Shakespeare’s life, works, and times

Topics: ArtComedy

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Last updated: December 1, 2019

Ambiguity
Use of a word so that there is a possibility of two meanings

Hamlet
Shakespearean tragedy which deals with a Danish prince’s attempt to avenge his father’s murder

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King Lear
Shakespearean tragedy centered on the theme of “man’s inhumanity to man;” an aged monarch fails to recognize the genuine love of one daughter and accepts instead the empty flattery of his two other daughters; he sees his error too late and dies of grief

Actor
Shakespeare’s other theatrical occupation besides that of playwright

Venus and Adonis
Shakespeare’s famous narrative poem

Julius Caesar
In this famous tragedy the Roman ruler fails to “beware the Ides of March” and is assassinated by a group of conspirators that includes his best friend

First Folio
The 1623 edition of Shakespeare’s collected plays published by his fellow actors

King James
Stuart king from 1603 to 1625; many dramatists of Shakespeare’s time write their best works during the first ten years of his reign

Edmund Spenser
Shakespeare’s contemporary; poet best known for his sonnet sequence Amoretti and his allegory the Faerie Queen; appointed Sheriff of Cork; created a nine-line stanza form used as a model for modern poets

King Philip
Hapsburg ruler of Spain while Elizabeth I ruled England; in 1588 he sent the Invisible Armada whose defeat made British seapower supreme

Blank verse
Unrhymed iambic pentameter used by Shakespeare

Soliloquy
A speech made by an actor as if to himself when alone on stage; this speech is a device through which the character reveals his thoughts and feelings to the audience but not to other characters in the play

Globe
London playhouse built for performances by the King’s Men; many of Shakespeare’s plays were presented there

Prose
Other medium of expression used by Shakespeare besides verse

W.H.
Initials of the much disputed person to whom Shakespeare dedicated his sonnets

Stratford on Avon
Shakespeare’s birthplace

Eight
Number of sides of an Elizabethan playhouse

Sonnet
A 14-line poem usually written in iambic pentameter with a definite rhyme scheme; the two major types are the Petrarch and Shakespearean

Christopher Marlowe
English dramatist and poet regarded as the greatest Elizabethan playwright next to Shakespeare; died at the age of 29 in a tavern brawl; two of his most powerful dramas were the Tamburlaine and Doctor Faustus

Tragedy
Defined by Aristotle as “imitation of a painful action (usually resulting in death) by a person of stature which by pity and fear purges these emotions;” type of serious play with an unhappy ending in which Shakespeare’s genius was at its height

Irony
Events occurring contrary to expectation; use of words to say the opposite of the thought in the speaker’s mind

Foil
A minor character whose actions parallel those of the major character to enhance the main plot

Narrative
A long poem that tells a story; Shakespeare wrote five of this genre

Tempest
Comedy considered to be the last play Shakespeare wrote by himself

Boy
In the Elizabethan theater a woman’s part was played by a.

..

Farce
A play intended solely to entertain; containing many ridiculous happenings, absurd actions, and slap-stick humor

Tudor
English dynasty that ruled from 1485-1603

Madrigal
Most brilliant form of English secular vocal music during the Elizabethan period; the English nationalistic adaptation of an Italian musical form; a song with parts for several voices of equal importance; its chief Elizabethan figures were William Byrd and Thomas Morely

Macbeth
Shakespearean tragedy about an ambitious general who goaded by his wife, murders the King of Scotland so that he himself can become king

Theatre
Name of the first professional Elizabethan playhouse; erected by James Burbage in 1576 on lands of the Holywell priory adjacent to Finsbury Fields, a park just north of the London walls

Apron
A forward edge of the stage

Lyric
A type of poetry characterized by a spontaneous expression of feeling, usually a short poem suitable for singing (ex: Shakespeare’s sonnets)

Comedy
A light and amusing play presented to leave a happy or pleasant impression; a play based on human weakness (ex: Shakespeare’s first play)

Elizabeth I
English monarch whose name is used to label the dramas written by Shakespeare and his contemporaries

Sir Francis Bacon
English philosopher and statesman; his most popular works are his essays; some scholars claimed he really wrote the Shakespearean works

Renaissance
Term for the European cultural and intellectual flowering that began in English with the Elizabethan period

Unities
According to classical standards a tragedy must correspond to strict limits of time, place, and action; these three …were ignored by Shakespeare

Pit
Area immediately in front of the platform of the Elizabethan stage; admission cost one penny and the audience remained standing

Ben Jonson
English dramatist, lyric poet and actor who was s contemporary of Shakespeare; famous for Volpone and Song to Celia which show neoclassical influence

Humanism
Intellectual movement during Renaissance characterized by preoccupation with classical works and secular attitudes

Greek
An ancient civilization whose writings were known as classics; even greater impact than those of Rome

Reformation
Religious revolution in Western Europe during 16th century; Henry VII’s act of supremacy that rejected pope authority and created the Church of England

Anne Hathaway
Shakespeare’s wife

Histories
Shakespeare’s plays are tragedies, comedies or.

Othello
Tragedy in which a moorish general is tricked by the jealous lago into murdering his wife, but when learning of the falseness of the accusations agonist his wife, the Moor kills himself

Aside
A remark made by an actor to the audience that the other characters aren’t supposed to hear

Chamberlain
Lord’s .

.. men; players company that Shakespeare was in

Plague
Epidemic disease carried by rats in 1655 that caused theaters to be closed

Richard Burbage
Leading Elizabethan actor who appeared in the original productions of many of the plays written by Shakespeare and Ben jonson

Philip Sidney
English soldier, author and statesman; famous for his sonnet sequence Astrophel and Stella; mortally wounded while fighting for the English army in Holland, his death was greatly mourned by the English court

Grammar
Type of school Shakespeare attended at which he received a good grounding in Latin

Tragic or Comic relief
Use of comedy to ease tension in a tragedy or use of tragedy to somber the audience and prepare them for further amusement

Lyly
English prose writer and dramatist known chiefly for his Eupheus, a popular didactic novel; he wrote in a highly ornamented euphuistic style, stressing alliteration, allusion, and antithesis; at first Shakespeare imitated his artificiality but later parodied this type of writing, ridiculing it out of style

Hamnet
Son born to Shakespeare along with a twin sister Judith; he died at an early age

Inns
Before the building of special playhouses, plays were performed in …and taverns; English road houses

Kyd
English dramatist best known for his Spanish tragedy; exponent of “tragedy of blood”

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