• Shakespeare’s day of birth is traditionally held to be April 23, it is known he was baptized on April 24 in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. He was probably educated at the local grammar school, was apprenticed to a butcher and than he became a schoolmaster. That Shakespeare was allowed considerable leisure time in his youth is suggested by the fact that his plays show more knowledge of hunting and hawking than do those of other contemporary dramatists. In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway, the daughter of a farmer and he is supposed to have left Stratford after he was caught poaching in the deer park. Shakespeare apparently arrived in London in about 1588 and by 1592 had attained success as an actor and a playwright. He established his reputation as a gifted and popular Renaissance poet with his erotic narrative poems and his Sonnets. He was a sharer in his playing company called The Chamberlain’s Men, later The King’s Men and owned also a part of the Globe Theatre. After 1608, Shakespeare’s dramatic production lessened and it seems that he spent more time in Stratford. There he had established his family. He died on April 23, 1616, and was buried in the Stratford church. Shakespeare’s modern reputation is based mainly on the 38 plays that he wrote, modified, or collaborated on.
• his dramatic career is generally divided into four periods:
(1) the period up to 1594,
(2) the years from 1594 to 1600,
(3) the years from 1600 to 1608, and
(4) the period after 1608.
1) Chronicle history plays were a popular genre of those times and he wrote e.g. Henry VI and Richard III , or a comedy of characters The Taming of the Shrew
2) Outstanding among the comedies of the second period is A Midsummer Night’s Dream with its fantasy-filled insouciance, and a tragedy Romeo and Juliet , famous for its poetic treatment of the ecstasy of youthful love.
3) Shakespeare’s third period includes his greatest tragedies and his so-called dark or bitter comedies :
Hamlet – his most famous play, Shakespeare goes far beyond other tragedies of revenge in picturing the mingled sordidness and glory of the human condition. The interpretation of Hamlet’s motivation and hesitation continues to be the subject of considerable controversy
Othello – portrays the growth of unjustified jealousy in the protagonist, Othello, a Moor serving as a general in the Venetian army. The innocent object of his jealousy is his wife, Desdemona. In this tragedy, Othello’s evil lieutenant Iago draws him into mistaken jealousy in order to ruin him
Macbeth – Shakespeare depicts the tragedy of a great and basically good man who, led on by others and because of a defect in his own nature, succumbs to murderous ambition. In getting and retaining the Scottish throne, Macbeth dulls his humanity to the point where he becomes capable of any amoral act
4) In Cymbeline and The Winter’s Tale characters suffer great loss and pain, but are reunited. Perhaps the most successful product of this particular vein of creativity may be Shakespeare’s last complete play The Tempest
• from Shakespeare I’ve read only Hamlet and have seen Romeo and Juliet; if I should be honest, I must say that what I brought from Romeo and Juliet is only very strong story of love and in Hamlet, I was attracted by the description and depiction of one’s character – I think that Shakespeare managed to portray hesitating but also willing Hamlet perfectly
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20, William Shakespeare
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616)
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