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Introduction :Four centuries after he wrote them, the

works of William Shakespeare continue to entertain and


intrigue audiences around the world. Shakespeares genius
permanently shaped the English language, while his
knowledge of the human mind and heart speaks to us
across the years.
Life: William Shakespeare was born in April 1564 in the
town of Stratford-upon-Avon. When he was eighteen, he
married Anne Hathaway. The couple had three children
their older daughter Susanna and the twins Hamnet
and Judith. Hamnet, Shakespeares only son, died in
childhood. The bulk of Shakespeares working life was
The

actor:

Shakespeare

like

others authors, acted in his own

spent, not in Stratford, but in the theater world of


London, where he established himself professionally by

was

the early 1590s. He enjoyed success not only as a

considered indecorous for the

playwright, but as an actor and shareholder in an acting

women to act on the stage so,

company.

plays.

At

the

time

it

until 1660, all womens parts in


the English theatre were played
by young men.

Sometime

between

1610

and

1613,

Shakespeare is thought to have retired from the Stage


and returned home to Stratford, where he died in 1616.

The Elizabethan theatre:


The Elizabethan theatre had no roof; it had two or
three rows of balconies , the stage where the actors
acted and a ground floor where the audience stood.
If it rained, the actors and the audience got wet
Both rich and poor people went to the theatre at the
time . The rich seated in the balconies and the poor
stood on the ground floor. The most famous were:
'The Theatre' , The Rose ,Blackfriars ,The Curtain
Theatre, the Globe Theatre.
The work: Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets.

Shakespeares plays are

traditionally divided into the three categories of the First Folio*: comedies, histories, and
tragedies.
* it is the 1623 published collection of William Shakespeare's plays.

COMEDIES:
All's Well That Ends Well -As You Like It
Labors Lost

-The Comedy of Errors Cymbeline - Love's

Measure for Measure -The Merchant of Venice - The Merry Wives of

Windsor - A Midsummer Night's Dream - Much Ado About Nothing -

Pericles - The

Taming of the Shrew - The Tempest - Troilus and Cressida - The Twelfth Night - The Two

Gentlemen of Verona - The Two Noble Kinsmen - The Winter's Tale


TRAGEDIES :
Anthony and Cleopatra - Coriolanus - Hamlet - Julius Caesar - King Lear - Macbeth
- Othello -Romeo and Juliet - Timon of Athens - Titus Andronicus
The Shakespearian comedy characteristics:
A Shakespearean comedy is one that has a
happy ending, usually involving marriages
between the characters, and a tone and
style that is more light-hearted than
Shakespeare's other plays. In the comedies
the main characteristics are:

A greater emphasis on situations

A struggle of young lovers to


overcome difficulty

Separation and re-unification

Deception among characters


(especially mistaken identity)

A clever servant

Tension between characters, often


within a family

Multiple, intertwining plots

Use of all styles of comedy

Pastoral element (courtly people living


an idealized, rural life)

Happy Ending.

Characteristics of a Shakespearean
Tragedy:
The following points are a summation of a
typical Shakespearean tragedy.

Tragedy is focused on one person


the tragic hero.

The story is essentially one of


exceptional suffering and calamity
leading to the death of the hero.

The hero undergoes a sudden


reversal of fortune.

The condition of the hero arouses


emotions of pity and fear in the
audience.

Shakespeare often introduces


abnormal conditions of the mind
(such as insanity, somnambulism, or
hallucinations). Supernatural
elements are often introduced as
well.

There is an inner conflict and


torment in the soul of the tragic
hero.

This evil is eventually destroyed and


the moral

order of the world is reestablished.

The historical plays are set in the


period of English history leading up
to his own day, specifically the
Plantagenet and Tudor Dynasties.
The history plays cover the time
period between 1199-1547.

HISTORIES:
King John
1

Richard II

Henry IV, Part 2

Henry IV, Part

Henry V

Henry VI, - part 1 - Henry VI, Part 2

Henry VI, Part 3 -

Richard III

The sonnets: The Sonnets are


Shakespeare's most popular works, and a
few of them, such as Sonnet 18 (Shall I

The majority of the sonnets (1-126)

compare thee to a summer's day), Sonnet

are addressed to a young man, with

116 (Let me not to the marriage of true

whom the poet has an intense

minds), and Sonnet 73 (That time of year


thou mayst in me behold), have become the
most widely-read poems in all of English
literature. Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets,
likely composed over an extended period

relationship. The poet spends the first


seventeen sonnets trying to convince
the young man to marry and have
children. Many of the remaining
sonnets in the young man sequence
focus on the power of poetry and pure
love to defeat death.

from 1592 to 1598.


The final sonnets (127-154) are addressed to a woman known to modern readers as the
dark lady. The Dark Lady is so called because the poems make it clear that she has black
hair and dusky skin. As with the Youth, there have been many attempts to identify her
with a real historical individual.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespearean_comedy
http://www.folger.edu/template.cfm?cid=865&CFID=8467181&CFTOKEN=59903246
http://kilby.sac.on.ca/faculty/kramon/English/Grade%2010%20Files/Macbeth
%20Files/Characteristics%20of%20a%20Shakespearean%20tragedy.htm
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-shakespeares-history-plays.htm
http://shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/sonnetintroduction.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare's_sonnets