The Biography of Shakespeare (in short. easy reading). Plays and Sonnets by Shakespeare

The Biography of Shakespeare in short

How it all began in Stratford-upon-Avon…  This English town is famous for the birthplace of William Shakespeare (1564—1616), one of the greatest writers in the world. He founded the Theatre in England.

It was the 16th century. When William was a young man, there were no theatres in Eng­land. Groups of actors travelled from town to town and played in different places, usually out-of-doors. Sometimes actors came to Stratford. Young Wil­liam went to see all their shows and liked them very much. He wanted to become an actor. Sometimes he wrote little plays himself and staged them with  his  friends.

William Shakespeare

The Contents:

  1. The Short Biography with Questions
  2. Plays by Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet
  3. Sonnets by Shakespeare
  4. О жанре сонета

1. The Biography of Shakespeare (in short, quiz)

William Shakespeare is the most well-known English writer as well as a poet and a dramatist. But how much do you know about him? Read the short biography of Shakespeare and answer the questions.

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Questions about Shakespeare’s Life:

1. William Shakespeare was born in ...

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2. William Shakespeare left school when he was ...

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3. William and Anne had .... children.

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4. William Shakespeare was .... when he went to London and became ....

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5. Shakespeare wrote ..... plays.

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6. Shakespeare died ....

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7. The monument to Shakespeare was erected ....

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2. Plays by Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare’s greatness reveals in his plays, which are world-famous. Some of them have much in common, some are united with the same theme. Below you will find the list of his comedies and tragedies and the plot of his most loved play «Romeo and Juliet».

The Most Famous Plays by William Shakespeare

1.The Great (or Middle) Comedies (1596-1602):

  1. Much Ado about Nothing (Italian theme)
  2. The Merchant of Venice (Italian theme)
  3. The Twelfth Night (Italian theme)
  4. As you like it (an English tale)
  5. A Midsummer Night’s Dream

2.The Great Tragedies:

  1. Julius Caesar (1599, a Roman theme)
  2. Hamlet
  3. Othello
  4. King Lear
  5. Macbeth
  6. Antony and Cleopatra (a Roman theme)
  7. Romeo and Juliet

3.The Dark Comedies:

  1. All is well that ends well
  2. Measure for measure
  3. Troilus and Cressida

4.The Late Plays (1608-1612):

  1. The Tempest
  2. Henry the VIII

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The Plot of Romeo and Juliet (in short)

Romeo and Juliet is the most complex of all Shakespeare’s early plays. It is much about hatred as love. It is not only the death of lovers that conclude the play but also the public revelation of what has happened. Besides, the innocence of the lovers is contrasted to the sexual affairs of that time.

The play «Romeo and Juliet» was first published in 1597. It tells us about tragic love of the two lovers  Romeo and Juliet. These characters are world-known and have been  depicted in literature, music, dance and theatre. The names of the Montagues and the Capulets, who are the families of the young lovers, are well-known too.

The plot of the tragedy was based on a long narrative poem «The Tragical Historye Of Romeus and Juliet (1562) composed by the English poet Arthur Broke.  In his turn he had based his poem on a French translation of an Itallian tale.

  1. Friar — монах
  2. revenge — месть
  3. banish — изгнать
  4. Count — граф
  5. potion — зелье
  6. vault — склеп
  7. feud — кровная вражда

The scene of the play is set in Verona, an Italian town in the middle of summer. Romeo and Juliet meet at a masked ball of the Capulets and instantly fall in love with each other. The two noble families are enemies and they have to marry secretly with the help of a Friar Laurence.

At the same time there is a quarrel between Romeo’s friend Mercutio and Tybalt, and a Capulet, the Mercutio being killed.  Romeo takes revenge and kills Tybalt in a fight. Then he is banished to Matua.

Juliet’s father, not knowing about his daughter’s marriage, insists on her marrying Count Paris, and she turns to Friar for help. He gives her a potion that will make her appear to be dead. According to his plan Romeo must resque her from a vault, but the messenger is late and Romeo on hearing on Juliet apparent death returns to Verona in grief. He kills Count Paris and finds his Juliet in the family vault. Not knowing that she is only sleeping he gives her a last kiss and takes a poison. The last kiss awakens Juliet, but when she sees dead Romeo, she kills herself.

The both families grieve and decide to end the feud.

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3. Sonnets by Shakespeare

William Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets. These are verses about love. Below you will find three sonnets by Shakespeare and their translations into Russian by S.Y. Marshak.

В. Шекспир. Сонет 27. Sonnet 27.

The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head
To work my mind, when body’s work’s expired.

For then my thoughts from far where I abide-
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see:

Save that my soul’s imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous, and her old face new.

Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee, and for myself, no quiet find.

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Вильям Шекспир. Сонет 48. Sonnet 48. 

How careful was I when I took my way,
Each trifle under truest bars to thrust,
That to my use it might unused stay
From hands of falsehood, in sure wards of trust!

But thou, to whom my jewels trifles are,
Most worthy comfort, now my greatest grief,
Thou best of dearest, and mine only care,
Art left the prey of every vulgar thief.

Thee have I not lock’d up in any chest,
Save where thou art not, though I feel thou art,
Within the gentle closure of my breast,
From whence at pleasure thou mayst come and part;

And even thence thou wilt be stolen I fear,

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Вильям Шекспир. Сонет 48. Sonnet 91. 

Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,
Some in their wealth, some in their body’s force,
Some in their garments though new-fangled ill;
Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse;

And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure,
Wherein it finds a joy above the rest:
But these particulars are not my measure,
All these I better in one general best.

Thy love is better than high birth to me,
Richer than wealth, prouder than garments’ cost,
Of more delight than hawks and horses be;
And having thee, of all men’s pride I boast:

Wretched in this alone, that thou mayst take
All this away, and me most wretched make.

4. О жанре сонета

Дорогие друзья! Эти короткие стихотворения написаны три с лишним века назад, но живут до сих пор. Автор написал их от первого лица, в них его живая душа, которая страдает и тоскует, ждет и радуется. Шекспир не является родоначальником этого лирического жанра, хотя многие связывают жанр сонета с именем Шекспира.

История сонета началась в Италии в XIII веке, но имя его создателя, адвоката и поэта Якопо да Лентини, вам скорее всего ни о чем не говорит. Однако вам, наверное,  известны сонеты итальянского поэта Франческо Петрарки (16 век).

Жанр  «английского сонета»  создал малоизвестный поет Г. Сарри, а прославил эту лирическую форму Вильям Шекспир.

Что же представляет из себя сонет? — Это стихотворение из 14 строк с определенной системой рифмовки строк. Английский сонет состоит из 3 четверостиший и 1 двустишия. Итальянский сонет отличается от английского и состоит из 2 четверостиший и 2 трехстиший.

Тема сонета: ЛЮБОВЬ, и все связанные с ней чувства: тоска, ожидание, радость, страдание, ревность.

Размер английского сонета — пятистопный ямб (строки рифмуются: ab ab dd)

Композиция сонета следующая:

  • первое четверостишие определяет тему сонета,
  • второе содержит его развитие,
  • третье подводит к развязке темы.
  • заключительное выражает итог (или противопоставление).

При этом автор в конце как бы подводит итог, строки звучат тише, не так выразительно, напряжение чувств спадает.

Это самое основное, что нужно запомнить о жанре — сонеты.  Вы прочитали три сонета Шекспира на английском языке и в переводе Маршака.

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Заканчиваем этот краткий обзор творчества английского драматурга Вильяма Шекспира, из которого вы узнали краткую биографию Шекспира на английском языке (The short biography of Shakespeare), полный список его  пьес (The list of plays by Shakespeare), краткое содержание его самой известной трагедии «Ромео и Джульетта» (The plot of Romeo and Juliet»), а также познакомились с жанром сонета. Далее мы продолжаем изучать творчество Шекспира, оставайтесь с нами!

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