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William Shakespeare

(life, works: tragedies, comedies, historical plays, Shakespeare’s language, attitude to info, theatre)

1) Biography
•    born on 23rd April, 1564, at Stratford-upon-Avon, father glove-maker [glav-]
•    attended local grammar school
•    origin of his great love to nature – nature around his birthplace
•    in 18 years married 8 years older Ann Hathaway from nearby village, already pregnant
•    daughter Susan, then twins Hamnet and Judith (Hemnet when he was 11 > tragedy Hamlet)
•    4 years after marriage left for London
•    rewriting and editing old plays, then writing his own plays, plays woman roles
•    bought the Globe Theatre with other members of King’s Men group of actors, set on fire, then without roof
•    next 20 years he wrote 37 comedies, tragedies, tragicomedies and historical plays, 2 poems and 157 sonnets
•    moved back to Stratford to his family, was rich, bought fine house – New Place
•    died on 23rd April, 1616, after birthday celebration
•    stone statue at Trinity Church in Startford with real pen (have to be renewed from time to time)
•    Stratford-upon-Avon has 20 thousand inhabitants + 250 thousand tourists every year, offers houses with bed and breakfast or hotels (the most expansive with rooms named after Shakespeare’s plays)
•    Shakespeare Royal Company, plays during the whole year (from birth to death)
•    vocabulary: about 25 thousand words – the largest known in the world

2) Works
•    tragedies: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, Macbeth
•    comedies: The Merchant of Venice, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Taming of the Shrew, As you like it, Comedy of Errors, Measure for Measure, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
•    historical plays: Richard II., Richard III., Henry IV., Henry V., Henry VI., Henry VIII., Julius Caesar, Anthony and Cleopatra

3) Romeo and Juliet
This famous tragedy is about the unhappy love and death of Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet. They were the only children of two powerful clans of Verona. These Houses of Montague and of Capulet hated each other.
Romeo fell in love with Juliet when he was 16 and she was 14. They got married in secret because their families not only hated but fought one another too and their parents did not allow them to become husband and wife in any case.
In a quarrel, a few days after wedding, Romeo unfortunately killed one of Juliet’s cousins Tybalt. Prince of Verona sent Romeo to the exile outside Verona. Juliet’s parents didn’t know about secret wedding of their daughter and that’s why they wished her to marry a rich nobleman called Paris. To escape this, Juliet took a drug which made her fallen into such a deep sleep that people thought her to be dead.
In the same time Romeo wanted to come secretly to Verona and take Juliet away with him. But he found his loved beauty in her deep sleep and he believed Juliet to be dead. That’s why he poisoned himself.
When Juliet awoke and saw her husband’s dead body, she killed herself too. Over the death children their parents made peace but too late for their children.

4) The Merchant of Venice
Bassanio wanted to marry his beloved Portia. However he did not have enough money. He asked his friend Antonio – a Venetian merchant but he didn’t have money too. Antonio knew the Jew Shylock and he borrowed money from him because he was the best known money-lender. Shylock promised to lend this money but on one condition. If Antonio can’t pay the sum back by a certain date, Shylock will get a pound of his flesh. Antonio was a rich man and he owned big ships but far in the sea. He wasn’t afraid of Shylock condition and he agreed, signed contract and waited for his ships. But ships were lost at the sea and Antonio couldn’t pay this debt. Shylock hated Antonio because he often spoke against Jews and that’s why he asked at the court the pound of flesh from Antonio’s body. At the last moment clever Portia thought of an excellent plan to save Antonio from death. She changed her clothes into those of the judge and she came at the court dressed as a lawyer. She agreed Shylock to take a pound of Antonio’s flesh but not a drop of his blood.

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