Questions tagged [william-shakespeare]

Questions about the works of William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616), the legendary playwright and poet known as "The Bard", or his life as a writer and theatre shareholder. For questions about his plays, add a tag for the play (e.g. [hamlet]); for questions about his sonnets, add the tag [poetry].

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When/where was “Mem and Zin” first compared to “Romeo and Juliet”?

Mem and Zin is a Kurdish classic love story written down in 1692 and is based on a true story, laid down from generation to generation through oral tradition. It appears to be often compared to ...
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164 views

Do we have any solid evidence for how much material Middleton contributed to Macbeth?

In verbose's question How close to actual incantations are the witches' spells in Macbeth? he says It is worth mentioning that the latter [the witches' incantation from Act IV scene i] was possibly ...
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Do contemporary neo-pagan practices such as Wicca regard the portrayal of witchcraft in Shakespeare and Middleton as reliable sources?

A recent question asks whether the portrayal of witchcraft in Macbeth can be related to actual practices of those professing to be witches during Shakespeare's day. This companion question asks about ...
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How close to actual incantations are the witches' spells in Macbeth?

Answers to a recent question about the superstition surrounding Macbeth linked to a Royal Shakespeare Company web page that claimed: According to folklore, Macbeth was cursed from the beginning. A ...
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Since when has Shakespeare's “Scottish play” been considered unlucky?

In theatrical superstition, Shakespeare's play Macbeth is considered to be unlucky, to the extent that even saying its name more than necessary may bring bad luck: hence the tradition of actors ...
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What does “withal” mean in a line in Romeo and Juliet?

In Act 3, scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio speaks the following words: Good King of Cats, nothing but one of your nine lives, that I mean to make bold withal, and, as you shall use me hereafter, ...
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54 views

Where is dramatic irony present in “Macbeth”?

In a school book it is written Dramatic Irony or Irony of situation: It involves a situation in a play or story in which the audience knows the reality which the speaker or character is ignorant of. ...
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104 views

Meaning of “apparel oft proclaims the man” in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”?

Here is a speech of Polonius from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, act 1, scene 3: Give every man thine ear; but very few thy voice: Take each man’s censure: but reserve thy judgement: Costly thy habits as thy ...
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1answer
37 views

What did Eliot mean when he said “I would suggest that none of the plays of Shakespeare has a meaning”?

I was reading a grammar book in which the discussion was going on about whether to treat “none” as singular or plural, then the book gave this quote by T.S. Eliot: I would suggest that none of the ...
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Meaning of “But mercy is above this sceptred sway” from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice

In Act IV, Scene I of The Merchant of Venice, Portia says to Shylock these lines (rendered in blank verses) The quality of mercy is not strained It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the ...
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1answer
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Why was Miranda prohibited from telling her name to Ferdinand in “The Tempest”?

In Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, when Ferdinand was carrying up the logs, Miranda came up to him and tried to help him. They talked a little and then the conversation went as follows: Ferdinand: ...
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What was the relation between Stephano and Trinculo?

The two funny characters, Stephano and Trinculo, in Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, fight with each other when Ariel was speaking behind Trinculo when Caliban and Stephano were talking. I want to know ...
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How do these lines in Shakespeare's Sonnet 151 mean what they're supposed to?

How do these lines in Shakespeare's Sonnet 151 mean what they're supposed to? Here's the sonnet: Love is too young to know what conscience is, Yet who knows not conscience is born of love? Then, ...
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320 views

Why is there a courtroom scene?

The Merchant of Venice, Act 4 begins with a courtroom scene. During this scene, the contract between Antonio and Shylock is discussed. But why is there a courtroom scene at all? Was every contract ...
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1answer
40 views

“How say you then? Would heart of man once think it?” Hamlet Act 1 Scene 5

After Hamlet returns from speaking with the Ghost, he initially resists questioning about it, then suggests he will reveal what it said if the others can keep a secret, How say you then? Would heart ...
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207 views

Historical King Ina and Shakespeare's King Lear in the writings of Thomas Hardy

In Thomas Hardy's short(ish) story "The Withered Arm", one of his descriptions of the Wessex countryside features the following cryptic allusion: It was a long walk; thick clouds made the ...
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1answer
61 views

Was Shaw's “Arms and the Man” inspired by Shakespeare?

In Act III of the play Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw, Sergius says to Louka, If these hands ever touch you again, they shall touch my affianced bride. Those words reminded me of ...
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What does “nature” mean in “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin”?

When I first saw this quote on p. 139 in National Geographic's photo book Sublime Nature: Photographs That Awe and Inspire, I interpreted "nature" to mean flora and fauna. I interpreted ...
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789 views

In Macbeth, why is Fleance 'scaped?

I've always been curious about the precise phrasing of this line from Macbeth, spoken by the First Murderer: Most royal sir, Fleance is 'scaped. The meaning of this, and as far as I can tell the ...
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79 views

In what ways can Shakespeare's Pericles, Prince of Tyre be classified as a typical romance play?

In what ways can Shakespeare's Pericles, Prince of Tyre be classified as a typical romance play?
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566 views

How many children had Lady Macbeth?

In Macbeth, when the eponymous hero is hesitating to kill Duncan, Lady Macbeth urges him forward to the murder. She memorably says:      I have given suck, and know How tender 'tis to love the babe ...
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253 views

Who coined the term ‘Shakespearean sonnet’?

So far, we have had at least two questions about the early history of the English sonnet: Who introduced the sonnet to English literature? Wyatt or Shakespeare? Why are Shakespearean sonnets called ...
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154 views

Why are Shakespearean sonnets called Shakespearean sonnets?

The term Shakespearean sonnet is frequently used for sonnets with a particular verse pattern and rhyme scheme, namely ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. But from what I can find with a little reading online, this ...
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215 views

How to figure out if something is iambic pentameter?

I have an assignment where I have to write a Shakespearean sonnet for my professor (who is very strict about the formatting of the assignment). Are there any ways/tricks in which I can figure out if ...
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Why does Coriolanus describe the common people as many-headed?

Coriolanus describes the people and tribunes as many-headed in multiple instances. "[H]e himself stuck not to call us the many-headed / multitude" (2.3.16-17). Here the citizens discuss ...
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Why is Macbeth's “vaulting ambition” so important and famous?

What does 'vaulting' mean here? Macbeth uses the term in Act I, scene 7: I have no spur To prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself And falls on the other. ...
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342 views

What did Shakespeare mean in King Richard III when he said that ‘G’ Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be?

Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous, By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams, To set my brother Clarence and the King In deadly hate, the one against the other: And if King Edward be as true and ...
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1answer
120 views

Resources for determining the meter of a line in Shakespeare

Most of Shakespeare's plays are written in iambic pentameter,‎ which is part of what makes the verse so powerful.‎ However,‎ due to differences between different manuscripts of the text, and words ...
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144 views

Why does Richard step down in Shakespeare's Richard II

In Shakespeare's Richard II,‎ Henry Bolingbroke raises an army and comes to demand King Richard return his ancestral lands.‎ However,‎ he claims that if they are restored,‎ he will return to being a ...
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910 views

Meaning of “Chaos” spoken by Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III)?

In Shakespeare's King Henry 6 part 3, we are truly introduced to that devilishly delightful Richard for the first time by means of his first and longest soliloquy wherein he introduces to the audience ...
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1answer
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What is the message of Macbeth in terms of masculinity?

In class we talked about the inverse of gender roles in Macbeth. The only way for Lady Macbeth to gain power is through Macbeth using her rhetoric. But what about Macbeth? Do you think that the ...
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Macbeth is a play about power, what quote demonstrates this?

One of the topics of Shakespeare's Macbeth is power. In the play, it has been demonstrated that one can use power to achieve what they want. I am unable to find good, powerful quotes to prove this ...
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What is “the waste” and why is it “no whit lesser than thy land” in “Richard II”?‎

What do these lines mean, in Shakespeare's Richard II (act II, scene 1)? A thousand flatterers sit within thy crown, Whose compass is no bigger than thy head; And yet, incaged in so small a verge, ...
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Is there a commonly accepted way to measure the relative “popularity” of Shakespeare plays?

A mention in this answer of the "popularity" of Richard III, compared with some of Shakespeare's other history plays, made me wonder if this claim can be quantified. Of course there are ...
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Should Henry 6, Part 3 be read prior to reading Richard III?

For context, this reading is entirely devoted to pleasure. I am not analyzing (academically) nor performing the plays, and my desire to read the plays derive completely from my profound affection ...
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In the end, was no one loyal to Macbeth and willing to fight for him, and why?

At the end of Shakespeare's play Macbeth, when England invaded Scotland, was no one left to fight for Macbeth? I was wondering why? I also can't find good quotes to prove this point.
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What does the Idiom “pound of flesh” mean to “Shylock”? Was this a sense of humor of Shylock?

Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, hates Antonio. Bassanio, in need of money, approaches Antonio for a loan so that he can pursue Portia, as he is in love with her, and wants to marry her. Antonio at that ...
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The motif of Tom O' Bedlam

The 17th-century motif of Tom O' Bedlam has always been one that I hold much affection and wonder for (as can be assumed by the choice of username on my part.) The motif most famously makes an ...
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Which critic first claimed that Antigonus's dream was evidence of an earlier version of The Winter's Tale?

In an earlier question I asked, What evidence is there that Shakespeare revised The Winter's Tale after 1611? One of the arguments cited in the answer comes from Christopher Hardman's study ...
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Is there any evidence that Shakespeare studied or read classical rhetoric?

Several characters in Shakespeare's plays have strong skills in rhetoric and oration: for example, Mark Antony in the play Julius Caesar, who is able to sway the fickle populace of Rome from ...
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Meaning of the words “Ambition should be made of sterner stuff” from Julius Caesar

What is the meaning of Antony's words "Ambition should be made of sterner stuff" in Act III of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar?
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Where did Samuel Johnson say Macbeth is wholly reviled?

The Wikipedia article about Shakespeare's Macbeth contains a section on reading the play as a tragedy of character. This section contains the following unsourced statement: Johnson asserted that ...
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Is there any evidence that Shakespeare ever used a Spanish source for any of his works?

Scholarly editions of Shakespeare's works always discuss real or potential sources for the plots and other aspects of a play or poem. Shakespeare invented very few plots and used sources such as ...
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Is there any evidence that William Shakespeare influenced Lope de Vega?

During the Spanish Golden Age of the arts, one of the key figures in Spanish literature was Lope de Vega, a prolific author of plays, poetry, and novels. He was approximately contemporary with William ...
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Is there any evidence that Lope de Vega influenced William Shakespeare?

During the Spanish Golden Age of the arts, one of the key figures in Spanish literature was Lope de Vega, a prolific author of plays, poetry, and novels. He was approximately contemporary with William ...
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202 views

Does Othello have impostor syndrome, or any other problem because his background is different?

Is there any implication in Shakespeare's text that Othello had impostor syndrome, or any feeling of inadequacy (in love, or another aspect of interpersonal relationships) because his background is ...
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958 views

Why are there three different versions of the “solid/sullied/sallied flesh” line in Hamlet?

While looking up about the passage asked about in this previous question, I noticed that there are different versions of the same line in Hamlet, Act I Scene II, line 333: O that this too too solid ...
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What is the myth-making school of Shakespeare criticism?

In Inga-Stina Ewbank's essay "The Triumph of Time in The Winter's Tale" (Review of English Literature, 5 (1964); reprinted in Shakespeare: The Winter's Tale. A Casebook, edited by Kenneth ...
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“Too too sullied flesh” in Hamlet. Why twice?

Oh, that this too too sullied flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew (Hamlet, Act I, Scene II) Why does "too" occur twice? It is one in a series of repetitions which occur ...
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Why does Horatio answer “a piece of him” when asked if Horatio is there?

In Hamlet, Act 1: Scene 1, when Bernardo asks if Horatio is there, Horatio responds "A piece of him": MARCELLUS. Holla! Bernardo! BERNARDO. Say, What, is Horatio there? HORATIO. A piece of ...