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Titlu referat: William Shakespeare

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Descriere referat:
William Shakespeare
Shakespeare, William
(1564-1616), English poet and playwright, recognized in much of the world as
the greatest of all dramatists.
A complete, authoritative account of
Shakespeare’s life is
lacking; much supposition surrounds relatively few facts. His day of birth is
traditionally held to be April 23; it is known he was baptized on April 26,
1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. The third of eight children, he was
the eldest son of John Shakespeare, a locally prominent merchant, and Mary
Arden, daughter of a Roman Catholic member of the landed gentry. He was
probably educated at the local grammar school. As the eldest son, Shakespeare
ordinarily would have been apprenticed to his father’s shop so that he could learn and
eventually take over the business, but according to one apocryphal account he
was apprenticed to a butcher because of reverses in his father’s financial situation. In recent
years, it has more convincingly been argued that he was caught up in the
secretive network of Catholic believers and priests who strove to cultivate
their faith in the inhospitable conditions of Elizabethan England. At the turn
of the 1580s, it is claimed, he served as tutor in the household of Alexander
Houghton, a prominent Lancashire Catholic and friend of the Stratford
schoolmaster John Cottom. While others in this network went on to suffer and
die for their beliefs, Shakespeare must somehow have extricated himself, for
there is little evidence to suggest any subsequent involvement in their
circles. In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway, the daughter of a farmer. He is
supposed to have left Stratford after he was caught poaching in the deer park
of Sir Thomas Lucy, a local justice of the peace. Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway
produced a daughter, Susanna, in 1583 and twins-a boy and a girl-in 1585. The
boy died 11 years later.
Shakespeare apparently arrived in London in
about 1588, and by 1592 had attained success as an actor and a playwright.
Shortly thereafter, he secured the patronage of Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of
Southampton. The publication of Shakespeare’s two fashionably erotic narrative
poems Venus and Adonis
(1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594) and of his Sonnets (published 1609, but circulated previously in manuscript)
established his reputation as a gifted and popular Renaissance poet. The
Sonnets describe the
devotion of a character, often identified as the poet himself, to a young man
whose beauty and virtue he praises and to a mysterious and faithless dark lady
with whom the poet is infatuated. The ensuing triangular situation, resulting
from the attraction of the poet’s friend to the dark lady, is treated with passionate intensity and
psychological insight. They are prized for their exploration of love in all its
aspects, and a poem such as “Sonnet 18” is one of the most famous love
poems of all time:
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of
And summer’s lease hath all too short a
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven
And often is his gold complexion
And every fair from fair sometimes
By chance, or nature’s changing course
But thy eternal summer shall not
Nor lose possession of that fair thou
Nor shall Death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou
So long as men can breathe or eyes can
So long lives this, and this gives life to
While the poem may be familiar, it is less
well known that this is an exquisite celebration of a young man’s beauty. The fact that 126 of the 154
sonnets are apparently addressed by a male poet to another man has caused some
critical discomfort over the years. However, Shakespeare’s modern reputation is based mainly on
the 38 plays that he apparently wrote, modified, or collaborated on. Although
generally popular in his day, these plays were frequently little esteemed by
his educated contemporaries, who considered English plays of their own day to
be only vulgar entertainment.
Shakespeare’s professional life in London was
marked by a number of financially advantageous arrangements that permitted him
to share in the profits of his acting company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Company, later called the
King’s Men, and its two
theatres, the Globe Theatre and the Blackfriars. His plays were given special
presentation at the courts of Elizabeth I and James I more frequently than
those of any other contemporary dramatists. It is known that he risked losing
royal favour only once, in 1599, when his company performed “the play of the
deposing and killing of King Richard II” at the request of a group of
conspirators against Elizabeth. They were led by Elizabeth’s unsuccessful court favourite, Robert
Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, and by the Earl of Southampton. In the subsequent
inquiry, Shakespeare’s
company was absolved of complicity in the conspiracy.
After about 1608, Shakespeare’s dramatic production lessened and it
seems that he spent more time in Stratford. There he had established his family
in an imposing house called New Place, and had become a leading local citizen.
He died on April 23, 1616, and was buried in the Stratford church.
Although the precise date of many of
Shakespeare’s plays is in
doubt, his dramatic career is generally divided into four periods: the first
period, involving experimentation, although still clearly influenced by or
imitating Classical models; the second period, in which Shakespeare appears to
achieve a truly individual style and approach; a third, darker period, in which
he wrote not only his major tragedies but also the more difficult comedies,
known as the “problem plays” because their resolutions leave troubling and
unanswered questions; and his final period, when his style blossomed in the
romantic tragicomedies-exotic, symbolic pieces which while happily resolved
involve a greater complexity of vision.
These divisions are necessarily arbitrary ways
of viewing Shakespeare’s
creative development, since his plays are notoriously hard to date accurately,
either in terms of when they were written or when they were first performed.
Commentators differ and the dates in this article should be seen as plausible
approximations. In all periods, the plots of his plays were frequently drawn
from chronicles, histories, or earlier fiction, as were the plays of other
contemporary dramatists.
First Period
Shakespeare’s first period was one of
experimentation. His early plays, unlike his more mature work, are
characterized to a degree by formal and rather obvious construction and often
stylized verse.
Four plays dramatizing the English civil
strife of the 15th century are possibly Shakespeare’s earliest dramatic works. Chronicle
history plays were a popular genre of the time. These plays, Henry VI, Parts I, II, and III (c.
1590-1592) and Richard III
(c. 1593), deal with the evil results of weak leadership and of national
disunity fostered for selfish ends. The cycle closes with the death of Richard
III and the ascent to the throne of Henry VII, the founder of the Tudor
dynasty, to which Elizabeth belonged. In style and structure, these plays are
related partly to medieval drama and partly to the works of earlier Elizabethan
dramatists, especially Christopher Marlowe. Either indirectly through such
dramatists or directly, the influence of the Classical Roman dramatist Seneca
is also reflected in the organization of these four plays, in the bloodiness of
many of their scenes, and in their highly coloured, bombastic language. Senecan
influence, exerted by way of the earlier English dramatist Thomas Kyd, is
particularly obvious in Titus Andronicus (c. 1590), a tragedy of righteous revenge for heinous and bloody
acts, which are staged in sensational detail. While previous generations have
found its violent excesses absurd or disgusting, some directors and critics
since the 1960s have recognized in its horror the articulation of more
contemporary preoccupations with the meanings of violence.
Shakespeare’s comedies of the first period
represent a wide range. The Comedy of
Errors (c. 1592), an uproarious farce in imitation of
Classical Roman comedy, depends for its appeal on the mistakes in identity of
two sets of twins involved in romance and war. Farce is not so strongly
emphasized in The Taming of the Shrew (c. 1592), a comedy of character. The
Two Gentlemen of Verona (c. 1592-1593) depends on the
appeal of romantic love. In contrast, Love’s
Labour’s Lost (c. 1595) satirizes the loves of its main male characters as well
as the fashionable devotion to studious pursuits by which these noblemen had
first sought to avoid romantic and worldly ensnarement. The dialogue in which
many of the characters voice their pretensions ridicules the artificially
ornate, courtly style typified by the works of the English novelist and
dramatist John Lyly, the court conventions of the time, and perhaps the
scientific discussions of Sir Walter Raleigh and his cohorts.
Second Period
Shakespeare’s second period includes his most
important plays concerned with English history, his so-called joyous comedies,
and two major tragedies. In this period, his style and approach became highly
individualized. The second-period historical plays...

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