William Shakespeare

By Maddie LeBeau-Maltese

Task 1: William Shakespeare's Life and Times

Life and Times

His parents were John Shakespeare and Mary Arden
Had two older sisters, Joan and Judith, and three younger brothers, Gilbert, Richard and Edmund

April 23, 1564: The day they believe he was born.
April 26,1564: Recorded that he was baptized in England
Became a member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men company of theatrical players
November 28,1582: Married Anne Hathaway

Had a daughter they named Susanna and twins Hamnet and Judith
1592:William Shakespeare earned a living as an actor and a playwright in London and had many plays produced
1590s: While William was co-manager of his company, Henry Wriothesley became interested in his work and he dedicated his first- and second-published poems to him
1597: 15 of Shakespeare plays were published and he bought the second largest house (New House) in Stratford with the earnings
1599: William Shakespeare and his business partners built the Globe
1605: Shakespeare purchased leases of real estate near Stratford for 440 pounds, which doubled in value and earned him 60 pounds a year

With all this profit he was able to spend all of his time writing and working on his plays

3 Fun Facts about Shakespeare

  1. There are 154 million pages referring to William Shakespeare on Google today which is mote than God (132).
  2. Shakespeare's actors were told their lines a few minters before they said them on stage to prevent a written copy being stolen and used as someone else's work.
  3. Shakespeare wrote his first sonnets while the England was hit with the plague and no one could leave their home to watch plays.


“He is the greatest dramatist, the greatest poet and the greatest prose writer in the history of the language...He has a presence like Lincoln or Washington in American history.” -Craven, a professor emeritus at UTSA

My Understanding of Shakespeare's Life

Shakespeare lived in a time where science was not advanced enough to disprove myths and legends, therefore, his plays featuring the supernatural and unknown were close to home for the audience. Being the only creative form of entertainment at this time for the common folk, plays became popular, especially during the Renaissance where Shakespeare's plays thrived and his wealth let him spend all his time on his work. His work was greatly appreciated by people coming from all classes in society and power back when he lived and still up to now.

Task 2: Shakespeare’s Work

Why are William Shakespeare’s works still read and studied in present day? Why is his popular?

The topics for theses stories are not for as mature audiences as they used to be, so they are taught in high schools instead of colleges. Shakespeare’s work is classic and therefore is a common study for students to learn from some of the best works of time. The stories have many hidden meanings and deep characters with similar themes that still occur today like love, bravery, and revenge. Another theory is that our society has made people look at him differently, students today believe this new modern image of him and not what he really is like back then.


“There are two poles of debate about Shakespeare’s longevity...One is intrinsic to the plays’ universal appeal. But also, one could plausibly argue Shakespeare has been manufactured into what he is today through popular culture...The language is rich, the characters are complex and many of his basic themes – love, treachery, honor, bravery and political intrigue – still resonate today"

-Mark Bayer, an associate professor and chair of the Department of English at UTSA

To whom were William Shakespeare’s sonnets directed? What is the controversy regarding William Shakespeare’s literary works?

William Shakespeare's sonnets were directed towards an older more educated audience but had some parts that everyone would understand. Many people question if Shakespeare really wrote all his plays. It was common back then for writers to steal others work without any laws against copy writing. However, many people also say that his work was so unique with him inventing words and having distant rhythms and patterns, that it is silly to question if it is anyone else's writing.

When was the Renaissance period? What were the three core values of the Renaissance period? Connect them to Shakespeare. How did the renaissance influence Shakespeare’s writing?

The Renaissance period was after Europe's Middle Ages, between 1350 and 1550, and had an increase interest in 'the classical learning and values of ancient Greece and Rome'. The three core values of the Renaissance were Individualism (celebration of the Individual), Humanism (love of classical learning), and Secularism (enjoyment of worldly pleasure).The renaissance period influenced Shakespeare's work because it was a time where people were most interested in the arts and education.

Who were William Shakespeare's audience members? What kinds of messages did he relay to his audience?

There was to 3,000 people in Shakespeares more popular plays and it was mostly men. Common people came to the plays as well as rich. The royalty also enjoyed his plays but would get a separate private showing in a different location. The farther from the stage the seat was, the more money it would cost but also the more respected you were. Plays at this time were cheap so they were a popular entertainment. He used "examples of political and social conduct within his plays, while excluding practical tests of theory, Shakespeare demonstrated how to abandon or adhere to political doctrine without personally taking sides."

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How are women positively and negatively represented in William Shakespeare’s plays? Give an example from Hamlet.

There were no women acting in his plays, so men had to play all women and girl roles. This changed the audiences perspective on the female characters. The positive side to women in his plays was that they did not physically fight against others unlike the men, he showed them as having a higher maturity level on the surface. However, his negative side beamed through when the women were usually behind all bad things that happen. A specific example from Hamlet is Gertrude: he "created a character that sits in the middle of the conflict, and seems intent in defusing it at every turn. That character is Gertrude. She is both mother and peacemaker in a blended family that has just come into an unstable existence. When we first see her, she takes on the unofficial task of reconciling her new husband’s enthusiasm for his recent alliance with her son’s apparent mourning for his recently deceased father."

Shakespeare will be some of the most challenging reading you will attempt. What are some reading tips to ensure or success?

Some steps to help understand the reading:

  • Use a copy of Hamlet that has footnotes and notes
  • Look up list of vocabulary words before hand and have it near you while you read
  • Read summary of the scene before reading text
  • Know these before hand:
  1. 'tis = it is
  2. ope = open
  3. o'er = over
  4. gi' = give
  5. ne'er = never
  6. i'=in
  7. e'er = ever
  8. oft = often
  9. a'=he
  10. e'en = even

Task 3: Hamlet the Plot

Plot of Hamlet

  • The ghost of King Hamlet (last king who recently died) shows up at the Elsinore Castle in Denmark and demands to see his son
  • He tells his son that he was killed by Claudius (Hamlets Uncle) to become king
  • The son Hamlet seems to have gone crazy but is really attempting to find truth in what his father said
  • Finds out his uncle murdered him

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Find out where the real Elsinore is located and try to get a picture.

"Elsinore is a medieval town, first time mentioned in 1231. In 1425, the Danish king Eric of Pomerania builds a fortress there and starts collecting Sound Dues (tolls) from passing merchant ships"

This play is called a revenge tragedy. What is a revenge tragedy?

"A style of drama, popular in England during the late 16th and 17th centuries, in which the basicplot was a quest for vengeance and which typically featured scenes of carnage and mutilation. " -Oxford Dictionary

What are several of the sources from which Shakespeare likely got his idea for the play, Hamlet? Use the links below.

A Danish Story with similar versions from Byzantine, Greek, and Roman myrrh was found. It goes as "Rorik was real enough, a viking who (among other things) was King of Jutland. But Rorik's grandson, Amleth, was a figure of legend rather than history, a heroic avenger who outsmarted his rivals and ended up with two wives. Rorik's daughter, Gerutha, was given in marrriage to his favourite, Horwendil, whose son was Amleth (Hamlet). . . and the legend begins."

Who are the following characters and what are their relationship to Hamlet and to other characters:

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