Chapter V The English Renaissance
The Royal Theatre
Shakespeare’s Writing Career Shakespeare’s Writing Career 莎 士 比 亚 写 作 生 涯 的 四 个 阶 段
Shakespeare’s Life Shakespeare’s Life Shakespeare’s Life Shakespeare’s Life Shakespeare’s Life Shakespeare’s Life Shakespeare’s Life Shakespeare’s Life
莎 士 比 亚 生 平
Birthplace 出生地
The birthplace of Shakespeare at Stratford
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Royal Shakespeare Theatre
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  1. Historical background
? The Elizabeth Age (1558-16
  03): England enjoyed peaceful development under the rule of Queen Elizabeth I, who maintained a balance of between the Protestants and the Catholics. ? In 1588, English navy defeated the Spanish Armada, which accelerated the awakening English people’s national consciousness;
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? The enclosure movement: Many peasants were forced to leave the land and settled down in towns. The two opposite classes came into being, the capitalist and the laboring class. ? Reformation: It was a return to pure Christianity-cleansing the church of all the corruption. English Reformation was triggered by Henry VIII’s divorce and remarrying.
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  2. Renaissance and Humanism:
? (
  1) Renaissance: a French word, meaning “rebirth”. The art and science of ancient Greece and Rome were being rediscovered after long years of neglect. ? (
  2) English Renaissance had two impulses? humanist reverence for the classics and English pride and sense of national identity. ? (
  3) Humanism emphasized the dignity and potential of the individual and the worth of life in this world.
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  3. The flourishing of drama:
? The reason for the flourishing of drama; ? The structure of the Elizabethan theatre; ? “The University Wits”: Robert Greene; Thomas Kyd; Christopher Marlowe. They were the predecessors to Shakespeare: ? Christopher Marlowe: The Tragic History of Doctor Faustus
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  4. William Shakespeare (1564-16
? Life: ? 1564, Born in Stratford-on-Avon, ? Ca. 1588-1592, in London as actor and playwright; ? Ca. 1592-98, devotes himself mainly to chronicle histories and comedies; ? Ca. 1601-1609, period of the greatest tragedies and romantic comedies ? Ca. 1610, retires to Stratford; ? 1616, died.
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  4.1 Shakespeare’s Sonnets:
? Sonnet: A fixed form of lyric poetry that consist of fourteen lines, usually written in iambic pentameter. There are two basic types of sonnets, the Italian and the English Sonnet.
? Shakespeare’s sonnets: Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets. The first group was addressed to a Mr. W. H. The second group was addressed to a Dark Lady. ? Shakespeare’s sequence suggests a story. Certain motifs are evident. ?
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? “Sonnet 18”: the immortality of Art; ? “Sonnet 29”: eulogy of friendship; ? “Sonnet 66”: criticizing social injustice.

  4.2 Shakespeare’s Plays:
Shakespeare wrote 37 plays in all. His writing career can be roughly divided into four stages: ?
  1. 1592-1594: a period of experimentation. (The Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew) ?
  2. 1595-1600: period of rapid growth and development (Middle Summer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It ) ?
  3. 1601-1608: period of gloom and depression, (Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, Macbeth) ?
  4. 1608-1612: restored serenity, a period of calm (The Winter’s Tale, The Tempest )
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  2.1 Hamlet
? (
  1) Hamlet: It supports a massive variety of interpretations and understandings; It reflects the nature of humanity in the universe; the play is about the relationship in human life between thought and action. ? (
  2) Hamlet’s "tragic flaw”: the imbalance between his active and passive natures; the moral question of suicide in a malevolent universe; the question of Hamlet's sanity ? (
  3) “To be or not to be” soliloquy: It's human nature to feel cowardly and ineffective when you're unable (or too smart) to take decisive (or rash) action.

  2.2 Romeo and Juliet :
? ? ? ? ? Shakespeare’s earliest success in tragedy; Setting: Verona, a city in Italy; Two families in feud: Montague, Capulet Main characters: Romeo, Juliet, Friar Laurence Romeo sees Juliet at the Capulet’s ball, falls in love with her and stands beneath her balcony. ? Despite the family feud, a pair of innocent lovers express their love for each other. ? Butterfly Lovers is often considered as A Chinese Version of Romeo and Juliet . Make a comparative study of the two.


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