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Colegiul Naţional “Ioan Slavici”

Satu Mare

Shakespeare, a main
Renaissance figure

Profesor Coordonator: Nume: Pop Eliza

Morna Luisa Profil:filologie bilingv-engl.
2009-2010 Clasa: a-XII-a-E


Literature is the art of written works. It is an essential part of any culture.

Literature has always been a way to express feelings, desires, a way to dream, to
love, to hope. Among the history, all sort of literary currents have depeloped from
the concept of literature.
The aim of this certificate work is to describe one of this currents, which is
renaissance and a major English renaissance figure, William Shakespeare. The
writings of this special and mysterious author have always fascinated me. Nobody
knows if William Shakespeare has really written those wonderful plays or sonnets,
but one thing is certain: the treasure that he left us is priceless.
First of all, this was the first author who really attracted my attention to
read universal literature. Writings such as ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Hamlet’,
‘Machbet’ are all works which gave me the oportunity to have an open vision over
the world, to develop my volcabulary, to enrich my spirit with noble feelings.
As well as this, Shakespeare’s opera is covered by mistery. Furthermore, it
is uncertain that William Shakespeare was the original author of his works. There
are many theories which sustain that he was sent the wrtirings by somebody else.
Despite this fact, nobody can neglect the value of his creation.
Secondly, the shakespearian style is full of romantism, but on the other
hand, it has a realitic point of view over the social condition of the human being.
Analizing Shakespeare’s opera, we could discover psilosophical tendencies.
Everybody knows the famous question: ‘To be, or not to be?’ It is amazing how
deeply Shakespeare analises the psychological development of his characters. He
describes in detail Hamlet’s drama, the duality of his mind, the war between death
and life.
In addition, shakespearian tragedies hae shown me another vision of life. I
realised that the relationships between friends or relatives colud turn into ashes.
The person who we love more, can become our enemy, can beome the person who
destrois our life.
Shakespeare is my favourite author in, and I consider him the most valuable
diamond of universal literature. His opera has amazed thousands of generations
with its mistery and complexity.

Table of contents

 Renaissance
 Historical and social backgrounHistorical and social
 The Tudor Years
 Government
 Religion
 England and the rest of the world
 The Litarary Background
 Humanism
 Drama
 William Shakespeare
 Life
 Works
 Shakespeare’s theatrical genius
 The real Shakespeare
 A multilateral writer
 ‘Hamlet’
 ‘A midsummer night’s dream’
 ‘Sonnet 29’
 Conclusion
 References

Chapter I
Historical and social Background

1.The Tudor Years

The kings and queens of England in the sixtennth century all descended
from a Welsh squire, Owen Tudor. This dynasty produced three great leaders who
left an incredible mark on the country.
•Henry VII (1485—1509) restored people’s faith in the monarchy;
•Henry VIII (1509—1547) established the Church of England;
•Elizabeth I (1558—1603) encouraged exploration of and trade with other
continents which would lead later to the creation of the British Empire.
Over the previous century the institution of the monarchy had been greatly
weakened by bitter feuds which meant that one king followed another in quick
succession. Henry VII’s main achievement was to stay in power for over twenty
years and prove that the monarchy could play a stabilising role in the country.
A weak monarchy had meant a strong parliament, but a stronger monarchy meant
a weaker parliament with major decisions being taken in consultation with a very
small group of loyal advisers. In the case of Henry VIII, this often meant only one
adviser, the most influential of whom was the Archbishop of York, Sir Thomas
At local level, the nobles, who had held a lot of power in the Middle Ages, saw
their influence watered down. The private armies that each local lord organised to
help maintain feudal control over his own area were banned, and central
government increasingly took over total responsibility for law and order.
The sixteenth century was the century of the revolt against the Roman
Catholic Church in Europe, which became known as the Reformation
and saw the foundation of the Protestant Churches. The English Reformation was
instigated by Henry VIII and initially revolved around his private life. When he
realised that his wife could not give him the male successor he so desperately
wanted, he asked the Pope to grant him a divorce so that he could marry Anne
Boleyn. When the Pope refused, he decided that the English Church would break
away from Rome, and with the Act of Supremacy in 1534, he became the head of
the Church of England. The irony of this story, which was to have a lasting effect
on English history, is that his new wife bore him a girl, Elizabeth I.
English people, who were glad to see the end of interference by the Pope in
national affairs. Henry consolidated the new Church by closing all the monasteries

between 1536 and 1539, and gradually the Anglican Church took on its role as the
official state Church. The publication of the first Bible in the English language
(1539) and the Book of Common Prayer (1584) helped a great deal to bring the
new religion closer to the people. Not every body agreed with the reformation and
religious disputes were to breed intolerance and violence for many years to come.
Under the reign of Mary, Henry VIII’s daughter by his first wife and a catholic,
protestant leaders were executed, while Elizabeth I, although by no means a
religious fanatic, prohibited the celebration of the catholic mass. It was not until
the following century, however, that the division brought about by the English
Reformation would lead to open conflict.
4.England and the rest of the world

For centuries, England’s main rival in Europe had been France, and this
continued to be the case throughout the reign of Henry VIII, when a
number of wars were fought which brought no great gain to either side. The
balance of power in Europe was changing, however, and the old rivalry between
the two neighbours was to be of secondary importance in the second half of the
sixteenth century.
With the collapse of the Dutch wool market in 1550, England found itself in a
position where it had to find new markets and new forms of trade to sustain
economic and social development. With this aim in mind, Elizabeth I looked
beyond Europe towards America and Asia. The first step towards colonial
expansion was the building of a fleet that could transport goods and protect the
nation’s interests at sea. With the fleet in place, the one great obstacle that
remained in England’s way was Spain. Spanish explorers were already opening up
the American continent for exploitation and had no intention of letting the English
share in their gains. From 1584 almost to the end of Elizabeth’s reign, England
and Spain fought a war for the control of the seas. One of the main protagonists in
the war was Sir Francis Drake, who led the first expedition to circumnavigate the
world between 1577 and 1580. He also took part in the battles that resulted in the
destruction of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Military success meant that the road
was clear for English entrepreneurs to establish colonies and open up new
horizons for trade. Sir Walter Raleigh was one of those intrepid pioneers. He
helped establish a colony in Virginia in North America and brought back potatoes
and tobacco to Europe. On the other side of the world the East India Company,

which was set up in 1601, started to do business with countries in Asia and laid the
foundations for the colonisation of India.
A direct consequence of the war between England and Spain was the
colonisation of Ireland. Elizabeth and her advisers were afraid that the Spaniards
would use Ireland, which had remained Catholic during the Reformation, as a
base to attack England. The Irish were defeated by the forces of Lord Mountjoy in
1601 and their leaders had to flee. Elizabeth also encouraged Protestant farmers to
take land in Ireland in the hope that a sizeable Protestant colony would help pacify

the island. This colonisation continued throughout the seventeenth century and -
was particularly successful in the north of the country.
When the last of the Tudor monarchs Elizabeth I died in 1603 she left THE
TUDOR LEGACY behind a realm that had changed greatly since her grandfather
Henry VII had become king in 1485. It was a prosperous and progressive country
whose monarch Prosperity and progress commanded the respect of the people
both as head of the Anglican Church and head of state. Prosperity brought a
renewed interest in culture and learning. The arts, particularly in the form of
theatre and poetry, flourished. It was a country that had fought to gain respect on
the world stage and would expand its power and influence in a way that must have
been difficult to imagine at the time. However, on the domestic front, storm clouds
were gathering. As James I’s reign drew to a close in 1625, the rivalries between
Parliament and monarchy and between the Trouble ahead different religious
denominations were about to explode into open conflict.

Chapter II
The literary background

Perhaps the most important development in the sixteenth century was the
revival of interest in classical culture known as Humanism.In 1453 Constantinople
fell to the Turks. The Greek refugees who fled to Italy brought with them
masterpieces of Greek literature, science, physics, mathematics, astronomy and
medicine. From Italy, Humanism spread to other countries where it was embraced
by great men of learning such as the Dutchman Erasmus, the Frenchman
Montaigne and the Englishman Thomas More. Humanism was a radical departure
from the principles that governed medieval art and literature. The focus of
attention was no longer God but Man. Love of this world was underlined rather
than preparation for the next. For the first time man was explored as an individual,
and the idea that a man could shape his own destiny was widely accepted.
The re-awakening of interest in classical Greece affected all aspects of culture, and
took place during the period called The Renaissance. Compared to other European
countries such as Italy, the Renaissance came relatively late to England. Its first
great exponent was Thomas More. Thomas More was one of the most influential
figures of his day. He was appointed Lord Chancellor by Henry VIII, making him
the most powerful man in England after the king. He was also a deeply religious
man and refused to acknowledge Henry VIII as the Head of the Church of England
after the schism. Because of this he was arrested and beheaded in 1535. His
greatest work, Utopia, an attack on the evils of English society, was widely read in
England and in many other countries. Utopia, which was published in Latin in
1516 and later translated into English and other languages, is written in the form
of a dialogue between More and an imaginary traveller. It is divided into two
In the first book More denounces England for its corruption, and criticises the
misuse of private property, religious intolerance, the exploitation of workers and
cruelty to animals in the form of hunting.In the second book he describes the
imaginary island of Utopia, which has the best possible form of government, a
society based on shared property, education for both men and women and
religious tolerance.
Under the reign of Elizabeth I the Renaissance flourished. Elizabeth’s reign
was a Elizabeth I period of unprecedented prosperity, and both the court and the
emerging middle patron of the arts classes dedicated a lot of time to art and
literature. The classics were widely studied, and influential Greek and Latin
writers such as Plutarch and Seneca were translated into English.
The c Juntry which had the greatest influence on the development of the English
Italian influence literary Renaissance was Italy. From there the cultural revival

which signalled an end to the medieval period in Europe had sprung up, flourished
and spread across the continent. Leading English writers of the time, including
Shakespeare, admired Italy as the cradle of culture, the home of Dante, Petrarch,
Boccaccio and Bandello. Castiglione’s The Courtier was widely read by the upper
classes and was used as a model for courtly behaviour
While much Renaissance poetry is of a very high quality, the greatest
literary works of the period are plays. The medieval tradition of Mystery and
Miracle plays continued under the reign of Henry VII. However, after the
schism from Rome and the Reformation, Henry VIII put an end to medieval
religious drama. Humanism revived interest in classical drama and the plays of
Plautus, Terence and Seneca, among others, were translated into English,
published and widely read. Seneca’s tragedies were particularly popular and
created a taste for horror and bloodshed. An example of Seneca’s influence on
English drama can be seen in the works of Thomas Kyd. His highly popular play
about bloody revenge called The Spanish Thomas Kyd Tragedy (1587) has many
Senecan elements including horror, villains, (1558—1594) corruption, intrigue and
the supernatural.Early English Renaissance playwrights accepted some of the
conventions of classical theatre, but they adapted the form to suit their needs and
did not content themselves with simply producing poor imitations of classical
models. For several reasons English drama flourished under Elizabeth I and James
I: Why drama flourished theatre appealed to all social classes, from the sovereign
to the lowest class; plays could be understood by the illiterate, who formed the
largest section of the population; there had been a strong theatre-going tradition in
Britain since the Middle Ages;the theatre was patronised by the Court and the
aristocracy; the language of drama was less artificial than that of poetry; there was
a great number of talented playwrights who produced works of extraordinary
qua1ity • the prosperity of ’the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods meant that
people had both the time and money to go to the theatre. Drama was strictly linked
to the Elizabethan world view which emphasised above The principle of order all
else the principle of order. Early Elizabethans believed that a hierarchy existed in
the natural world which ascended from inanimate objects to animals, men, angels
and eventually God. Man was the central link in this chain: his body linked him to
the animal world below him while his soul linked him to the spiritual world above
him. Man was at the centre of the universe because the moon, the sun, the planets
and the stars all revolved in orbit around the earth. A number of factors, however,
weakened Elizabethan beliefs in the principle of Questioning the principle
universal order. The development of modern experimental science, for example, of
order established that the earth and other planets revolved around the sun, thus
displacing man from the centre of creation. In The Prince (1513) Machiavelli
rejected the notion of a divinely ordained political hierarchy and explained how
political power could be won and held with no reference to the will of God. Much

Elizabethan drama is concerned with the hierarchical order of the universe and
what may occur if it is broken. In Macbeth when the king is killed the natural
order of society is broken, and the result is chaos and tragedy. The loss of order is
also reflected in the natural world (darkness in daytime, owls killing falcons,
horses eating each other) and in the inner world of the characters (Lady
Macbeth’s insanity). Only at the end of the play, when the rightful king sits on
the throne, is order restored. The breaking of the laws of order may also result in
comedy. In A Midsummer Nights Dream the disciplined ordered world of Athens
is contrasted with the night-time wood, which is a dark realm of disorder, chaos
and confusion. Elizabethan heroes are no longer the allegorical paragons of
virtue of Medieval drama. They are full of passion and doubts and constantly
question the world that surrounds them.
The two outstanding playwrights of the era were Christopher Marlowe
and William Shakespeare. One of their contemporaries, Ben Jonson, also made a
significant contribution to the drama of the period. He is best remembered for his
play Volpone (1606), a satire on greed and corruption. The main character
Volpone is a rich avaricious Venetian. He is surrounded by people who pretend to
be his friends because they want to inherit his fortune. Volpone pretends to be ill
and tricks his so-called friends into giving him expensive gifts, thus punishing
them for their insincerity. Jonson also wrote a series of successful masques. A
masque was an elaborate form of court entertainment originally developed in Italy
that involved poetic drama, music, song, dance and splendid costuming. The plot
was slight and often introduced mythological and allegorical elements. The
characters, who wore masks, were played by ladies and gentlemen of the court.
The play ended with a dance when the players removed their masks and took
members of the audience as partners.

Chapter 3.

William Shakespeare

The beginnings. Little is known about the events of William Shakespeare’s life.
He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564, probably on April 23rd. His father, a
glover by trade, was a prominent local figure who held important positions in the
government of the town. His mother came from a prosperous local family.
William Shakespeare probably attended Stratford grammar school, but he did not
go on to study at university. When he was eighteen he married Anne Hathaway,
who was eight years his senior, and six months later his first child Susanna was
born, followed three years later by twins Hamnet and Judith.
It is commonly believed that Shakespeare left Stratford to avoid being arrested for
poaching. He went to London where he did a series of jobs, including holding
theatre-goers’ horses outside playhouses. He eventually became an actor, and by
1592 he was sufficiently well-known as a dramatist to be the subject of an attack
by the playwright Robert Greene (1558—1592). Greene wrote a pamphlet in
which he complained that uneducated dramatists were becoming more popular
than university men like himself. In it he called Shakespeare ‘an upstart Crow,
beautified with our feathers’.Success and prosperity In 1595 Shakespeare joined
an important company of actors called The Lord Chamberlain’s Men (later
changed to The King’s Men) and performed at court. His success as a dramatist
grew. He mixed in high social circles and the Earl of Southampton, to whom he
dedicated his sonnets, became his patron and friend. His improved financial
standing allowed him to invest in the building of the Globe Theatre and in 1597 he
bought New Place, the finest house in Stratford. Retirement and death: He retired
to his hometown in 1611, where he died on April 23rd 1616.

His sources. Shakespeare wrote thirty-seven plays in a period of about twenty
years, from 1591 to 1611. He used many sources for his plays including the
classical Greek and Latin writings of Plutarch and Plautus, the Italian works of
Matteo Bandello, Giraldo Cinzio and Ser Giovanni Fiorentino, and the English
historian Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland (1577), a
source of material for many Elizabethan playwrights. Shakespeare did not publish
his plays. Some of his works were put together from notes taken in the theatres or

reconstructed from memory by actors. They are referred to as Bad Quartos.
Quartos are large-sized books made of sheets of folded paper. They are called
‘Bad’ because they are full of gaps and mistakes.In 1623, seven years after
Shakespeare’s death, two former actors and friends of Shakespeare’s, Heminge
and Condell, decided to publish the first collection of his plays. The so-called
First Folio included thirty-five plays that were divided into ‘Comedies, Histories
and Tragedies’.
The Four Periods The plays were not dated. However, approximate dates have
subsequently been given to them based on: references to contemporary events in
the play;references to the works of other writers which are dated;style, plot,
characterisation and metre used in the play.Shakespeare’s plays are usually
divided into four periods: First Period The first period covers the years from 1590
to 1595 and was a period of learning and experimentation. In these years
Shakespeare wrote very different types of plays: chronicle plays dealing with the
history of England, such as Henry VI and Richard III; comedies which include A
Midsummer Nights Dream and The Taming of the Shrew; the tragedies Titus
Andronicus and Romeo and Juliet. Second Period: During the second period,
from 1596 to the turn of the century, Shakespeare focused on chronicle plays and
comedies and it is generally agreed that it was during these years that he wrote his
best comedies, including The Merchant of Venice, The Merry Wives of Windsor,
Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It and Twelfth Night, which base their
comedy on a wide range of themes such as the pain and pleasure of love, mistaken
identity and the degrading of materialistic and humourless people.
Third Period: During the third period, from 1600 to 1608, Shakespeare wrote his
great tragedies. These plays have given world theatre unforgettable characters such
as Hamlet, King Lear, Othello and Macbeth. The comedies that were written in
this period no longer have the bright, optimistic appeal of earlier works. The
darker elements that are found in works such as Measure for Measure seem to
suggest that Shakespeare was experiencing difficulties in his personal life which
made his outlook rather pessimistic. Fourth Period: A return to a happier state of
mind is reflected in the plays of the final period from 1609 to 1612. The Tempest,
for example, is set in the ideal world of an enchanted island where an atmosphere
of magic, music, romance and harmony prevails.

3.Shakespeare’s theatrichal genius

Plays for audiences The relationship between audiences and performers was very
intimate in Elizabethan theatres. Spectators sat on the stage or stood close to the
performer and openly expressed their opinions about what was taking place on
stage. Shakespeare had an unparalleled ability to entertain all sections of his
audiences; the more intellectual elements enjoyed the poetic language and subtle
characterisation of his work while the less educated spectators delighted in the
compelling storylines, gory battlescenes and humorous intrigues.

Variety of themes The variety of timeless themes in Shakespeare’s works is
unsurpassed: the appeal of an unsophisticated life in harmony with nature (As You
Like It);ambition and jealousy, deception and crime (Macbeth, Othello);greed,
corruption and ingratitude (King Lear); love and politics (Antony and Cleopatra);
crime, guilt and punishment (Macbeth, Richard 111); the all-conquering power of
love (i\’Iuch Ado About Nothing);the impatience of youth (Romeo and Juliet);
the pains and pleasures of love (The Merry Wives of Windsor, Much Ado About
Nothing, As You Like It).Unforgettable characters Shakespeare portrayed an
unforgettable gallery of characters: Hamlet, a complex and sensitive idealist who
is paralysed by indecision; King Lear, a proud misguided father who loses his
mind when he understands his daughters’ true nature; . Othello, a naïve victim of
his enemy’s envy and treachery; • Macbeth, a soldier who is transformed into
murderer by ambition;Lady Macbeth, a scheming, ambitious wife who realises,
too late, the horror of what she has done;Richard III, a liar, manipulator and
murderer. Mastery of language The highly poetic quality of the language is a
feature of all Shakespeare’s plays. In Elizabethan theatres scenery and props
were almost non-existent so Shakespeare had to conjure up settings, moods, and
atmospheres with his words. His richly dense language, with its striking imagery
and musicality, is perhaps his greatest legacy. Many of the lines from his
plays are so memorable that they have become everday sayings in the English
language, for example Alls Well That Ends Well (title of a play),‘Neither a
borrower nor a lender be’ (Hamlet).

4.The real Shakespeare
The few existing documents about Shakespeare only certify that he was
born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564, got married at eighteen, had three children,
left Stratford and went to London, became an actor and owned a share of the
Globe Theatre. Evidence also exists that he returned to Stratford in his forties,
bought a big house, looked after his properties and died in 1616. In his will there is
no mention of returns from plays or poems. Only six examples of his handwriting
exist: six signatures, all with a different spelling of his name. His death went
totally unnoticed. Scholars have wondered how someone with Shakespeare’s
social and educational background could know so much about history, Italy, Latin,
Greek and all the other subjects that filled his plays. For over a century now many
have voiced their doubts about the real identity of the author of ‘Shakespeare’s

Chapter 4

A multilateral writer

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a
tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and
1601. The play, set in Denmark, recounts how Prince Hamlet exacts revenge on
his uncle Claudius, who has murdered Hamlet's father, the King, and then taken
the throne and married Gertrude, Hamlet's mother. The play vividly charts the
course of real and feigned madness—from overwhelming grief to seething rage—
and explores themes of treachery, revenge, incest, and moral corruption. Hamlet is
Shakespeare's longest play and among the most powerful and influential tragedies
in the English language. It provides a storyline capable of "seemingly endless
retelling and adaptation by others". During Shakespeare's lifetime, the play was
one of his most popular works and it still ranks high among his most-performed,
topping, for example, the Royal Shakespeare Company's list since 1879. It has
inspired writers from Goethe and Dickens to Joyce and Murdoch and has been
described as "the world's most filmed story after Cinderella". The title role was
almost certainly created for Richard Burbage, the leading tragedian of
Shakespeare's time. In the four hundred years since, it has been played by highly
acclaimed actors, and sometimes actresses, of each successive age.

Hamlet is one of the most quoted works in the English language, and is
often included on lists of the world's greatest literature. As such, it reverberates
through the writing of later centuries. Academic Laurie Osborne identifies the
direct influence of Hamlet in numerous modern narratives, and divides them into
four main categories: fictional accounts of the play's composition, simplifications
of the story for young readers, stories expanding the role of one or more
characters, and narratives featuring performances of the play. Henry Fielding's
Tom Jones, published about 1749, describes a visit to Hamlet by Tom Jones and
Mr Partridge, with similarities to the "play within a play". In contrast, Goethe's
Bildungsroman Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, written between 1776 and
1796, not only has a production of Hamlet at its core but also creates parallels
between the Ghost and Wilhelm Meister's dead father. In the early 1850s, in
Pierre, Herman Melville focuses on a Hamlet-like character's long development as
a writer. Ten years later, Dickens's Great Expectations contains many Hamlet-like

plot elements: it is driven by revenge-motivated actions, contains ghost-like
characters (Abel Magwich and Miss Havisham), and focuses on the hero's guilt.]
Academic Alexander Welsh notes that Great Expectations is an "autobiographical
novel" and "anticipates psychoanalytic readings of Hamlet itself". About the same
time, George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss was published, introducing Maggie
Tulliver "who is explicitly compared with Hamlet" though "with a reputation for
sanity" The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, père makes mention of
Hamlet numerous times and deals with the same revenge theme. In the 1920s,
James Joyce managed "a more upbeat version" of Hamlet—stripped of obsession
and revenge—in Ulysses, though its main parallels are with Homer's Odyssey. In
the 1990s, two women novelists were explicitly influenced by Hamlet. In Angela
Carter's Wise Children, To be or not to be is reworked as a song and dance routine,
and Iris Murdoch's The Black Prince has Oedipal themes and murder intertwined
with a love affair between a Hamlet-obsessed writer, Bradley Pearson, and the
daughter of his rival.

2.’A midsummer night’s dream’
A Midsummer Night's Dream is a romantic comedy by William
Shakespeare. It was suggested by "The Knight's Tale" from Geoffrey Chaucer's
The Canterbury Tales and written around 1594 to 1596. It portrays the adventures
of four young Athenian lovers and a group of amateur actors, their interactions
with the Duke of Athens, Theseus, the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta, and
with the fairies who inhabit a moonlit forest. The play is one of Shakespeare's
most popular works for the stage and is widely performed across the world. It is
unknown exactly when A Midsummer Night's Dream was written or first
performed, but on the basis of topical references and an allusion to Edmund
Spenser for an aristocratic wedding (numerous such weddings took place in 1596),
while others suggest that it was written for the Queen to celebrate the feast day of
St. John. No concrete evidence exists to support either theory. In any case, it
would have been performed at The Theatre and, later, The Globe in London.

Some features of the plot and characters can be traced to elements of earlier
mythologically based literature; for example, the story of Pyramus and Thisbe is
told in Ovid's Metamorphoses and the transformation of Bottom into an ass is
descended from Apuleius' The Golden Ass. Lysander was also an ancient Greek
warlord while Theseus and Hippolyta were respectively the Duke of Athens and
Queen of the Amazons. In addition, Shakespeare could have been working on
Romeo and Juliet at about the same time that he wrote A Midsummer Night's
Dream, and it is possible to see Pyramus and Thisbe as a comic reworking of the
tragic play. A further, seldom noted source is The Knight's Tale in Chaucer's
Canterbury Tales.A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of only three plays in
Shakespeare's canon — the other two being The Tempest and Love's Labour's Lost
for which there is no known source for the main plot.

The play features three interlocking plots, connected by a celebration of the

wedding of Duke Theseus of Athens and the Amazonian queen, Hippolyta, and set
simultaneously in the woodland, and in the realm of Fairyland, under the light of
the moon. In the opening scene, Hermia refuses to follow her father Egeus's
instructions for her to marry his chosen man, Demetrius. In response, Egeus
quotes before Theseus an ancient Athenian law whereby a daughter must marry
the suitor chosen by her father, or else face death. Theseus does not want this
young girl to die, and offers her another choice, lifelong chastity worshipping the
goddess Diana as a nun. Hermia and her lover Lysander decide to elope by
escaping through the forest at night. Hermia informs her friend Helena, but Helena
has recently been rejected by Demetrius and decides to win back his favour by
revealing the plan to him. Demetrius, followed doggedly by Helena, chases
Hermia. Hermia and Lysander, believing themselves safely out of reach, sleep in
the woods. Meanwhile, Oberon, king of the fairies, and his queen, Titania, were in

the forest outside Athens. Titania tells Oberon that she plans to stay there until
after she has attended Theseus and Hippolyta's wedding. Oberon and Titania are
estranged because Titania refuses to give her Indian changeling to Oberon for use
as his "knight" or "henchman," since the child's mother was one of Titania's
worshippers.Because of this argument, the weather goes topsy turvy. Oberon seeks
to punish Titania's disobedience. So he calls for the mischievous Puck (also called
Hobgoblin and Robin Goodfellow) to help him apply a magical juice from a
flower called "love-in-idleness", which when applied to a person's eyelids while
sleeping makes the victim fall in love with the first living thing seen upon
awakening. He instructs Puck to retrieve the flower so that he can make Titania
fall in love with some vile creature of the forest. Oberon streaks Titania's eyes
with the juice while she is sleeping to distract her and force her to give up the

Having seen Demetrius act cruelly toward Helena, Oberon orders Puck to
spread some of the elixir on the eyelids of the young Athenian man. Instead, Puck
accidentally puts the juice on the eyes of Lysander, who then falls in love with
Helena. Oberon sees Demetrius still following Hermia and is enraged. When
Demetrius decides to go to sleep, Oberon sends Puck to get Helena while he
charms Demetrius' eyes. Due to Puck's mistake of putting the juice on Lysander's
eyes, both lovers now fight over Helena instead of Hermia. Helena, however, is
convinced that her two suitors are mocking her, as neither loved her originally.
The four quarrel with each other until Lysander and Demetrius become so enraged
that they seek a place to duel each other to the death to prove whose love for
Helena is the greatest. Oberon orders Puck to keep Lysander and Demetrius from
catching up with one another and to remove the charm from Lysander, so that he
goes back to being in love with Hermia. Meanwhile, a band of six lower-class
labourers ("rude mechanicals", as they are described by Puck) have arranged to
perform a play about Pyramus and Thisbe for Theseus' wedding and venture into
the forest, near Titania's bower, for their rehearsal. Nick Bottom, a stage-struck
weaver, is spotted by Puck, who transforms his head into that of a donkey. When
Bottom returns for his next lines, the other workmen take one look at him and run
screaming in terror. Determined to wait for his friends, he begins to sing to
himself. Titania is awakened by Bottom's singing and immediately falls in love
with him. She treats him like a nobleman and lavishes him with attention. While in
this state of devotion, she encounters Oberon and casually gives him the Indian
boy. Having achieved his goals, Oberon releases Titania and orders Puck to
remove the donkey's head from Bottom. The magical enchantment is removed
from Lysander but is allowed to remain on Demetrius, so that he may reciprocate
Helena's love. The fairies then disappear, and Theseus and Hippolyta arrive on the
scene, during an early morning hunt. They wake the lovers and, since Demetrius
doesn't love Hermia anymore, Theseus over-rules Egeus's demands and arranges a
group wedding. The lovers decide that the night's events must have been a dream.

After they all exit, Bottom awakes, and he too decides that he must have
experienced a dream "past the wit of man." In Athens, Theseus, Hippolyta and the
lovers watch the six workmen perform Pyramus and Thisbe. It is ridiculous and
badly performed but gives everyone pleasure regardless, and afterward everyone
retires to bed. Afterwards, Oberon, Titania, Puck, and other fairies enter, and bless
the house and its occupants with good fortune.

3.’Sonnet 29’
Sonnet 29 William Shakespeare is most known for his plays and poetry.
Most of his work was written between 1589 and 1613. Although he was an active
poet, Shakespeare’s poems did not earn acclaim until the nineteenth century. This
is partly due to the fact that some of his sonnets hinted at homoeroticism which, at
the time, was a forbidden idea. Sonnet 29 is one of Shakespeare’s more ambiguous
sonnets. One does not know who the speaker is referring to or if the word “love”
in this sonnet refers to a romantic love or a platonic love. While it is thought that
Sonnet 29 is about homosexual love, that is just a theory. Sonnet 29 by William
Shakespeare the speaker describing moments of great sadness, in which he cries
over his "outcast state" by himself. This "outcast state" may refer to either a
generally unfavorable standing in society or a lack of financial success in the

playwriting field. One possible explanation for this lack of success is the closing
of London theatres in 1592 due to a plague epidemic. Another suggested reason
for Shakespeare's "outcast state" is an instance of harsh public criticism of
Shakespeare by fellow playwright Robert Greene. The attack may have had a deep
impact on Shakespeare. Yet another possibility of the meaning of the "outcast
state" is that, rather simply, the man was outcast. The speaker then says that in
these times he "trouble[s] deaf heaven with his bootless cries", meaning he feels
his prayers and exhortations are to no avail. The word "trouble" has particular
interest because it suggests that he believes his prayers bother heaven, which
shows a general exhaustion of hope and faith on the part of the speaker. The
speaker then reveals that he is least satisfied in the things he enjoys most.

Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,

Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;

The "turn" at the beginning of the third quatrain occurs when the poet by chance
("haply") happens to think upon the young man to whom the poem is addressed,
which makes him assume a more optimistic view of his own life. The speaker
likens such a change in mood "to the lark at break of day arising, From sullen
earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate". This expression was most probably the
inspiration for American poet Wallace Stevens when he wrote the poem The
Worms at Heaven's Gate in Harmonium. The couplet is an emotional declaration
that remembrance of his friend's love is enough for him to value his position in life
more than a king's. The repeated use of "state" is notable in line 2 and 10 to mean
the Poets general condition, in line 14, with double meaning, it can be read to
mean a country.


William Shakespeare was an ingenious personality of English Renaissance, who

impressed generations with the mistery of his creation. Joseph Addison affirmed in
1712: "Among the English, Shakespeare has incomparably excelled all others.
That noble extravagance of fancy, which he had in so great perfection, thoroughly
qualified him to touch... his reader's imagination, and made him capable of
succeeding, where he had nothing to support him besides the strength of his own

His Characters are so much Nature her self that 'tis a sort of injury to call them by
so distant a name as Copies of her. Those of other Poets have a constant
resemblance, which shews that they receiv'd them from one another and were but
multiplyers of the same image: each picture like a mock-rainbow is but the
reflexion of a reflexion. But every single character in Shakespeare is as much an
Individual as those in Life itself; it is as impossible to find any two alike; and such
as from their relation or affinity in any respect appear most to be Twins will upon
comparison be found remarkably distinct. To this life and variety of Character we
must add the wonderful Preservation of it; which is such throughout his plays that
had all the Speeches been printed without the very names of the persons I believe
one might have apply'd them with certainty to every speaker.

Shakespeare make effect with vitality of the word, and this is what becomes
apparent in reading aloud, when the listener is distracted, not by a flawed or right
presentation.There is no pleasure greater and purer than, with closed eyes,
accompanied a Shakespeare's play, not declaimed, but recited by a safe and natural
voice. Follow up the wires with it simple plot developments. For the description of
the characters we can to imagine certain pictures, but we must, indeed, through a
series of words and speeches, to experiment what is happening internally, and here
all who are part of the story seem to have combined not leave anything obscure or
in doubt. Shakespeare meets with the spirit of the world. He enters the world as it
is spirit. For both, nothing is hidden; but as the work of the spirit of the world is to
store mysteries before the action, or even after, the meaning of the poet is going to
reveal the mystery, making us confident before the action, or just in run it.
Shakespeare stands out singularly, linking the old and new in a lush. Wish and
duty trying to put itself in balance in his plays; both are faced with violence, but
always so that the wish is at a disadvantage. Perhaps no one has made so great as
the first major link of wish and duty in the the individual character as Shakespeare


 ‘Fields of vision’-volume I, by Denis Delaney,

Ciaran Ward, Carla Rho Fiorina-Longman
 http://en.wikipedia.org/
 http://shakespeare.mit.edu/
 http://shakespeare.com/
 http://www.enotes.com/william-
 http://poetry.eserver.org/sonnets/
 http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/shakeson
 http://about-shakespeare.com
 http://absoluteshakespeare.com/trivia/quotes/quot