The most famous book about Renaissance melancholy, Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), celebrates its four hundredth anniversary this year. Though it was published five years after Shakespeare’s death, it gathers together ideas about melancholy from antiquity right through to the seventeenth century.
Posts Categorized: Inside-the-plays
The word “love” appears 2,146 times in Shakespeare’s collected works (including a handful of “loves” and “loved”). Add to that 59 instances of “beloved” and 133 uses of “loving” and you’ve got yourself a “whole lotta love.” So, what does Shakespeare have to say about love? Here are 20 quotations from the Bard about love.
Chaotic and ineffective government may be a problem in our current life, but it makes for excellent drama in the theater — and in William Shakespeare’s hands, excellent comedy as well.
Is Romeo and Juliet a play about love? Well yes, but it’s also about violence, argues Casey Kaleba, the fight director for many Folger Theatre productions (including the production of Romeo and Juliet pictured above) and one of the Washington, DC, area’s most sought-after fight coaches for stage plays. The excerpt below is from a… Continue Reading »
During this global pandemic, when the whole world is quarantined to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Hamlet seems like a character perfectly suited to our present moment. He’s also stuck at home, unable to return to school, despondent after suffering great loss, and so distraught by governmental change and the behavior of family… Continue Reading »
Shakespeare’s comedy The Taming of the Shrew showcases one of the earliest and thorniest examples of teaching in a home environment—thorny both because of the way pedagogy in the play is full of cynicism and brutality, and because, on the surface at least, it seems to succeed.
The Merry Wives of Windsor was written at the end of the 16th century, and is what I would call – using the technical term – one of Shakespeare’s “puff-ball” plays. Like Comedy of Errors, the play is a farce: it’s about action, not about the deep questions that keep people up at night. These… Continue Reading »
Shakespeare’s plays are full of references to food and cookery, but they’re not always very appetizing. In Hamlet, the ghost of elder Hamlet describes the effect of the poison that Claudius pours into his ears, how it winds its way through the veins of his body and suddenly “doth posset / And curd, like eager… Continue Reading »
In 1608, famine plagued England. Preachers responded with sermons begging the gentry to show compassion for the poor, King James I responded with royal proclamations against grain hoarding, and Shakespeare responded with Coriolanus, a Roman revenge-tragedy. Likely composed in 1608 and staged c. 1609-1610, Coriolanus opens with starving citizens storming the stage with rakes, pikes,… Continue Reading »
In the image above, Constance Collier, magnificent as the dying Cleopatra, sits on her throne in a dimly-lit room, light sparkling off her crown, belt and spangled train. This 1906-07 London production of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra is considered a high point in the stage history of that play, with director/actor Herbert Beerbohm-Tree sparing no… Continue Reading »