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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4
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0answers
24 views

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., ...
23
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7answers
27k views

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, ...
5
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1answer
285 views

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 ...
3
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1answer
102 views

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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2answers
138 views

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 ...
4
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2answers
112 views

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, ...
3
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1answer
45 views

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 ...
2
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1answer
43 views

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). ...
2
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1answer
106 views

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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1answer
19 views

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?
12
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2answers
845 views

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 ...
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1answer
67 views

How can we reconcile the bareness of Shakespearean stages with the complex stage directions of The Tempest?

I learned recently that in Shakespeare's day, stage dressing was often minimal. This makes sense given that there was a wide variety of theatre styles, the stages were often uncovered and surrounded ...
20
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1answer
6k views

How did Shakespeare get away with staging witchcraft in his plays such as in 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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40 views

What is the difference between Zeffirelli movie and Shakespeare's play in Mercutio and Tybalt fight

What is the difference between the Zeffirelli film Romeo and Juliet and the original Shakespeare play, in the fight between Mercutio and Tybalt?
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1answer
980 views

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 ...
2
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2answers
525 views

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 ...
4
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1answer
268 views

How can a “desk” be considered a secret keeper?

I was reading Hamlet, Act II, scene 2, when I encountered the following lines: .....what might you, Or my dear majesty your queen here, think, If I had play'd the desk or table-book, Or given my ...
13
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2answers
5k views

What does a dog barking at a crow signify?

In Much ado about nothing by William Shakespeare, Act 1 Scene 1, Beatrice declares to Benedick 'I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swears he loves me.' I understand that Beatrice ...
3
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1answer
193 views

Dante's Inferno reference in Much Ado About Nothing

My professor asked me this for an assignment. It was to identify a Dante's Inferno reference in Much Ado About Nothing. I don't know what he meant by this. Where is this reference? Does not have to be ...
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1answer
1k views

How might Shakespeare have become familiar with Dante's work?

A recent question on our site asked whether Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing contained a reference to Dante's Divine Comedy. In his answer, Matt Thrower mentions Beatrice, the name of both a ...
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4answers
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What does Lady Macbeth mean by “what thou art promised”?

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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2answers
3k views

Why is “…Then fall, Caesar” always left out when talking about Caesar's last words?

From this link, DECIUS BRUTUS: Great Caesar, CAESAR: Doth not Brutus bootless kneel? CASCAL: Speak, hands for me! CASCA first, then the other Conspirators and BRUTUS stab CAESAR ...
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2answers
69 views

Who was the first scholar who used the term Henriad to refer to a subset of Shakespeare's history plays?

A recent chatroom discussion about how to tag the question Portrayal of Henry Bolingbroke through different Shakespeare plays led to the question what "Henriad" actually means. According to ...
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42 views

Portrayal of Henry Bolingbroke through different Shakespeare plays

King Henry IV of England, also known as Henry Bolingbroke, appears in three Shakespeare plays, with two of them being named after him. In Richard II, he can be seen as the main antagonist of the play, ...
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2answers
160 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 ...
3
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1answer
96 views

1 Henry IV Act 5, Scene 3: “God keep the lead out of me”

Henry IV Part 1, Act 5, Scene 3: Falstaff says ...God keep the lead out of me, I need no more weight than my own bowels. Is this referring to lead bullets? I was under the impression these ...
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1answer
186 views

Is Harry Hotspur portrayed as a villain in Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part I?

Having studied Shakespeare's play Henry IV, Part I and seen a performance of it in Stratford, I'm still uncertain of how we're meant to view the character of Henry Percy (Harry Hotspur). Clearly he's ...
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0answers
44 views

Is Hamlet a misogynist?

Clearly, Hamlet had his issues with the women in his life including Ophelia. Would you say Hamlet is/isn't a misogynist?
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2answers
158 views

Why do we get some explicit references in Shakespearean plays that are meant for something else?

First of all, by “explicit contents” I really mean the that thing. In Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar when Brutus had planned everything and the night before the assassination he was in his room ...
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108 views

Comparison between Beatrice of Much Ado About Nothing and Offred of The Handmaids tale

Compare and contrast the way Offred in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Beatrice in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing view romantic love. Discuss 2 similarities and 2 differences (...
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1answer
126 views

Shakespeare's vasty deep: was “vasty” a recognised variant of “vast” at the time?

From Shakespeare's Henry IV Part 1, Act III Scene 1: GLENDOWER: I can call spirits from the vasty deep. HOTSPUR: Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them? ...
4
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1answer
158 views

How does the quote from Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona connect with Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles?

Thomas Hardy's novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles begins with the epigraph ... Poor wounded name! My bosom as a bed Shall lodge thee.—W. Shakespeare. The source of this quote is one of Shakespeare'...
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1answer
162 views

Why does Dogberry use malapropisms in Much Ado About Nothing?

In Shakespeare's play, Much Ado About Nothing, Dogberry consistently uses malapropisms. What are the creative ideas behind giving him this style of speech? Does he use it on purpose? What's his ...
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3answers
7k views

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 ...
2
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2answers
449 views

What does this verse said by Portia in Julius Caesar mean?

In Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar when Brutus had planned everything and the night before the assassination he was in his room he had a little conversation with his wife Portia. During the ...
13
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1answer
837 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 ...
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42 views

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 major plot devices in several plays. Where did this come from?
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1answer
1k views

Why does Shakespeare sometimes use “do” with the verbs in his plays?

Sometimes Shakespeare uses "do" with a verb even though it isn't necessary. For example, in Macbeth, Act One, Scene 2, line 10, the captain states, "As two spent swimmers that do cling together". Why ...
3
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1answer
404 views

The Unity of Action in Shakespeare's “The Tempest”

Many critics claim that Shakespeare's play The Tempest follows all three classical unities. For example: The play observes the three Unities: the action is confined to parts of the same location, the ...
6
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2answers
679 views

Context of “swifter than arrow from the Tartar's bow”?

I go, I go; look how I go, Swifter than arrow from the Tartar's bow. -- Puck, Act III Scene II, A Midsummer Night's Dream This is a well-known line from a Shakespeare play, but did Shakespeare ...
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1answer
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What's the technique in 'To be thus is nothing, but to be safely thus.' from Macbeth?

I see the obvious use of repetition but I felt like there might be some more specific type of repetition/technique to comment about here
8
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1answer
319 views

Can three unstressed syllables constitute a substitute foot in Shakespeare?

While trying to ascertain the accentuation of certain names in Shakespeare, by analyzing lines of verse where they occur, I encountered a couple of lines that I was tempted to scan with a substitute ...
2
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1answer
169 views

Do the witches in Macbeth ever mention “eye of bat and tongue of frog”?

For a high school course in English literature, I'm reading Macbeth. On a basic multiple choice question about Act IV, scene I, I am given the following: The Witches threw into the cauldron ...
2
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1answer
140 views

How is it possible for Antonio to go bankrupt?

In The Merchant Of Venice by William Shakespeare, Act I Scene I Antonio : Believe me, no: I thank my fortune for it,                My ventures are ...
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1answer
1k views

Why does Anne call Richard a Hedgehog in Act I, Scene II of Richard III?

This is probably an easy question, but why does Anne call Richard a Hedgehog in Act I, Scene II of Richard III: Dost grant me, hedgehog? then, God grant me too Thou mayst be damned for that ...
3
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1answer
115 views

What does Cassius mean when he refers to his mother?

CASSIUS: Have not you love enough to bear with me, When that rash humor which my mother gave me Makes me forgetful? W. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, ACT 4 SCENE 3 What is Cassius ...
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1answer
80 views

Shorter version of The Merchant of Venice for school play

İs there any short version of the The Merchant of Venice to play? We are going to play it in our class but the problem is that the story is too long and we don't have enough time for all of it. I need ...
3
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1answer
1k views

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 "...
4
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2answers
142 views

If Hamlet, being a prince, outranked Horatio, why did he address him as “sir”?

Hamlet Act 5 Scene 2: HAMLET: So much for this, sir. Now shall you see the other. You do remember all the circumstance? HORATIO: Remember it, my lord! Horatio replies to Hamlet calling ...
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5answers
5k views

Did William Shakespeare hide things in his writings?

I was reading Shakespeare's third sonnet, and I noticed something funny. I am going to put in bold all the capital letters in the sonnet itself. Sonnet III When fortie Winters shall beseige thy brow,...