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

What's the technique in these (half-)lines from Macbeth?                                   To be thus is nothing, but to be safely thus. They are from Act 3 Scene 1. Macbeth is insecure because of ...
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Which adaptation of Richard II the John of Gaunt's speech played in Tom Hiddleston's Jaguar Commercial at the beginning comes from?

Starring Tom Hiddleston, at the beginning of this Jaguar advertisement: Art Of Villainy With Tom Hiddleston - Jaguar Ad, a recording of John of Gaunt's speech (This royal throne of kings, this scepter’...
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2answers
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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 ...
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3answers
180 views

Romeo and Juliet: Why is honey loathsome in its deliciousness?

Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scene 6: ...The sweetest honey Is loathsome in its own deliciousness. And in the taste confounds the appetite Most interpretations online seem to suggest that honey is bad for ...
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1answer
857 views

Shakespeare King Henry IV Part 1: What is the "money joke" in these lines?

In Act 2 Scene 4, Prince Hal takes interest in a noble man as a "joke about money". My text (Cambridge) explains that a noble was worth one third of £1 sterling and a royal worth half of £1. ...
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Are there collections of pre-20th-century Shakespeare criticism, esp. focusing on individual plays?

Are there any good, comprehensive primary source readers for criticism of Shakespeare and his individual plays, where the criticism is from before the 20th century? The introductions of most modern ...
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What are the indications that in writing his plays Shakespeare sometimes thought of the special abilities of the actors?

Many of Shakespeare's plays were written to be performed by a specific group of actors, the Lord Chamberlain's Men (later called the King's Men), with the result that several famous roles in different ...
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351 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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Is this part of Mark Antony's speech to the conspirators in the play "Julius Caesar" meant to be honest?

In Act III, Scene I of the play Julius Caesar, when the conspirators are approached by Mark Antony after they have assassinated Caesar, they assure him that they do not wish to kill him and ask him to ...
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"Which dreams, indeed, are ambition" in Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2

I am reading Hamlet; Act 2 Scene 2 contains the following exchange: Hamlet: O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams. ...
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Why does Hamlet say "Rest is silence"? [duplicate]

Why does the Shakespearean protagonist Hamlet say, "Rest is silence."? Does he say it because he lost his biological dad who had poison in his ear poured by his evil uncle, lost mom, ...
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Why did Hamlet tell Ophelia: "Get thee to a nunnery!"?

In Hamlet [III, 1], Hamlet tells Ophelia (lines 1814,27,34): Get thee to a nunnery! […] Go thy ways to a nunnery. […] Get thee to a nunnery. […] To a nunnery, go; and quickly too. […] To a nunnery, ...
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"Marry, in her buttocks: I found it out by the bogs."

From The Comedy of Errors, Act III Scene II: DROMIO OF SYRACUSE: No longer from head to foot than from hip to hip: she is spherical, like a globe; I could find out countries in her. ANTIPHOLUS OF ...
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Julius Caesar: "If it be aught toward the general good, Set honor in one eye and death i’ th’ other..."

From Act I Scene II of the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare: BRUTUS I would not, Cassius, yet I love him well. But wherefore do you hold me here so long? What is it that you would impart to ...
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How did Shakespeare get away with staging witchcraft in his plays such as 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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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 found, ...
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Perception of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet by contemporaries

It is a common trope that high schoolers, and perhaps many more people, view Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet as overdone and somewhat cheesy and shallow, for lack of better words. Would it have been ...
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What is the benefit in the Prologue "spoiling" the play in Romeo and Juliet?

In the Act 1 Prologue to the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where ...
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Were all of Shakespeare's plays fully in iambic pentameter?

Were the plays within The Complete Works of Shakespeare entirely in iambic pentameter? I seem to recall singing bits (when there were lyrics) from Twelfth Night and definitely from Much Ado About ...
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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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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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Did Lady Macbeth communicate signs of her instability prior to the blood scene?

I'm looking back on Macbeth, and I'm wondering something that's piqued my interest again. There's a very well-known scene in Macbeth: the blood-spot scene, the hand-washing scene, and other such names....
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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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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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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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"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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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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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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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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Why would Hamlet fear suicide if he knew of life after death?

Prince Hamlet describes his fear of death in poetic phrases. To be or not to be, that is the question: ...               To die, to sleep; To sleep, perchance to dream—aye, there's the rub: For in ...
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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 a major plot device in several plays. Where did this come from?
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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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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 ...
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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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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 “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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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 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 [...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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1answer
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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 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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How does Shakespeare's iambic pentameter work with Original Pronunciation?

In school, students are often taught about iambic pentameter via Shakespearian examples. These, however, were based on the Received Pronunciation (RP) reading of Shakespeare's works. In reality, ...

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