Shakespeare and Hamlet

By Rebecca Barus

The life of William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564 to the parents of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden. He had three siblings, Joan, who lived from 1558 to 1569, Margaret, born in 1562 and died just a year later, and Gilbert who was born in 1566 and died in 1612. Historically, nothing is recorded between the years of 1585 through 1592 in terms of what William Shakespeare did. By 1592, Shakespeare's acting career began. He was an actor during the Elizabethan Era and also by the end of 1592 he had plays that were written and published. By 1597, 15 of 37 plays by Shakespeare were published. It was not until the 19th century that Shakespeare got his well deserved name in writing and plays. He died on April 23, 1616, which happened to be his 52nd birthday. He is buried in the chancel of the Holy Trinity Church in his hometown of Stratford. Something unique about his burial is that his headstone has an epitaph that he wrote himself.

Plot of Hamlet

Video SparkNotes: Shakespeare's Hamlet Summary

Characters and relationships

The actual name of the castle is Kronborg Castle and it is located on land between Sweden and Denmark
Revenge tragedy: a style of drama, popular in England during the late 16th and 17th centuries. The basic plot consists of a quest for revenge.

Shakespeare's work

1. We study Shakespeare today because the themes that he writes about are always constant. Another reason why we study Shakespeare is because he created so much of the English language. HIs original ideas, themes and plots are why his plays are popular today.

2. It is a mystery as to who's Shakespeare's sonnets are written about. There are a theories that the sonnets are directed to mistresses of Shakespeare or a person who goes by the name of Mr. W. H (William Herbert). There is controversy around his work because some people believe that he didn't have the knowledge or capability to write the works that he did.

3. The Renaissance period was from 1400-1700. Three values of the Renaissance period were well roundedness, individualism, and humanism. The Renaissance influences Shakespeare because it urged him to use his originality and individualism.

4. The audience of Shakespeare ranged to all types of people from wealthy upper class to poor lower class people. Shakespeare's messages ranged from romances to tragedies to histories.

5. Women were usually represented for their physical features. In a lot of Shakespeare's works, women were dominated by men. Women were looked down upon if they were not married and didn't follow basic rules of society. Women mostly payed attention to status. In Hamlet, Gertrude marries Claudius, who is the man who murdered her first husband. Gertrude does this so obtain her royal status and stay in the throne.

6. Some reading tips for Shakespeare include reading a good plot summary of the play to understand the general idea of what is happening. No Fear Shakespeare is also a good tool to have because it offers definitions and further meanings of words for a better understanding of the play.