“ To be or non to be ; that is the inquiry. ” “ O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art 1000 Romeo? ” “ All the universe ‘s a phase, / And all the work forces and adult females simply participants. ” William Shakespeare, the author of these celebrated quotation marks, is the most legendary dramatist, writer, and poet. Over the last four centuries, William Shakespeare and his dramas have developed into a immense and comfortable industry. Shakespeare ‘s differences from all other authors include the original power of thought, his extraordinary control over the largest vocabulary of all time employed by an writer, his digesting wisdom, and his creative activity of more than a 1000 characters, all of whom speak with single voices and appear to hold heads of their ain. To understand who Shakespeare was, it is critical to follow the hints he left behind back into the life he lived and into the written word. Shakespeare transformed his life into his authorship and created attractively, powerful dramas and sonnets that will be everlastingly be analyzed and critiqued for centuries to come.
William Shakespeare was born in Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, boy of John and Mary, on or around April 23, 1564. In Shakespeare ‘s clip, the records of people who lived back so were non really good documented. This is why the exact day of the month of Shakespeare ‘s birth is unknown. But it is written in the parish registry of Holy Trinity Church, in Stratford-upon-Avon, that “ Gulielmus filius Johannes Shakspere ” – William boy of John Shakespeare – was baptized on April 26, 1564. William was the 3rd of eight kids. The first two kids, Joan and Margaret, both died when they were really immature. Then came William himself, Gilbert, another Joan, Anne, Richard, and so youngest Edmund. ( Garber 19 )
As an alderman – or senior councilor – of Stratford, John Shakespeare had the privilege of claiming a free topographic point for his boy at the local grammar school. When William was about seven old ages old, he started his surveies at the King ‘s New School. Though the Stratford school records from the clip make non last, Will about surely attended this school, carry throughing his parents ‘ desire that he learn Latin. He would hold gone six yearss a hebdomad – except for holy yearss like Easter and Christmas – every hebdomad of the twelvemonth. The school twenty-four hours ran from six in the forenoon to six in the eventide, get downing and stoping with supplications. There was a two-hour tiffin interruption. He would hold learned to read from a sort of board called a horn-book. On it were the letters of the alphabet and the Lord ‘s Prayer. ( Garber 19 ) Shakspere references this in one of his dramas called Love ‘s Labour ‘s Lost, “ Monsieur, are you non lettered? / Yes, yes, he teaches boys the horn-book. ” ( 5.1. 44-45 ) The direction at the school was really rigorous with relentless drills, day-to-day analysis of texts, rote memorisation, eternal repeat, all backed up by the menace of force. The male childs were punished if they spoke English to one another alternatively of Latin. No admiration that in As You Like It Shakespeare writes of “ . . . the whining schoolboy, with his satchel / And reflecting forenoon face, crawling like a snail / Unwillingly to school. ” ( 2.7. 145-147 ) Still, even though King ‘s New School was full of difficult work and penalty, the school evidently aroused and fed Will ‘s unlimited craving for linguistic communication.
When he was eleven old ages old, Queen Elizabeth I visited the Kenilworth Castle. Kenilworth was located slightly near Stratford and was the palace of the queen ‘s favourite courtier, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester. When Dudley invited Queen Elizabeth to Kenilworth for a drawn-out stay, he was determined to welcome her in a manner that she would ne’er bury. The earl decided that throughout her visit, there would be an ageless series of all sorts of amusement. There was pageants, dancing, music and poesy readings, cannon shot by twenty-four hours, and pyrotechnics by dark. Everyone enjoyed the hunting, the banqueting, and the colorful and surprising eyeglassess. This was likely the first clip William glimpsed the queen ; for there was a first clip that he glimpsed her – if non a Kenilworth, so someplace else – and his imaginativeness was surely fired by what he saw. ( Bloom 149 ) And the events at Kenilworth, whether immature Will saw them for himself or listened to eyewitness histories of them, seem to hold left hints in his work. Most strikingly, in A Midsummer Night ‘s Dream, Shakespeare articulated a deep cultural phantasy that Leicester ‘s amusements abundantly tried to incarnate. The phantasy was a universe of charming beauty, shot through with concealed forces and bring forthing a free-floating, intense titillating energy. The amusements at Kenilworth Castle were excessive and Dudley made the queen ‘s visit a exultant success.
James Burbage was the manager of amusements for the Kenilworth celebrations and became celebrated as a consequence. When he returned to London in 1575, he thought of a superb thought. He would build a edifice devoted entirely to seting on dramas and amusements. Burbage invented theatres. In 1576, a twelvemonth after the Kenilworth celebrations, Burbage opened the edifice and called it The Theatre. The Theatre was destined, in a few old ages ‘ clip, to play an of import portion in William Shakespeare ‘s life. At the clip of its gap, nevertheless, immature William was merely 12 old ages old and still doing his day-to-day walk “ unwillingly to school. ” ( Bloom 152 )
By the clip Shakespeare was 13, his male parent was hit with fiscal catastrophe. The fortunes are unknown but records indicate that John Shakespeare was acquiring farther and farther into debt. His male parent ‘s fiscal problems about surely resulted in William holding to go forth school at the age of approximately 14 or 15. Precisely what he did after he left school is a enigma. ( Bloom 153 ) Shakspere could hold become a meatman ‘s male child. In his dramas, he seems to cognize so much about the trade of slaughtering meat. He may hold started preparation or done clip as a attorney, physician, crewman, hawker, or nurseryman because the dramas seem to demo so much cognition of these professions excessively. Of class, he may merely hold worked in his male parent ‘s concern, doing and selling leather goods. No 1 knows for certain.
However, what is certain is that when he was 18 – the twelvemonth was 1582 – he fell in love with a 26 twelvemonth old adult female named Anne Hathaway. Through the centuries eighteen twelvemonth old male childs have non been famously eager in such state of affairss to hotfoot to the communion table. William was an exclusion. The urgency to acquire married was pushed by the fact that she was already pregnant with their first kid, Susanna. The subjects of gestation before matrimony and/or matrimonies without official countenance of clergy, recur in a figure of his dramas, chiefly in Measure for Measure. They besides had twins, a male child and a miss, Hamnet and Judith. ( Garber 20 ) Romeo and Juliet ‘s word picture of the frenetic hastiness of the roseola lovers blend together wit, sarcasm, poignance, and disapproval, but Shakespeare conveys above all a deep inward apprehension of what it feels like to be immature, despairing to marry, and tormented by hold. Shakespeare could place with the restlessness of his most celebrated lovers: “ When and where and how / We met, we wooed, and made exchange of vow / I ‘ll state thee as we pass, ” and when Romeo tells Friar Laurence on the forenoon after the Capulet, he says, “ but this I pray, / That thou consent to get married us today ” ( 2.2 61-64 ) .
What is most interesting in Romeo and Juliet, written in 1595, is that it seems that the gender kineticss play a really important portion in the drama. Mercutio and the Nurse seem to run at extremes of the gender spectrum, where Mercutio is the most fiercely male figure in the drama and the Nurse offers a graphic portraiture of muliebrity. It does look, though, that there was a homoerotic connexion between Romeo and himself. In a address by Mercutio, it functions as portion of an on-going effort to dispute Romeo ‘s heterosexual passions:
. . . This is that really Mab
That plaits the Maness of Equus caballuss in the dark,
And bakes the hob locks in disgusting blowsy hairs,
Which one time untangled much bad luck bodes.
This is the beldam, when amahs lie on their dorsums,
That presses them and learns them to first to bear,
Making them adult females of good passenger car
This is she – ( 1.4 87-94 )
Shakspere himself had some homosexual involvement in the Earl of Southampton, whom he wrote sonnets for during the clip when the theatres closed due to the pestilence. ( Bloom 259 )
The gender functions of Romeo and Juliet seem reversed, every bit good. Romeo seems like the more feminine character. Romeo is an cut character, one who falls short of his society ‘s codifications of maleness. He is a extremely feminized character who in legion cases is perceived as effeminate by those around him and reprimanded as such by such disparate characters as Mercutio, Friar Lawrence, and the Nurse. While Romeo is shown as being more feminine, Juliet is shown as a really strong and intelligent adult female. She is a really self-reflexive individual with strength of character. If there was a comparing between Romeo and Juliet, Juliet would look like the more epic character. It is easier to happen the defects in Romeo than in Juliet. Therefore, the gender kineticss of Romeo and Juliet show the different complexnesss of relationships and characters due to the gender functions and the complexness of Shakespeare ‘s feelings towards work forces and adult females and matrimony.
For the following few old ages after his matrimony to Anne Hathaway, there is no historical record detailing where he was or what he was making. But by the twelvemonth of 1588, it seems clear that he had gone to London to happen some sort of employment with a company of histrions. Even though Tudor London might look little by today ‘s criterions, it was seen in its clip to be a immense, hustling, of import topographic point. ( Bloom 220 ) In Shakespeare ‘s dramas, we meet the people of London. Within sight of the whole metropolis stood the Tower, a topographic point of awful executings and secret plans, and in Hamlet we find a prince walking the crenelations of a castle full of slaying and rumours of slaying:
My male parent ‘s spirit in weaponries! All is non good.
I doubt some disgusting drama. Would the dark were come.
Till so, sit still, my psyche. Foul workss will lift,
Though all the Earth o’erwhelm them, to work forces ‘s eyes. ( 1.2 254-57 )
In The Merchant of Venice Antonio, a rich merchandiser, wheels and trades with a money loaner, “ Thou know’st that all lucks are a sea, / Neither have I money nor trade good / To raise a present amount. ” ( 1.1 177-79 ) Like London itself, Shakespeare ‘s dramas teem with life.
When Shakespeare arrived in London, he began his composing calling with the comedies The Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Taming of the Shrew. He besides began a series of plaies based on English history with a drama about the reign of King Henry VI. However, in 1593, merely as Shakespeare was get downing to do a name for himself in London, the pestilence struck the metropolis. In an effort to forestall the pestilence from distributing, the metropolis governments ordered all London theatres to be closed. In 1594, the theatres opened once more. This was the start of Shakespeare ‘s nonstop production of dramas, which lasted until he retired and returned to Stratford in 1611. ( Bloom 231 )
Sadly, his lone boy, Hamnet died in 1596, at the age of 11. ( Hunt 85 ) In the four old ages following Hamnet ‘s decease, the dramatist ‘s dramas seemed to reflect an experience of deep personal loss. In King John, Shakespeare depicted a female parent so frenetic at the loss of her boy that she is driven to ideas of self-destruction. When she is accused of perversely take a firm standing on her heartache, she replies with an facile simpleness that interruptions free from the tangled secret plan:
Grief fills the room up of my absent kid,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Put options on his pretty expressions, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Material out his vacant garments with his signifier. ( 3.4 93-97 )
Whether in the aftermath of Hamnet ‘s decease Shakespeare was sucidal or calm, he threw himself into his work. The ulterior 1590s was an surprisingly busy and productive period in his life.
When Hamlet came to the theatre in 1601, Shakespeare was poised to do an epoch-making discovery. He had perfected the agencies to stand for kernel. When he sat down to compose this calamity, whose doomed hero bore the name of his dead boy, his ideas may hold been intensified by the intelligence that his aged male parent was earnestly sick back in his place town of Stratford. ( Hunt 86 ) The idea of his male parent ‘s decease is profoundly woven into the drama. And the decease of his boy and the at hand decease of his male parent constitute a psychic perturbation that may assist to explicate the explosive power and kernel of Hamlet. With Shakespeare himself ordaining the purging spirit who demands that the life listen carefully to his words, “ lend thy serious hearing / To what I shall blossom ” ( 1.5 5-6 ) , Shakespeare must hold conjured up within himself the voice of his dead boy, the voice of his deceasing male parent, and possibly his ain voice as it would sound when he would be in the grave. With the decease of his boy and impending decease of his male parent, Hamlet was born. The self-destructive ideas of “ To be, or non to be ” , provoked by the decease of a loved one, lie at the bosom of Shakespeare ‘s possibly most celebrated calamity.
When Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, Shakespeare was at the tallness of his composing calling. He had gained both wealth and repute. He was basking a busy life, moving and bring forthing dramas. Fortunately for Shakespeare, the freshly crowned King James I of England was acute to promote high-grade amusement for his state. It seems that masks – a signifier of play favored by King James I – did non truly appeal to Shakespeare. This art signifier was highly popular among the ladies and Lords of the tribunal. In fact, their new popularity in the tribunal may hold led Shakespeare to give up his authorship. From late 1609 to 1611, Shakespeare wrote his concluding group of dramas, Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter ‘s Tale, and The Tempest. ( Bloom 603 ) These later plants shows a gentler, quieter temper, which creates a more intimate relationship with the audience. The dramatist had passed through a hard period of his life and had now achieved repose and the unagitated wisdom and penetration of experience. It so happens that The Tempest is one of his last dramas and in it there is a address by Prospero that sounds to many people like Shakespeare himself subscribing off from making all the phase thaumaturgy of the old 20 old ages and more:
Our revels now are ended. These our histrions,
As I foretold you, were all liquors, and
Are melted into air, into thin air ;
And like the groundless cloth of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous castles,
The solemn temples, the great Earth itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall fade out ;
And, like this unsubstantial pageant faded,
Leave non a rack behind. We are such material
As dreams are made on, and our small life
Is rounded with a slumber. ( 4.1 148-58 )
By the clip Shakespeare decided to retire, theatres had been a well-established portion of London for over 30 old ages. Many gifted authors had emerged and all still retrieve for their dramas today: Ben Jonson, John Fletcher, Thomas Dekker, John Marston, and many more. But none of these matched Shakspere in the quality of assortment of his dramas.
Shakespeare ‘s friends and co-workers in London must hold been often in his ideas as he settled down in Stratford. But from 1611 on, he became more and more involved in his ain personal businesss. His male parent had died in 1601 and his female parent died in 1608, right before William returned to Stratford. Then unhappily, his two younger brothers, Edmund and Gilbert, died within months of each other in 1612 and 1613. However, there were happier times in Shakespeare ‘s concluding old ages. His oldest girl Susanna married a comfortable local physician, Dr. John Hall. In 1616, the lasting twin, Judith, married a long standing friend of the household, Thomas Quinley. He settled his personal businesss and completed his will closely before his birthday on April 23. No 1 would hold guessed that this birthday would besides be the twenty-four hours on which William Shakespeare would decease. But no 1 knows the exact inside informations of his decease, except that it was sudden. His grave is marked by funny four-line poetry addressed to those who have come to see his commemoration:
Good friend, for Jesus interest forbeare
To delve the dust enclosed heare.
Bleste be the adult male that spares these rocks
And curst be he that moves my castanetss.
Why there is such a menace, no 1 knows. ( Garber 21 )
The life of William Shakespeare is everlastingly interwoven within each of his dramas and verse forms. What is frequently described as the eternity of Shakespeare, the transcendent qualities for which his dramas have been praised around the universe and across the centuries, is possibly better understood as an eldritch seasonableness, a capacity to talk straight to fortunes the dramatist could non hold anticipated or foreseen. As Shakespeare ‘s great rival and supporter, the poet and dramatist Ben Jonson one time said, “ He was non of an age, but for all clip. ”