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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8
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1answer
320 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 ...
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127 views

Was Edmund in the Narnia series loosely inspired by Edmund in King Lear?

In King Lear, Edmund, resentful of his inferior status to his older brother, betrays his family and frames his brother as a traitor. This strikes me as not being at all unlike what Edmund does in The ...
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128 views

Which of these sources is right about “The Tempest”?

This is part of a quote by Ferdinand in the beginning of scene 1 of act 3 of "The Tempest": But these sweet thoughts do even refresh my labours, Most busy, least when I do it. According to ...
7
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2answers
869 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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2answers
257 views

The meaning of “Lovers' Food”

This question is regarding a dialogue of Hermia in Scene 1 of Act 1 of 'The Midsummer Night's Dream' by William Shakespeare where she mentions, "From lovers' food till morrow deep midnight." Please ...
7
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1answer
378 views

Where and how did James Joyce condemn Hamlet as a failure?

Earlier this year, someone asked Why did T.S. Eliot make a statement that 'Coriolanus' was Shakespeare's masterpiece and that 'Hamlet' was an artistic failure? If the Wikipedia article about William ...
7
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2answers
261 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 ...
7
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3answers
7k views

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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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 ...
7
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1answer
68 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 ...
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How do Hamlet's thoughts and doubts about the afterlife affect him?

In Hamlet, there are many references to the afterlife, god, and what the consequences of his actions are. My question is this: Did Hamlet's pre-conceptions about the afterlife ultimately affect his ...
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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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269 views

Why is 'Hamlet' considered one of the very best plays ever?

When an intellectual work (philosophy book, literary book, painting etc) is studied there are (at least) two principal questions to be addressed: What is this work about? Why is this work important? ...
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1k views

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 ...
6
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2answers
141 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 ...
6
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2answers
297 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
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3answers
239 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 ...
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1answer
109 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 ...
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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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2answers
685 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
63 views

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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245 views

Why didn't Hamlet's modifications to the theater troupe's play “tip off” anyone else?

When a theater troupe visits Hamlet's castle, he makes some... rather pointed changes to their show, which now includes a murder much like the one his uncle performed. Why didn't anyone else (...
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1answer
169 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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161 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 ...
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3k views

Does Portia subconsciously influence Bassanio's choice of casket?

When Bassanio is about to make his choice of the three caskets at Belmont - a choice upon which rests his chances of marriage to Portia - she calls for music and singing while he ponders. Music, ...
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1answer
3k views

In Margeret Atwood's “Hag-Seed,” where is Caliban?

Margeret Atwood's Hag-Seed is a metafictional retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Many elements of The Tempest are clearly recognizable (e.g. Felix is very obviously Prospero), while others have ...
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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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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 ...
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1answer
415 views

“What a piece of work is man” - echo in The Lord of the Rings?

In The Fellowship of the Ring, after Gandalf tells Frodo the story of the One Ring and challenges him to destroy it, Frodo looks at the ring and we read this description: how rich and beautiful was ...
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1answer
216 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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1answer
289 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 ...
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1answer
214 views

When was Shakespeare's The Tempest first analysed from a “post-colonial” perspective?

A recent answer from verbose mentioned: Postcolonial approaches to The Tempest cast Prospero as colonizer, exercising imperial control over the original inhabitants of the island: Caliban and Ariel....
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1answer
272 views

Did Shakespeare err in using Ephesus as a port setting?

Shakespeare's play The Comedy of Errors is set in the town of Ephesus, which is apparently a seaport with ships within walking distance of where the action takes place: DROMIO OF SYRACUSE: Master,...
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1answer
1k views

Shakespeare making fun of Shakespeare: listing all of the self-deprecating meta-references in Shakespeare's plays [closed]

One of the things I've noticed through reading Shakespeare is that a lot of his plays include a meta-reference making fun of the play. For example, in Twelfth Night Fabian says "If this were played ...
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1answer
178 views

Any textual evidence from Shakespeare's Macbeth regarding Macbeth's oath to kill the king?

In act 1, scene 7, Lady Macbeth encourages Macbeth to keep his promise and kill king Duncan, but is there any textual evidence from the play regarding his earlier oath to kill the king? Here, for ...
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3answers
191 views

Did King Richard III prove a villain because nature chose him to be a disabled person?

In the play King Richard III by Shakespeare did King Richard III become a villain because of nature selected him to be a disabled person (if we look at the villainous plot of the villain from his ...
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2answers
106 views

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). ...
5
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1answer
222 views

Tudor or Jacobean plays that are sequels to a Shakespeare play?

William Shakespeare wrote around 40 plays (depending on how the Shakespeare canon is defined). Except for some of his history plays (Henry IV, Henry VI) and possibly The Merry Wives of Windsor (not a ...
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631 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 ...
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1answer
463 views

In the Sonnet 29 by Shakespeare, does the speaker pity himself over lack of skill as an artist or contentment?

Here is the "Sonnet 29" by Shakespeare. When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state, And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, And look upon ...
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1answer
165 views

In the 1983 adaptation of The Merchant of Venice, why doesn't Portia know Jessica's name?

The 1983 National Theater production of The Merchant of Venice has an interesting take on a moment in act 3 scene 4. According to Shakespeare's script, Portia is giving Lorenzo instructions, and in ...
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939 views

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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79 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 ...
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132 views

(How) have the interpretations of Macbeth's ending evolved over time?

I just attended a performance of Macbeth that ended on a much more ambivalent note than Shakespeare's original text. Instead of Malcolm and his posse picking up the shambles and Malcolm motivating his ...
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70 views

Why was Ophelia psychologically ill in the Shakespearean play Hamlet?

In the Shakespearean play Hamlet Ophelia became psychologically ill. Was it because of Hamlet's behavior or how society treated her or what's the real reason behind her sudden illness? Did ...
5
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1answer
157 views

Is there any significance in Shakespeare's use of the name “Laertes” (name of the father of Odysseus) in Hamlet?

Is there any significance in Shakespeare's use of "Laertes" (name of the father of Odysseus) in Hamlet? Do we associate the name with The Odyssey more strongly than Shakespeare, to whom it was just ...
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1answer
496 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
366 views

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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1answer
163 views

Inconsistencies in the character of Horatio in Hamlet

In the Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet, Horatio is a friend and "fellow student" of the eponymous prince. A meticulous reading of the text will reveal certain apparent inconsistencies in the depiction ...
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114 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, ...