William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)
William Shakespeare is one of the greatest dramatists all over the world. He was born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. He was the son of a glove maker John Shakespeare and his wife Mary Arden. He had one sister and one brother. William attended the local grammar school. In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway. They had two daughters. First he helped to adapt or rewrite older plays but later he started to write his own plays and he was very successful. Both Queen Elizabeth 1. and James 1. liked him very much. After his son’s death he went back to Stratford and lived a quiet life with his family. He bought a new fine house in Stratford. He died on the same date as he was born. The legend says that he died after his birthday’s party.
Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and sonnets. He wrote comedies, history plays and tragedies:
Comedies: The Comedy of Errors, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, A Midsummer-Night’s Dream, Much Ado about Nothing, As You Like It
History p.: Henry 5, Richard 3. Richard 2, Henry 5, Juleps Caesar.
Tragedies: Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear, Othello.
Romeo and Juliet is about the unhappy love and death of Romeo and Juliet, the only children of two powerful houses of Verona - the House of Montague and the House of Capulet. These two houses hate each other and Romeo Montague meets Juliet at the ball. He falls in love with her although he knows that she is Capulet. They love each other very much and ask Friar Laurence to marry them. Their love and marriage are secret and by an unfortunate coincidence Romeo kills Juliet’s cousin Tybalt. Prince of Verona sends Romeo to the exile outside Verona and young Juliet is forced to get married to a young nobleman Paris. She asks Friar Laurence for help again and he gives her magic drops. After swallowing them she falls asleep for several hours and looks as if she was dead. Romeo learns about Juliet’s death and hurries to the Capulet’s Monument. He does not know about the trick and kills himself. Then Juliet wakes up and when she sees Romeo dead, she kills herself too. Both Montague and Capulet Houses reconcile only after the death of their beloved children.
In Hamlet Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle, has succeeded (nastupuje) Hamlet’s father and marries the Queen. The ghost of the dead king appears to Hamlet at Elsinor Castle and tells him about his murder (Claudius and the Queen killed him). Hamlet wants to revenge his Father’s death. He pretends to be mad because he does not know how to find some proof against. He tries to test the story of the murder with a theatrical performance during which the murder is re-enacted and, by seeing the story, King Claudius betrays himself. He sends Hamlet to England to be killed. Later Hamlet returns to Denmark. Claudius is alarmed and wants to destroy Hamlet. When Hamlet kills only by mistake Polonius, Ophelia’s father, Claudius sends Laertes, Ophelia’s brother, to a fencing match with Hamlet. Hamlet is wounded by Laertes’s poisoned sword. He manages to stab Claudius and Laertes is dying too. Hamlet’s mother drinks poisoned wine destined for Hamlet. This is a tragedy of the sufferings and hesitation of an honest, strong and responsible man who is not able to kill or punish without having a clear proof of guilt.
Here is a famous Hamlet’s monologue: