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].

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
21
votes
1answer
497 views

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, ...
2
votes
1answer
23 views

“How say you then? Would heart of man once think it?” Hamlet Act 1 Scene 5

After Hamlet returns from speaking with the Ghost, he initially resists questioning about it, then suggests he will reveal what it said if the others can keep a secret, How say you then? Would heart ...
6
votes
1answer
187 views

Historical King Ina and Shakespeare's King Lear in the writings of Thomas Hardy

In Thomas Hardy's short(ish) story "The Withered Arm", one of his descriptions of the Wessex countryside features the following cryptic allusion: It was a long walk; thick clouds made the ...
1
vote
1answer
37 views

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
348 views

What does “nature” mean in “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin”?

When I first saw this quote on p. 139 in National Geographic's photo book Sublime Nature: Photographs That Awe and Inspire, I interpreted "nature" to mean flora and fauna. I interpreted ...
16
votes
2answers
929 views

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 ...
8
votes
2answers
283 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
500 views

When did Aristotle's Poetics first become available in England?

In a comment on a recent question about T. S. Eliot's essay on Hamlet, Peter Shor wrote, According to Aristotle, in great tragedy the hero must have a fatal flaw that leads to his downfall. What ...
24
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does Shakespeare's Julius Caesar switch to Latin for the “Et tu, Brute” line?

Like all of Shakespeare's plays, his Julius Caesar is of course written and performed almost entirely in English. But there is one line of this particular play - perhaps the most famous - which is ...
3
votes
2answers
557 views

Why did T.S. Eliot make a statement that 'Coriolanus' was Shakespeare's masterpiece and that 'Hamlet' was an artistic failure?

According to T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare actually failed as an artist in Hamlet. Those who have read the relevant critical essay by Eliot, could you kindly let me in on the title of that essay and explain ...
4
votes
1answer
73 views

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,...
8
votes
2answers
326 views

Are there earlier incidences than Merchant of Venice of an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other?

In act 2, scene 2 of The Merchant of Venice, Launcelot Gobbo is conflicted regarding whether to run from Shylock, or continue working for him. Shakespeare expresses this internal conflict by ...
6
votes
2answers
622 views

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

In Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet, prince Hamlet repeatedly calls Claudius a "villain". Here is a quote from Act 2 Scene 2 : Bloody, bawdy villain! Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, ...
8
votes
2answers
144 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
751 views

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 ...
-2
votes
1answer
75 views

In what ways can Shakespeare's Pericles, Prince of Tyre be classified as a typical romance play?

In what ways can Shakespeare's Pericles, Prince of Tyre be classified as a typical romance play?
6
votes
3answers
252 views

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 Act 4, scene 2 in Love's Labour's Lost: The preyful princess pierced and prick'd a pretty pleasing pricket; Some say a sore; but not a ...
5
votes
1answer
521 views

How many children had Lady Macbeth?

In Macbeth, when the eponymous hero is hesitating to kill Duncan, Lady Macbeth urges him forward to the murder. She memorably says:      I have given suck, and know How tender 'tis to love the babe ...
2
votes
1answer
106 views

How to figure out if something is iambic pentameter?

I have an assignment where I have to write a Shakespearean sonnet for my professor (who is very strict about the formatting of the assignment). Are there any ways/tricks in which I can figure out if ...
3
votes
2answers
341 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. ...
5
votes
1answer
235 views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
81 views

Why are Shakespearean sonnets called Shakespearean sonnets?

The term Shakespearean sonnet is frequently used for sonnets with a particular verse pattern and rhyme scheme, namely ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. But from what I can find with a little reading online, this ...
6
votes
1answer
113 views

Where did Edmond Malone place the Tempest in the chronology of Shakespeare's plays?

In an excellent answer to one of my previous questions, verbose writes: Since The Tempest is the first play printed in the First Folio, it was often assumed to be an early play. Scholars such as ...
5
votes
2answers
643 views

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 ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Is Hamlet correct when he says “it is an honest ghost”?

The Ghost in Hamlet claims to be Hamlet's father's spirit released from Purgatory. Is it possible that the Ghost is lying? Has it been sent from Hell to stir up mischief in Elsinore? (The play does ...
3
votes
2answers
394 views

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?
15
votes
4answers
19k views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
72 views

Why does Coriolanus describe the common people as many-headed?

Coriolanus describes the people and tribunes as many-headed in multiple instances. "[H]e himself stuck not to call us the many-headed / multitude" (2.3.16-17). Here the citizens discuss ...
24
votes
4answers
3k views

What reference is Shakespeare making in Act 2 Scene 2 of Macbeth?

In Act 2 Scene 2 of Macbeth there is this line. What hands are here? Ha! They pluck out mine eyes. Someone two days ago told me this is a reference to a different piece of literature. I didn't ...
3
votes
1answer
108 views

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
98 views

What did Shakespeare mean in King Richard III when he said that ‘G’ Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be?

Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous, By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams, To set my brother Clarence and the King In deadly hate, the one against the other: And if King Edward be as true and ...
2
votes
1answer
110 views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
71 views

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 ...
7
votes
2answers
888 views

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 ...
0
votes
1answer
45 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
41 views

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, ...
3
votes
2answers
85 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
59 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
66 views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
76 views

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.
3
votes
3answers
2k views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
60 views

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 ...
-2
votes
2answers
252 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
844 views

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 ...
3
votes
0answers
88 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
63 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
11 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
50 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
29 views

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 ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

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 ...