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. Its plot is based on an Italian tale, translated into verse as The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke in 1562, and retold in prose in Palace of Pleasure by William Painter in 1582. Shakespeare borrowed heavily from both, but developed supporting characters, particularly Mercutio and Paris, in order to expand the plot. Romeo and Juliet borrows from a tradition of tragic love stories dating back to antiquity. One of these is Pyramus and Thisbe, from Ovid's Metamorphoses,
CHARACTERS Romeo - The son and heir of Montague and Lady Montague. A young man of about sixteen, Romeo is handsome, intelligent, and sensitive. Juliet A beautiful thirteen-year-old girl and the daughter of Capulet and Lady Capulet. Friar Lawrence - A Franciscan friar, friend to both Romeo and Juliet. He is kind, civic-minded, a proponent of moderation, and always ready with a plan. Mercutio - A kinsman to the Prince, and Romeo’s close friend. The Nurse - Juliet’s nurse, the woman who breast-fed Juliet when she was a baby and has cared for Juliet her entire life. Tybalt - A Capulet, Juliet’s cousin on her mother’s side. He is vain, fashionable, and supremely aware of courtesy and the lack of it.
PLOT In the streets of Verona another brawl breaks out between the servants of the feuding noble families of Capulet and Montague. Benvolio, a Montague, tries to stop the fighting, but is embroiled when the rash Capulet, Tybalt, arrives on the scene. After citizens outraged by the constant violence beat back the warring factions, Prince Escalus, the ruler of Verona, attempts to prevent any further conflicts between the families by decreeing death for any individual who disturbs the peace in the future. Romeo, the son of Montague, runs into his cousin Benvolio, who had earlier seen Romeo moping in a grove of sycamores. After some prodding by Benvolio, Romeo confides that he is in love with Rosaline, a woman who does not return his affections. Benvolio counsels him to forget this woman and find another, more beautiful one, but Romeo remains despondent. Meanwhile, Paris, a kinsman of the Prince, seeks Juliet’s hand in marriage. Her father Capulet, though happy at the match, asks Paris to wait two years, since Juliet is not yet even fourteen. Capulet dispatches a servant with a list of people to invite to a masquerade and feast he traditionally holds. He invites Paris to the feast, hoping that Paris will begin to win Juliet’s heart. Romeo and Benvolio, still discussing Rosaline, encounter the Capulet servant bearing the list of invitations. Benvolio suggests that they attend, since that will allow Romeo to compare his beloved to other beautiful women of Verona. Romeo agrees to go with Benvolio to the feast, but only because Rosaline, whose name he The
THEMES/SYMBOLS/ MOTIFS Themes The Forcefulness of Love (The play focuses on romantic love, specifically the intense passion that springs up at first sight between Romeo and Juliet. In Romeo and Juliet, love is a violent, ecstatic, overpowering force that supersedes all other values, loyalties, and emotions). Love as a Cause of Violence (Love, in Romeo and Juliet, is a grand passion, and as such it is blinding; it can overwhelm a person as powerfully and completely as hate can). Individual versus Society (Much of Romeo and Juliet involves the lovers’ struggles against public and social
Renaissance (fourteenth or fifteenth century)
· Verona and Mantua (cities in northern Italy)
which contains parallels to Shakespeare's story: the lovers' parents despise each other, and Pyramus falsely believes his lover Thisbe is dead.The Ephesiaca of Xenophon of Ephesus, written in the 3rd century, also contains several similarities to the play, including the separation of the lovers, and a potion which induces a deathlike sleep.
reads on the list, will be there. Capulet - The patriarch of the Capulet family, father of Juliet, husband of Lady Capulet, and enemy, for unexplained reasons, of Montague. Lady Capulet - Juliet’s mother, Capulet’s wife. Montague - Romeo’s father, the patriarch of the Montague clan and bitter enemy of Capulet. Lady Montague - Romeo’s mother, Montague’s wife. Paris - A kinsman of the Prince, and the suitor of Juliet most preferred by Capulet. Benvolio - Montague’s nephew, Romeo’s cousin and thoughtful friend. Prince Escalus - The Prince of Verona. A kinsman of Mercutio and Paris. Friar John - A Franciscan friar charged by Friar Lawrence with taking the news of Juliet’s false death to Romeo in Mantua. Balthasar - Romeo’s dedicated servant, who In Capulet’s household, young Juliet talks with her mother, Lady Capulet, and her nurse about the possibility of marrying Paris. Juliet has not yet considered marriage, but agrees to look at Paris during the feast to see if she thinks she could fall in love with him. The feast begins. A melancholy Romeo follows Benvolio and their witty friend Mercutio to Capulet’s house. Once inside, Romeo sees Juliet from a distance and instantly falls in love with her; he forgets about Rosaline completely. As Romeo watches Juliet, entranced, a young Capulet, Tybalt, recognizes him, and is enraged that a Montague would sneak into a Capulet feast. He prepares to attack, but Capulet holds him back. Soon, Romeo speaks to Juliet, and the two experience a profound attraction. They kiss, not even knowing each other’s names. When he finds out from Juliet’s nurse that she is the daughter of Capulet—his family’s enemy— he becomes distraught. When Juliet learns that the young man she has just kissed is the son of Montague, she grows equally upset. As Mercutio and Benvolio leave the Capulet estate, Romeo leaps over the orchard wall into the garden, unable to leave Juliet behind. From his hiding place, he sees Juliet in a window above the orchard and hears her speak his name. He calls out to her, and they exchange vows of love. Romeo hurries to see his friend and confessor Friar Lawrence, who, though shocked at the sudden turn of Romeo’s heart, agrees to marry the young lovers in secret since he sees in their love the possibility of ending the age-old feud between Capulet and Montague. The following day, Romeo and Juliet meet at Friar Lawrence’s cell and are married. The Nurse, who is privy to institutions that either explicitly or implicitly oppose the existence of their love. Such structures range from the concrete to the abstract: families and the placement of familial power in the father; law and the desire for public order; religion; and the social importance placed on masculine honor). The Inevitability of Fate (The mechanism of fate works in all of the events surrounding the lovers: the feud between their families; the horrible series of accidents that ruin Friar Lawrence’s seemingly wellintentioned plans at the end of the play; and the tragic timing of Romeo’s suicide and Juliet’s awakening. These events are not mere coincidences, but rather manifestations of
brings Romeo the news of Juliet’s death, unaware that her death is a ruse. Sampson & Gregory - Two servants of the house of Capulet, who, like their master, hate the Montagues. Abram - Montague’s servant, who fights with Sampson and Gregory in the first scene of the play. The Apothecary - An apothecary in Mantua. Peter - A Capulet servant who invites guests to Capulet’s feast and escorts the Nurse to meet with Romeo. Rosaline - The woman with whom Romeo is infatuated at the beginning of the play.
the secret, procures a ladder, which Romeo will use to climb into Juliet’s window for their wedding night. The next day, Benvolio and Mercutio encounter Tybalt—Juliet’s cousin—who, still enraged that Romeo attended Capulet’s feast, has challenged Romeo to a duel. Romeo appears. Now Tybalt’s kinsman by marriage, Romeo begs the Capulet to hold off the duel until he understands why Romeo does not want to fight. Disgusted with this plea for peace, Mercutio says that he will fight Tybalt himself. The two begin to duel. Romeo tries to stop them by leaping between the combatants. Tybalt stabs Mercutio under Romeo’s arm, and Mercutio dies. Romeo, in a rage, kills Tybalt. Romeo flees from the scene. Soon after, the Prince declares him forever banished from Verona for his crime. Friar Lawrence arranges for Romeo to spend his wedding night with Juliet before he has to leave for Mantua the following morning. In her room, Juliet awaits the arrival of her new husband. The Nurse enters, and, after some confusion, tells Juliet that Romeo has killed Tybalt. Distraught, Juliet suddenly finds herself married to a man who has killed her kinsman. But she resettles herself, and realizes that her duty belongs with her love: to Romeo. Romeo sneaks into Juliet’s room that night, and at last they consummate their marriage and their love. Morning comes, and the lovers bid farewell, unsure when they will see each other again. Juliet learns that her father, affected by the recent events, now intends for her to marry Paris in just three days. Unsure of how to proceed—unable to reveal to her parents that she is married to Romeo, but unwilling to marry Paris now that she is Romeo’s wife—Juliet asks her Nurse for advice. She counsels Juliet to proceed as if Romeo were dead and to marry
fate that help bring about the unavoidable outcome of the young lovers’ deaths). Motifs Light/Dark Imagery Opposite Points of View Symbols Poison (Poison is not intrinsically evil, but is instead a natural substance made lethal by human hands). Thumb-biting (The thumbbiting, as an essentially meaningless gesture, represents the foolishness of the entire Capulet/Montague feud and the stupidity of violence in general). Queen Mab
Paris, who is a better match anyway. Disgusted with the Nurse’s disloyalty, Juliet disregards her advice and hurries to Friar Lawrence. He concocts a plan to reunite Juliet with Romeo in Mantua. The night before her wedding to Paris, Juliet must drink a potion that will make her appear to be dead. After she is laid to rest in the family’s crypt, the Friar and Romeo will secretly retrieve her, and she will be free to live with Romeo, away from their parents’ feuding. Juliet returns home to discover the wedding has been moved ahead one day, and she is to be married tomorrow. That night, Juliet drinks the potion, and the Nurse discovers her, apparently dead, the next morning. The Capulets grieve, and Juliet is entombed according to plan. But Friar Lawrence’s message explaining the plan to Romeo never reaches Mantua. Its bearer, Friar John, gets confined to a quarantined house. Romeo hears only that Juliet is dead. Romeo learns only of Juliet’s death and decides to kill himself rather than live without her. He buys a vial of poison from a reluctant Apothecary, then speeds back to Verona to take his own life at Juliet’s tomb. Outside the Capulet crypt, Romeo comes upon Paris, who is scattering flowers on Juliet’s grave. They fight, and Romeo kills Paris. He enters the tomb, sees Juliet’s inanimate body, drinks the poison, and dies by her side. Just then, Friar Lawrence enters and realizes that Romeo has killed Paris and himself. At the same time, Juliet awakes. Friar Lawrence hears the coming of the watch. When Juliet refuses to leave with him, he flees alone. Juliet sees her beloved Romeo and realizes he has killed himself with poison. She kisses his poisoned lips, and when that does not kill her, buries his dagger in her chest, falling dead upon his body.
The watch arrives, followed closely by the Prince, the Capulets, and Montague. Montague declares that Lady Montague has died of grief over Romeo’s exile. Seeing their children’s bodies, Capulet and Montague agree to end their long-standing feud and to raise gold statues of their children side-by-side in a newly peaceful Verona. TROILUS AND CRESSIDA Shakespeare drew on a number of sources for this plotline, in particular Chaucer's version of the tale, Troilus and Criseyde, but also John Lydgate's Troy Book and Caxton's translation of the Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye. The story of the persuasion of Achilles into battle is drawn from Homer's Iliad (perhaps in the translation by George Chapman), and from various medieval and Renaissance retellings. The story was a popular one for dramatists in the early 1600s and Shakespeare may Troilus - A prince of Troy. The younger brother of Hector and Paris, he is a valiant warrior and an honorable man. Cressida - A beautiful young Trojan woman. The daughter of Calchas, a Trojan priest who defected to the Greek camp, she becomes Troilus's lover. Hector - A prince of Troy. The greatest warrior on the Trojan side--and matched in might only by Achilles himself--he is a hero to his entire city and is respected even by his enemies. Ulysses - One of the Greek commanders. A highly intelligent, even philosophical man, he is renowned for his cunning. Pandarus Cressida's uncle. He serves as a gobetween for Troilus and Cressida, acting as a kind In the seventh year of the Trojan War, a Trojan prince named Troilus falls in love with Cressida, the daughter of a Trojan priest who has defected to the Greek side. Troilus is assisted in his pursuit of her by Pandarus, Cressida's uncle. Meanwhile, in the Greek camp, the Greek general, Agamemnon, wonders why his commanders seem so downcast and pessimistic. The wise and crafty Ulysses informs him that the army's troubles spring from a lack of respect for authority, brought about by the behavior of Achilles, the greatest Greek warrior, who refuses to fight and instead spends his time sitting in his tent with his comrade (and lover) Patroclus, mocking his superiors. Shortly thereafter, a challenge to single combat arrives from Prince Hector, the greatest Trojan warrior, and Ulysses decides to have Ajax, a headstrong fool, fight Hector instead of Achilles, in the hopes that this snub will wound Achilles's pride and bring him back into the war. In Troy, the sons of King Priam debate whether it is worthwhile to continue the war--or whether they should return Helen to the Greeks and end the struggle. Hector argues for peace, but he is won over by the impassioned Troilus, who wants to continue the struggle. In the Greek camp, Thersites, Ajax's foul-mouthed slave, abuses everyone who crosses his path. His master, meanwhile, has been honored by the commanders over the sulking Achilles, and is to fight Hector the next day. Themes Ignorance breeds mediocrity. The central characters in the play do not understand themselves and do not learn from their mistakes. Consequently, they do not grow or change radically; they remain small and mediocre. Love is blind. Troilus falls in love with Cressida without due heed to her faults. Fame and glory are false gods. The Greeks and Trojans kill for glory, bragging rights, and eternal fame–false gods that entice them onto the path of self-destruction. It is folly to fight a war for a trivial reason. The Greeks and Trojans went to war after Paris took Helen from King Menelaus, bruising Greek pride and honor. After seven years of war, the combatants stubbornly continue to fight. Appearances are deceiving.
It is set in the city of Troy and surrounding plains in northwestern Anatolia, a region in the Asia Minor that is part of modern-day Turkey. The action takes place in Troy and the Greek camp outside the walls of Troy. Anatolia is west of Greece (across the Aegean Sea) and north of Egypt (across the Mediterranean Sea). The time is about 3,200 years ago in recorded history's infancy.
have been inspired by contemporary plays. Thomas Heywood's two-part play The Iron Age also depicts the Trojan war and the story of Troilus and Cressida, but it is not certain whether his or Shakespeare's play was written first. In addition, Thomas Dekker and Henry Chettle wrote a play called Troilus and Cressida at around the same time as Shakespeare, but this play survives only as a fragmentary plot outline.
of cheerful, bawdy pimp for his niece. Thersites - A deformed slave serving Ajax who has a vicious, abusive tongue. Achilles - The greatest of the Greek warriors, he is also an arrogant, vicious thug, who refuses to fight in the war whenever his pride is injured. Ajax - A Greek warrior, he is as proud as Achilles, but less intelligent and less skilled in battle. Agamemnon The Greek general, and the elder brother of Menelaus. Diomedes A Greek commander who seduces Cressida. Paris - A prince of Troy. His theft of Menelaus's wife, Helen, precipitated the Trojan War. Menelaus A Greek commander, Agamemnon's brother, and the abandoned husband of Helen. Helen - Menelaus's wife.
That night, Pandarus brings Troilus and Cressida together, and after they pledge to be forever true to one another, he leads them to a bedchamber to consummate their love. Meanwhile, Cressida's father, the treacherous Trojan priest Calchas, asks the Greek commanders to exchange a Trojan prisoner for his daughter, so that he may be reunited with her. The commanders agree, and the next morning--to Troilus and Cressida's dismay--the trade is made, and a Greek lord named Diomedes leads Cressida away from Troy. That afternoon, Ajax and Hector fight to a draw, and after Hector and Achilles exchange insults, Hector and Troilus feast with the Greeks under a flag of truce. As the camp goes to bed, Ulysses leads Troilus to the tent of Calchas, where the Trojan prince watches from hiding as Cressida agrees to become Diomedes's lover. The next day, in spite of unhappy premonitions from his wife, sister, and his father, Hector takes the field, and a furious and heartbroken Troilus accompanies him. The Trojans drive the Greeks back, but Patroclus is killed, which brings a vengeful Achilles back into the war, finally. Achilles is unable to defeat Hector in single combat, but he later catches him unarmed and, together with a gang of Greek warriors, slaughters him. Achilles then drags Hector's body around the walls of Troy, and the play ends with the Trojan warriors retreating to the city to mourn their fallen hero.
Outwardly, Cressida and Helen are beautiful and charming; the various warriors, handsome and mighty. Inwardly, they are all ugly, spiteful, weak, and/or depraved.
Her elopement with Paris led to the Trojan War. Calchas - A Trojan priest, and Cressida's father. He defected to the Greeks in the early days of the war. Aeneas A commander. Trojan
Nestor - The oldest of the Greek commanders. Cassandra - A Trojan princess and prophetess; she is considered mad. Patroclus A Greek warrior. Achilles's best friend--and, it is suggested, his lover. Priam - The king of Troy, and the father of Hector, Paris, and Troilus, among others. Antenor A Trojan commander, he is exchanged for Cressida after his capture by the Greeks. Helenus Troy. A prince of
Andromache - Hector's wife. TAMING OF THE
Katherine - The “shrew” of the play’s title,
IN THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE, a poor tinker named Christopher Sly becomes the target of a prank
SHREW The basic elements of the story are present in the 14thcentury Castilian tale by Don Juan Manuel of the "young man who married a very strong and fiery woman". The play's subplot, involving the characters Bianca and Lucentio, derives from Ludovico Ariosto's I Suppositi, either directly or through George Gascoigne's English version Supposes (performed 1566, printed 1573).
· Unspecific, though presumably sometime during the Italian Renaissance
Katherine, or Kate, is the daughter of Baptista Minola, with whom she lives in Padua. Petruccio - Petruccio is a gentleman from Verona. Loud, boisterous, eccentric, quick-witted, and frequently drunk, he has come to Padua “to wive and thrive.” Bianca - The younger daughter of Baptista. She is soft-spoken, sweet, and unassuming. Baptista - Minola Baptista is one of the wealthiest men in Padua, and his daughters become the prey of many suitors due to the substantial dowries he can offer. He is goodnatured, if a bit superficial. Lucentio - A young student from Pisa, the good-natured and intrepid Lucentio comes to Padua to study at the city’s renowned university. Tranio - Lucentio’s servant who is wry and comical. Gremio and Hortensio - Two gentlemen of Padua. Gremio and
· Padua, a city-state in Italy prominent during the Renaissance
by a local lord. Finding Sly drunk out of his wits in front of an alehouse, the lord has his men take Sly to his manor, dress him in his finery, and treat him as a lord. When Sly recovers, the men tell him that he is a lord and that he only believes himself to be a tinker because he has been insane for the past several years. Waking in the lord’s bed, Sly at first refuses to accept the men’s story, but when he hears of his “wife,” a pageboy dressed in women’s clothing, he readily agrees that he is the lord they purport him to be. Sly wants to be left alone with his wife, but the servants tell him that a troupe of actors has arrived to present a play for him. The play that Sly watches makes up the main story of The Taming of the Shrew. In the Italian city of Padua, a rich young man named Lucentio arrives with his servants, Tranio and Biondello, to attend the local university. Lucentio is excited to begin his studies, but his priorities change when he sees Bianca, a beautiful, mild young woman with whom Lucentio instantly falls in love. There are two problems: first, Bianca already has two suitors, Gremio and Hortensio; second, Bianca’s father, a wealthy old man named Baptista Minola, has declared that no one may court Bianca until first her older sister, the vicious, ill-tempered Katherine, is married. Lucentio decides to overcome this problem by disguising himself as Bianca’s Latin tutor to gain an excuse to be in her company. Hortensio disguises himself as her music teacher for the same reason. While Lucentio pretends to be Bianca’s tutor, Tranio dresses up as Lucentio and begins to confer with Baptista about the possibility of marrying his daughter. The Katherine problem is solved for Bianca’s suitors when Hortensio’s friend Petruccio, a brash young man from Verona, arrives in Padua to find a wife. He intends to marry a rich woman,
Marriage as an Economic Institution The Taming of the Shrew emphasizes the economic aspects of marriage— specifically, how economic considerations determine who marries whom. Renaissance Italy promotes inequality of females by forcing them into submissive roles. The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy that satirizes silly and unfair social customs and behaviors that favor males. Consider that Baptista Minola treats his daughters, Bianca and Katharina, like marionettes, expecting them always to do his bidding. It is he who decides whom Bianca will marry (the richest bachelor), and it is he who orders Katharina's betrothal to Petruchio, a man she says she despises. Consider, too, that Petruchio forces Katharina to acknowledge that he is always right, even when he says the sun is the moon. At the end of the play, all of the husbands brag about what they apparently believe is an important quality of a wife: submissiveness. Some women must be
Hortensio are Bianca’s suitors at the beginning of the play. Grumio - Petruccio’s servant and the fool of the play—a source of much comic relief. Biondello - Lucentio’s second servant, who assists his master and Tranio in carrying out their plot. Christopher Sly - The principal character in the play’s brief Induction, Sly is a drunken tinker, tricked by a mischievous nobleman into thinking that he is really a lord.
and does not care what she is like as long as she will bring him a fortune. He agrees to marry Katherine sight unseen. The next day, he goes to Baptista’s house to meet her, and they have a tremendous duel of words. As Katherine insults Petruccio repeatedly, Petruccio tells her that he will marry her whether she agrees or not. He tells Baptista, falsely, that Katherine has consented to marry him on Sunday. Hearing this claim, Katherine is strangely silent, and the wedding is set. On Sunday, Petruccio is late to his own wedding, leaving Katherine to fear she will become an old maid. When Petruccio arrives, he is dressed in a ridiculous outfit and rides on a -broken-down horse. After the wedding, Petruccio forces Katherine to leave for his country house before the feast, telling all in earshot that she is now his property and that he may do with her as he pleases. Once they reach his country house, Petruccio continues the process of “taming” Katherine by keeping her from eating or sleeping for several days—he pretends that he loves her so much he cannot allow her to eat his inferior food or to sleep in his poorly made bed. In Padua, Lucentio wins Bianca’s heart by wooing her with a Latin translation that declares his love. Hortensio makes the same attempt with a music lesson, but Bianca loves Lucentio, and Hortensio resolves to marry a wealthy widow. Tranio secures Baptista’s approval for Lucentio to marry Bianca by proposing a huge sum of money to lavish on her. Baptista agrees but says that he must have this sum confirmed by Lucentio’s father before the marriage can take place. Tranio and Lucentio, still in their respective disguises, feel there is nothing left to do but find an old man to play the role of Lucentio’s father. Tranio enlists the help of an old pedant, or schoolmaster, but as the pedant
tamed, like wild animals. Petruchio uses the same tactics to tame Katharina that he uses to tame hunting birds and other animals. Money makes the man–and woman. Lucentio gets Bianca because he has the most money. Katharina gets a suitor, Petruchio, because she has a handsome dowry. Love at first SIGHT. When they first meet, Katharina and Petruchio engage in a battle of insults. It is clear during their exchange that opposites attract and that they are destined to marry and become strange bedfellows. Don't drink and drowse. In the induction, Christopher Sly dozes on the side of a road in the English countryside after getting drunk. Mischievous passersby play an elaborate trick on him deceiving him into believing that he is a lord who has just come through 15 years of insanity. All of which proves that in vino, there is no veritas. Kill with kindness. Using reverse psychology, Petruchio praises, pampers, and coddles Katharina in order to rob her of occasion to complain and thereby kill her scolding tongue.
speaks to Baptista, Lucentio and Bianca decide to circumvent the complex situation by eloping. Katherine and Petruccio soon return to Padua to visit Baptista. On the way, Petruccio forces Katherine to say that the sun is the moon and that an old man is really a beautiful young maiden. Since Katherine’s willfulness is dissipating, she agrees that all is as her -husband says. On the road, the couple meets Lucentio’s father, Vincentio, who is on his way to Padua to see his son. In Padua, Vincentio is shocked to find Tranio masquerading as Lucentio. At last, Bianca and Lucentio arrive to spread the news of their marriage. Both Vincentio and Baptista finally agree to the marriage. At the banquet following Hortensio’s wedding to the widow, the other characters are shocked to see that Katherine seems to have been “tamed”—she obeys everything that Petruccio says and gives a long speech advocating the loyalty of wives to their husbands. When the three new husbands stage a contest to see which of their wives will obey first when summoned, everyone expects Lucentio to win. Bianca, however, sends a message back refusing to obey, while Katherine comes immediately. The others acknowledge that Petruccio has won an astonishing victory, and the happy Katherine and Petruccio leave the banquet to go to bed. The Effect of Social Roles on Individual Happiness The primary excitement in The Taming of the Shrew stems from its permeable social boundaries, crisscrossed continually by those who employ a disguise or a clever lie. In the end, however, the conventional order reestablishes itself, and those characters who harmonize with that order achieve personal happiness. Motifs Disguise Domestication Fathers and their Children Symbols Petruccio’s Wedding Costume (The ridiculous outfit Petruccio wears to his wedding with Kate symbolizes his control over her. Simply by wearing the costume, he is able to humiliate
her. The outfit also symbolizes the transient nature of clothing.) The Haberdasher’s Cap and Tailor’s Gown (The cap and gown that Petruccio denies Katherine, despite the fact that she finds them truly appealing, symbolizes yet again his power over her. The outfit functions as a kind of bait used to help convince Kate to recognize and comply with Petruccio’s wishes. Only he has the power to satisfy her needs and desires, and this lesson encourages her to satisfy him in return.) THE TEMPEST
· The Renaissance
The Tempest may take its overall structure from traditional Italian commedia dell'arte, which sometimes featured a magus and his daughter, their supernatural attendants, and a number of rustics. The commedia often featured a clown known as Arlecchino (or his predecessor, Zanni) and his partner Brighella,
island in the Mediterranean sea, probably off the coast of Italy
Prospero - The play’s protagonist, and father of Miranda. Twelve years before the events of the play, Prospero was the duke of Milan. Miranda - The daughter of Prospero, Miranda was brought to the island at an early age and has never seen any men other than her father and Caliban, though she dimly remembers being cared for by female servants as an infant. Ariel - Prospero’s spirit helper. He is mischievous and ubiquitous, able to traverse the length of the
A STORM STRIKES A SHIP carrying Alonso, Ferdinand, Sebastian, Antonio, Gonzalo, Stefano, and Trinculo, who are on their way to Italy after coming from the wedding of Alonso’s daughter, Claribel, to the prince of Tunis in Africa. The royal party and the other mariners, with the exception of the unflappable Boatswain, begin to fear for their lives. Lightning cracks, and the mariners cry that the ship has been hit. Everyone prepares to sink. The next scene begins much more quietly. Miranda and Prospero stand on the shore of their island, looking out to sea at the recent shipwreck. Miranda asks her father to do anything he can to help the poor souls in the ship. Prospero assures her that everything is all right and then informs her that it is time she learned more about herself and her past. He reveals to her that he orchestrated the shipwreck and tells her the lengthy story of her past, a story he has often started to tell her
The Illusion of Justice The Tempest tells a fairly straightforward story involving an unjust act, the usurpation of Prospero’s throne by his brother, and Prospero’s quest to re-establish justice by restoring himself to power. Forgive and forget. Though Prospero has been wronged, he reconciles with his wrongdoers. Repent your sins. All of Prospero's wrongdoers repent at the end and achieve
who bear a striking resemblance to Stephano and Trinculo; a lecherous Neapolitan hunchback named Pulcinella, who corresponds to Caliban; and the clever and beautiful Isabella, whose wealthy and manipulative father, Pantalone, constantly seeks a suitor for her, thus mirroring the relationship between Miranda and Prospero. One of Gonzalo's speeches is derived from Montaigne's essay Of the Canibales, which John Florio translated into English in 1603, that praises the society of the Caribbean natives. In addition, much of Prospero's renunciative speech is taken word for word from a speech by Medea in Ovid's poem Metamorphoses.
island in an instant and to change shapes at will. Caliban Another of Prospero’s servants. Caliban, the son of the now-deceased witch Sycorax, acquainted Prospero with the island when Prospero arrived. Ferdinand - Son and heir of Alonso. Ferdinand seems in some ways to be as pure and naïve as Miranda. Alonso - King of Naples and father of Ferdinand. Antonio Prospero’s brother. Antonio quickly demonstrates that he is power-hungry and foolish. Sebastian Alonso’s brother. Like Antonio, he is both aggressive and cowardly. Gonzalo - An old, honest lord, Gonzalo helped Prospero and Miranda to escape after Antonio usurped Prospero’s title. Trinculo & Stefano Trinculo, a jester, and Stefano, a drunken butler, are two minor members of the shipwrecked party. Boatswain Appearing
before but never finished. The story goes that Prospero was the Duke of Milan until his brother Antonio, conspiring with Alonso, the King of Naples, usurped his position. With the help of Gonzalo, Prospero was able to escape with his daughter and with the books that are the source of his magic and power. Prospero and his daughter arrived on the island where they remain now and have been for twelve years. Only now, Prospero says, has Fortune at last sent his enemies his way, and he has raised the tempest in order to make things right with them once and for all. After telling this story, Prospero charms Miranda to sleep and then calls forth his familiar spirit Ariel, his chief magical agent. Prospero and Ariel’s discussion reveals that Ariel brought the tempest upon the ship and set fire to the mast. He then made sure that everyone got safely to the island, though they are now separated from each other into small groups. Ariel, who is a captive servant to Prospero, reminds his master that he has promised Ariel freedom a year early if he performs tasks such as these without complaint. Prospero chastises Ariel for protesting and reminds him of the horrible fate from which he was rescued. Before Prospero came to the island, a witch named Sycorax imprisoned Ariel in a tree. Sycorax died, leaving Ariel trapped until Prospero arrived and freed him. After Ariel assures Prospero that he knows his place, Prospero orders Ariel to take the shape of a sea nymph and make himself invisible to all but Prospero. Miranda awakens from her sleep, and she and Prospero go to visit Caliban, Prospero’s servant and the son of the dead Sycorax. Caliban curses Prospero, and Prospero and Miranda berate him for being ungrateful for what they have given and taught him. Prospero sends Caliban to fetch firewood. Ariel, invisible, enters
redemption. The New World (America) is a raw, untamed wilderness. Prospero's island may have symbolized America, or the islands off the coast of America, with Caliban representing the uncivilized native population. Exploration of new lands often results in mistreatment of native populations. It has been suggested that Caliban represents indigenous peoples exploited by Europeans during the Age of Discovery. The storms of life are followed by peace and calm. Friends in need are friends indeed. Thanks to his friend Gonzalo, Prospero and his daughter survive their ordeal at sea. Freedom must be earned. Everyone in The Tempest is a slave or a captive–socially, emotionally, geographically or otherwise. For example, Prospero and Miranda, victims of treachery, are captives of their environment. The shipwrecked adversaries of Prospero are captives of guilt, ambition or desire for revenge. Ariel, a free spirit of
Since source scholarship began in the 18th century, researchers have suggested that passages from Erasmus's Naufragium (The Shipwreck, published in 1523 and translated into English in 1606) and Richard Eden's 1555 translation of Peter Martyr's De orbo novo (or Decades of the New Worlde Or West India, 1530) influenced the composition of the play
only in the first and last scenes, the Boatswain is vigorously good-natured. He seems competent and almost cheerful in the shipwreck scene, demanding practical help rather than weeping and prayer.
playing music and leading in the awed Ferdinand. Miranda and Ferdinand are immediately smitten with each other. He is the only man Miranda has ever seen, besides Caliban and her father. Prospero is happy to see that his plan for his daughter’s future marriage is working, but decides that he must upset things temporarily in order to prevent their relationship from developing too quickly. He accuses Ferdinand of merely pretending to be the Prince of Naples and threatens him with imprisonment. When Ferdinand draws his sword, Prospero charms him and leads him off to prison, ignoring Miranda’s cries for mercy. He then sends Ariel on another mysterious mission. On another part of the island, Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, Gonzalo, and other miscellaneous lords give thanks for their safety but worry about the fate of Ferdinand. Alonso says that he wishes he never had married his daughter to the prince of Tunis because if he had not made this journey, his son would still be alive. Gonzalo tries to maintain high spirits by discussing the beauty of the island, but his remarks are undercut by the sarcastic sourness of Antonio and Sebastian. Ariel appears, invisible, and plays music that puts all but Sebastian and Antonio to sleep. These two then begin to discuss the possible advantages of killing their sleeping companions. Antonio persuades Sebastian that the latter will become ruler of Naples if they kill Alonso. Claribel, who would be the next heir if Ferdinand were indeed dead, is too far away to be able to claim her right. Sebastian is convinced, and the two are about to stab the sleeping men when Ariel causes Gonzalo to wake with a shout. Everyone wakes up, and Antonio and Sebastian concoct a ridiculous story about having drawn their swords to protect the king from lions. Ariel goes back to Prospero while Alonso and his party continue to search for Ferdinand.
the air, is Prospero's slave. Caliban, a misshapen halfhuman, is a prisoner of unruly instincts. Only through ordeal, tribulation, and demonstrations of humanity do these characters redeem and liberate themselves.
Allure of Ruling Colony
The nearly uninhabited island presents the sense of infinite possibility to almost everyone who lands there. The urge to rule and the urge to be ruled seem inextricably intertwined. Motifs Masters and Servants(The play explores the masterservant dynamic most harshly in cases in which the harmony of the relationship is threatened or disrupted, as by the rebellion of a servant or the ineptitude of a master.) Water and Drowning (Perhaps the most important overall effect of this water motif is to heighten the symbolic importance of the tempest itself.) Mysterious Noises Symbols The Tempest. The tempest that begins the play, and
Caliban, meanwhile, is hauling wood for Prospero when he sees Trinculo and thinks he is a spirit sent by Prospero to torment him. He lies down and hides under his cloak. A storm is brewing, and Trinculo, curious about but undeterred by Caliban’s strange appearance and smell, crawls under the cloak with him. Stefano, drunk and singing, comes along and stumbles upon the bizarre spectacle of Caliban and Trinculo huddled under the cloak. Caliban, hearing the singing, cries out that he will work faster so long as the “spirits” leave him alone. Stefano decides that this monster requires liquor and attempts to get Caliban to drink. Trinculo recognizes his friend Stefano and calls out to him. Soon the three are sitting up together and drinking. Caliban quickly becomes an enthusiastic drinker, and begins to sing. Prospero puts Ferdinand to work hauling wood. Ferdinand finds his labor pleasant because it is for Miranda’s sake. Miranda, thinking that her father is asleep, tells Ferdinand to take a break. The two flirt with one another. Miranda proposes marriage, and Ferdinand accepts. Prospero has been on stage most of the time, unseen, and he is pleased with this development. Stefano, Trinculo, and Caliban are now drunk and raucous and are made all the more so by Ariel, who comes to them invisibly and provokes them to fight with one another by impersonating their voices and taunting them. Caliban grows more and more fervent in his boasts that he knows how to kill Prospero. He even tells Stefano that he can bring him to where Prospero is sleeping. He proposes that they kill Prospero, take his daughter, and set Stefano up as king of the island. Stefano thinks this a good plan, and the three prepare to set off to find Prospero. They are distracted, however, by the sound of music that Ariel plays on his flute and
which puts all of Prospero’s enemies at his disposal, symbolizes the suffering Prospero endured, and which he wants to inflict on others. The Game of Chess. The object of chess is to capture the king. That, at the simplest level, is the symbolic significance of Prospero revealing Ferdinand and Miranda playing chess in the final scene. Prospero’s Books. Like the tempest, Prospero’s books are a symbol of his power.
tabor-drum, and they decide to follow this music before executing their plot. Alonso, Gonzalo, Sebastian, and Antonio grow weary from traveling and pause to rest. Antonio and Sebastian secretly plot to take advantage of Alonso and Gonzalo’s exhaustion, deciding to kill them in the evening. Prospero, probably on the balcony of the stage and invisible to the men, causes a banquet to be set out by strangely shaped spirits. As the men prepare to eat, Ariel appears like a harpy and causes the banquet to vanish. He then accuses the men of supplanting Prospero and says that it was for this sin that Alonso’s son, Ferdinand, has been taken. He vanishes, leaving Alonso feeling vexed and guilty. Prospero now softens toward Ferdinand and welcomes him into his family as the soon-to-behusband of Miranda. He sternly reminds Ferdinand, however, that Miranda’s “virgin-knot” (IV.i.15) is not to be broken until the wedding has been officially solemnized. Prospero then asks Ariel to call forth some spirits to perform a masque for Ferdinand and Miranda. The spirits assume the shapes of Ceres, Juno, and Iris and perform a short masque celebrating the rites of marriage and the bounty of the earth. A dance of reapers and nymphs follows but is interrupted when Prospero suddenly remembers that he still must stop the plot against his life. He sends the spirits away and asks Ariel about Trinculo, Stefano, and Caliban. Ariel tells his master of the three men’s drunken plans. He also tells how he led the men with his music through prickly grass and briars and finally into a filthy pond near Prospero’s cell. Ariel and Prospero then set a trap by hanging beautiful clothing in Prospero’s cell. Stefano, Trinculo, and Caliban enter looking for Prospero and, finding the beautiful clothing, decide to steal it.
They are immediately set upon by a pack of spirits in the shape of dogs and hounds, driven on by Prospero and Ariel. Prospero uses Ariel to bring Alonso and the others before him. He then sends Ariel to bring the Boatswain and the mariners from where they sleep on the wrecked ship. Prospero confronts Alonso, Antonio, and Sebastian with their treachery, but tells them that he forgives them. Alonso tells him of having lost Ferdinand in the tempest and Prospero says that he recently lost his own daughter. Clarifying his meaning, he draws aside a curtain to reveal Ferdinand and Miranda playing chess. Alonso and his companions are amazed by the miracle of Ferdinand’s survival, and Miranda is stunned by the sight of people unlike any she has seen before. Ferdinand tells his father about his marriage. Ariel returns with the Boatswain and mariners. The Boatswain tells a story of having been awakened from a sleep that had apparently lasted since the tempest. At Prospero’s bidding, Ariel releases Caliban, Trinculo and Stefano, who then enter wearing their stolen clothing. Prospero and Alonso command them to return it and to clean up Prospero’s cell. Prospero invites Alonso and the others to stay for the night so that he can tell them the tale of his life in the past twelve years. After this, the group plans to return to Italy. Prospero, restored to his dukedom, will retire to Milan. Prospero gives Ariel one final task—to make sure the seas are calm for the return voyage-before setting him free. Finally, Prospero delivers an epilogue to the audience, asking them to forgive him for his wrongdoing and set him free by applauding. THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF The action takes place in Italy, including Proteus Valentine's supposed best friend and one of the title gentleman Bosom buddies Valentine and Proteus bid a tearful farewell on a street in Verona. Valentine is off to improve himself, venturing out to see Themes True love is steadfast and
VERONA In writing The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Shakespeare drew on a Spanish prose romance Diana Enamorada by the Portuguese writer Jorge de Montemayor. This work was published in 1559, was translated into French in 1578, and was published in English in 1598, though the translation was made several years earlier. It is believed that Shakespeare could have read the story in French, or in an unpublished English version, or could have learned of it from an anonymous English play of 1585, The History of Felix and Philiomena, which is now lost
Verona, Milan, and a forest near Mantua. Milan and Mantua are in Lombardy, a province in northcentral Italy. Verona is in Veneto, a province in northeastern Italy.
of Verona, though he behaves in a most ungentlemanly fashion. Valentine - The other title gentlemen of Verona. He is Proteus' best friend, and Silvia's love. Julia - Proteus' beloved, and mistress to the servant Lucetta. Silvia - Daughter to the Duke and beloved of Valentine, also sought after by Proteus and Thurio. Duke of Milan - Silvia's father, the Duke wants her to marry the boorish but wealthy suitor Sir Thurio. Lucetta - Julia's servant, who considers love from a practical point of view. Lucetta helps Julia disguise herself as a man. Launce Proteus' humorous servant, and master to a poorly-trained mutt named Crab. Speed Valentine's page, though at the beginning of the play he does Proteus' bidding as well.
the world, while Proteus stays home in Verona, tied by his love for Julia. After Valentine departs, his servant, Speed, enters. Proteus inquires whether or not Speed delivered a letter to Julia, to which Speed replies affirmatively. Julia, meanwhile, asks her maid, Lucetta, with which man she should fall in love, and Lucetta recommends Proteus. Lucetta admits that she has a letter for Julia from Proteus. After much bickering, Julia tears up the letter, only to regret this act an instant later. Antonio decides to send Proteus, his son, to the Duke's court in Milan, a decision with which neither Proteus nor Julia is particularly happy. They exchange rings and promises to keep loving each other. Meanwhile, Valentine has fallen in love with the Duke's feisty daughter, Silvia. When Proteus arrives at court, he too falls in love with Silvia, and vows to do anything he can to win her away from Valentine. When Valentine confesses that he and Silvia plan to elope, Proteus notifies the Duke of their plans, gaining favor for himself and effecting Valentine's banishment from court. Back in Verona, Julia has hatched a plan to disguise herself as a man so that she can journey to Milan to be reunited with Proteus. Upon arriving at court, she witnesses Proteus and Thurio wooing Silvia. The banished Valentine, while traveling to Mantua, is apprehended by a group of outlaws. The outlaws, all of whom are banished gentlemen as well, demand Valentine to become their king. Since they threaten to kill him if he refuses, Valentine accepts. Silvia and Julia, who is disguised as the page Sebastian, meet when Julia delivers the ring Proteus had given her to Silvia on behalf of Proteus. Julia does not reveal her identity. Silvia calls on her friend Sir Eglamour to help her escape her father's oppressive will (he wants her to marry
strong while infatuation is fickle and weak. Valentine and Silvia never waver in their love for one another. Nor does Julia in her love for Proteus. But Proteus, who is infatuated with Silvia, hardly blinks when he abandons his suit for her to return to Julia. Disloyalty and perfidy cannot defeat constancy. Proteus (whose very name– that of a Greek god who could change his appearance at will–symbolizes caprice and inconstancy) betrays both Valentine and Julia when he woos Silvia on a whim. But he discovers his flighty, immature behavior is no match for true fidelity. Father does not always know best. Silvia's father, the Duke of Milan, attempts to force her to marry Thurio, a haughty buffoon. Silvia refuses–and rightly so–for her heart and soul are with Valentine. Forgive and forget. Valentine and Julia forgive Proteus for his reprehensible behavior, and the Duke of Milan pardons the outlaws. Lovers exhibit irrational, unpredictable, or silly behavior. Proteus first loves Julia, then Silvia, then Julia. Julia wears a disguise to be close to Proteus. Silvia
Thurio - A foolish rival to Valentine for Silvia's hand. Thurio is very rich, but does not make for pleasant company. Sir Eglamour - The gentleman upon whom Silvia calls to help her escape from the Duke's court, in order to find her love, Valentine, and to avoid marrying Thurio. Antonio Father to Proteus and master to the servant Panthino. Host - Houses Julia while she searches for Proteus. Outlaws When Valentine is banished from Milan, the outlaws intercept him during his journey to Mantua and make him the king of their crew of gentlemen bandits. Crab - Launce's dog. Panthino servant.
Thurio) and to find Valentine. However, while traveling through the forest, she and Eglamour are overtaken by a band of outlaws. Eglamour runs away, leaving Silvia to fend for herself against the outlaws. By this time, the Duke, Proteus, and Thurio, with Sebastian/Julia in tow, have organized a search party for Silvia. Proteus wrests Silvia away from the outlaws. Valentine watches the interaction unseen. Proteus demands that Silvia give him some sign of her favor for freeing her, but she refuses. He tries to rape her for her resistance, but Valentine jumps out and stops him. Proteus immediately apologizes, and Valentine offers to give him Silvia as a token of their friendship. At this moment, Sebastian faints and his true identity becomes clear. Proteus decides that he really loves Julia better than Silvia, and takes her instead. The Duke realizes that Thurio is a thug and says that Valentine is far nobler and can marry Silvia. Valentine asks for clemency for the outlaws, and suggests that his marriage to Silvia and Proteus' marriage to Julia should take place on the same day.
dictates loves letters to Valentine, pretending they are for someone else when they are really for Valentine. A major theme of the play is the contest between friendship and love: that is, the question of whether the relationship between two male friends is more important than that between lovers. Motifs Disguise
Antonio's LEONATO, A KINDLY, RESPECTABLE NOBLEMAN, lives in the idyllic Italian town of Messina. Leonato shares his house with his lovely young daughter, Hero, his playful, clever niece, Beatrice, and his elderly brother, Antonio. As the play begins, Leonato prepares to welcome some friends home from a war. The friends The road to marriage is often lined with pitfalls and impediments. Benedick and Beatrice are hostile lovers before they warm to each other. Claudio doubts Hero's chastity before he is proven
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
· The sixteenth century
(PLACE) · Messina, Sicily, on and around Governor Leonato’s
Beatrice Leonato’s niece and Hero’s cousin. Beatrice is “a pleasantspirited lady” with a very sharp tongue. Benedick An
estate Nothing conflates two separate stories into one plot: the baiting of Benedick and Beatrice into a declaration of love and the deception of Claudio into mistakenly thinking that Hero is unchaste. There is not specific source for the first story, although Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde provides a basis where two people who scorn love fall in love with each other. The for the second story of a lady falsely accused, however, there are numerous possible sources. Ludovico Ariosto's version in Canto V of Orlando Furioso in 1516 was translated into English in 1591 by Sir John Harington or Matteo Bandello's twentysecond Novella from 1554 and translated into French by Belleforest in 1590 are two possible versions that Shakespeare may have known.
aristocratic soldier who has recently been fighting under Don Pedro, and a friend of Don Pedro and Claudio. Benedick is very witty, always making jokes and puns. Claudio A young soldier who has won great acclaim fighting under Don Pedro during the recent wars. Hero The beautiful young daughter of Leonato and the cousin of Beatrice. Hero is lovely, gentle, and kind. Don Pedro An important nobleman from Aragon, sometimes referred to as “Prince.” Don Pedro is generous, courteous, intelligent, and loving to his friends, but he is also quick to believe evil of others and hasty to take revenge. Leonato - A respected, well-to-do, elderly noble at whose home, in Messina, Italy, the action is set. Leonato is the father of Hero and the uncle of Beatrice. Don John The illegitimate brother of Don Pedro; sometimes called “the Bastard.” Don John
include Don Pedro, a prince who is a close friend of Leonato, and two fellow soldiers: Claudio, a well-respected young nobleman, and Benedick, a clever man who constantly makes witty jokes, often at the expense of his friends. Don John, Don Pedro’s illegitimate brother, is part of the crowd as well. Don John is sullen and bitter, and makes trouble for the others. When the soldiers arrive at Leonato’s home, Claudio quickly falls in love with Hero. Meanwhile, Benedick and Beatrice resume the war of witty insults that they have carried on with each other in the past. Claudio and Hero pledge their love to one another and decide to be married. To pass the time in the week before the wedding, the lovers and their friends decide to play a game. They want to get Beatrice and Benedick, who are clearly meant for each other, to stop arguing and fall in love. Their tricks prove successful, and Beatrice and Benedick soon fall secretly in love with each other. But Don John has decided to disrupt everyone’s happiness. He has his companion Borachio make love to Margaret, Hero’s serving woman, at Hero’s window in the darkness of the night, and he brings Don Pedro and Claudio to watch. Believing that he has seen Hero being unfaithful to him, the enraged Claudio humiliates Hero by suddenly accusing her of lechery on the day of their wedding and abandoning her at the altar. Hero’s stricken family members decide to pretend that she died suddenly of shock and grief and to hide her away while they wait for the truth about her innocence to come to light. In the aftermath of the rejection, Benedick and Beatrice finally confess their love to one another. Fortunately, the night watchmen overhear Borachio bragging about his crime. Dogberry and Verges, the heads of the local police, ultimately arrest both Borachio and
wrong. People often wear masks to disguise their true feelings. For example, Benedick and Beatrice pretend to despise each other even though they love each other, and Don John pretends to be remorseful when all the while he is plotting revenge. All is not what it seems. Mistaken identities, false accusations, misleading conversations, and ironic outcomes all confound the principle characters. Love is NOT blind. Benedick well knows that Beatrice has a sharp tongue whose stings he must endure if he is to be her husband and live with her for decades to come. Likewise, Beatrice well knows Benedick's faults. Yet, before the end of play, they acknowledge their deep love for each other and marry. Love IS blind. Hero ignores Claudio's faults. For example, she accepts Claudio as her husband even though only a short time before he so readily believed the slanders against her, called her a "rotten orange," and agreed to marry another in her place. Moreover, she never questions his motives–one of
is melancholy and sullen by nature, and he creates a dark scheme to ruin the happiness of Hero and Claudio. Margaret Hero’s serving woman, who unwittingly helps Borachio and Don John deceive Claudio into thinking that Hero is unfaithful. Borachio - An associate of Don John. Borachio is the lover of Margaret, Hero’s serving woman. Conrad - One of Don John’s more intimate associates, entirely devoted to Don John. Dogberry The constable in charge of the Watch, or chief policeman, of Messina. Dogberry is very sincere and takes his job seriously, but he has a habit of using exactly the wrong word to convey his meaning. Verges - The deputy to Dogberry, chief policeman of Messina. Antonio Leonato’s elderly brother, and Hero and Beatrice’s uncle.
Conrad, another of Don John’s followers. Everyone learns that Hero is really innocent, and Claudio, who believes she is dead, grieves for her. Leonato tells Claudio that, as punishment, he wants Claudio to tell everybody in the city how innocent Hero was. He also wants Claudio to marry Leonato’s “niece”—a girl who, he says, looks much like the dead Hero. Claudio goes to church with the others, preparing to marry the mysterious, masked woman he thinks is Hero’s cousin. When Hero reveals herself as the masked woman, Claudio is overwhelmed with joy. Benedick then asks Beatrice if she will marry him, and after some arguing they agree. The joyful lovers all have a merry dance before they celebrate their double wedding.
which, apparently, is to marry into money. (He had previously inquired whether Governor Leonato had a son and was told Hero was Leonato's only child and, thus, sole heir to his property.) A woman's chastity is a treasure no man should possess except in marriage. The brouhaha over the false charge that Hero slept with a stranger underscores the high regard that the central characters in the play have for a virginal bride.
The Ideal of Social Grace. The characters’ dense, colorful manner of speaking represents the ideal that Renaissance courtiers strove for in their social interactions. Benedick and his companions try to display their polished social graces both in their behavior and in their speech. Deception as a Means to an End. Deceit is neither purely positive nor purely
Balthasar man in household musician.
A waiting Leonato’s and a
Ursula - One of Hero’s waiting women.
negative: it is a means to an end, a way to create an illusion that helps one succeed socially. The Importance of Honor. In Shakespeare’s time, a woman’s honor was based upon her virginity and chaste behavior. For a woman to lose her honor by having sexual relations before marriage meant that she would lose all social standing, a disaster from which she could never recover. Moreover, this loss of honor would poison the woman’s whole family. Motifs Public
Shaming (Even though Hero is ultimately vindicated, her public shaming at the wedding ceremony is too terrible to be ignored. Shame is also what Don John hopes will cause
Claudio to lose his place as Don Pedro’s favorite) Noting (In Shakespeare’s time, the “Nothing” of the title would have been pronounced “Noting.” Thus, the play’s title could read: “Much Ado About Noting.” Indeed, many of the players participate in the actions of observing, listening, and writing, or noting. In order for a plot hinged on instances of deceit to work, the characters must note one another constantly.)
Entertainment (From the witty yet plaintive song that Balthasar sings about the deceitfulness of men to the masked ball and the music and dancing at the end of the play, the characters of Much Ado About Nothing spend much of their time engaging in elaborate spectacles and
entertainments.) Counterfeiting (The idea of counterfeiting, in the sense of presenting a false face to the world, appears frequently throughout the play. A particularly rich and complex example of counterfeiting occurs as Leonato, Claudio, and Don Pedro pretend that Beatrice is head over heels in love with Benedick. Another, more serious reference to counterfeiting occurs at the wedding ceremony, as Claudio rhetorically paints a picture of Hero as a perfect counterfeit of innocence, unchaste and impure beneath a seemingly unblemished surface) Symbols The Taming of Wild Animals War Hero’s Death (Hero’s false death is less a charade aimed to
AS YOU LIKE IT As his only source for As You Like It, Shakespeare used Rosalynde: Euphues Golden Legacie, a novel written by Thomas Lodge, published in 1590.
(TIME) · Sixteenth century
· France, primarily the fictional Forest of Ardenne
Rosalind - The daughter of Duke Senior. Rosalind, considered one of Shakespeare’s most delightful heroines, is independent minded, strong-willed, goodhearted, and terribly clever. Orlando - The youngest son of Sir Rowland de Bois and younger brother of Oliver. Orlando is an attractive young man who, under his brother’s neglectful care, has languished without a gentleman’s education or training. Duke Senior The father of Rosalind and the rightful ruler of the dukedom in which the play is set. Duke Senior proves himself to be a kind and fair-minded ruler. Jaques - A faithful lord who accompanies Duke Senior into exile in the Forest of Ardenne. Jaques is an example of a stock figure in Elizabethan comedy, the
SIR ROWLAND DE BOIS HAS RECENTLY DIED, and, according to the custom of primogeniture, the vast majority of his estate has passed into the possession of his eldest son, Oliver. Although Sir Rowland has instructed Oliver to take good care of his brother, Orlando, Oliver refuses to do so. Out of pure spite, he denies Orlando the education, training, and property befitting a gentleman. Charles, a wrestler from the court of Duke Frederick, arrives to warn Oliver of a rumor that Orlando will challenge Charles to a fight on the following day. Fearing censure if he should beat a nobleman, Charles begs Oliver to intervene, but Oliver convinces the wrestler that Orlando is a dishonorable sportsman who will take whatever dastardly means necessary to win. Charles vows to pummel Orlando, which delights Oliver. Duke Senior has been usurped of his throne by his brother, Duke Frederick, and has fled to the Forest of Ardenne, where he lives like Robin Hood with a band of loyal followers. Duke Frederick allows Senior’s daughter, Rosalind, to remain at court because of her inseparable friendship with his own daughter, Celia. The day arrives when Orlando is scheduled to fight Charles, and the women witness Orlando’s defeat of the court wrestler. Orlando and Rosalind instantly fall in love with one another, though Rosalind keeps this fact a secret from everyone but Celia. Orlando returns home from the wrestling match, only to have his faithful servant Adam warn him about Oliver’s plot against Orlando’s life. Orlando decides to leave for the safety of Ardenne. Without warning, Duke Frederick has a change of heart regarding
induce remorse in Claudio than it is a social ritual designed to cleanse her name and person of infamy.) The Delights of Love. As You Like It spoofs many of the conventions of poetry and literature dealing with love, such as the idea that love is a disease that brings suffering and torment to the lover, or the assumption that the male lover is the slave or servant of his mistress. But at the end of the play, Rosalind proves that love is a source of incomparable delight. The Malleability of the Human Experience. As You Like It not only insists that people can and do change, but also celebrates their ability to change for the better.
City Life Versus Country Life. Often, it suggests that the
man possessed of a hopelessly melancholy disposition. Celia - The daughter of Duke Frederick and Rosalind’s dearest friend. Celia possesses a loving heart, but is prone to deep, almost excessive emotions. Duke Frederick - The brother of Duke Senior and usurper of his throne. Duke Frederick’s cruel nature and volatile temper are displayed when he banishes his niece, Rosalind, from court without reason. Touchstone - A clown in Duke Frederick’s court who accompanies Rosalind and Celia in their flight to Ardenne. Oliver - The oldest son of Sir Rowland de Bois and sole inheritor of the de Bois estate. Silvius A young, suffering shepherd, who is desperately in love with the disdainful Phoebe. Phoebe A young shepherdess, who disdains the affections of Silvius.
Rosalind and banishes her from court. She, too, decides to flee to the Forest of Ardenne and leaves with Celia, who cannot bear to be without Rosalind, and Touchstone, the court jester. To ensure the safety of their journey, Rosalind assumes the dress of a young man and takes the name Ganymede, while Celia dresses as a common shepherdess and calls herself Aliena. Duke Frederick is furious at his daughter’s disappearance. When he learns that the flight of his daughter and niece coincides with the disappearance of Orlando, the duke orders Oliver to lead the manhunt, threatening to confiscate Oliver’s lands and property should he fail. Frederick also decides it is time to destroy his brother once and for all and begins to raise an army. Duke Senior lives in the Forest of Ardenne with a band of lords who have gone into voluntary exile. He praises the simple life among the trees, happy to be absent from the machinations of court life. Orlando, exhausted by travel and desperate to find food for his starving companion, Adam, barges in on the duke’s camp and rudely demands that they not eat until he is given food. Duke Senior calms Orlando and, when he learns that the young man is the son of his dear former friend, accepts him into his company. Meanwhile, Rosalind and Celia, disguised as Ganymede and Aliena, arrive in the forest and meet a lovesick young shepherd named Silvius who pines away for the disdainful Phoebe. The two women purchase a modest cottage, and soon enough Rosalind runs into the equally lovesick Orlando. Taking her to be a young man, Orlando confides in Rosalind that his affections are overpowering him. Rosalind, as Ganymede, claims to be an expert in exorcising such emotions and promises to cure Orlando of lovesickness if he agrees to pretend that Ganymede is Rosalind and promises to
oppressions of the city can be remedied by a trip into the country’s therapeutic woods and fields, and that a person’s sense of balance and rightness can be restored by conversations with uncorrupted shepherds and shepherdesses. This type of restoration, in turn, enables one to return to the city a better person, capable of making the most of urban life. Motifs Artifice Homoeroticism Exile Symbols Orlando’s Poems . The poems that Orlando nails to the trees of Ardenne are a testament to his love for Rosalind. The Slain Deer. The deer placed atop the hunter’s head is a symbol of
Lord Amiens - A faithful lord who accompanies Duke Senior into exile in the Forest of Ardenne. Lord Amiens is rather jolly and loves to sing. Charles - A professional wrestler in Duke Frederick’s court. Adam The elderly former servant of Sir Rowland de Bois. Sir Rowland de Bois The father of Oliver and Orlando, friend of Duke Senior, and enemy of Duke Frederick. Corin A shepherd. Corin attempts to counsel his friend Silvius in the ways of love, but Silvius refuses to listen. Audrey A simpleminded goatherd who agrees to marry Touchstone. William A young country boy who is in love with Audrey.
come woo her every day. Orlando agrees, and the love lessons begin. Meanwhile, Phoebe becomes increasingly cruel in her rejection of Silvius. When Rosalind intervenes, disguised as Ganymede, Phoebe falls hopelessly in love with Ganymede. One day, Orlando fails to show up for his tutorial with Ganymede. Rosalind, reacting to her infatuation with Orlando, is distraught until Oliver appears. Oliver describes how Orlando stumbled upon him in the forest and saved him from being devoured by a hungry lioness. Oliver and Celia, still disguised as the shepherdess Aliena, fall instantly in love and agree to marry. As time passes, Phoebe becomes increasingly insistent in her pursuit of Ganymede, and Orlando grows tired of pretending that a boy is his dear Rosalind. Rosalind decides to end the charade. She promises that Ganymede will wed Phoebe, if Ganymede will ever marry a woman, and she makes everyone pledge to meet the next day at the wedding. They all agree. The day of the wedding arrives, and Rosalind gathers the various couples: Phoebe and Silvius; Celia and Oliver; Touchstone and Audrey, a goatherd he intends to marry; and Orlando. The group congregates before Duke Senior and his men. Rosalind, still disguised as Ganymede, reminds the lovers of their various vows, then secures a promise from Phoebe that if for some reason she refuses to marry Ganymede she will marry Silvius, and a promise from the duke that he would allow his daughter to marry Orlando if she were available. Rosalind leaves with the disguised Celia, and the two soon return as themselves, accompanied by Hymen, the god of marriage. Hymen officiates at the ceremony and marries Rosalind and Orlando, Celia and Oliver, Phoebe and Silvius, and Audrey and Touchstone. The festive wedding celebration is interrupted by even more
cuckoldry, commonly represented by a man with horns atop his head. Ganymede. Rosalind’s choice of alternative identities is significant. Ganymede is the cupbearer and beloved of Jove and is a standard symbol of homosexual love. In the context of the play, her choice of an alter ego contributes to a continuum of sexual possibilities.
festive news: while marching with his army to attack Duke Senior, Duke Frederick came upon a holy man who convinced him to put aside his worldly concerns and assume a monastic life. -Frederick changes his ways and returns the throne to Duke Senior. The guests continue dancing, happy in the knowledge that they will soon return to the royal court. THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR Some elements of The Merry Wives of Windsor may have been adapted from Il Pecorone, a collection of stories by Ser Giovanni Fiorentino; one of these stories was included in William Painter's The Palace of Pleasure. The action takes place in Windsor in Berkshire County, England, during the Elizabethan Age. Windsor, a few miles west of London, is the site of Windsor Castle, a royal residence from the time of William the Conqueror, who reigned as king from 1066 to 1087. The play was said to have debuted at Windsor Castle before Queen Elizabeth I. Mistress Ford A resident of Windsor, Mistress Ford is married to Ford and is a friend of Mistress Page. Mistress Page A resident of Windsor, Mistress Page is married to Page and is a friend of Mistress Ford. Falstaff - Falstaff is a knight, but he is also a scoundrel and occasionally a thief. Ford Husband of Mistress Ford. Ford is very jealous of his wife. Page Husband Mistress Page. of Justice Shallow, Master Slender, and Sir Hugh Evans enter, discussing Shallow's anger at Sir John Falstaff. Evans changes the topic to the young Anne Page, whom he would like to see Slender marry. They arrive at Master Page's door, where Shallow confronts Falstaff and his entourage. The men enter to dine, but Slender drifts around outside, trying unsuccessfully to converse with Anne Page until he goes inside. Falstaff and his entourage settle in at the Garter Inn, where Falstaff reveals his plan to seduce Mistress Page and Mistress Ford, both of whom have control over their husband's money, which he desires. He sends Pistol and Nim to deliver letters to the women, but they refuse. Instead they plot to stymie Falstaff's plans by telling Page and Ford of his intentions. Mistress Quickly talks to Slender's servant Simple, sent by Evans, and agrees that she will consent to speak positively of Slender to Anne Page. Her master, Doctor Caius, enters and encounters Simple. When he hears about his errand, he becomes angry and drafts a letter to Evans. Caius too is in love with Anne Page and blames Evans for encouraging Slender; hence he challenges him to a duel. He threatens Quickly, who had promised him she would encourage Anne to look favorably on him. Later Fenton enters; he's also in love with Anne and wants to know if Quickly has related his affections to her. Women can hold their own against men–and the dictates of custom. The Merry Wives of Windsor takes place in an age when males often regarded females as playthings and when parents often chose the suitors for their daughters. But it is the women who win the day in this comedy. Two ordinary housewives, Mrs. Page and Mrs. Ford, get the better of a gold-digging philanderer, Falstaff. And Anne Page goes against the wishes of her parents when she runs off with Fenton. The outcome of the play must have pleased the women in Shakespeare's audience. One of them was Queen Elizabeth I, according to evidence indicating that the play was first performed before her at Windsor Castle. It is interesting to note, though, that the women who make a fool of Falstaff, a knight, are members of the middle class, not the nobility or aristocracy. If the queen indeed delighted in the victory of the merry wives, her enjoyment may have been
Sir Hugh Evans - Sir Hugh Evans is the local clergyman. Caius - The local doctor, Caius is Mistress Quickly's master. Anne Page - Daughter of Page and Mistress
Page, Anne is sought for marriage by an array of idiots, including Caius and Slender. Fenton - A suitor for Anne Page's hand, Page denies his suit because he fears that Fenton's interest is purely financial, being high-born but poor. Slender - The third suitor for Anne Page's hand, Slender is urged on by Shallow, but he is unable to speak anything but nonsense to Anne. Shallow - Shallow is a figure of the law, but nevertheless a foolish character of misplaced authority. Mistress Quickly Caius's servant, Mistress Quickly is everyone's messenger. Bardolph One of Falstaff's men, Bardolph takes over as the bartender of the Garter Inn in order to pay for Falstaff's entourage's room and board. Nim - One of Falstaff's men, Nim wants to stay honest, and he refuses to deliver Falstaff's seductive letters to
Mistress Page enters with a letter from Falstaff. She's astonished that he has the gall to try to seduce her and wonders how she will seek revenge. Mistress Ford appears with her own letter, which they discover is exactly the same. They decide to lead Falstaff on until he is ruined and humiliated. Mistress Ford agrees to anything that won't harm her honor. Meanwhile, Pistol and Nim enter, conversing with Ford and Page; they reveal Falstaff's plans. The husbands are astonished. Page doesn't think his wife will fall for Falstaff, but Ford is horribly jealous and convinced his wife will dishonor him. Shallow and the Host of the Garter Inn enter with news of a fight between Caius and Evans. Page goes with them to watch, while Ford makes a deal with the Host to be introduced to Falstaff in disguise, in order to find out how far Falstaff has gotten in his plan. At the Garter Inn, Quickly enters with a message from Mistresses Ford and Page for Falstaff. She reports that Ford will be out the next morning, and Mistress Ford will be expecting a visit from him. Mistress Page has not yet gotten her husband to leave the house, so she'll make a date at a later time. Then Ford enters in disguise, announced under the name Brooke. He tells Falstaff that he's in love with Mistress Ford, but that she has always rebuffed his advances, claiming that she's too honorable to cheat on her husband. He asks Falstaff to seduce Mistress Ford, thus destroying her honor, so she won't be able to turn him down in the future. Falstaff reports his date the next morning with Mistress Ford. Alone, Ford curses his wife for preparing to cheat on him and thinks Page is foolish to trust his wife. Caius awaits Evans for their duel, but Evans is nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, Evans has been wandering around looking for Caius. They
tempered by this fact–or so one may speculate. All things are not as they seem. Falstaff first deceives the wives. The wives then deceive Falstaff and their husbands. Mr. Ford and Mistress Quickly also deceive Falstaff. Falstaff deceives himself. Insincerity breeds trouble. Falstaff gets into trouble because he is insincere, pretending to be lovestruck when he is really moneystruck. Turnabout is fair play. The wives turn the tables on Falstaff, and he gets his just desert.
Mistress Page Mistress Ford.
Pistol - One of Falstaff's men, Pistol wants to stay honest, and he refuses to deliver Falstaff's seductive letters to Mistress Page and Mistress Ford. Host - Host of the Garter Inn, the Host makes fun of Evans and Caius's broken and accented English William Page - Page's son, he meets Evans, who gives him an impromptu Latin lesson which Mistress Quickly entirely mishears as sexual innuendo. Simple servant. Slender's
meet and prepare to fight. The other men take their swords away, and Caius and Evans speak quietly to each other of their suspicion that the Host has plotted to make them look like fools because he scorns Evans for his Welsh accent and Caius for his French one. They agree to work together to get revenge against the Host. On the way back from the fight, the men discuss Anne's marriage options. Page says he favors Slender, but his wife prefers Caius. What about Fenton?, asks one, but Page dismisses him entirely. Ford invites the men back to his house to catch Falstaff. Falstaff has arrived at Mistress Ford's house; he hides when Mistress Page is announced. She comes in and speaks loudly of the imminent arrival of Ford, who angrily suspects his wife of cheating. Falstaff comes out and asks them to help him flee. They hide him in a laundry basket. Ford and his buddies enter as Mistress Ford's men carry the laundry out. Ford is unable to find Falstaff, and the Mistresses are doubly delighted to have fooled both Falstaff and Ford. They decide to humiliate Falstaff further in the service of making Ford get over his jealousy. Fenton and Anne Page speak. He says her father objects to him because he suspects him of just wanting Anne's money, since he is highborn but poor. Fenton admits that that was his intention at first, but, since getting to know her, he has come to feel differently. Shallow, Slender, and Quickly enter; Quickly draws Fenton away, while Shallow tries to get Slender to talk to Anne. Slender only makes a fool of himself by speaking nonsense. Page and his wife enter, and they invite the favored Slender inside. Fenton asks Quickly to continue to campaign on his behalf with Anne. Alone, Quickly notes that she likes him better than the other two men who have asked her to sway
Anne's opinion. Falstaff arrives at the Garter Inn, soaked after having been thrown in the river with the laundry. Quickly enters with a second invitation from Mistress Ford. Ford enters in disguise as Brooke and asks how Falstaff's date with Mistress Ford went. He tells how it ended, but says he is visiting again that night! Falstaff returns to Mistress Ford's house, and again Mistress Page enters soon after. Falstaff hides, and Mistress Page warns Mistress Ford of her husband's approach. How will they hide Falstaff this time? He emerges and refuses to go in the laundry again. Mistress Ford suggests that he wear the clothes of her servant's fat aunt to escape in disguise. He does, and when Ford arrives, he beats Falstaff and chases him away because he hates the fat aunt. Mistress Ford and Mistress Page are pleased; they think they have proven their point, and so they decide to tell their husbands of their schemes. Ford apologizes to his wife for his jealousy, and he promises never to suspect her again. They decide that it would be fun to work together to humiliate Falstaff publicly. They plan to have Mistress Ford invite Falstaff to meet her in an allegedly haunted wood, and they'll dress their children up as ghosts and monsters to terrify and embarrass Falstaff. Then, having caught him in the act of trying to meet Mistress Ford secretly, they can tell the story all around town. Fenton speaks to the Host of a letter he has received from Anne. She says that her parents want to use the chaos of disguised children in the haunted wood as an opportunity for her suitors to elope with her. Her mother wants her to run off with Caius and her father prefers Slender. Each instructs her to wear a specific outfit so each suitor may find her. But she
intends to deceive them both. Fenton asks the Host to help him find a vicar who will marry them that night. Meanwhile, Caius and Evans avenge themselves on the Host by stealing three of his horses in a scheme that had him believing he had lent the horses to three German lords on their way to the royal court. Falstaff arrives in the haunted woods. The disguised children hide and wait. Ford and Page and their friends arrive to watch, and Mistress Ford and Mistress Page approach Falstaff. He's delighted to see they have both come to meet him. Then they hear a noise and the women run away. Falstaff is surrounded by disguised elves and ghouls and is terrified. Mistress Quickly, playing the fairy queen, says they should try to burn the human they have encountered, and if he doesn't burn then he is pure. They burn Falstaff with candles and encircle him and pinch him. Finally, the disguised children depart, and Page and Ford enter. Falstaff sees that he has been fooled and humiliated. Evans tells Falstaff that he should give up on his lusts and tells Ford that he should trust his wife. Meanwhile, they all wonder where Anne is. Slender arrives upset; in the confusion, he eloped with a young boy in Anne's outfit. Then Caius enters, in a rage that he has married a boy wearing Anne's assigned color outfit. Then Anne herself enters with Fenton. Fenton scolds the Pages for having thought to send Anne into a marriage without love. He and Anne have long been in love, he says, and now it has been finalized. Ford says that love has won out, and Page and his wife realize their mistake in not having listened to the wishes of their daughter. Falstaff is pleased that their plan to humiliate him
backfired partially in the marriage of Anne and Fenton. They adjourn to celebrate the marriage and invite Falstaff to join them. ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL The action begins in Roussillon, a region in southern France, then moves to other locales, including Paris, France; Florence, Italy; and Marseilles, France. Bertram, one of the central characters in the play, is the Count of Roussillon. Helena The play's heroine. The orphan daughter of a great doctor, she is the ward of the Countess of Rousillon, and hopelessly in love with the Countess' son, Bertram. Bertram - The Count of Rousillon since the death of his father, and the Countess' only son. A handsome, well-liked young man, he proves to be an excellent soldier, but a cad in his relationship with Helena, who he unwillingly marries and quickly abandons. Countess - The mother of Bertram, the mistress of Rousillon, and Helena's guardian, she is a wise, discerning old woman who perceives Helena's worth and rejoices when she marries Bertram. King of France Bertram's liege lord. He is deathly ill when the play begins, and is miraculously cured by Helena, who uses one of her father's medicines. Helena, the orphan daughter of a famous physician, is the ward of the Countess of Rousillon, and hopelessly in love with her son, Count Bertram, who has been sent to the court of the King of France. Despite her beauty and worth, Helena has no hope of attracting Bertram, since she is of low birth and he is a nobleman. However, when word comes that the King is ill, she goes to Paris and, using her father's arts, cures the illness. In return, she is given the hand of any man in the realm; she chooses Bertram. Her new husband is appalled at the match, however, and shortly after their marriage flees France, accompanied only by a scoundrel named Parolles, to fight in the army of the Duke of Florence. Helena is sent home to the Countess, and receives a letter from Bertram informing her that he will never be her true spouse unless she can get his family ring from his finger, and become pregnant with his child--neither of which, he declares, will ever come to pass. The Countess, who loves Helena and approves of the match, tries to comfort her, but the distraught young woman departs Rousillon, planning to make a religious pilgrimage. Meanwhile, in Florence, Bertram has become a general in the Duke's army. Helena comes to the city, and discovers that her husband is trying to seduce the virginal daughter of a kindly Widow. With the connivance of the daughter, named Diana, she contrives to trick Bertram: he gives Diana his ring as a token of his love, and when he comes to her room at night, Helena is in the bed, and they make love without him realizing that it is her. At the same time, two lords in the army expose Parolles as a coward A human being should be judged on his or her inner qualities, not on social standing. Bertram rejects Helena (until the end of the play) because she is below him on the social scale. Blinded by his prejudices, he fails to see her good qualities. This theme foreshadows the themes of later English writers, such as Jane Austen, Emily Brontë and Charles Dickens. Women have the intelligence and know-how to compete with men. Examples: (1) Only Helena can cure the king's fistula. (2) Helena and Diana team up to trick Bertram. The motif of women struggling to prove their worth--or suffering under male domination--is a recurring theme in literature. For example, in the 5th Century B.C., Sophocles dealt with this theme in Antigone, a play in which a teenage girl challenges the authority of a king. In the 19th Century A.D., Kate Chopin dealt with this theme in several of her works, including a splendid short story entitled "The Story of an Hour," in which an oppressed woman fails to assert herself
The play is based on a tale of Boccacio's Decameron. Shakespeare may have read an English translation of the tale in William Painter's Palace of Pleasure. The name of the play comes from the proverb All's well that ends well, which means that problems do not matter so long as the outcome is good.
Lafew - An old French nobleman, who offers advice to the King and is friendly with the Countess. He is wise and discerning, perceiving both Helena's worth and Parolles' worthlessness. Parolles - A companion of Bertram, he is a coward, a liar and a braggart, who pretends to be a great soldier when he is nothing of the sort. First Lord - A genial French nobleman named Dumaine, he serves in the Florentine army and becomes friends with Bertram. Second Lord - The First Lord Dumaine's brother, similar in character and also a friend to Bertram. Diana - A young virgin in Florence, who Bertram attempts to seduce. Widow - Diana's mother. Mariana - A woman of Florence. Duke of Florence - The ruler of Florence, many French lords (including Bertram, Parolles, and Dumaine) volunteer to
and a villain, and he falls out of Bertram's favor. Meanwhile, false messengers have come to the camp bearing word that Helena is dead, and with the war drawing to a close, Bertram decides to return to France. Unknown to him, Helena follows, accompanied by Diana and the Widow. In Rousillon, everyone is mourning Helena as dead. The King is visiting, and consents to Bertram marrying the daughter of an old, faithful lord, named Lafew. However, he notices a ring on Bertram's finger that formerly belonged to Helena--it was a gift from the King after she saved his life. (Helena gave the ring to Diana in Florence, and she in turn gave it to her would-be lover.) Bertram is at a loss to explain where it came from, but just then Diana and her mother appear to explain matters--followed by Helena, who informs her husband that both his conditions have been fulfilled. Chastened, Bertram consents to be a good husband to her, and there is general rejoicing.
in a male world but does enjoy an hour of freedom. All things are not as they seem. Bertram thinks high standing brings happiness. In reality, he discovers later, only love, honesty, and other virtues can bring happiness. All is well when it ends well. Helena gets her man even though she had to pretend to be another woman, in a darkened room, to trick him into accepting her. At the end of the play, Helena says that success or failure of a course of action depends on how it turned out, not on how it came about.
fight for him. Clown - An old servant of the Countess, who serves as a messenger and enjoys coarse, sexual humor. Steward Another servant of the Countess. MEASURE FOR MEASURE The setting is in Vienna. Isabella The main character, Isabella, is a very virtuous and chaste young woman who faces a difficult decision when her brother is sentenced to death for fornication (unlawful sex). Isabella does not approve of her brother's actions at all, but she pleads for his life out of loyalty and sisterly devotion. Isabella is a spiritual person who starts off wanting to become a nun. The Duke - The other central figure is the Duke, who spends most of his time dressed as a friar in order to observe what is happening in his absence. The Duke is unfailingly virtuous, good, and kind-hearted. Claudio Isabella's brother Claudio is a young man sentenced to death for impregnating an unmarried woman. Shakespeare's Measure for Measure centers around the fate of Claudio, who is arrested by Lord Angelo, the temporary leader of Vienna. Angelo is left in charge by the Duke, who pretends to leave town but instead dresses as a friar to observe the goings-on in his absence. Angelo is strict, moralistic, and unwavering in his decision-making; he decides that there is too much freedom in Vienna and takes it upon himself to rid the city of brothels and unlawful sexual activity. Laws against these behaviors and institutions already exist, and Angelo simply decides to enforce them more strictly. Claudio is arrested for impregnating Juliet, his lover, before they were married. Although they were engaged and their sexual intercourse was consensual, Claudio is sentenced to death in order to serve as an example to the other Viennese citizens. Isabella, Claudio's sister, is about to enter a nunnery when her brother is arrested. She is unfailingly virtuous, religious, and chaste. When she hears of her brother's arrest, she goes to Angelo to beg him for mercy. He refuses, but suggests that there might be some way to change his mind. When he propositions her, saying that he will let Claudio live if she agrees to have sexual intercourse with him, she is shocked and immediately refuses. Her brother agrees at first but then changes his mind. Isabella is left to contemplate a very important decision. It discusses serious issues of the abuses of power and authority. In Shakespeare's time, sexual harassment was nonexistent, but today it remains a large issue. Measure for Measure deals with this harassment in the relationship between Isabella and Angelo. To gain her brother's freedom, Isabella has to make the choice of whether to sleep with Angelo or let her brother die. The ultimatum is something that would be illegal today. A leader being above the law is another major theme that runs rampant through the story. Though Claudio is sentenced to death for sleeping with his fiancée whom he loves, Angelo takes advantage of being in power, and sleeps with Isabella. Even though he has attacks of conscience, Angelo still expects to get away with his
The main source of the play is George Whetstone's 1578 lengthy two-part closet drama Promos and Cassandra. Whetstone took the story from Cinthio's Hecatommithi, which Shakespeare seems to have consulted, as well as a dramatization of the story, also by Cinthio. The title, which appears as a line of dialogue in the play, may be related to the Bible, Matthew 7:2
Lord Angelo - Angelo is the villain of the play, a man who rules strictly and without mercy. He has his own weaknesses, however, and he is loathsome more for his hypocrisy than for anything else. Escalus - Escalus is a wise lord who advises Angelo to be more merciful. Lucio - Lucio, described by Shakespeare as a "fantastic," is a flamboyant bachelor who provides much of the play's comedic content. Mariana - Mariana was supposed to marry Angelo, but he called the wedding off when she lost her dowry in a shipwreck that killed her brother. Mistress Overdone Mistress Overdone runs a brothel in Vienna. Pompey - Pompey is a clown who also works for Mistress Overdone. Provost - The provost runs the prison and is responsible for carrying out all of Angelo's orders.
Isabella is, in a way, let off the hook when the Duke, dressed as a friar, intervenes. He tells her that Angelo's former lover, Mariana, was engaged to be married to him, but he abandoned her when she lost her dowry in a shipwreck. The Duke forms a plan by which Isabella will agree to have sex with the Angelo, but then Mariana will go in her place. The next morning, Angelo will pardon Claudio and be forced to marry Mariana according to the law. Everything goes according to plan, except that Angelo does not pardon Claudio, fearing revenge. The provost and the Duke send him the head of a dead pirate, claiming that it belonged to Claudio, and Angelo believes that his orders were carried out. Isabella is told that her brother is dead, and that she should submit a complaint to the Duke, who is due to arrive shortly, accusing Angelo of immoral acts. The Duke returns in his usual clothes, saying that he will hear all grievances immediately. Isabella tells her story, and the Duke pretends not to believe her. Eventually, the Duke reveals his dual identity, and everyone is forced to be honest. Angelo confesses to his misdeeds, Claudio is pardoned, and the Duke asks Isabella to marry him.
crime because of the position he holds. The major metaphor in the play was also a person of power. The Duke in disguise stands as a Godlike watcher figure who fixes the wrongs the characters make, judges those who deserve to be judged, and rewards those who are loyal and virtuous. The Duke uses his power to help, not to hinder those around him as Shakespeare may have perceived his God to be.
Elbow - Elbow is a dimwitted constable who arrests people for misconduct, particularly of the sexual variety. Barnadine - A long-term prisoner in the jail, Barnadine is sentenced to be executed together with Claudio. Juliet - Claudio's lover, she is pregnant with his baby. WINTER’S TALE The main plot of The Winter's Tale is taken from Robert Greene's pastoral romance Pandosto, published in 1590. The action takes place in Sicily (or Sicilia) and Bohemia. Sicily is a large island west of the toe of Italy's boot. Bohemia was a kingdom within the boundaries of the present-day Czech republic, between present-day Poland on the north and Austria on the south. In ancient times, a Celtic people called the Boii settled the land that became Bohemia. In The Winter's Tale, Bohemia has a coastline along which ships arrive and debark. In real life, Bohemia was a landlocked region; it was entirely surrounded by terra firma. Shakespeare may have Leontes - The King of Sicilia, and the childhood friend of the Bohemian King Polixenes. Hermione - The virtuous and beautiful Queen of Sicilia. Perdita - The daughter of Leontes and Hermione. Polixenes - The King of Bohemia, and Leontes's boyhood friend. Florizel - Polixenes's only son and heir Camillo - An honest Sicilian nobleman Paulina - A noblewoman of Sicily, she is fierce in her defense of Hermione's virtue, and unrelenting in her King Leontes of Sicilia begs his childhood friend, King Polixenes of Bohemia, to extend his visit to Sicilia. Polixenes protests that he has been away from his kingdom for nine months, but after Leontes's pregnant wife, Hermione, pleads with him he relents and agrees to stay a little longer. Leontes, meanwhile, has become possessed with jealousy--convinced that Polixenes and Hermione are lovers, he orders his loyal retainer, Camillo, to poison the Bohemian king. Instead, Camillo warns Polixenes of what is afoot, and the two men flee Sicilia immediately. Furious at their escape, Leontes now publicly accuses his wife of infidelity, and declares that the child she is bearing must be illegitimate. He throws her in prison, over the protests of his nobles, and sends to the Oracle of Delphi for what he is sure will be confirmation of his suspicions. Meanwhile, the queen gives birth to a girl, and her loyal friend Paulina brings the baby to the king, in the hopes that the sight of the child will soften his heart. He only grows angrier, however, and orders Paulina's husband, Lord Antigonus, to take the child and abandon it in some desolate place. While Antigonus is Youth and Age One theme is the power of youth to regenerate age. For example, it is the young people, Perdita and Florizel, who effect the reconciliation between the old kings, Leontes and Polixenes. This theme is struck in the very first scene, in which Camillo comments that young Mamilius is such a promising prince that he makes "old hearts fresh." (See also Polixenes' comments, Act 1, scene 2, lines 170-71.) Mamilius of course does not live to fulfill his promise, but Perdita does. There is a sense of human life renewing itself through the cycle of generations. Forgiveness Reconciliation The importance and of
been a magnificent writer, but he was no geographer.
condemnation of Leontes after Hermione's death Autolycus - A roguish peddler, vagabond, and pickpocket Shepherd - An old and honorable sheep-tender, he finds Perdita as a baby and raises her as his own daughter. Antigonus - Paulina's husband, and also a loyal defender of Hermione. Clown - The Shepherd's buffoonish son, and Perdita's adopted brother. Mamillius - The young prince of Sicilia, Leontes and Hermione's son. Cleomenes - A lord of Sicilia, sent to Delphi to ask the Oracle about Hermione's guilt. Dion - A Sicilian lord, he accompanies Cleomenes to Delphi. Emilia - One of Hermione's ladies-inwaiting. Archidamus - A lord of Bohemia.
gone, the answer comes from Delphi--Hermione and Polixenes are innocent, and Leontes will have no heir until his lost daughter is found. As this news is revealed, word comes that Leontes's son, Mamillius, has died of a wasting sickness brought on by the accusations against his mother. Hermione, meanwhile, falls in a swoon, and is carried away by Paulina, who subsequently reports the queen's death to her heartbroken and repentant husband. Antigonus, meanwhile abandons the baby on the Bohemian coast, reporting that Hermione appeared to him in a dream and bade him name the girl Perdita and leave gold and other tokens on her person. Shortly thereafter, Antigonus is killed by a bear, and Perdita is raised by a kindly Shepherd. Sixteen years pass, and the son of Polixenes, Prince Florizel, falls in love with Perdita. His father and Camillo attend a sheepshearing in disguise and watch as Florizel and Perdita are betrothed--then, tearing off the disguise, Polixenes intervenes and orders his son never to see the Shepherd's daughter again. With the aid of Camillo, however, who longs to see his native land again, Florizel and Perdita take ship for Sicilia, after using the clothes of a local rogue, Autolycus, as a disguise. They are joined in their voyage by the Shepherd and his son, a Clown, who are directed there by Autolycus. In Sicilia, Leontes--still in mourning after all this time--greets the son of his old friend effusively. Florizel pretends to be on a diplomatic mission from his father, but his cover is blown when Polixenes and Camillo, too, arrive in Sicilia. What happens next is told to us by gentlemen of the Sicilian court: the Shepherd tells everyone his story of how Perdita was found, and Leontes realizes that she is his daughter, leading to general rejoicing. The entire company then goes to Paulina's house in the country, where a
forgiveness and reconciliation is another theme in the last plays of Shakespeare. Hermoine forgives Leontes the wrong he inflicted on her, and they are finally reconciled. Polixenes forgives Leontes. Leontes must also try to forgive himself. Supernatural Intervention Supernatural or improbable events often feature in the Shakespearean romances. In The Winter's Tale, the god Apollo intervenes, through the oracle, when Leontes is blind to the truth and bent on injustice. The "resurrection" of Hermoine is also presented as a supernatural event, a miracle. Nobility of Woman Another theme of the romances, prominent in The Winter's Tale, is the nobility, purity and resoluteness of woman. These qualities are embodied in Hermoine, who is not only beyond reproach in her duties as queen, but also endures false accusation and condemnation with great dignity. Nature and the Perpetual Renewal of Life. human life will be healed by nature and time, just as spring always returns to the earth. What
statue of Hermione has been recently finished. The sight of his wife's form makes Leontes distraught, but then, to everyone's amazement, the statue comes to life--it is Hermione, restored to life. As the play ends, Paulina and Camillo are engaged, and the whole company celebrates the miracle. THE COMEDY OF ERRORS The setting for The Comedy of Errors is Ephesus, in presentday Turkey, which was a leading trade centre in ancient times. Antipholus of Syracuse - The twin brother of Antipholus of Ephesus and the son of Egeon Antipholus of Ephesus - The twin brother of Antipholus of Syracuse and the son of Egeon; he is a well-respected merchant in Ephesus and Adriana's husband. Dromio of Syracuse The bumbling, comical slave of Antipholus of Syracuse. He is the twin brother of Dromio of Ephesus. Dromio of Ephesus The bumbling, comical slave of Antipholus of Ephesus. He is the Syracusan Dromio's twin brother. Adriana - The wife of Antipholus of Ephesus, she is a fierce, jealous woman. Luciana Adriana's unmarried sister and the object of Antipholus of Egeon, a merchant of Syracuse, is condemned to death in Ephesus for violating the ban against travel between the two rival cities. As he is led to his execution, he tells the Ephesian Duke, Solinus, that he has come to Syracuse in search of his wife and one of his twin sons, who were separated from him 25 years ago in a shipwreck. The other twin, who grew up with Egeon, is also traveling the world in search of the missing half of their family. (The twins, we learn, are identical, and each has an identical twin slave named Dromio.) The Duke is so moved by this story that he grants Egeon a day to raise the thousand-mark ransom that would be necessary to save his life. Meanwhile, unknown to Egeon, his son Antipholus of Syracuse (and Antipholus' slave Dromio) is also visiting Ephesus--where Antipholus' missing twin, known as Antipholus of Ephesus, is a prosperous citizen of the city. Adriana, Antipholus of Ephesus' wife, mistakes Antipholus of Syracuse for her husband and drags him home for dinner, leaving Dromio of Syracuse to stand guard at the door and admit no one. Shortly thereafter, Antipholus of Ephesus (with his slave Dromio of Ephesus) returns home and is refused entry to his own house. Meanwhile, Antipholus of Syracuse has fallen in love with Luciana, Adriana's sister, who is appalled at the behavior of the man she thinks is her brother-in-law. The confusion increases when a gold chain ordered by the Ephesian Antipholus is given to
time takes away ultimately restore.
Key plot elements are taken from two Roman comedies of Plautus. From Menaechmi comes the main premise of mistaken identity between identical twins with the same name, plus some of the stock characters such as the comic courtesan. In Menaechmi one of the twins is from Epidamnus; Shakespeare changes this to Ephesus and includes many allusions to St Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians. From Amphitruo he borrows the twin servants with the same name, plus the
Identity That this is a play about identity is heralded by the presence of two sets of identical twins who have been separated since they were babies. Debt Debt is a theme that arises in almost every scene of the play. It appears in two forms: material debt (money and goods) and social or marital obligations. The entire theme of debt is that of a cruelly binding chain of cause and effect that ties the characters up in fear, deception, distress and jealousy, and banishes love, forgiveness, and friendship.
Love and marriage This theme is explored in the relationship between Adriana and her husband, Antipholus E., and in the debate on marriage between Adriana and Luciana. Gender The theme issues gender
Syracuse's affections. scene in Act 3 where a husband is shut out of his house while his wife mistakenly dines with a look-alike. The frame story of Egeon and Emilia derives from Apollonius of Tyre, also a source for Twelfth Night and Pericles, Prince of Tyre. Solinus - The Duke of Ephesus; a just but merciful ruler. Egeon - A Syracusan merchant, husband of the Abbess (Emilia), and the father of the two Antipholi Abbess - Emilia, the long-lost wife of Egeon and the mother of the two Antipholi. Balthasar - A merchant in Syracuse. Angelo - A goldsmith in Syracuse and a friend to Antipholus of Ephesus. Merchant An Ephesian friend of Antipholus of Syracuse. Second Merchant - A tradesman to whom Angelo is in debt. Doctor Pinch A schoolteacher, conjurer, and would-be exorcist. Luce - Also called Nell. Antipholus of Ephesus' prodigiously fat maid and Dromio of Ephesus' wife. Courtesan An expensive prostitute and friend of Antipholus of
Antipholus of Syracuse. Antipholus of Ephesus refuses to pay for the chain (unsurprisingly, since he never received it) and is arrested for debt. His wife, seeing his strange behavior, decides he has gone mad and orders him bound and held in a cellar room. Meanwhile, Antipholus of Syracuse and his slave decide to flee the city, which they believe to be enchanted, as soon as possible--only to be menaced by Adriana and the debt officer. They seek refuge in a nearby abbey. Adriana now begs the Duke to intervene and remove her "husband" from the abbey into her custody. Her real husband, meanwhile, has broken loose and now comes to the Duke and levels charges against his wife. The situation is finally resolved by the Abbess, Emilia, who brings out the set of twins and reveals herself to be Egeon's long-lost wife. Antipholus of Ephesus reconciles with Adriana; Egeon is pardoned by the Duke and reunited with his spouse; Antipholus of Syracuse resumes his romantic pursuit of Luciana, and all ends happily with the two Dromios embracing.
overlaps with the theme of love and marriage. Critical debate of this issue centers around Adriana and Luciana, in terms of their respective attitudes to marriage and men.
Ephesus. CYMBELINE The plot of Cymbeline is loosely based on a tale by Geoffrey of Monmouth about the real-life British monarch Cunobelinus. Shakespeare, however, freely adapts the legend to a large extent and adds entirely original sub-plots. Iachimo's wager and subsequent hidingplace within a chest in order to gather details of Imogen's room derive from story II.9 of Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron. The settings for Cymbeline are Ancient England, Wales and Rome. Imogen Cymbeline's daughter, the British princess. She is wise, beautiful, and resourceful. Posthumus An orphaned gentleman, he is adopted and raised by Cymbeline, and he marries Imogen in secret, against her father's will. Cymbeline - The king of Britain and Imogen's father. A wise and gracious monarch, he is led astray by the machinations of his wicked Queen. Queen Cymbeline's wife and Imogen's stepmother. Cloten - The Queen's son, he was betrothed to Imogen before her secret wedding to Posthumus. Iachimo - A clever and dishonest Italian gentleman. Pisanio Posthumus's loyal servant Belarius A British nobleman, unjustly banished by Cymbeline Guiderius - Cymbeline's Imogen, the daughter of the British king Cymbeline, goes against her father's wishes and marries a lowborn gentleman, Posthumus, instead of his oafish stepson, Cloten. Cloten is the son of Cymbeline's new Queen, a villainous woman who has made the king her puppet. Cymbeline sends Posthumus into exile in Italy, where he encounters a smooth-tongued Italian named Iachimo. Iachimo argues that all women are naturally unchaste, and he makes a wager with Posthumus that he will be able to seduce Imogen. He goes to the British court and, failing in his initial attempt to convince the princess to sleep with him, resorts to trickery: He hides in a large chest and has it sent to her room; that night he slips out, observes her sleeping, and steals a bracelet that Posthumus once gave to her. Cloten, meanwhile, continues to pursue Imogen, but she rebuffs him harshly. He becomes furious and vows revenge, while she worries over the loss of her bracelet. In the meantime, Iachimo has returned to Italy, and, displaying the stolen bracelet and an intimate knowledge of the details of Imogen's bedchamber, convinces Posthumus that he won the bet. Posthumus, furious at being betrayed by his wife, sends a letter to Britain ordering his servant, Pisanio, to murder Imogen. But Pisanio believes in Imogen's innocence, and he convinces her to disguise herself as a boy and go search for her husband, while he reports to Posthumus that he has killed her. Imogen, however, soon becomes lost in the wilds of Wales, and she comes upon a cave where Belarius, an unjustly banished nobleman, lives with his two sons, Guiderius and Arviragus. In fact, the two young men are not his sons but Cymbeline's; Belarius has kidnapped them to Appearance versus reality In Cymbeline, nothing is as it seems. Outward appearance does not fit inward reality. Youth and age Cymbeline and, by extension, his court and the kingdom, has lost touch with youth and all that goes with it-love, fertility, and renewal. This is shown in the loss of his two sons, in his wedding a cruel Queen, and in his harsh imprisonment of Imogen. Restorative power of nature Cymbeline is one of several plays in which Shakespeare contrasts the corrupt and decaying court with the purity and truth of the natural world. Forgiveness and reconciliation The final scene is characterized by forgiveness and reconciliation. Posthumus learns that Imogen was innocent and expresses repentance. Imogen forgives Posthumus. Cymbeline is reunited with Imogen and with his lost sons, forgives Belarius, and is reconciled with the enemy he vanquished.
eldest son and Imogen's brother Arviragus - Cymbeline's younger son and Imogen's brother Philario An Italian gentleman. Posthumus stays at his home during his exile from Britain. Caius Lucius The Roman ambassador to Britain and, later, the general of the Roman invasion force. Cornelius - A doctor at the court of Cymbeline Soothsayer - A seer, in the service of Caius Lucius Jupiter - The thundergod and king of Olympus in Roman myth
avenge his banishment, though they themselves are ignorant of their true parentage. They welcome Imogen, who is still dressed as a boy. Meanwhile, Cloten appears, having come in pursuit of Imogen; he fights a duel with Guiderius, who kills him. Imogen, feeling ill, drinks a potion the queen has given her. Although the queen told her it was medicinal, the queen herself believed it to be a poison. However, the draught merely induces a deep sleep that resembles death. Belarius and his adoptive sons come upon Imogen and, heartbroken, lay her body beside that of the slain Cloten. Awaking after they have left the scene, she mistakes the body of Cloten for that of Posthumus, and she sinks into despair. A Roman army has invaded Britain, seeking the restoration of a certain tribute Britain has ceased to pay. (A "tribute" here is a payment given to one nation by another in return for a promise of non-aggression.) The disguised Imogen hires herself out to them as a page. Posthumus and Iachimo are traveling with the Roman army, but Posthumus switches to the garb of a British peasant and fights valiantly for Britain. Indeed, in his combat he actively seeks death: He believes his servant to have carried out his orders and killed Imogen, and he regrets his actions. The Romans are defeated, thanks to the intervention of Belarius, Guiderius, and Arviragus, and Posthumus, still trying to punish himself, switches back to Roman garb and allows himself to be taken prisoner. That night, the god Jupiter promises the spirits of Posthumus's dead ancestors that he will care for their descendant. The next day, Cymbeline calls the prisoners before him, and the confusion is sorted out. Posthumus and Imogen are reunited, and they forgive a contrite Iachimo, who confesses his deception. The identity of Guiderius and Arviragus is revealed, Belarius is forgiven, and the Queen dies, leaving the king
free of her evil influence. As a final gesture, Cymbeline frees the Roman prisoners and even agrees to resume paying the tribute. LOVE’S LABOUR LOST Ferdinand, King of Navarre - While the play's dramatis personae lists the King as Ferdinand, throughout the play he is referred to only as "King." He is a scholar and has sworn an oath to uphold his scholarship at the expense of earthly pleasures, the most important of which will turn out to be receiving women at his court. Berowne, Longaville, Dumaine - Three lords who have joined the King in his oath of scholarship. Princess of France - She pays a visit to the King of Navarre and, along with some of her attendants, plays a game of wits with the King and his lords. Rosaline, Maria, Katherine - Three ladies attending the Princess who catch the fancy of the King's lords. Boyet - A lord attending on the Princess, he serves as a messenger to the King's court and exchanges jokes with the The King of Navarre and his three lords, Berowne, Longaville, and Dumaine, swear an oath to scholarship, which includes fasting and avoiding contact with women for three years. They receive a letter from Don Armado, a Spaniard visiting the King's court, telling them that he has caught Costard, a fool, and Jaquenetta, a country wench, consorting in the park. The King announces Costard's sentence, and he and the lords go off to begin their oath. Don Armado confesses to Moth, his page, that he has fallen in love with Jaquenetta. He writes her a letter that he asks Costard to deliver. Meanwhile, the Princess of France has arrived to visit the King. Because of his oath, however, the King cannot receive the Princess and her party at his court; he and his lords must visit them at their camp outside the castle. The three lords fall in love with the three ladies, as does the King with the Princess. Berowne gives Costard a letter to deliver to Rosaline, but Costard accidentally switches it with the letter from Don Armado to Jaquenetta. When he gives Berowne's letter to Jaquenetta, she brings it to the learned Holofernes and Sir Nathaniel to read for her. They tell her that the letter was meant for someone else and to deliver it to the King. Berowne watches the King from a hiding spot as he reads about his love for the Princess. Longaville enters, and the King hides as well; he and Berowne observe Longaville reading of his love for Maria. Dumaine enters, Longaville hides, and all three see Dumaine reading an ode he has written to Katherine. Longaville advances and tells Dumaine that he is not alone in love. The King then advances and scolds the Love's Labor's Lost is Shakespeare's attempt at showing his characters do not always achieve their ends. The play focuses on its character's flaws instead of their virtues. First, the men of the play try to make sacrifices in order to better their minds and their studies. In the play, the only knowledge that the characters gain is that in taking away life's natural distractions, they focus on what they cannot have. Love's Labor's Lost also shows the audience the values of keeping an oath. The women of the play, in attempts to show the men what fools they have been, teach them this lesson. The "Lost" in the title accurately describes the fact that the men gained nothing through their oath both to their king, and to the women to whom they professed their love. It shows that no matter how hard one tries, keeping promises is often more important and more respect gaining than expressions of love.
Love's Labour's Lost is, along with The Tempest, a play without any obvious sources. Cymbeline falls into this category to some extent, although that play draws strands of its narrative from some texts agreed on by modern scholars. Some possible influences can be found in the early plays of John Lyly, Robert Wilson's The Cobbler's Prophecy (c.1590) and Pierre de la Primaudaye's L'Academie française (1577).
The action takes place in Navarre (Spanish, Navarra), originally a region in northern Spain and southern France (département of Basses-Pyrénées). At one time, Navarre was a kingdom. In 1515, Spain annexed most of Navarre; in 1589, France annexed the rest of the kingdom. The capital of presentday Navarre is Pamplona, on the Arga River, founded by the ancient Roman general Pompey the Great. The area was later occupied by Visigoths and Moors. Pamplona is famous for the Festival of St. Fermin (July 614), in which a chief attraction is encierro– the running of bulls each morning through the streets of the city.
lords. Don Armado Described in the list of characters as "a fantastical Spaniard." Mote - Don Armado's page. Costard - He is described as "a clown" Jaquenetta - A country wench caught with Costard by Don Armado. Sir Nathaniel, Holofernes - A curate and schoolmaster Dull - A constable, usually appearing with Sir Nathaniel and Holofernes. He provides a dull contrast to their scholarship. Mercadé - Another lord attending on the Princess. Antony - A once fierce and feared soldier who rules the Roman Empire along with Octavius Caesar and Lepidus. Cleopatra - The queen of Egypt and Antony’s lover. A highly attractive woman who once
two men for breaking their oath. Berowne advances and reveals that the King is in love as well. Jaquenetta arrives and gives Berowne the letter, which he rips up. However, Dumaine picks up a piece of the letter with Berowne's name on it, and Berowne confesses that he is in love as well. The four men decide to court their women. The King and his lords arrive at the Princess's pavilion dressed as Muscovites. The women heed Boyet's prior warnings and decide to switch favors, so that the men will mistake them for each other. After the men leave and reappear as themselves, the women reveal their prank. They all watch a show of the Nine Worthies, performed by Don Armado, Sir Nathaniel, and Holofernes. A messenger arrives to tell the Princess that her father has died, and she prepares to return to France. The women tell their suitors to seek them again in a year, and the play ends with their departure.
ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
The principal source for the story is Plutarch's "Life of Mark Antony" from
The action takes place in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East between 40 and 30 B.C. The grand, farflung, macrocosmic scope of the settings helps to underscore the
MARK ANTONY, ONE OF THE THREE RULERS of the Roman Empire, spends his time in Egypt, living a life of decadence and conducting an affair with the country’s beautiful queen, Cleopatra. When a message arrives informing him that his wife, Fulvia, is dead and that Pompey is raising an army to rebel against the triumvirate, Antony decides to return to Rome. In Antony’s absence, Octavius Caesar and Lepidus, his fellow triumvirs, worry about Pompey’s increasing
Blind passion mutes the voice of reason and leads to the death of two mighty leaders. Antony and Cleopatra both pay with their lives for their scandalous, allconsuming love affair. Beware of young men of ambition. Excessive ambition
Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans Compared Together, in the translation made by Sir Thomas North in 1579. A large number of phrases within Shakespeare's play are taken directly from North's prose, including Enobarbus's famous description of Cleopatra's barge, beginning "The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne/Burned on the water." However Shakespeare also adds scenes, including many of the ones portraying Cleopatra's domestic life, and the role of Enobarbus is greatly developed. Historical facts are also sometimes changed: in Plutarch Antony's final defeat was many weeks after the battle of Actium, and Octavia lived with mark for several years and bore him two children.
immensity of the political and emotional drives and impulses at work in the play.The settings also serve to demonstrate the pronounced differences between sober, straitlaced Rome and hedonistic, decadent Egypt. The settings include the following: Cleopatra's palace in Alexandria, Egypt; the house of Octavius Caesar in Rome, Italy; the house of Sextus Pompeius in Messina, Italy; the house of Lepidus in Rome; a street in Rome; a meeting place near Misenum, Italy; the galley of Sextus Pompeius off Misenum; a plain in Syria; Mark Antony's residence in Athens, Greece; Mark Antony's camp near Actium, Greece; a plain near Actium; Octavius Caesar's camp in Egypt; Mark Antony's camp at Alexandria; Egyptian field of battle; the walls at Alexandria; a monument at Alexandria.
seduced Julius Caesar, Cleopatra delights in the thought that she has caught Antony like a fish. Octavius Caesar - The nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar. Octavius rules the Roman Empire with Antony and Lepidus. Enobarbus Antony’s most loyal supporter. Worldly and cynical, Enobarbus is friendly with the subordinates of both Pompey and Caesar, yet stays faithful to his master even after Antony makes grave political and military missteps. Marcus Aemilius Lepidus The third member of the triumvirate and the weakest, both politically and personally. Pompey - The son of a great general who was one of Julius Caesar’s partners in power. Pompey is young and popular with the Roman people, and he possesses enough military might to stand as a legitimate threat to the triumvirs. Octavia Octavius Caesar’s sister.
strength. Caesar condemns Antony for neglecting his duties as a statesman and military officer in order to live a decadent life by Cleopatra’s side. The news of his wife’s death and imminent battle pricks Antony’s sense of duty, and he feels compelled to return to Rome. Upon his arrival, he and Caesar quarrel, while Lepidus ineffectually tries to make peace. Realizing that an alliance is necessary to defeat Pompey, Antony and Caesar agree that Antony will marry Caesar’s sister, Octavia, who will solidify their loyalty to one another. Enobarbus, Antony’s closest friend, predicts to Caesar’s men that, despite the marriage, Antony will surely return to Cleopatra. In Egypt, Cleopatra learns of Antony’s marriage and flies into a jealous rage. However, when a messenger delivers word that Octavia is plain and unimpressive, Cleopatra becomes confident that she will win Antony back. The triumvirs meet Pompey and settle their differences without going to battle. Pompey agrees to keep peace in exchange for rule over Sicily and Sardinia. That evening, the four men drink to celebrate their truce. One of Pompey’s soldiers discloses to him a plan to assassinate the triumvirs, thereby delivering world power into Pompey’s hands, but Pompey dismisses the scheme as an affront to his honor. Meanwhile, one of Antony’s -generals wins a victory over the kingdom of Parthia. Antony and Octavia depart for Athens. Once they are gone, Caesar breaks his truce, wages war against Pompey, and defeats him. After using Lepidus’s army to secure a victory, he accuses Lepidus of treason, imprisons him, and confiscates his land and possessions. This news angers Antony, as do the rumors that Caesar has been speaking out against him in
is a flaw that destroys the people that it infects. Headstrong, selfish acts can alienate and victimize even the best of friends. Antony's behavior ruptures his friendship with Enobarbus, his most devoted friend, who dies of a broken heart. Only the fittest survive. In Antony and Cleopatra, Lepidus is unfit because he is weak, tending to pacify his rivals and seek compromise rather than sally forth with a closed fist. Consequently, the ambitious Octavius easily pushes him aside. Deception ends in disaster. To win Antony's sympathy, Cleopatra sends word to him that she has died. Antony then falls on his sword, mortally wounding himself. The greater the civilization, the greater its problems. Rome was the greatest civilization of its time. But because of its size and complexity and because of the size and complexity of the egos that controlled it, it was also a troubled civilization. Overweening pride leads to a downfall. Ostensibly, Cleopatra commits suicide because she cannot endure
Charmian and Iras Cleopatra’s faithful attendants. The Soothsayer - An Egyptian fortune-teller who follows Antony to Rome and predicts that his fortune will always pale in comparison to Caesar’s. Dolabella One of Octavius Caesar’s men. Agrippa Octavius officers. One of Caesar’s
public. Octavia pleads with Antony to maintain a peaceful relationship with her brother. Should Antony and Caesar fight, she says, her affections would be painfully divided. Antony dispatches her to Rome on a peace mission, and quickly returns to Egypt and Cleopatra. There, he raises a large army to fight Caesar, and Caesar, incensed over Antony’s treatment of his sister, responds in kind. Caesar commands his army and navy to Egypt. Ignoring all advice to the contrary, Antony elects to fight him at sea, allowing Cleopatra to command a ship despite Enobarbus’s strong objections. Antony’s forces lose the battle when Cleopatra’s ship flees and Antony’s follows, leaving the rest of the fleet vulnerable. Antony despairs, condemning Cleopatra for leading him into infamy but quickly forgiving her. He and Cleopatra send requests to their conqueror: Antony asks to be allowed to live in Egypt, while Cleopatra asks that her kingdom be passed down to her rightful heirs. Caesar dismisses Antony’s request, but he promises Cleopatra a fair hearing if she betrays her lover. Cleopatra seems to be giving thought to Caesar’s message when Antony barges in, curses her for her treachery, and orders the innocent messenger whipped. When, moments later, Antony forgives Cleopatra, Enobarbus decides that his master is finished and defects to Caesar’s camp. Antony meets Caesar’s troops in battle and scores an unexpected victory. When he learns of Enobarbus’s desertion, Antony laments his own bad fortune, which he believes has corrupted an honorable man. He sends his friend’s possessions to Caesar’s camp and returns to Cleopatra to celebrate his victory. Enobarbus, undone by shame at his own disloyalty, bows under the weight of his guilt and dies. Another day brings another battle, and
life without Antony. She is a complex woman. Love for Antony burns in her breast, to be sure, but so do other emotions. One of them is great pride that renders her incapable of undergoing ridicule.
Camidius - A general in Antony’s army. Ventidius - A Roman soldier under Antony’s command. Scarus - A brave young soldier serving under Antony. Proculeius - One of Caesar’s soldiers, who proves untrustworthy. Diomedes servant. Cleopatra’s
The Struggle Between Reason and Emotion. The play offers us a worldview in which one sensibility cannot easily dominate another. Reason cannot ever fully conquer the passions, nor can passion wholly undo reason. The Clash of East and West. Antony and Cleopatra details the conflict between Rome and Egypt, giving us an idea of the Elizabethan perceptions of the difference between Western and Eastern cultures. The Western and Eastern poles of the world are characterized by those who inhabit them.
Eros An attendant serving Antony Menas - An ambitious young soldier under
Pompey Seleucus - Cleopatra’s treasurer, who betrays his master. Clown An Egyptian who brings a basket of figs containing poisonous snakes to Cleopatra. Decretas One Antony’s soldiers. of
once again Antony meets Caesar at sea. As before, the Egyptian fleet proves treacherous; it abandons the fight and leaves Antony to suffer defeat. Convinced that his lover has betrayed him, Antony vows to kill Cleopatra. In order to protect herself, she quarters herself in her monument and sends word that she has committed suicide. Antony, racked with grief, determines to join his queen in the afterlife. He commands one of his attendants to fulfill his promise of unquestioned service and kill him. The attendant kills himself instead. Antony then falls on his own sword, but the wound is not immediately fatal. He is carried to Cleopatra’s monument, where the lovers are reunited briefly before Antony’s death. Caesar takes the queen prisoner, planning to display her in Rome as a testament to the might of his empire, but she learns of his plan and kills herself with the help of several poisonous snakes. Caesar has her buried beside Antony.
The Definition of Honor. The notion of honor to that of death suggests the latter as a surefire means of achieving the former. In Antony and Cleopatra, honor seems less a function of Western or Eastern culture than of the characters’ determination to define themselves on their own terms. Both Antony and Cleopatra secure honorable deaths by refusing to compromise their identities. Motifs Extravagant Declarations of Love Public Displays of Affection Female Sexuality Symbols Shape-Changing Clouds. Act IV, scene xv, Antony likens his shifting sense of self to a cloud that changes shape as it tumbles across the sky. Just as the cloud turns from “a bear or lion, / A
towered citadel, a pendent rock,” Antony seems to change from the reputed conqueror into a debased victim (IV.xv.3–4). As he says to Eros, his uncharacteristic defeat, both on the battlefield and in matters of love, makes it difficult for him to “hold this visible shape” (IV.xv.14). Cleopatra’s Fleeing Ships. The ships remind us of Cleopatra’s inconstancy and of the inconstancy of human character in the play. The Asps. One of the most memorable symbols in the play comes in its final moments, as Cleopatra applies deadly snakes to her skin. The asps are a prop in the queen’s final and most magnificent performance. Is kingly authority inviolable? The central theme of the play is whether the subjects of a king have a right to overthrow and replace
RICHARD II Shakespeare's primary source for
The action in the play takes place in England and Wales, beginning in 1398. (Richard II
King Richard II - The King of England when the play begins, Richard is a young man who has not matured much since his
Richard II, written around 1595, is the first play in Shakespeare's second "history tetralogy," a series of four plays that chronicles the rise of the house of Lancaster to the British throne. (Its sequel plays are Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2, and
Richard II, as for most of his chronicle histories, was Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles; the publication of the second edition in 1589 provides a terminus post quem for the play. Edward Hall's The Union of the Two Illustrious Families of Lancaster and York appears also to have been consulted, and scholars have also supposed Shakespeare familiar with Samuel Daniel's poem on the civil wars.
reigned between 1377 and 1399.) Locales include London, Coventry, the wilds of Gloucestershire, and Bristol.
adolescence. Stately poetic, he enjoys trappings of kingship has an extraordinary for poetic language.
and the and flair
Henry Bolingbroke Duke of Herford - Bolingbroke is King Richard's cousin and the son of Richard's uncle, John of Gaunt. John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster Called either "Gaunt" or "Lancaster." An important nobleman, John of Gaunt is Richard's uncle and the father of Richard's banished cousin Bolingbroke, who eventually usurps the throne. Edmund of Langley Duke of York - Called "York." Richard's uncle, and a brother of John of Gaunt and of the late Thomas of Gloucester. The Duke of Aumerle Also called "Rutland" late in the play, since he is the Earl of Rutland. He is the son of Edmund, Duke of York, and thus a cousin to both King Richard II and Henry Bolingbroke. Thomas Mowbray Duke of Norfolk - Mowbray,
Henry V.) Richard II, set around the year 1398, traces the fall from power of the last king of the house of Plantagenet, Richard II, and his replacement by the first Lancaster king, Henry IV (Henry Bolingbroke). Richard II, who ascended to the throne as a young man, is a regal and stately figure, but he is wasteful in his spending habits, unwise in his choice of counselors, and detached from his country and its common people. He spends too much of his time pursuing the latest Italian fashions, spending money on his close friends, and raising taxes to fund his pet wars in Ireland and elsewhere. When he begins to "rent out" parcels of English land to certain wealthy noblemen in order to raise funds for one of his wars, and seizes the lands and money of a recently deceased and much respected uncle to help fill his coffers, both the commoners and the king's noblemen decide that Richard has gone too far. Richard has a cousin, named Henry Bolingbroke, who is a great favorite among the English commoners. Early in the play, Richard exiles him from England for six years due to an unresolved dispute over an earlier political murder. The dead uncle whose lands Richard seizes was the father of Bolingbroke; when Bolingbroke learns that Richard has stolen what should have been his inheritance, it is the straw that breaks the camel's back. When Richard unwisely departs to pursue a war in Ireland, Bolingbroke assembles an army and invades the north coast of England in his absence. The commoners, fond of Bolingbroke and angry at Richard's mismanagement of the country, welcome his invasion and join his forces. One by one, Richard's allies in the nobility desert him and defect to Bolingbroke's side as Bolingbroke marches through England. By the time Richard returns from Ireland, he has already lost his grasp on his country.
him if he is weak, unwise, or unduly harsh. Prodigality arouses the wrath of the people. Richard II spends lavishly and bleeds his subjects to fill his coffers. Richard fails to realize an old political truth: When pockets lack jingle, the people retaliate. True patriots remain steadfast and loyal. Old John of Gaunt (Duke of Lancaster) remains steadfastly loyal to his country through the turmoil unfolding around him. Gaunt dies with dignity. Today, the words Shakespeare gave him continue to live in England on the tongues of every schoolchild who values his heritage. Blood is thinner than water, or familiarity breeds contempt. The main enemies in Richard II are relatives. John of Gaunt is Richard II’s uncle. When Gaunt dies, Richard seizes his property. Henry Bolingbroke is the son of Gaunt and Richard’s cousin. He deposes Richard and seizes his throne.
sometimes called "Norfolk," is a nobleman whom Henry Bolingbroke accuses of treason. Bushy, Bagot, and Green (also called Greene) Richard's friends and loyal backers in the court. Henry Percy Earl of Northumberland; Lord Ross; and Lord Willoughby - Noblemen who join Bolingbroke's rebel army early to fight against King Richard. Duchess of York - The wife of the Duke of York and mother of the Duke of Aumerle. Duchess of Gloucester - The aged widow of the late Thomas of Gloucester, and the sister-in-law of John of Gaunt and the Duke of York. Queen Isabel Richard's wife. King
There is never an actual battle; instead, Bolingbroke peacefully takes Richard prisoner in Wales and brings him back to London, where Bolingbroke is crowned King Henry IV. Richard is imprisoned in the remote castle of Pomfret in the north of England, where he is left to ruminate upon his downfall. There, an assassin, who both is and is not acting upon King Henry's ambivalent wishes for Richard's expedient death, murders the former king. King Henry hypocritically repudiates the murderer and vows to journey to Jerusalem to cleanse himself of his part in Richard's death. As the play concludes, we see that the reign of the new King Henry IV has started off inauspiciously.
Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester - The Lord Steward of the king's household, he is also the brother of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and thus the uncle of young Harry Percy.
Lord Berkeley The ruler of Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, where York's army meets Bolingbroke's army in Act II, scene iii. He is loyal to King Richard. Lord Salisbury - A lord loyal to King Richard. Bishop of Carlisle - A clergyman loyal to Richard. Sir Stephen Scroope A nobleman loyal to Richard. Abbot of Westminster A clergyman loyal to Richard. Sir Piers Exton - A nobleman who assassinates the former King Richard in Pomfret Castle in Act V, scene v, believing he is acting under King Henry's orders Lord Fitzwater - A minor lord who throws down a gage sometime during Act IV, scene i, and also throws his weight around in Act V, scene vi .
Shakespeare's primary source for Richard III, as with most of his history plays, was Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles; the publication date of the second edition, 1587, being the terminus post quem for the play. It is also likely that Shakespeare consulted Edward Hall's The Union of the Two Illustrious Families of Lancaster and York (second edition, 1548).
The action takes place in England in the following locales: London (including castles and the royal palace), Salisbury, a camp near Tamworth, and Bosworth Field (about 12 miles west of Leicester in the East Midlands).
Richard - Also called the duke of Gloucester, and eventually crowned King Richard III. Deformed in body and twisted in mind, Richard is both the central character and the villain of the play. He is evil, corrupt, sadistic, and manipulative, and he will stop at nothing to become king. His intelligence, political brilliance, and dazzling use of language keep the audience fascinated—and his subjects and rivals under his thumb. Buckingham - Richard’s right-hand man in his schemes to gain power. The duke of Buckingham is almost as amoral and ambitious as Richard himself. King Edward IV - The older brother of Richard and Clarence, and the king of England at the start of the play. Clarence - The gentle, trusting brother born between Edward and Richard in the York family. Queen Elizabeth - The wife of King Edward IV and the mother of the two young princes (the heirs to the throne) and their
AFTER A LONG CIVIL WAR between the royal family of York and the royal family of Lancaster, England enjoys a period of peace under King Edward IV and the victorious Yorks. But Edward’s younger brother, Richard, resents Edward’s power and the happiness of those around him. Malicious, power-hungry, and bitter about his physical deformity, Richard begins to aspire secretly to the throne—and decides to kill anyone he has to in order to become king. Using his intelligence and his skills of deception and political manipulation, Richard begins his campaign for the throne. He manipulates a noblewoman, Lady Anne, into marrying him— even though she knows that he murdered her first husband. He has his own older brother, Clarence, executed, and shifts the burden of guilt onto his sick older brother King Edward in order to accelerate Edward’s illness and death. After King Edward dies, Richard becomes lord protector of England—the figure in charge until the elder of Edward’s two sons grows up. Next Richard kills the court noblemen who are loyal to the princes, most notably Lord Hastings, the lord chamberlain of England. He then has the boys’ relatives on their mother’s side—the powerful kinsmen of Edward’s wife, Queen Elizabeth—arrested and executed. With Elizabeth and the princes now unprotected, Richard has his political allies, particularly his right-hand man, Lord Buckingham, campaign to have Richard crowned king. Richard then imprisons the young princes in the Tower and, in his bloodiest move yet, sends hired murderers to kill both children. By this time, Richard’s reign of terror has caused the common people of England to fear and loathe him, and he has alienated nearly all the noblemen of the court—even the powerhungry Buckingham. When rumors begin to
All-consuming ambition leads to all-consuming evil. Richard III, in his thirst for power, is willing to commit any atrocity to win the throne. He is Macbeth raised to the second power–or third. After an assassin murders the late king's sons, Richard says to him, "Thou shalt tell the process of their death" (4. 3. 38). All things are not as they seem. During most of the play, Richard wears a mask of innocence. He is always pretending, always deceiving. Eventually, his adversaries see through the mask. Where there is pure evil, there is no conscience. Richard never expresses regret or remorse. He is bad to the bone, and proud of it. Modern psychologists would probably label him a psychopath or sociopath. I am what I am. Richard acknowledges at the beginning of the play that he is an ugly, misshapen lump of flesh–a monster. Then, accepting himself as he is, he announces that he will live up to his physical image by performing ugly deeds.
The Allure of Evil. Richard
older sister, Elizabeth.
Dorset, Rivers, and Gray - The kinsmen and allies of Elizabeth, and members of the Woodeville and Gray families. Anne - The young widow of Prince Edward, who was the son of the former king, Henry VI. Duchess of York Widowed mother of Richard, Clarence, and King Edward IV. Margaret - Widow of the dead King Henry VI, and mother of the slain Prince Edward. The princes - The two young sons of King Edward IV and his wife, Elizabeth, their names are actually Prince Edward and the young duke of York, but they are often referred to collectively. Young Elizabeth - The former Queen Elizabeth’s daughter. Ratcliffe, Catesby - Two of Richard’s flunkies among the nobility.
circulate about a challenger to the throne who is gathering forces in France, noblemen defect in droves to join his forces. The challenger is the earl of Richmond, a descendant of a secondary arm of the Lancaster family, and England is ready to welcome him. Richard, in the meantime, tries to consolidate his power. He has his wife, Queen Anne, murdered, so that he can marry young Elizabeth, the daughter of the former Queen Elizabeth and the dead King Edward. Though young Elizabeth is his niece, the alliance would secure his claim to the throne. Nevertheless, Richard has begun to lose control of events, and Queen Elizabeth manages to forestall him. Meanwhile, she secretly promises to marry young Elizabeth to Richmond. Richmond finally invades England. The night before the battle that will decide everything, Richard has a terrible dream in which the ghosts of all the people he has murdered appear and curse him, telling him that he will die the next day. In the battle on the following morning, Richard is killed, and Richmond is crowned King Henry VII. Promising a new era of peace for England, the new king is betrothed to young Elizabeth in order to unite the warring houses of Lancaster and York.
III does not explore the cause of evil in the human mind so much as it explores its operation, depicting the workings of Richard’s mind and the methods he uses to manipulate, control, and injure others for his own gain. Central to this aspect of the play is the idea that Richard’s victims are complicit in their own destruction. The Connection between Ruler and State. The moral righteousness of a political ruler has a direct bearing on the health of the state. A state with a good ruler will tend to flourish (as Denmark does under King Hamlet), while a state with a bad ruler will tend to suffer (as Scotland does under Macbeth).
The Power of Language. An interesting secondary theme of Richard III is the
Tyrrell A murderer whom Richard hires to kill his young cousins, the princes in the Tower of London. Richmond - A member of a branch of the Lancaster royal family. Hastings - A lord who maintains his integrity, remaining loyal to the family of King Edward IV. Stanley - The stepfather of Richmond. Lord Mayor of London A gullible and suggestible fellow whom Richard and Buckingham use as a pawn in their ploy to make Richard king. Vaughan - A friend of Elizabeth, Dorset, Rivers, and Gray who is executed by Richard along with Rivers and Grey.
power of language, or the importance of language in achieving political power. Language may not always be a necessary instrument of power, but for Richard, it is a crucial weapon. Motifs The Supernatural. These supernatural elements serve to create an atmosphere of intense dread and gloom that matches the malice and evil of Richard’s inner self, and also serve to heighten the sense that Richard’s reign is innately evil, transforming England into a kind of Gothic netherworld. Dreams. The motif of prophetic dreams is part of the play’s larger preoccupation with the supernatural, but the idea of dreams emerges as its own separate motif after Stanley’s dream about Hastings’s death. Symbol The Boar. The boar is Richard’s heraldic symbol, and is used several times
throughout the play to represent him, most notably in Stanley’s dream about Hastings’s death. The idea of the boar is also played on in describing Richard’s deformity, and Richard is cursed by the duchess as an “abortive, rooting hog” (I.iii.225). The boar was one of the most dangerous animals that people hunted in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and Shakespeare’s audience would have associated it with untamed aggression and uncontrollable violence.
Jonille C. Cantuba AB English 3A