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Questions tagged [william-shakespeare]

Questions about William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616), the legendary playwright and poet known as "The Bard" or any of his works.

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Why is “…Then fall, Caesar” always left out when talking about Caesar's last words?

From this link, DECIUS BRUTUS: Great Caesar, CAESAR: Doth not Brutus bootless kneel? CASCAL: Speak, hands for me! CASCA first, then the other Conspirators and BRUTUS stab CAESAR ...
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The Merchant of Venice

İs there any short version of the merchant of Venice to play? We are going to play it in our class but the problem is that the story is too long and we don't have enough time for all of it. I need a ...
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In the Hollow Crown poem, what does the line “Cover your heads” imply?

There is a line "Cover your heads", in the poem about the Hollow Crown in Richard II. I need a paraphrase for this line. What does Shakespeare imply by this line in the context of this poem?
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Is Caliban of Shakespeare's “The Tempest” based on a real life character?

In the book ‘Over the Edge of the World’ the author Laurence Bergreen has described Ferdinand Magellan's daring circumnavigation of the globe in the sixteenth century was a three-year odyssey filled ...
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What does the line “Excellent, i' faith, of the chameleon's dish. I eat the air, promise-crammed. You cannot feed capons so.” mean, from Hamlet?

“Excellent, i' faith, of the chameleon's dish. I eat the air, promise-crammed. You cannot feed capons so.” Hamlet, act 3, scene 2 What does this sentence mean? What are the chameleon, air and ...
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“What a piece of work is man” - echo in The Lord of the Rings?

In The Fellowship of the Ring, after Gandalf tells Frodo the story of the One Ring and challenges him to destroy it, Frodo looks at the ring and we read this description: how rich and beautiful was ...
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335 views

In the Sonnet 29 by Shakespeare, does the speaker pity himself over lack of skill as an artist or contentment?

Here is the "Sonnet 29" by Shakespeare. When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state, And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, And look upon ...
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Name of Shakespeare play in which a woman both saves and punishes a man

I'm trying to remember a quote I read from a Shakespeare book, but it has been at least 10 years so my memory of it is quite low. The little I remember is a man that is trying to hide enters a woman'...
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Did King Richard III prove a villain because nature chose him to be a disabled person?

In the play King Richard III by Shakespeare did King Richard III become a villain because of nature selected him to be a disabled person (if we look at the villainous plot of the villain from his ...
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Why was Ophelia psychologically ill in the Shakespearean play Hamlet?

In the Shakespearean play Hamlet Ophelia became psychologically ill. Was it because of Hamlet's behavior or how society treated her or what's the real reason behind her sudden illness? Did ...
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Does Shakespeare steer the reader's sympathy towards Venus or towards Adonis?

In the narrative poem Venus and Adonis, Shakespeare reuses a story from Ovid's Metamorphoses (which he often used as a source of inspiration), but gives it an original spin: Venus's desire is ...
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How many Elizabethan or Jacobean manuscripts of Shakespeare sonnets have come down to us?

When Thomas Thorpe published Shake-speares Sonnets [sic!] in 1609, the sonnets (or at least a subset of them) had already circulated in manuscript for some time. Francis Meres already mentioned these ...
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Meaning of “And do not drop in for an after-loss” in Shakespeare's sonnet 90

Sonnet 90 by Shakespeare: Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now; Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross, Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow, And do not drop in for an ...
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In Early Modern English, how did 'see' semantically shift to mean 'note/record'?

John McWhorter PhD Linguistics (Stanford). Words on the Move (2016). p. 86. Emboldening mine.   Commonly we are told that Shakespeare's language is "high," such that the challenge can be met by ...
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Identify a possible quote by Shakespeare

To those familiar with Shakespeare, do you know where this phrase comes from? Robust grass endures mighty winds; loyal ministers emerge through ordeal
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Origin of symbolic interpretation of Prospero's breaking of his staff?

At the end of The Tempest, which is generally believed to be the last plays that Shakesepare wrote alone, Prospero breaks his staff and drowns his book. This has often been read as Shakespeare telling ...
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In Margeret Atwood's “Hag-Seed,” where is Caliban?

Margeret Atwood's Hag-Seed is a metafictional retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Many elements of The Tempest are clearly recognizable (e.g. Felix is very obviously Prospero), while others have ...
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What texts are the sources for the difference between “sometime were” and “some time are” in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar?

The Pelican Julius Caesar has I.2.140 as men at sometime were masters of their fates (even noting the archaic meaning of "sometime" as at one time) while the Arden Julius Caesar has it as men ...
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Comparison between beatrice of Much Ado About Nothing and Offred of The Handmaids tale

Compare and contrast the way Offred in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Beatrice in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing view romantic love. Discuss 2 similarities and 2 differences (...
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Comparing frequency of word use across Shakespeare's plays

There are numerous concordances that list all of the words, and their frequency of use within each of Shakespeare's plays. However, I am interested in the presence and frequency of use of words across ...
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Why didn't it occur to Othello that Iago might be upset about being passed over for the promotion?

The entire storyline of Othello is precipitated by Iago's resentment over being passed over for a promotion in favor of Cassio. That being said, why doesn't it seem to occur to Othello that Iago might ...
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How did Theseus woo Hippolyta by doing her injuries?

In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Theseus tells Hippolyta: THESEUS: Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword And won thy love doing thee injuries, But I will wed thee in another key, With pomp, ...
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Did Shakespeare err in using Ephesus as a port setting?

Shakespeare's play The Comedy of Errors is set in the town of Ephesus, which is apparently a seaport with ships within walking distance of where the action takes place: DROMIO OF SYRACUSE: Master,...
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What does the Malvolio subplot add to Twelfth Night?

Most of Shakespeare's comedy Twelfth Night is about the group of main characters Viola, Sebastian, Orsino, and Olivia, and the affections requited and unrequited between them. But there's also a ...
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Watchman characters in Much Ado About Nothing

Are the "first watchman" and "watchman" in Much Ado About Nothing actually the same character, or are they different? As Shakespeare doesn't pay much attention to minor characters, I couldn't figure ...
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Looking for an essay comparing Beethoven to Hamlet

I read an essay in school--I think a survey course on British literature--that compared the music of Beethoven to the soliloquies of Hamlet; the essay said that Beethoven's music is "spoken" privately,...
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What's the meaning of the text in the scroll that the Prince of Arragon finds in the silver casket in Act 2, Scene 9 of The Merchant of Venice?

This is the exact text (The Merchant of Venice, Act 2 Scene 9): Arragon: The fire seven times tried this, Seven times tried that judgment is, That did never choose amiss. Some ...
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In the 1983 adaptation of The Merchant of Venice, why doesn't Portia know Jessica's name?

The 1983 National Theater production of The Merchant of Venice has an interesting take on a moment in act 3 scene 4. According to Shakespeare's script, Portia is giving Lorenzo instructions, and in ...
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Why does Anne call Richard a Hedgehog in Act I, Scene II of Richard III?

This is probably an easy question, but why does Anne call Richard a Hedgehog in Act I, Scene II of Richard III: Dost grant me, hedgehog? then, God grant me too Thou mayst be damned for that ...
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Is Macbeth or Lady Macbeth the real villain in Shakespeare's play?

In Shakespeare's play Macbeth, it is Macbeth himself, the eponymous antihero, who meets the witches upon the heath and first conceives the idea to murder his king. It is he who kills Duncan, seizes ...
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Do Guildenstern and Rosencrantz deserve to die?

In Shakespeare's play Hamlet (which you can read online), Hamlet is on a voyage with his two friends, Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, to give a letter to a foreign ruler. However, Hamlet discovers that ...
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Is Harry Hotspur portrayed as a villain in Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part I?

Having studied Shakespeare's play Henry IV, Part I and seen a performance of it in Stratford, I'm still uncertain of how we're meant to view the character of Henry Percy (Harry Hotspur). Clearly he's ...
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Tudor or Jacobean plays that are sequels to a Shakespeare play?

William Shakespeare wrote around 40 plays (depending on how the Shakespeare canon is defined). Except for some of his history plays (Henry IV, Henry VI) and possibly The Merry Wives of Windsor (not a ...
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Why do the witches in Macbeth rarely speak in iambic pentameter?

Shakespeare is pretty well known for writing in iambic pentameter. One important exception to this are the witches in Macbeth, who speak in everything from trochaic meter: Double, double toil and ...
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How do Hamlet's thoughts and doubts about the afterlife affect him?

In Hamlet, there are many references to the afterlife, god, and what the consequences of his actions are. My question is this: Did Hamlet's pre-conceptions about the afterlife ultimately affect his ...
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Is the fight between Mercutio and Tybalt a joke, or is it serious?

I'm watching two adaptations of Romeo and Juliet that take two different approaches to the play: Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film Romeo + Juliet and Zeffirelli's 1968 film Romeo and Juliet. There are some ...
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Why is Richard portrayed without a hunchback in the 1955 Laurence Olivier adaptation of Richard III?

If we go by the text of Shakespeare's Richard III, Richard has a hunchback. In Act I, scene 3, line 246, Queen Margaret describes Richard as a "poisonous bunch-back'd toad." And in act IV, scene 4, ...
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Why is Richard a hunchback in Kevin Spacey's portrayal of Richard III?

I'm watching Kevin Spacey's production of Shakespeare's Richard III. Here's a link to a youtube video with some highlights. One of the production decisions that I don't really understand is the ...
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Why doesn't Hamlet like improvisation?

In Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Hamlet has a famous monologue about how to properly perform a play. During one portion of the monologue, he has some harsh words for people who improvise: O, reform it ...
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Why does Macbeth move to and fortify Dunsinane?

The witches tell Macbeth that he will be defeated only if Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane. This should give Macbeth a very good reason to avoid Dunsinsane, so that his enemies never focus on it. If I ...
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Why didn't Hamlet's modifications to the theater troupe's play “tip off” anyone else?

When a theater troupe visits Hamlet's castle, he makes some... rather pointed changes to their show, which now includes a murder much like the one his uncle performed. Why didn't anyone else (...
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How old is Romeo?

While answering a different question, I wanted to find out Romeo's age in the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet. It's well known that Juliet is 13, and generally assumed that Romeo is older (hence the ...
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What does Holofernes deer epitaph from Love's Labour's Lost mean?

I find it a bit hard to understand this epitaph of the deer in Love's Labour's Lost. The preyful princess pierced and prick'd a pretty pleasing pricket; Some say a sore; but not a sore, till ...
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Benvolio and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet

What do the characters of Benvolio and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet symbolize, if anything? Mercutio's character mainly provides jokes, and then, in his hot-headedness, is slain by Tybalt. Benvolio ...
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Analysing a quote from Much Ado About Nothing

I have analyzed a quote from the play Much Ado About Nothing with the question, "How is reputation shown in the play?" Leonato is a king and does not want his reputation to be ruined due to the awful ...
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Shakespeare and Iambic pentameter [duplicate]

My question is, 'Is Iambic pentameter just an illusion?' When I learned Shakespeare in school, my teacher emphasized on the thing called 'iambic pentameter'. That goes like 'du Dum du Dum......' But ...
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Shakespeare making fun of Shakespeare: listing all of the self-deprecating meta-references in Shakespeare's plays [closed]

One of the things I've noticed through reading Shakespeare is that a lot of his plays include a meta-reference making fun of the play. For example, in Twelfth Night Fabian says "If this were played ...
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Do a lot of Shakespeare characters break the fourth wall?

Ralph Crown mentions in this answer that a particular line in the play Hamlet could be interpreted as Hamlet breaking the fourth wall, and implies that this is common in Shakespeare plays: Another [...
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The meaning of “The rest is silence” in “Hamlet”

Hamlet's very last words are The rest is silence. What do they actually mean? This being Shakespeare, I reckon the significance of these words cannot be only the banal comparison between death and ...
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Is there any evidence for a gay relationship in The Merchant of Venice?

A couple of years ago, I went to a stage performance of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, in which Antonio and Bassanio were portrayed as being in a gay relationship together since before the ...