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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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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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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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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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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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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80 views

The Winter's Tale, Act 2 scene 3, lines 104-108. What do these lines mean?

Paulina, a wife of one of the aristocrats, speaks these lines to Leontes in The Winter's Tale: And thou, good goddess Nature, which hast made it So like to him that got it, if thou hast The ...
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49 views

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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What are the thematic similarities between Macbeth and Watchmen, specifically relating to the “tragic hero” theme

I’m trying to research themes that Watchmen by Alan Moore and Macbeth by William Shakespeare have in common - and they should all lead into the central theme of “tragic hero”. Edit: I’m looking at all ...
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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 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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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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212 views

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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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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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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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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49 views

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 there be that shadows ...
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155 views

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 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 ...
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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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Does this passage in King Lear develop the theme of compassion or truth?

This is from Act 5 Scene 3 of King Lear: A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all! I might have saved her. Now she’s gone for ever.— Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha? What is ’t thou say’st?—...
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Was it traditional to omit the prologue from Shakespeare's plays in the First Folio?

In an older question about the purpose of the prologue in Romeo and Juliet, Cory Howell asked in a now deleted answer: For what it's worth, the Prologue is not included in the First Folio version of ...
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Shakespeare's voice

It is often stated that it is nearly impossible to tell Shakespeare's point of view or to hear his personal voice behind his characters. While I accept this premise, as one reads more of Shakespeare, ...
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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's the symbolism of the flowers in The Winter's Tale?

In Act IV, Scene IV of The Winter's Tale, Perdita is "mistress o' the feast", playing hostess at the sheep-shearing feast, when King Polixenes and Camillo arrive in disguise. Perdita gives them both ...
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Why does the murderer call Macduff's son “egg”?

When Macduff's son defends his father's honor when the murderers sent by Macbeth call Macduff a traitor in Macbeth, they wind up stabbing the son: Enter Murderers. FIRST MURDERER: Where is your ...
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Who introduced the sonnet to English literature? Wyatt or Shakespeare?

Who brought sonnet to English literature? Thomas Wyatt or William Shakespeare? Their contributions to English literature: Shakespeare wrote a book that contains 154 sonnets, but I couldn't find ...
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How do scholars estimate the original number of copies of the Shakespeare First Folio of 1623?

The first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays was printed in 1623, several years after the author's death, and is known is the First Folio. (Later editions are known as the Second Folio, etc., ...
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What is the benefit in the Prologue “spoiling” the play in Romeo + 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, ...
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What does this passage from Othello mean?

... my invention Comes from my pate as birdlime does from frize, It plucks out brains and all. But my muse labours, And thus she is deliver'd: If she be fair and wise, fairness, and wit, The one's for ...
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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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In The Winters Tale what does “Nine changes of the Watery-Star” mean? Does it mean nine nights or nine months?

I have a question about the opening lines of the second scene in The Winter's Tale. From Act 1, scene 2: Pol. Nine Changes of the Watry-Starre hath been The Sheppards Note since we have left ...
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Is Othello being deceptive when he says, “This only is the witchcraft I have used” (Act 1.3.184)

When Othello is brought before an “ad hoc” court of law for surreptitiously marring Desdemona, Brabantio essentially accuses him of using “witchcraft” as a means of seducing his daughter suggesting, ...
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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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1answer
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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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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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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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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 ...