Here are our notes on Shakespeare. This is a quick overview; click the links for further information.

William Shakespeare 

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is regarded as one of the greatest poets and playwrights that ever lived. He grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon where he married at 18 before moving to London to start a very successful career as actor, poet, and playwright. He also became part-owner of a playing company and became a fairly wealthy landowner.

The Elizabethan era

Shakespeare’s historical context was the Renaissance and particularly the part that coincided with the long reign of Queen Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603). This part of the English Renaissance is called the Elizabethan era

The Elizabethan world picture was a mixture of old medieval ideas and new Renaissance ideas. According to medieval belief, every living being had its place in a fixed, Christian hierarchy called “the Chain of Being”. The chain started with God and progressed downward through angels, man, animals etc. If this balance was upset, the universe would fall into chaos. 

However, the Elizabethans also embraced the new ideas of humanism. According to humanism, human potential and needs were more important than religion. Unlike the Chain of Bein...

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