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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0answers
52 views

Why does Macbeth mostly refer to the witches as the weird sisters?

It was a very random comment someone mentioned. I am unsure of the accuracy of this but I definitely noticed it throughout the play. Even though Banquo does still use "the weird sisters," he ...
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1answer
72 views

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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71 views

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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1answer
81 views

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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1answer
866 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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3answers
112 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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3answers
209 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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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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932 views

"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
295 views

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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860 views

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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1answer
79 views

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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179 views

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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1answer
96 views

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 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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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
325 views

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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1answer
59 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 ...
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225 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 ...
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1answer
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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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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 ...
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873 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 ...
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107 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?
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646 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 ...
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1answer
262 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 ...
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230 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 ...
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1answer
319 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 ...
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1answer
105 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 ...
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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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613 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 ...
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1answer
156 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 ...
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1answer
192 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 ...
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958 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 ...
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1answer
134 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 ...
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74 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 ...
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1answer
78 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, ...
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1answer
67 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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