Questions tagged [william-shakespeare]

Questions about the workes of William Shakspeare, who writ many a famous plaie and poem. For questions about his plaies, may it please you to add a tag for the plaie (e.g. [hamlet]); for questions about his sonnets, may it please you to add the tag [poetry].

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2answers
3k views

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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Shakespearean Sonnets within his plays

The prologue to Romeo and Juliet is a sonnet. Are there other moments, sections within the plays that are sonnets? I'd like a list of Shakespearean sonnets which appear in his plays (not in the 154 ...
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1answer
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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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212 views

What is the source of the quote "Robust grass endures mighty winds..."?

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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Why does Portia say this to Bassanio in Act III Scene 2 of The Merchant of Venice?

In Act III Scene 2 of The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, Portia : One half of me is yours, the other half yours. Mine own, I would say; but if mine then yours. Roughly translated it ...
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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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When did Macbeth kill Duncan's chamberlains?

In Macbeth, at the end of Act 2, Scene 3 Macbeth reveals that he killed Duncan's servants: O, Yet I do repent me of fury That I did kill them However, doesn't this appear as a plot hole when we take ...
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1answer
83 views

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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Why does the prophecy imply Macbeth has to murder the king?

I’m reading Macbeth for the first time. The witches prophecize that Macbeth will become king. He and Lady Macbeth immediately jump to the conclusion that this means he has to assassinate Duncan, the ...
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1answer
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"Sly frantic wretch, that holp'st to make me great" what is the meaning of "holp'st"?

The Twitter bot Willy Shakes tweeted these lines earlier today: Sly frantic wretch, that holp'st to make me great, In hope thyself should govern Rome and me. [Enter AEMILIUS] — Titus Andronicus I ...
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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 is demonstrated that one can use power to achieve what they want. I am unable to find good, powerful quotes to prove this. What are ...
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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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What caused the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues?

As I understand it, the scholarship has so far not compellingly answered a significant question of the text of Romeo and Juliet; namely, why the Capulets and the Montagues are at war. I am convinced ...
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1answer
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Who is 'he' in 'He has no children?'

In Act 4, scene 3, Macduff is talking with Malcolm. He has just heard the news that his wife and children have been murdered by Macbeth's forces. Then he says, He has no children. Who is "he&...
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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 ...
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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 "...
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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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610 views

What does "royalty in nature" in Macbeth mean?

In Macbeth (Act 3, Scene 1), Macbeth says about Banquo: in his royalty of nature Reigns that which would be feared. What does "royalty of nature" mean here? Surely, Banquo is no "king ...
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1answer
39 views

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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Actual meaning of Shakespeare's sonnet 30

Sonnet 30 is commonly believed to be talking aboutt 'How Shakespeare's mood gets lifted when he thinks of his friend' (common believed to be fair youth). So while reading on the topic I came across an ...
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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 "to his love and tendance / All sorts of hearts" in Timon of Athens

In Shakespeare's Timon of Athens, I found a difficult passage in 1.1.57-60: (Their services to Lord Timon): his large fortune, Upon his good and gracious nature hanging, Subdues and properties to his ...
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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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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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2answers
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Why does "less than" mean "not" in "A little more than kin, and less than kind"?

In Act 1, Scene 2, Line 65, Hamlet [Aside] "A little more than kin, and less than kind" does less than mean not? If so, what semantic notions underlie less than and not? How did less than ...
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1answer
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What is the underlying reason for Macbeth to write the letter?

Macbeth wrote a letter to Lady Macbeth. Duncan suddenly wants to have a feast or celebration at Macbeth's castle, without prior notice as Lady Macbeth said. From this, we know that it's all within a ...
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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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What does Regan mean by "square of sense" in King Lear?

The exact meaning of the following phrase in bold is not clear to me. In the first scene of King Lear, Regan utters these words to her father with flattery. I'm not sure but I think I read somewhere ...
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What does the word "seem" mean in these lines of Shakespeare?

In Shakespeare's Othello 3.1.26, the Clown answers Cassio: She is stirring, sir; if she will stir hither, I shall seem to notify unto her. where the verb "seem" makes me confused. The ...
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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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1answer
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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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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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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
884 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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119 views

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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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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"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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1answer
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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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299 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 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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