions.
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Audifilm William Shakespeare is arguably the most famous writer of the English language, known for both his plays and sonnets. Though much about his life remains open to debate due to incomplete evidence, the following biography consolidates the most widely-accepted facts of Shakespeare's life and career. In the mid-sixteenth century, William Shakespeare's father, John Shakespeare, moved to the idyllic town of Stratford-upon-Avon. There, he became a successful landowner, moneylender, glove-maker, and dealer of wool and agricultural goods. During John Shakespeare's time, the British middle class was expanding in both size and wealth, allowing its members more freedoms and luxuries, as well as a stronger collective voice in local government. John took advantage of the changing times and became a member of the Stratford Council in 1557, which marked the beginning of his illustrious political career. By 1561, he was elected as one of the town's fourteen burgesses, and subsequently served as Constable, then Chamberlain, and later, Alderman. In all of these positions, the elder Shakespeare administered borough property and revenues. In 1567, he became bailiff - the highest elected office in Stratford and the equivalent of a modern-day mayor. Town records indicate that William Shakespeare was John and Mary's third child. His birth is unregistered, but legend pins the date as April 23, 1564, possibly because it is known that he died on the same date 52 years later. In any event, William's baptism was registered with the town of Stratford on April 26, 1564. Little is known about his childhood, although it is generally assumed that he attended the local grammar school, the King's New School. The school was staffed by Oxford-educated faculty who taught the students mathematics, natural sciences, logic, Christian ethics, and classical languages and literature. Shakespeare did not attend university, which was not unusual for the time. University education was reserved for wealthy sons of the elite, and even then, mostly just those who wanted to become clergymen. The numerous classical and literary references in Shakespeare’s plays are a testament, however, to the excellent education he received in grammar school, and speaks to his ability as an autodidact. His early plays in particular draw on the works of Seneca and Plautus. Even more impressive than Shakespeare's formal education is the wealth of general knowledge he exhibits in his work. His vocabulary exceeds that of any other English writer of his time by a wide margin. In 1582, at the age of eighteen, William Shakespeare married twenty-six-year-old Anne Hathaway. Their first daughter, Susanna, was not baptized until six months after her birth - a fact that has given rise to speculation over the circumstances surrounding the marriage. In 1585, Anne bore twins, baptized Hamnet and Judith Shakespeare. Hamnet died at the age of eleven, by which time William Shakespeare was already a successful playwright. Around 1589, Shakespeare wrote , which is considered to be his first play. Sometime between his marriage and writing this play, he moved to London, where he pursued a career as a playwright and actor. Although many records of Shakespeare's life as a citizen of Stratford have survived, including his marriage and birth certificates, very little information exists about his life as a young playwright. Legend characterizes Shakespeare as a roguish young man who was once forced to flee London under suspect circumstances, perhaps related to his love life, but the paltry amount of written information does not necessarily confirm this facet of his personality. In any case, young Will was not an immediate universal success. The earliest written record of Shakespeare's life in London comes from a statement by his rival playwright Robert Greene. In (1592), Greene calls Shakespeare an "upstart crow...[who] supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you." While this is hardly high praise, it does suggest that Shakespeare rattled London's theatrical hierarchy from the beginning of his career. In retrospect, it is possible to attribute Greene's complaint to jealousy of Shakespeare's ability, but the scarcity of evidence renders the comment ambiguous. With under his belt, Shakespeare became a popular playwright by 1590.* The year 1593, however, marked a major leap forward in his career when he secured a prominent patron: The Earl of Southampton. By this time, Shakespeare had also made his mark as a poet, as most scholars agree that he wrote the majority of his sonnets in the 1590s. In 1594, Shakespeare returned to the theater and became a charter member of the Lord Chamberlain's Men - a group of actors who changed their name to the King's Men when James I ascended the throne. By 1598, Shakespeare had been appointed the "principal comedian" for the troupe; by 1603, he was "principal tragedian." He remained associated with the organization until his death. Although acting and playwriting were not considered noble professions at the time, successful and prosperous actors were relatively well respected. Shakespeare’s success left him with a fair amount of money, which he invested in Stratford real estate. In 1597, he purchased the second largest house in Stratford - the New Place - for his parents. In 1596, Shakespeare applied for a coat of arms for his family, in effect making himself a gentleman. Consequently, his daughters made “good matches,” and married wealthy men. The same year that he joined the Lord Chamberlain's Men, Shakespeare wrote to be the first modern play because of its multi-faceted main character and unprecedented depiction of the human psyche. Shakespeare was buried in the chancel of his church at Stratford. The first decade of the seventeenth century witnessed the debut performances of several of Shakespeare’s most celebrated works, including many of his so-called history plays: in either 1612 or 1613. The lines above his tomb, allegedly written by Shakespeare himself, read: *The dates of composition and debut performance of almost all of Shakespeare's plays remain uncertain. The dates used in this note are widely agreed upon by scholars, but there is still significant debate around the dates of completion for many of his plays. Shakespeare lived in a time of great transformation for Western Europe. New advances in science were overturning ancient ideas about astronomy and physics. The authors are believed to be John Fletcher and William Shakespeare. The discovery of the Americas had transformed the European conception of the world.... It was entered in the Stationers' Register on August 4, 1600 but no edition followed the entry, thereby leading to the ambiguity in its publication date. The attribution is based primarily upon two 1613 performances by the King’s Men acting troupe of a play listed by either the title Cardenno... The Comedy of Errors is one of Shakespeare's earliest plays, but it is wrong to think of it as an apprentice work. It was first printed in the First Folio in 1623, and the earliest known performance is recorded to have been at Gray's Inn, one of... Shakespeare's principal source for the story of Coriolanus is a history written by Plutarch, of a Coriolanus who supposedly lived in ancient Rome. Shared with this source material is a concern for the overlap between virtue and valour; whereas, in... , one of Shakespeare's most ambitious and complicated plays, tells the story of a mythic king of England, Cymbeline, who reigned during the first century A. Its several plots trace the tribulations of the King and his royal family on... Henry IV, Part One first appeared in print in 1598, when two separate quartos were made. The second quarto serves as the standard text for most modern editions, and was followed closely by five more quartos in 1599, 1604, 1608, 1613, and 1622. Shakespeare lived in a time of great transformation for Western Europe. New advances in science were overturning ancient ideas about astronomy and physics. The discovery of the Americas had transformed the European conception of the world.... Henry V was probably the greatest military leader that England ever had. He laid claim to the French throne in 1414 by invoking an English royal claim, and managed to win the Battle of Agincourt the following year against seemingly impossible... is attributed to the Shakespeare canon and found in nearly every single collection of his plays, the general consensus has long been that the play which brings into the cycle of Shakespeare’s histories the most drama-worthy of... The only authoritative edition of Julius Caesar is the 1623 First Folio, which appears to have used the theater company's official promptbook rather than Shakespeare's manuscript. Some anomalies exist, most notably in Act Four where there is... The story of King Lear and his three daughters existed in some form up to four centuries before Shakespeare recorded his vision. Lear was a British King who reigned before the birth of Christ, allowing Shakespeare to place his play in a Pagan... Legend says that Macbeth was written in 1605 or 1606 and performed at Hampton Court in 1606 for King James I and his brother-in-law, King Christian of Denmark. Whether it was first performed at the royal court or was premiered at the Globe... The first performance of Measure for Measure is believed to have taken place in 1604, during the reign of King James I. By this time, Shakespeare is believed to have begun writing his plays for performance at the Blackfriars theatre, a small,... The Merchant of Venice was first printed in 1600 in quarto, of which nineteen copies survive. This was followed by a 1619 printing, and later an inclusion in the First Folio in 1623. The play was written shortly after Christopher Marlowe's... A Midsummer Night's Dream is first mentioned by Francis Meres in 1598, leading many scholars to date the play between 15. It is likely to have been written around the same period Romeo and Juliet was created. Much Ado About Nothing was first published in 1600 and was likely written in 1598. The 1600 printing was the only copy published during Shakespeare's lifetime, and bears the title inscription describing that the play "hath been sundrie times... Totaling eighteen stanzas of verse, Shakespeare's The Phoenix and Turtle was first distributed in 1601 as a component of Robert Chester's Love's Martyr or Rosalin's Complaint. Its subject includes the memorial service of a mythic phoenix and a... T’was a plague that gave birth to William Shakespeare’s long narrative poem “The Rape of Lucrece.” Between June 1592 and May 1594, acting companies were banished from London and the theater essentially became non-existent. Richard II was first printed in 1597 in a good quality text most likely taken from Shakespeare's manuscript. Two reprints in 1598 mention Shakespeare as the author. Later prints in 16 appear to be taken from the earlier versions, but... Richard III generated a great deal of interest both during and after Shakespeare's lifetime. It was published in quarto at least five times after being performed in 1592. Richard Burbage first played Richard the Third and made the "poisonous... , Shakespeare's most famous tragedy and one of the world's most enduring love stories, derives its plot from several sixteenth century sources. Shakespeare's primary inspiration for the play was Arthur Brooke's Shakespeare's sonnets comprise 154 poems in sonnet form that were published in 1609 but likely written over the course of several years. Evidence for their existence long preceding publication comes from a reference in Francis Mere's 1598 The Tempest first appeared in print as the first play in the 1623 Folio of Shakespeare. Throughout the play's history, the play has been variously regarded as a highlight of Shakespeare's dramatic output, as a representation of the essence of... has carried the reputation of being the worst play by the best playwright. Though it was a great success when first staged in the late sixteenth century, in 1687 an English producer, Edward Ravenscroft, declared Twelfth Night is one of the most commonly performed Shakesperean comedies, and was also successful during Shakespeare's lifetime. The first surviving account of the play's performance comes from a diary entry written early in 1602, talking about... was penned by William Shakespeare sometime between 15, thus placing it among the earliest of the Bard’s plays. The primary source for Shakespeare in writing this play appears to be a Spanish romance by Jorge... Shakespeare lived in a time of great transformation for Western Europe. New advances is science were overturning ancient ideas about astronomy and physics. The discovery of the Americas had transformed the European conception of the world.... Desenvolupament, implementació i suport de solucions professionals en el. my professional critical essay on shakespeare custom persuasive essay writing.
Help Me - Free Essays, Term Papers, Research Paper, and Book Report Othello is the famous play by William Shakespeare presenting the tragic and crucial part of Shakespeare’s writings. Othello is chiefly recognized as the characters tragedy. People who mention Othello in their critical commentary emphasize more on its main characters including Othello, Desdemona and lago and their bonds with one another. The tragic play, Othello also smartly represents the scholarly point of view of racism and race involving relationships as well as roles of gender. Stage adaptations, modern film and plays of Othello reflect strongly these critical and deep scholarly corners. The factor of race in Othello is strangely an extremely critical factor. Unfortunately, Shakespeare is at a great failure in making his intentions clear about Lagos perceptions neither does he fall light to exhibit Othello’s personal insecurities and fears. century, racism was said to be a largely accepted and approved aspect of general public’s life. Disappointingly, people of black color were considered brutally as savage. By presenting such thoughts in that era specially, Shakespeare came across societal pressures which he would have refrained if he wanted to. Even then, he does not depict the character of Othello inferior. In fact, the corrupt minded Roderigo and lago makes Othello sound disgraceful in their derogative conversation where Shakespeare presents Othello as a renowned, impressive and well spoken military leader-A leader who had successfully and confidently won the hand of aristocratic woman. But the tragedy arises when Lagos dishonestly tears apart the strong intellectually sound man. Maybe Shakespeare wanted to attract maximum audience by introducing such racial tension. Some people think that he was trying hard to have a handsome amount of sale on the tickets. Undoubtedly, Shakespeare outstandingly created difficult absorbing situations that thrust the crowd and its attention powerfully. It even had a disturbing yet mind harassing element arousing sexual jealously. This major and dominating part of Othello occupies viewer compete attention in the Elizabethan as well as modern times. The excellence of William Shakespeare’s play Othello can also be seen from a feminist viewpoint. An intriguing analysis of feminist allows people to judge and comprehend different women status and social values in Elizabethan society. The tragedy of Othello serves us with the opportunity of demonstrating the desires of patriarchal society in Elizabethan time along with the restriction and suppression of femininity. As we go into the depth of Othello, we witness the characters of women which are portrayed according to the expectation of Elizabethan society. Othello comprises of three women only; Emilia, Desdemona and Bianca. The conduct and behavior of these women are ideologically related to the expectations and hope of Elizabethan society and patriarchal society that Shakespeare has created.let’s observe the nature of women in Othello: Society relies heavily on these women. They are of the opinion that women like them must be supportive to their men and defend them even if their men actions or deeds are questionable. When Desdemona marries Othello, he explains his wide as sinning against all the rules and laws of nature. Its natural for the women to abide their fathers and husbands. It’s unnatural if they do anything apart from that. This was the Venetian concept which was agreeably the belief of pre Elizabethan and Elizabethan and was miraculously understood by the audience Shakespeare had stunningly attracted. The intellectuals view Othello as a bond regarding white domination while illustrating ways which show that he’s used by Venetian state in order to preserve its authorization over the black and utilized incredibly by the praiseworthy Shakespeare to depict dangers of crossbreeds. The audience has wondrously liked the play of Shakespeare and comes into terms with the concepts of different societies whether Venetian or Elizabethan. Shakespeare’s established Othello as powerful narrative. Lagos character was the most wicked, evil and overpowering as he succeeds in ruining the personality of Othello and leading him to kill his obedient wife Desdemona. The entire play was highly captivating and engaging for the public and the unexpected twist and turns made popular for all times to come. Free essays, research papers, term papers, and other writings on literature, science, history, politics, and more.
Timeline of Shakespeare criticism - pedia Free essays on Shakespeare Essays posted on this site were donated by anonymous users and are provided for informational use only. The free Shakespeare Essays research paper (Critical Analysis: Revenge in Hamlet essay) presented on this page should not be viewed as a sample of our on-line writing service. If you need fresh and competent research / writing on Shakespeare Essays, use the professional writing service offered by our company. A mysterious ghost drives Hamlet to grudgingly avenge the death of his father. The senseless slaying of Laertes' father causes him to resolutely take vengeance on his father's murderer. The wartime assassination of Fortinbras' father creates a need for retribution. William Shakespeare utilizes the reactions of Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras to explore the theme of revenge in Hamlet. Hamlet's reaction to his father's death exemplifies the theme of revenge. Hamlet's father, murdered by Claudius, appears to him and asks for revenge. Hamlet never totally accepts his father's challenge to seek revenge on Claudius. Shakespeare creates a situation in which Hamlet has an obligation to seek revenge as a final duty to his father, but Hamlet does not have a strong desire to seek revenge. Hamlet's vacillation between self-pity and determined rage exemplifies his situation. Hamlet, expressing his own desires, does not want to take revenge on Claudius, but has to comply as a duty: "O cursed spite / That ever I was born to set it right! In contrast, Hamlet angrily emphasizes that he must seek revenge: "Now could I drink hot blood / And do such bitter business as the day / Would quake to loot on" (397-399). Hamlet's wavering desire for retribution reinforces the theme of revenge. Laertes' reaction to his father's death also explores the theme of revenge. Shakespeare designs a situation in which Laertes' need for revenge is driven by illogical anger and grief. Laertes enthusiastically seeks revenge on Hamlet for killing Polonius. Laertes is determined to seek retribution caused by anger: "I am satisfied in nature, / Whose motive in this case should stir me most / To my revenge" (246-248). Laertes' need for revenge is also caused by his need for closure of his father's death. Laertes desires reconciliation of his father's death and inner peace. Laertes believes that the solace he desires will come through revenge: "But in my terms of honor / I stand aloof, and will no reconcilement / Till by some elder masters of known honor / I have a voice and precedent of peace" (248-251). Laertes' reaction to his father's death exposes revenge as a means to bring closure to Polonius' death. Shakespeare uses Laertes' reactions in Hamlet to explore the theme of revenge. Fortinbras' reaction to his father's death elucidates the theme of revenge. Shakespeare composes conditions in which Fortinbras' revenge is driven by honor. Fortinbras wishes to recover the territory that was lost when his father died: "Now, sir, young Fortinbras, / Of unimproved mettle hot and full, / ... But to recover of us, by strong hand / And terms compulsatory, those forsaid lands / So by his father lost" (I.i.109-117). Fortinbras feels that his father's death and loss of Norwegian land brings dishonor upon his father and upon himself. Therefore, he needs to recover the lands in order to regain his family's honor and the honor of the nation. Fortinbras believes that regaining the territory lost during the war will restore the honorable conditions in Norway that existed before the war. Fortinbras' honorable vengeance demonstrates another aspect of revenge. Fortinbras' behavior is employed by Shakespeare to probe the topic of revenge. The reactions of Hamlet, Laertes and Fortinbras allow William Shakespeare to delve deeply into the theme of revenge in Hamlet. Shakespeare demonstrates how rage emerges in many different forms. Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras bring the theme of revenge to life, revealing the complexity and richness of human feelings. Here you can easily hire a private writer in as early as 5 minutes. With 200 writers available 24/7, we can help with any written assignment (from simple essays to dissertations). Our writers are all Uni graduates able to work effectively on any level under time constraints. Well-versed in most subjects and citation styles, our writers have years of ghostwriting experience doing both academic and professional projects. You enter your details and deadline and get a personal writer who works with you on a one-to-one personal level until you are happy with the finished product. Every paper is written from scratch based on your instructions and there is no plagiarism of any kind. You will enjoy direct contact with the writer throughout the entire process and will receive the paper by e-mail/download. All content will be 100% original and there will be no plagiarism. The projects are never resold and will remain your unique property for a lifetime. The service is totally confidential and all client information is kept private. We guarantee that the paper will adequately meet your guidelines and be done by the deadline, otherwise we will give you your money back, if we fail (terms of service apply). Timeline of Shakespeare criticism is an informal term that presents a chronological collection of. the language of Shakespeare, creating a study that focused on extracting all the power of his literary texts, being used in studies on the printed.
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