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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Any inspiration for the statue revival scene in Shakespeare's “The Winter's Tale”?

Shakespeare's "problem play" The Winter's Tale is largely inspired by Robert Greene's Pandosto written a few decades earlier. One of the major differences between Pandosto and The Winter's Tale is in ...
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26 views

Why is the scene in which Leontes recognises his daughter merely reported?

One of the most striking moments in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale is the scene in which Leontes's wife Hermione, whom both he and the audience thought dead, turns out to be alive (Act V, scene 3). ...
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At what point did Leontes become jealous?

The Winter's Tale, one of Shakespeare's last plays, depicts the character of Leontes, King of Sicily, as someone who suddenly becomes jealous. Scholars and readers have often criticised the play ...
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Why the name “The Winter's Tale” for Shakespeare's play?

The Shakespeare play The Winter's Tale does not actually take place entirely in winter (unlike, say, A Midsummer Night's Dream where almost all the action does indeed take place on midsummer night). ...
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What evidence is there that Shakespeare revised The Winter's Tale after 1611?

Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale was probably written in the years 1610-1611, making it one of the author's last plays. The play's text was first published in the "First Folio" of 1623, seven years ...
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Meaning of “look about you: know you any here?” in “All's Well That Ends Well”

Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well, Act IV, Scene 3, contains the following line (Online Shakespeare, line 2390): so, look about you: know you any here? What is the meaning of these words?
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72 views

In “A Midsummer Night's Dream”, do opposites attract?

In Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream, do opposites attract? or do similars attract? What evidence is there either way? I thought about how the characters are opposites in many ways, ...
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How can we reconcile the bareness of Shakespearean stages with the complex stage directions of The Tempest?

I learned recently that in Shakespeare's day, stage dressing was often minimal. This makes sense given that there was a wide variety of theatre styles, the stages were often uncovered and surrounded ...
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How did Shakespeare get away with staging witchcraft in his plays such as in Othello, Macbeth, or The Tempest?

The themes of witchcraft and magic loom large over Shakespeare’s later plays. While there is no overt use of magic and spells in Othello, per se, as compared to the witches in Macbeth conjuring on ...
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What is the difference between Zeffirelli movie and Shakespeare's play in Mercutio and Tybalt fight

What is the difference between the Zeffirelli film Romeo and Juliet and the original Shakespeare play, in the fight between Mercutio and Tybalt?
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How can a “desk” be considered a secret keeper?

I was reading Hamlet, Act II, scene 2, when I encountered the following lines: .....what might you, Or my dear majesty your queen here, think, If I had play'd the desk or table-book, Or given ...
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How might Shakespeare have become familiar with Dante's work?

A recent question on our site asked whether Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing contained a reference to Dante's Divine Comedy. In his answer, Matt Thrower mentions Beatrice, the name of both a ...
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171 views

Dante's Inferno reference in Much Ado About Nothing

My professor asked me this for an assignment. It was to identify a Dante's Inferno reference in Much Ado About Nothing. I don't know what he meant by this. Where is this reference? Does not have to be ...
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What kind of language features appear in Lady Macbeth's line “too full o' the milk of human kindness”?

In Macbeth Act I Scene 5, Lady Macbeth says the following: Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be What thou art promised: yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o' the milk of human ...
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What does Lady Macbeth mean by “what thou art promised”?

In Macbeth Act I Scene 5, Lady Macbeth says the following: Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be What thou art promised: yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o' the milk of human ...
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53 views

Who was the first scholar who used the term Henriad to refer to a subset of Shakespeare's history plays?

A recent chatroom discussion about how to tag the question Portrayal of Henry Bolingbroke through different Shakespeare plays led to the question what "Henriad" actually means. According to ...
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111 views

Meaning of “glimpses of the moon” in “Hamlet”

I read this in Hamlet act I scene IV:                                 What may this mean, That thou, dead corpse, again in complete steel Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon... I'm unable ...
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31 views

Portrayal of Henry Bolingbroke through different Shakespeare plays

King Henry IV of England, also known as Henry Bolingbroke, appears in three Shakespeare plays, with two of them being named after him. In Richard II, he can be seen as the main antagonist of the play, ...
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91 views

1 Henry IV Act 5, Scene 3: “God keep the lead out of me”

Henry IV Part 1, Act 5, Scene 3: Falstaff says ...God keep the lead out of me, I need no more weight than my own bowels. Is this referring to lead bullets? I was under the impression these ...
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40 views

Is Hamlet a misogynist?

Clearly, Hamlet had his issues with the women in his life including Ophelia. Would you say Hamlet is/isn't a misogynist?
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103 views

Why does Dogberry use malapropisms in Much Ado About Nothing?

In Shakespeare's play, Much Ado About Nothing, Dogberry consistently uses malapropisms. What are the creative ideas behind giving him this style of speech? Does he use it on purpose? What's his ...
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How does the quote from Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona connect with Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles?

Thomas Hardy's novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles begins with the epigraph ... Poor wounded name! My bosom as a bed Shall lodge thee.—W. Shakespeare. The source of this quote is one of Shakespeare'...
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What does this verse said by Portia in Julius Caesar mean?

In Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar when Brutus had planned everything and the night before the assassination he was in his room he had a little conversation with his wife Portia. During the ...
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Why do we get some explicit references in Shakespearean plays that are meant for something else?

First of all, by “explicit contents” I really mean the that thing. In Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar when Brutus had planned everything and the night before the assassination he was in his room ...
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What was Shakespeare's inspiration for the several cross-dressing episodes in his plays?

I've heard that Shakespeare borrowed ideas from the events and other literary works from the time. He uses cross-dressing as major plot devices in several plays. Where did this come from?
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Shakespeare's vasty deep: was “vasty” a recognised variant of “vast” at the time?

From Shakespeare's Henry IV Part 1, Act III Scene 1: GLENDOWER: I can call spirits from the vasty deep. HOTSPUR: Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call ...
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Why does Shakespeare sometimes use “do” with the verbs in his plays?

Sometimes Shakespeare uses "do" with a verb even though it isn't necessary. For example, in Macbeth, Act One, Scene 2, line 10, the captain states, "As two spent swimmers that do cling together". Why ...
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159 views

The Unity of Action in Shakespeare's “The Tempest”

Many critics claim that Shakespeare's play The Tempest follows all three classical unities. For example: The play observes the three Unities: the action is confined to parts of the same location, ...
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129 views

Do the witches in Macbeth ever mention “eye of bat and tongue of frog”?

For a high school course in English literature, I'm reading Macbeth. On a basic multiple choice question about Act IV, scene I, I am given the following: The Witches threw into the cauldron ...
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97 views

How is it possible for Antonio to go bankrupt?

In The Merchant Of Venice by William Shakespeare, Act I Scene I Antonio : Believe me, no: I thank my fortune for it,                My ventures are ...
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What does Cassius mean when he refers to his mother?

CASSIUS: Have not you love enough to bear with me, When that rash humor which my mother gave me Makes me forgetful? W. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, ACT 4 SCENE 3 What is Cassius ...
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86 views

What is meant by 'patient' in Hamlet's famous soliloquy?

The insolence of office and the spurns That patient merit of the unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin? Is there a veracious etymological basis for the ...
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304 views

What's the technique in 'To be thus is nothing, but to be safely thus.' from Macbeth?

I see the obvious use of repetition but I felt like there might be some more specific type of repetition/technique to comment about here
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618 views

What's the meaning of the last two sentences in Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 3?

Here, Malcolm is talking to Macduff as they are now determined to overthrow Macbeth. Generally speaking, I know what is going on but I'm not sure what Malcolm means by "cheer" and "night" that never ...
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249 views

Why would Hamlet fear suicide if he knew of life after death?

Prince Hamlet describes his fear of death in poetic phrases. Prince Hamlet: To be, or not to be, that is the question: ... To die, to sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there's the rub, For in that ...
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What is the source of “You can achieve a lot with hate, but even more with love” (Shakespeare?)

I have seen a postcard with a quote "You can achieve a lot with hate, but even more with love", signed "Shakespeare", in a French bookshop. The quote is not exact, because I have translated it back ...
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What's the meaning of “give someone the lie” in Macbeth?

As I have noticed there are multiple interpretations of the following lines from William Shakespeare 's Macbeth. For example, "drink gave thee the lie" has been interpreted as diversely as "deceived ...
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400 views

Context of “swifter than arrow from the Tartar's bow”?

I go, I go; look how I go, Swifter than arrow from the Tartar's bow. -- Puck, Act III Scene II, A Midsummer Night's Dream This is a well-known line from a Shakespeare play, but did Shakespeare ...
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The meaning of “Lovers' Food”

This question is regarding a dialogue of Hermia in Scene 1 of Act 1 of 'The Midsummer Night's Dream' by William Shakespeare where she mentions, "From lovers' food till morrow deep midnight." Please ...
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What effect did the knocking at the gate in “Macbeth” have on Thomas De Quincey?

In Thomas De Quincey's 1823 essay "On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth", he describes the effect of the knocking at the gate (Macbeth, Act II, Scene 3) on him when he was a boy: "it [the knocking] ...
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Any textual evidence from Shakespeare's Macbeth regarding Macbeth's oath to kill the king?

In act 1, scene 7, Lady Macbeth encourages Macbeth to keep his promise and kill king Duncan, but is there any textual evidence from the play regarding his earlier oath to kill the king? Here, for ...
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123 views

If Hamlet, being a prince, outranked Horatio, why did he address him as “sir”?

Hamlet Act 5 Scene 2: HAMLET: So much for this, sir. Now shall you see the other. You do remember all the circumstance? HORATIO: Remember it, my lord! Horatio replies to Hamlet calling ...
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Was Edmund in the Narnia series loosely inspired by Edmund in King Lear?

In King Lear, Edmund, resentful of his inferior status to his older brother, betrays his family and frames his brother as a traitor. This strikes me as not being at all unlike what Edmund does in The ...
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Did William Shakespeare hide things in his writings?

I was reading Shakespeare's third sonnet, and I noticed something funny. I am going to put in bold all the capital letters in the sonnet itself. Sonnet III When fortie Winters shall ...
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Which of these sources is right about “The Tempest”?

This is part of a quote by Ferdinand in the beginning of scene 1 of act 3 of "The Tempest": But these sweet thoughts do even refresh my labours, Most busy, least when I do it. According to ...
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How is Hamlet different from a conventional Elizabethan revenge play?

It is well known that Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy established the genre of revenge tragedy in Elizabethan drama. The play contains many elements such as the appearance of a ghost, a play within ...
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131 views

Inconsistencies in the character of Horatio in Hamlet

In the Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet, Horatio is a friend and "fellow student" of the eponymous prince. A meticulous reading of the text will reveal certain apparent inconsistencies in the depiction ...
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361 views

What does Hamlet mean when he calls Claudius a “villain”?

In the Shakespearian tragedy Hamlet, prince Hamlet repeatedly calls Claudius a "villain". Here is a quote from Act 2 Scene 2 : Bloody, bawdy villain!Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous,kindless ...
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165 views

Romeo and Juliet “Which then most sought where most might not be found”

What literary devices and rhetorical techniques does Shakespeare use in the following passage? Benvolio. I, measuring his affections by my own, which then most sought where most might not be ...
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328 views

Why did the Witches give the prophecy in the first place?

The 3 Witches prophecied to Macbeth that he would be king, thus setting the play into motion. Why did they do that? Did they realize that they were basically giving a self-fulfilling prophecy, and ...