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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111 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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123 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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83 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 ...
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205 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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2k 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 "...
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46 views

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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161 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 ...
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40 views

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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115 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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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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1k 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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3k 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 ...
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96 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 ...
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2k 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 ...
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1answer
278 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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133 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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215 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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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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214 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 ...
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1answer
630 views

Is there any connection between Paris of Troy and Paris of Verona?

I just noticed that a character in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet has the same name as a character in Homer's Iliad: Paris. In both stories, Paris is one of two men who wish to be with the same woman; ...
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51 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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1answer
152 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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325 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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264 views

Why is Richard portrayed without a hunchback in the 1955 Laurence Olivier adaptation of Richard III?

If we go by the text of Shakespeare's Richard III, Richard has a hunchback. In Act I, scene 3, line 246, Queen Margaret describes Richard as a "poisonous bunch-back'd toad." And in act IV, scene 4, ...
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124 views

Play: With A Memorable Conversation between a villain and his henchman

I remember reading several lines from what I think was a Shakespearean type play. It was between a villain and one of his henchman, and I think they were discussing the murder of someone referred to ...
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109 views

What is meant by “came to practice” in John Manningham's description of Twelfth Night?

In the earliest mention of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night"; John Manningham's Diary: A good practice in it [was] to make the Steward believe his Lady . . . in love with him, by counterfeiting a ...
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120 views

Name of Shakespeare play in which a woman both saves and punishes a man

I'm trying to remember a quote I read from a Shakespeare book, but it has been at least 10 years so my memory of it is quite low. The little I remember is a man that is trying to hide enters a woman'...
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52 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). ...
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86 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 a major plot device in several plays. Where did this come from?
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41 views

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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Is there any evidence that William Shakespeare influenced Lope de Vega?

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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154 views

Perception of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet by contemporaries

It is a common trope that high schoolers, and perhaps many more people, view Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet as overdone and somewhat cheesy and shallow, for lack of better words. Would it have been ...
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Does Shakespeare steer the reader's sympathy towards Venus or towards Adonis?

In the narrative poem Venus and Adonis, Shakespeare reuses a story from Ovid's Metamorphoses (which he often used as a source of inspiration), but gives it an original spin: Venus's desire is ...
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3k views

In the Hollow Crown speech, what does the line “Cover your heads” imply?

In the "hollow crown" speech in Richard II, there is a line with the words "Cover your heads". I need a paraphrase for this line. What does Shakespeare imply by this line in the context of this speech?...
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47 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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174 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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462 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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84 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 ...
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1answer
42 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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70 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 ...
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83 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 ...
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90 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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87 views

Shakespeare's voice

It is often stated that it is nearly impossible to tell Shakespeare's point of view or to hear his personal voice behind his characters. While I accept this premise, as one reads more of Shakespeare, ...
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26 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?
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273 views

Romeo and Juliet “Which then most sought where most might not be found”

What literary devices and rhetorical techniques does Shakespeare use in the following passage? Benvolio. I, measuring his affections by my own, which then most sought where most might not be found, ...
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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 ...
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87 views

Does this passage in King Lear develop the theme of compassion or truth?

This is from Act 5 Scene 3 of King Lear: A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all! I might have saved her. Now she’s gone for ever.— Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha? What is ’t thou say’st?—...
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87 views

Shakespeare and Iambic pentameter [duplicate]

My question is, 'Is Iambic pentameter just an illusion?' When I learned Shakespeare in school, my teacher emphasized on the thing called 'iambic pentameter'. That goes like 'du Dum du Dum......' But ...
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80 views

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. ...