English Shakespeare Research Task Essay

Submitted By stephhhh101
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Shakespeare’s Biographical details

William Shakespeare’s birthdate is not known, as birthdates were not recorded in this time period; however, it was common for children, at that time, to be baptised three days after their birth. Records at the Holy Trinity Parish Church in Stratford state that Shakespeare was baptised on 26rd April 1564, therefore, it is widely accepted that Shakespeare’s birthdate is the 23rd April 1564. Shakespeare was the first of the six children of Mary Arden and John Shakespeare. His siblings were born between the years of 1564 and 1580 and included Gilbert, Joan, Anne, Richard and Edmund. Shakespeare started school at his local Grammar School, of which he left at the age of thirteen. Shakespeare, at the age of 18, marries Anne Hathaway, who, at the time was 26, on 28th November 1582. They had three children – Susanna, and twins, Judith and Hamnet, born between the years of 1583 and 1585.

William Shakespeare wrote a total of 154 sonnets, 37 plays – most were published after his death. Furthermore he ran an acting company and a theatre. His official profession was acting, most of which took place in London after moving there from Stratford. However, it is often not noted, but he performed in many of his own plays. He performed for Queen Elizabeth I and James I. In about 1594, he became an important member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men Company of theatrical plays. In about 1610 Shakespeare moved back to Stratford. Shakespeare died on his birthday in 1616 at the age of 52 years. He is currently the second most quoted writer in the English language, after various bible writers.

Characteristics of Tragedy

Shakespearean Tragedy is essentially a combination of comedy, tragedy and history. They almost always include the following conventions –
Humor – Puns and unexpected events provide an element of humor
A ‘good’ character that is seemingly almost perfect - the audience expects further success as well as the possibility of desire and sin
Protagonist – Always has a inevitable fault that results in a problem
Fate – Destiny and fate control the lives of the characters, this causes a complexity within the plotline
Supernatural – An inclusion of supernatural beings, such as ghosts, witches and prophesies – this appealed to the audiences at that time
Conflict – Inclusions of seemingly unresolvable problems, foreshadowing, precarious situations and a delay in developing suspense
Soliloquy – Speech made by a singular actor on stage is commonly used to establish mood, opinion, motives, thoughts and feelings
Chain Of Nature – The belief that all actions have consequences is reinforced by the hero’s actions having an affect of the Chain Of Being
Suspense – A sense of suspense keeps audience anxious and curios in regards to the outcome of the protagonists conflict – it triggers intellectual curiosity, leading to emotional curiosity
Juxtapositioning – events/characters are used in opposition of each to highlight and emphasis each
Aside – Comments spoken for only the audiences benefit, are brief, other actors don’t hear them
Spectacular – An inclusion of unusual sights, elaborate costumes, dramatized acting, props through fight scenes, dancing parties, royal courts, banquets and crowd scenes is commonly utilised

Key Historical Events

- 1564 - Michelangelo dies, Galileo is born - The plague kills an eighth of the population in Stratford
-1570 – The potato is introduced to Europe
- 1572 – John Donne is born
- 1577 – Francis Drake begins his voyage around the world, returns in 1580
- 1582 – Plague breaks out in London
- 1585 – Long war with Spain commences
- 1587 – Rose Theatre is built and opens