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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1answer
55 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 ...
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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 ...
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455 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 ...
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68 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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161 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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143 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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36 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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291 views

Watchman characters in Much Ado About Nothing

Are the "first watchman" and "watchman" in Much Ado About Nothing actually the same character, or are they different? As Shakespeare doesn't pay much attention to minor characters, I couldn't figure ...
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70 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,...
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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., ...
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405 views

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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276 views

Was Shakespeare a member of the lower classes?

Am I correct to assume there is a feud between academics considering Shakespeare's social origins? I understand that he was probably born as a member of the working classes (or even the Elizabethan ...
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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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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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156 views

How many Elizabethan or Jacobean manuscripts of Shakespeare sonnets have come down to us?

When Thomas Thorpe published Shake-speares Sonnets [sic!] in 1609, the sonnets (or at least a subset of them) had already circulated in manuscript for some time. Francis Meres already mentioned these ...
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835 views

Benvolio and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet

What do the characters of Benvolio and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet symbolize, if anything? Mercutio's character mainly provides jokes, and then, in his hot-headedness, is slain by Tybalt. Benvolio ...
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690 views

Analysing a quote from Much Ado About Nothing

I have analyzed a quote from the play Much Ado About Nothing with the question, "How is reputation shown in the play?" Leonato is a king and does not want his reputation to be ruined due to the awful ...
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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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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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143 views

What does Hippolyta mean by “More witnesseth than fancy’s images”?

What does Hippolyta mean in this speech from Act V Scene I of A Midsummer Night's Dream? But all the story of the night told over, And all their minds transfigured so together, More witnesseth ...
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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 ...
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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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57 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.
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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?
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Was it traditional to omit the prologue from Shakespeare's plays in the First Folio?

In an older question about the purpose of the prologue in Romeo and Juliet, Cory Howell asked in a now deleted answer: For what it's worth, the Prologue is not included in the First Folio version of ...
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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? ...
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541 views

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

In the Shakespearian tragedy Hamlet, prince Hamlet repeatedly calls Claudius a "villain". Here is a quote from Act 2 Scene 2 : Bloody, bawdy villain!Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous,kindless ...
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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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408 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 ...
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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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60 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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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 ...
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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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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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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 ...
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What is the myth-making school of Shakespeare criticism?

In Inga-Stina Ewbank's essay "The Triumph of Time in The Winter's Tale" (Review of English Literature, 5 (1964); reprinted in Shakespeare: The Winter's Tale. A Casebook, edited by Kenneth ...
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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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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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Why is Richard a hunchback in Kevin Spacey's portrayal of Richard III?

I'm watching Kevin Spacey's production of Shakespeare's Richard III. Here's a link to a youtube video with some highlights. One of the production decisions that I don't really understand is the ...
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In Early Modern English, how did 'see' semantically shift to mean 'note/record'?

John McWhorter PhD Linguistics (Stanford). Words on the Move (2016). p. 86. Emboldening mine.   Commonly we are told that Shakespeare's language is "high," such that the challenge can be met by ...
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460 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 ...
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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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147 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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98 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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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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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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53 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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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 ...