Иностранные языки
Искусство и культура
Исторические личности
Коммуникации и связь
Литература зарубежная
Литература русская
Военная кафедра
Банковское дело
Биржевое дело
Ботаника и сельское хозяйство
Бухгалтерский учет и аудит
Валютные отношения
Государство и право
Гражданское право и процесс

Биография Вильяма Шекспира (SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM), подробный обзор его творчества. Сюжет и содержание произведения Ромео и Джульетта

Биография Вильяма Шекспира (SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM), подробный обзор его творчества. Сюжет и содержание произведения Ромео и Джульетта


Shakespeare the man


Although the amount of factual knowledge available about Shakespeare is

surprisingly large for one of his station in life, many find it a little

disappointing, for it is mostly gleaned from documents of an official

character. Dates of baptisms, marriages, deaths, and burials; wills,

conveyances, legal processes, and payments by the court--these are the

dusty details. There are, however, a fair number of contemporary allusions

to him as a writer, and these add a reasonable amount of flesh and blood to

the biographical skeleton.

Early life in Stratford.

The parish register of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon,

Warwickshire, shows that he was baptized there on April 26, 1564; his

birthday is traditionally celebrated on April 23. His father, John

Shakespeare, was a burgess of the borough, who in 1565 was chosen an

alderman and in 1568 bailiff (the position corresponding to mayor, before

the grant of a further charter to Stratford in 1664). He was engaged in

various kinds of trade and appears to have suffered some fluctuations in

prosperity. His wife, Mary Arden, of Wilmcote, Warwickshire, came from an

ancient family and was the heiress to some land. (Given the somewhat rigid

social distinctions of the 16th century, this marriage must have been a

step up the social scale for John Shakespeare.)

Stratford enjoyed a grammar school of good quality, and the education there

was free, the schoolmaster's salary being paid by the borough. No lists of

the pupils who were at the school in the 16th century have survived, but it

would be absurd to suppose the bailiff of the town did not send his son

there. The boy's education would consist mostly of Latin studies--learning

to read, write, and speak the language fairly well and studying some of the

classical historians, moralists, and poets. Shakespeare did not go on to

the university, and indeed it is unlikely that the tedious round of logic,

rhetoric, and other studies then followed there would have interested him.

Instead, at the age of 18 he married. Where and exactly when are not known,

but the episcopal registry at Worcester preserves a bond dated November 28,

1582, and executed by two yeomen of Stratford, named Sandells and

Richardson, as a security to the bishop for the issue of a license for the

marriage of William Shakespeare and "Anne Hathaway of Stratford," upon the

consent of her friends and upon once asking of the banns. (Anne died in

1623, seven years after Shakespeare. There is good evidence to associate

her with a family of Hathaways who inhabited a beautiful farmhouse, now

much visited, two miles from Stratford.) The next date of interest is found

in the records of the Stratford church, where a daughter, named Susanna,

born to William Shakespeare, was baptized on May 26, 1583. On February 2,

1585, twins were baptized, Hamnet and Judith. (The boy Hamnet,

Shakespeare's only son, died 11 years later.)

How Shakespeare spent the next eight years or so, until his name begins to

appear in London theatre records, is not known. There are stories--given

currency long after his death--of stealing deer and getting into trouble

with a local magnate, Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote, near Stratford; of

earning his living as a schoolmaster in the country; of going to London and

gaining entry to the world of theatre by minding the horses of

theatregoers; it has also been conjectured that Shakespeare spent some time

as a member of a great household and that he was a soldier, perhaps in the

Low Countries. In lieu of external evidence, such extrapolations about

Shakespeare's life have often been made from the internal "evidence" of his

writings. But this method is unsatisfactory: one cannot conclude, for

example, from his allusions to the law that Shakespeare was a lawyer; for

he was clearly a writer, who without difficulty could get whatever

knowledge he needed for the composition of his plays.

Career in the theatre.

The first reference to Shakespeare in the literary world of London comes in

1592, when a fellow dramatist, Robert Greene, declared in a pamphlet

written on his deathbed:

There is an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his

Tygers heart wrapt in a Players hide supposes he is as well able to

bombast out a blank verse as the best of you; and, being an absolute

Johannes Factotum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a


It is difficult to be certain what these words mean; but it is clear that

they are insulting and that Shakespeare is the object of the sarcasms. When

the book in which they appear (Greenes groats-worth of witte, bought with a

million of repentance, 1592) was published after Greene's death, a mutual

acquaintance wrote a preface offering an apology to Shakespeare and

testifying to his worth. This preface also indicates that Shakespeare was

by then making important friends. For, although the puritanical city of

London was generally hostile to the theatre, many of the nobility were good

patrons of the drama and friends of actors. Shakespeare seems to have

attracted the attention of the young Henry Wriothesley, the 3rd earl of

Southampton; and to this nobleman were dedicated his first published poems,

Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece.

One striking piece of evidence that Shakespeare began to prosper early and

tried to retrieve the family fortunes and establish its gentility is the

fact that a coat of arms was granted to John Shakespeare in 1596. Rough

drafts of this grant have been preserved in the College of Arms, London,

though the final document, which must have been handed to the Shakespeares,

has not survived. It can scarcely be doubted that it was William who took

the initiative and paid the fees. The coat of arms appears on Shakespeare's

monument (constructed before 1623) in the Stratford church. Equally

interesting as evidence of Shakespeare's worldly success was his purchase

in 1597 of New Place, a large house in Stratford, which as a boy he must

have passed every day in walking to school.

It is not clear how his career in the theatre began; but from about 1594

onward he was an important member of the company of players known as the

Lord Chamberlain's Men (called the King's Men after the accession of James

I in 1603). They had the best actor, Richard Burbage; they had the best

theatre, the Globe; they had the best dramatist, Shakespeare. It is no

wonder that the company prospered. Shakespeare became a full-time

professional man of his own theatre, sharing in a cooperative enterprise

and intimately concerned with the financial success of the plays he wrote.

Unfortunately, written records give little indication of the way in which

Shakespeare's professional life molded his marvellous artistry. All that

can be deduced is that for 20 years Shakespeare devoted himself assiduously

to his art, writing more than a million words of poetic drama of the

highest quality.

Private life.

Shakespeare had little contact with officialdom, apart from walking--

dressed in the royal livery as a member of the King's Men--at the

coronation of King James I in 1604. He continued to look after his

financial interests. He bought properties in London and in Stratford. In

1605 he purchased a share (about one-fifth) of the Stratford tithes--a fact

that explains why he was eventually buried in the chancel of its parish

church. For some time he lodged with a French Huguenot family called

Mountjoy, who lived near St. Olave's Church, Cripplegate, London. The

records of a lawsuit in May 1612, due to a Mountjoy family quarrel, show

Shakespeare as giving evidence in a genial way (though unable to remember

certain important facts that would have decided the case) and as

interesting himself generally in the family's affairs.

No letters written by Shakespeare have survived, but a private letter to

him happened to get caught up with some official transactions of the town

of Stratford and so has been preserved in the borough archives. It was

written by one Richard Quiney and addressed by him from the Bell Inn in

Carter Lane, London, whither he had gone from Stratford upon business. On

one side of the paper is inscribed: "To my loving good friend and

countryman, Mr. Wm. Shakespeare, deliver these." Apparently Quiney thought

his fellow Stratfordian a person to whom he could apply for the loan of 30--

a large sum in Elizabethan money. Nothing further is known about the

transaction, but, because so few opportunities of seeing into Shakespeare's

private life present themselves, this begging letter becomes a touching

document. It is of some interest, moreover, that 18 years later Quiney's

son Thomas became the husband of Judith, Shakespeare's second daughter.

Shakespeare's will (made on March 25, 1616) is a long and detailed

document. It entailed his quite ample property on the male heirs of his

elder daughter, Susanna. (Both his daughters were then married, one to the

aforementioned Thomas Quiney and the other to John Hall, a respected

physician of Stratford.) As an afterthought, he bequeathed his "second-best

bed" to his wife; but no one can be certain what this notorious legacy

means. The testator's signatures to the will are apparently in a shaky

hand. Perhaps Shakespeare was already ill. He died on April 23, 1616. No

name was inscribed on his gravestone in the chancel of the parish church of

Stratford-upon-Avon. Instead these lines, possibly his own, appeared:

Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear

To dig the dust enclosed here.

Blest be the man that spares these stones,

And curst be he that moves my bones.


Shakespeare's family or friends, however, were not content with a simple

gravestone, and, within a few years, a monument was erected on the chancel

wall. It seems to have existed by 1623. Its epitaph, written in Latin and

inscribed immediately below the bust, attributes to Shakespeare the worldly

wisdom of Nestor, the genius of Socrates, and the poetic art of Virgil.

This apparently was how his contemporaries in Stratford-upon-Avon wished

their fellow citizen to be remembered.


Despite much scholarly argument, it is often impossible to date a given

play precisely. But there is a general consensus, especially for plays

written 1585-1601, 1605-07, and 1609 onward. The following list of first

performances is based on external and internal evidence, on general

stylistic and thematic considerations, and on the observation that an

output of no more than two plays a year seems to have been established in

those periods when dating is rather clearer than others.

1589-92 Henry VI, Part 1; Henry VI, Part 2; Henry VI, Part 3

1592-93 Richard III, The Comedy of Errors

1593-94 Titus Andronicus, The Taming of the Shrew

1594-95 The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Love's Labour's Lost, Romeo and Juliet

1595-96 Richard II, A Midsummer Night's Dream

1596-97 King John, The Merchant of Venice

1597-98 Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part 2

1598-99 Much Ado About Nothing

c. 1599 Henry V

1599-1600 Julius Caesar, As You Like It

1600-01 Hamlet, The Merry Wives of Windsor

1601-02 Twelfth Night, Troilus and Cressida

1602-03 All's Well That Ends Well

1604-05 Measure For Measure, Othello

1605-06 King Lear, Macbeth

1606-07 Antony and Cleopatra

1607-08 Coriolanus, Timon of Athens

1608-09 Pericles

1609-10 Cymbeline

1610-11 The Winter's Tale

c. 1611 The Tempest

1612-13 Henry VIII, The Two Noble Kinsmen

Shakespeare's two narrative poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of

Lucrece, can be dated with certainty to the years when the Plague stopped

dramatic performances in London, in 1592 and 1593-94, respectively, just

before their publication. But the sonnets offer many and various problems;

they cannot have been written all at one time, and most scholars set them

within the period 1593-1600. "The Phoenix and the Turtle" can be dated 1600-



During Shakespeare's early career, dramatists invariably sold their plays

to an actor's company, who then took charge of them, prepared working

promptbooks, and did their best to prevent another company or a publisher

from getting copies; in this way they could exploit the plays themselves

for as long as they drew an audience. But some plays did get published,

usually in small books called quartos. Occasionally plays were "pirated,"

the text being dictated by one or two disaffected actors from the company

that had performed it or else made up from shorthand notes taken

surreptitiously during performance and subsequently corrected during other

performances; parts 2 and 3 of the Henry VI (1594 and 1595) and Hamlet

(1603) quartos are examples of pirated, or "bad," texts. Sometimes an

author's "foul papers" (his first complete draft) or his "fair" copy--or a

transcript of either of these--got into a publisher's hands, and "good

quartos" were printed from them, such as those of Titus Andronicus (1594),

Love's Labour's Lost (1598), and Richard II (1597). After the publication

of "bad" quartos of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet (1597), the Chamberlain's

Men probably arranged for the release of the "foul papers" so that second--

"good"--quartos could supersede the garbled versions already on the market.

This company had powerful friends at court, and in 1600 a special order was

entered in the Stationers' Register to "stay" the publication of As You

Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, and Henry V, possibly in order to assure

that good texts were available. Subsequently Henry V (1600) was pirated,

and Much Ado About Nothing was printed from "foul papers"; As You Like It

did not appear in print until it was included in Mr. William Shakespeares

Comedies, Histories & Tragedies, published in folio (the reference is to

the size of page) by a syndicate in 1623 (later editions appearing in 1632

and 1663).

The only precedent for such a collected edition of public theatre plays in

a handsome folio volume was Ben Jonson's collected plays of 1616.

Shakespeare's folio included 36 plays, 22 of them appearing for the first

time in a good text. (For the Third Folio reissue of 1664, Pericles was

added from a quarto text of 1609, together with six apocryphal plays.) The

First Folio texts were prepared by John Heminge and Henry Condell (two of

Shakespeare's fellow sharers in the Chamberlain's, now the King's, Men),

who made every effort to present the volume worthily. Only about 230 copies

of the First Folio are known to have survived.

The following list gives details of plays first published individually and

indicates the authority for each substantive edition. Q stands for Quarto:

Q2, Q3, Q4, etc., stand for reprints of an original quarto. F stands for

the First Folio edition of 1623.

Henry VI, Part 2 Q 1594: a reported text. F from revised fair copies,

edited with reference to Q.

Titus Andronicus Q 1594: from foul papers. F from a copy of Q, with

additions from a manuscript that had been used as a promptbook.

Henry VI, Part 3 Q 1595: a reported text. F as for Henry VI, Part 2.

Richard III Q 1597: a reconstructed text prepared for use as a promptbook.

F from reprints of Q, edited with reference to foul papers and containing

some 200 additional lines.

Love's Labour's Lost Q is lost. Q2 1598: from foul papers, and badly

printed. F from Q2.

Romeo and Juliet Q 1597: a reported text. Q2 from foul papers, with some

reference to Q. F from a reprint of Q2.

Richard II Q 1597: from foul papers and missing the abdication scene. Q4

1608, with reported version of missing scene. F from reprints of Q, but the

abdication scene from an authoritative manuscript, probably the promptbook

(of which traces appear elsewhere in F).

Henry IV, Part 1 Q 1598: from foul papers. F from Q5, with some literary


A Midsummer Night's Dream Q 1600: from the author's fair copy. F from Q2,

with some reference to a promptbook.

The Merchant of Venice Q 1600: from foul papers. F from Q, with some

reference to a promptbook.

Henry IV, Part 2 Q 1600: from foul papers. F from Q, with reference to a


Much Ado About Nothing Q 1600: from the author's fair papers. F from Q,

with reference to a promptbook.

Henry V Q 1600: a reported text. F from foul papers (possibly of a second

version of the play).

The Merry Wives of Windsor Q 1602: a reported (and abbreviated) text. F

from a transcript, by Ralph Crane (scrivener of the King's Men), of a

revised promptbook.

Hamlet Q 1603: a reported text, with reference to an earlier play. Q2 from

foul papers, with reference to Q. F from Q2, with reference to a

promptbook, with theatrical and authorial additions.

King Lear Q 1608: from an inadequate transcript of foul papers, with use

made of a reported version. F from Q, collated with a promptbook of a

shortened version.

Troilus and Cressida Q 1609: from a fair copy, possibly the author's. F

from Q, with reference to foul papers, adding 45 lines and the Prologue.

Pericles Q 1609: a poor text, badly printed with both auditory and graphic


Othello Q 1622: from a transcript of foul papers. F from Q, with

corrections from another authorial version of the play.

The plays published for the first time in the First Folio of 1623 are:

All's Well That Ends Well From the author's fair papers, or a transcript of


Antony and Cleopatra From an authorial fair copy.

Henry VI, Part 1

As You Like It From a promptbook, or a transcript of it.

The Comedy of Errors From foul papers.

Coriolanus From an authorial fair copy, edited for the printer.

Cymbeline From an authorial copy, or a transcript of such, imperfectly

prepared as a promptbook.

Henry VIII From a transcript of a fair copy, made by the author, prepared

for reading.

Julius Caesar From a transcript of a promptbook.

King John From an authorial fair copy.

Macbeth From a promptbook of a version prepared for court performance.

Measure for Measure From a transcript, by Ralph Crane, of very imperfect

foul papers.

The Taming of the Shrew From foul papers.

The Tempest From an edited transcript, by Ralph Crane, of the author's


Timon of Athens From foul papers, probably unfinished.

Twelfth Night From a promptbook, or a transcript of it.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona From a transcript, by Ralph Crane, of a

promptbook, probably of a shortened version.

The Winter's Tale From a transcript, by Ralph Crane, probably from the

author's fair copy.

The texts of Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594) are

remarkably free from errors. Shakespeare presumably furnished a fair copy

of each for the printer. He also seems to have read the proofs. The sonnets

were published in 1609, but there is no evidence that Shakespeare oversaw

their publication.


The early poems.

Shakespeare dedicated the poem Venus and Adonis to his patron, Henry

Wriothesley, 3rd earl of Southampton, whom he further promised to honour

with "some graver labour"--perhaps The Rape of Lucrece, which appeared a

year later and was also dedicated to Southampton. As these two poems were

something on which Shakespeare was intending to base his reputation with

the public and to establish himself with his patron, they were displays of

his virtuosity--diploma pieces. They were certainly the most popular of his

writings with the reading public and impressed them with his poetic genius.

Seven editions of Venus and Adonis had appeared by 1602 and 16 by 1640;

Lucrece, a more serious poem, went through eight editions by 1640; and

there are numerous allusions to them in the literature of the time. But

after that, until the 19th century, they were little regarded. Even then

the critics did not know what to make of them: on the one hand, Venus and

Adonis is licentiously erotic (though its sensuality is often rather

comic); while Lucrece may seem to be tragic enough, the treatment of the

poem is yet somewhat cold and distant. In both cases the poet seems to be

displaying dexterity rather than being "sincere." But Shakespeare's

detachment from his subjects has come to be admired in more recent


Above all, the poems give evidence for the growth of Shakespeare's

imagination. Venus and Adonis is full of vivid imagery of the countryside;

birds, beasts, the hunt, the sky, and the weather, the overflowing Avon--

these give freshness to the poem and contrast strangely with the sensuous

love scenes. Lucrece is more rhetorical and elaborate than Venus and Adonis

and also aims higher. Its disquisitions (upon night, time, opportunity, and

lust, for example) anticipate brilliant speeches on general themes in the

plays--on mercy in The Merchant of Venice, suicide in Hamlet, and "degree"

in Troilus and Cressida.

There are a few other poems attributed to Shakespeare. When the Sonnets

were printed in 1609, a 329-line poem, "A Lovers complaint," was added at

the end of the volume, plainly ascribed by the publisher to Shakespeare.

There has been a good deal of discussion about the authorship of this poem.

Only the evidence of style, however, could call into question the

publisher's ascription, and this is conflicting. Parts of the poem and some

lines are brilliant, but other parts seem poor in a way that is not like

Shakespeare's careless writing. Its narrative structure is remarkable,

however, and the poem deserves more attention than it usually receives. It

is now generally thought to be from Shakespeare's pen, possibly an early

poem revised by him at a more mature stage of his poetical style. Whether

the poem in its extant form is later or earlier than Venus and Adonis and

Lucrece cannot be decided. No one could doubt the authenticity of "The

Phoenix and the Turtle," a 67-line poem that appeared with other "poetical

essays" (by John Marston, George Chapman, and Ben Jonson) appended to

Robert Chester's poem Loves Martyr in 1601. The poem is attractive and

memorable, but very obscure, partly because of its style and partly because

it contains allusions to real persons and situations whose identity can now

only be guessed at.

The sonnets.

In 1609 appeared SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS. Never before Imprinted. At this

date Shakespeare was already a successful author, a country gentleman, and

an affluent member of the most important theatrical enterprise in London.

How long before 1609 the sonnets were written is unknown. The phrase "never

before imprinted" may imply that they had existed for some time but were

now at last printed. Two of them (nos. 138 and 144) had in fact already

appeared (in a slightly different form) in an anthology, The Passionate

Pilgrime (1599). Shakespeare had certainly written some sonnets by 1598,

for in that year Francis Meres, in a "survey" of literature, made reference

to "his sugared sonnets among his private friends," but whether these

"sugared sonnets" were those eventually published in 1609 cannot be

ascertained--Shakespeare may have written other sets of sonnets, now lost.

Nevertheless, the sonnets included in The Passionate Pilgrime are among his

most striking and mature, so it is likely that most of the 154 sonnets that

appeared in the 1609 printing belong to Shakespeare's early 30s rather than

to his 40s--to the time when he was writing Richard II and Romeo and Juliet

rather than when he was writing King Lear and Antony and Cleopatra. But, of

course, some of them may belong to any year of Shakespeare's life as a poet

before 1609.

The early plays.

Although the record of Shakespeare's early theatrical success is obscure,

clearly the newcomer soon made himself felt. His brilliant two-part play on

the Wars of the Roses, The Whole Contention between the two Famous Houses,

Lancaster and Yorke, was among his earliest achievements. He showed, in The

Comedy of Errors, how hilariously comic situations could be shot through

with wonder and sentiment. In Titus Andronicus he scored a popular success

with tragedy in the high Roman fashion. The Two Gentlemen of Verona was a

new kind of romantic comedy. The world has never ceased to enjoy The Taming

of the Shrew. Love's Labour's Lost is an experiment in witty and satirical

observation of society. Romeo and Juliet combines and interconnects a

tragic situation with comedy and gaiety. All this represents the probable

achievement of Shakespeare's first half-dozen years as a writer for the

London stage, perhaps by the time he had reached 30. It shows astonishing

versatility and originality.

The histories.

For his plays on subjects from English history, Shakespeare primarily drew

upon Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles, which appeared in 1587, and on Edward

Hall's earlier account of The union of the two noble and illustre famelies

of Lancastre and York (1548). From these and numerous secondary sources he

inherited traditional themes: the divine right of royal succession, the

need for unity and order in the realm, the evil of dissension and treason,

the cruelty and hardship of war, the power of money to corrupt, the

strength of family ties, the need for human understanding and careful

calculation, and the power of God's providence, which protected his

followers, punished evil, and led England toward the stability of Tudor


The Roman plays.

After the last group of English history plays, Shakespeare chose to write

about Julius Caesar, who held particular fascination for the Elizabethans.

Then, for six or seven years Shakespeare did not return to a Roman theme,

but, after completing Macbeth and King Lear, he again used Thomas North's

translation of Plutarch as a source for two more Roman plays, Antony and

Cleopatra and Coriolanus, both tragedies that seem as much concerned to

depict the broad context of history as to present tragic heroes.

The "great," or "middle," comedies.

The comedies written between 1596 and 1602 have much in common and are as

well considered together as individually. With the exception of The Merry

Wives of Windsor, all are set in some "imaginary" country. Whether called

Illyria, Messina, Venice and Belmont, Athens, or the Forest of Arden, the

sun shines as the dramatist wills. A lioness, snakes, magic caskets, fairy

spells, identical twins, disguise of sex, the sudden conversion of a

tyrannous duke or the defeat offstage of a treacherous brother can all

change the course of the plot and bring the characters to a conclusion in

which almost all are happy and just deserts are found. Lovers are young and

witty and almost always rich. The action concerns wooing; and its

conclusion is marriage, beyond which the audience is scarcely concerned.

Whether Shakespeare's source was an Italian novel (The Merchant of Venice

and Much Ado About Nothing), an English pastoral tale ( As You Like It), an

Italian comedy (the Malvolio story in Twelfth Night), or something of his

own invention (probably A Midsummer Night's Dream, and parts of each),

always in his hands story and sentiments are instinct with idealism and

capable of magic transformations.

In some ways these are intellectual plays. Each comedy has a multiple plot

and moves from one set of characters to another, between whom Shakespeare

invites his audience to seek connections and explanations. Despite very

different classes of people (or immortals) in different strands of the

narrative, the plays are unified by Shakespeare's idealistic vision and by

an implicit judgment of human relationships, and all their characters are

brought together--with certain significant exceptions--at, or near, the


The great tragedies.

It is a usual and reasonable opinion that Shakespeare's greatness is

nowhere more visible than in the series of tragedies-- Hamlet, Othello,

King Lear, and Macbeth. Julius Caesar, which was written before these, and

Antony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus, which were written after, have many

links with the four. But, because of their rather strict relationship with

the historical materials, they are best dealt with in a group by

themselves. Timon of Athens, probably written after the above-named seven

plays, shows signs of having been unfinished or abandoned by Shakespeare.

It has its own splendours but has rarely been considered equal in

achievement to the other tragedies of Shakespeare's maturity.

The "dark" comedies.

Before the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603 the country was ill at ease:

the House of Commons became more outspoken about monopolies and royal

prerogative, and uncertainty about the succession to the throne made the

future of the realm unsettled. In 1603 the Plague again struck London,

closing the theatres. In 1601 Shakespeare's patron, the Earl of

Southampton, was arrested on charges of treason; he was subsequently

released, but such scares did not betoken confidence in the new reign.

About Shakespeare's private reaction to these events there can be only

speculation, but three of the five plays usually assigned to these years--

Troilus and Cressida, All's Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure--have

become known as "dark" comedies for their distempered vision of the world.

Only during the 20th century have these plays been frequently performed in

anything like Shakespeare's texts, an indication that their questioning,

satiric, intense, and shifting comedy could not please earlier audiences.

The late plays.

Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, The Tempest, and Henry VIII,

written between 1608 and 1612, are commonly known as Shakespeare's "late

plays," or his "last plays," and sometimes, with reference to their

tragicomic form, they are called his "romances." Works written by an author

in his 40s hardly deserve to be classified as "late" in any critical sense,

yet these plays are often discussed as if they had been written by a

venerable old author, tottering on the edge of a well-earned grave. On the

contrary, Shakespeare must have believed that plenty of writing years lay

before him, and indeed the theatrical effectiveness and experimental nature

of Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, and The Tempest in particular make them

very unlike the fatigued work of a writer about to break his staff and

drown his book.

The contribution of textual criticism.

The early editors of Shakespeare saw their task chiefly as one of

correction and regularization of the faulty printing and imperfect texts of

the original editions or their reprints. Many changes in the text of the

quartos and folios that are now accepted derive from Nicholas Rowe (1709)

and Alexander Pope (1723-25), but these editors also introduced many

thousands of small changes that have since been rejected. Later in the 18th

century, editors compiled collations of alternative and rejected readings.

Samuel Johnson (1765), Edward Capell (1767-68), and Edmund Malone (1790)

were notable pioneers. Their work reached its most comprehensive form in

the Cambridge edition in nine volumes by W.G. Clark, J. Glover, and W.A.

Wright, published in 1863-66. A famous one-volume Globe edition of 1864 was

based on this Cambridge text.

Romeo and Juliet,

play by William Shakespeare, performed about 1594-95 and first published in

a "bad" quarto in 1597. The characters of Romeo and Juliet have been

depicted in literature, music, dance, and theatre. The appeal of the young

hero and heroine--whose families, the Montagues and Capulets, respectively,

are implacable enemies--is such that they have become, in the popular

imagination, the representative type of star-crossed lovers.

Shakespeare's principal source for the plot was The Tragicall Historye of

Romeus and Juliet (1562), a long narrative poem by the English poet Arthur

Broke (d. 1563). Broke had based his poem on a French translation of a tale

by the Italian Matteo Bandello (1485-1561).

Shakespeare set the scene in Verona, Italy, during July. Juliet and Romeo

meet and fall instantly in love at a masked ball of the Capulets and

profess their love when Romeo later visits her at her private balcony in

her family's home. Because the two noble families are enemies, the couple

is married secretly by Friar Laurence. When Tybalt, a Capulet, kills

Romeo's friend Mercutio in a quarrel, Romeo kills Tybalt and is banished to

Mantua. Juliet's father insists on her marrying Count Paris, and Juliet

goes to consult the friar. He gives her a potion that will make her appear

to be dead and proposes that she take it and that Romeo rescue her; she

complies. Unaware of the friar's scheme, Romeo returns to Verona on hearing

of Juliet's apparent death. He encounters Paris, kills him, and finds

Juliet in the burial vault. There he gives her a last kiss and kills

himself with poison. Juliet awakens, sees the dead Romeo, and kills

herself. The families learn what has happened and end their feud.

The most complex of Shakespeare's early plays, Romeo and Juliet is far more

than "a play of young love" or "the world's typical love-tragedy." Weaving

together a large number of related impressions and judgments, it is as much

about hate as love. It tells of a family and its home as well as a feud and

a tragic marriage. The public life of Verona and the private lives of the

Veronese make up the setting for the love of Juliet and Romeo and provide

the background against which their love can be assessed. It is not the

deaths of the lovers that conclude the play but the public revelation of

what has happened, with the admonitions of the Prince and the

reconciliation of the two families.

Shakespeare enriched an already old story by surrounding the guileless

mutual passion of Romeo and Juliet with the mature bawdry of the other

characters--the Capulet servants Sampson and Gregory open the play with

their fantasies of exploits with the Montague women; the tongues of the

Nurse and Mercutio are seldom free from sexual matters--but the innocence

of the lovers is unimpaired.

Romeo and Juliet made a strong impression on contemporary audiences. It was

also one of Shakespeare's first plays to be pirated; a very bad text

appeared in 1597. Detestable though it is, this version does derive from a

performance of the play, and a good deal of what was seen on stage was

recorded. Two years later another version of the play appeared, issued by a

different, more respectable publisher, and this is essentially the play

known today, for the printer was working from a manuscript fairly close to

Shakespeare's own. Yet in neither edition did Shakespeare's name appear on

the title page, and it was only with the publication of Love's Labour's

Lost in 1598 that publishers had come to feel that the name of Shakespeare

as a dramatist, as well as the public esteem of the company of actors to

which he belonged, could make an impression on potential purchasers of



WALTER EBISCH and LEVIN L. SCHЬCKING, A Shakespeare Bibliography (1931,

reprinted 1968), and a supplement for the years 1930-35 (1937, reissued

1968), are comprehensive. They are updated by GORDON ROSS SMITH, A

Classified Shakespeare Bibliography, 1936-1958 (1963). JAMES G. McMANAWAY,

A Selective Bibliography of Shakespeare: Editions, Textual Studies,

Commentary (1975), covers more than 4,500 items published between 1930 and

1970, mainly in English. LARRY S. CHAMPION, The Essential Shakespeare: An

Annotated Bibliography of Major Modern Studies, 2nd ed. (1993), includes

works in English published from 1900 through 1984. STANLEY WELLS (ed.),

Shakespeare, new ed. (1990), provides bibliographies on topics ranging from

the poet to the text to the performances. Shakespeare Quarterly publishes

an annual classified bibliography. Shakespeare Survey (quarterly) publishes

annual accounts of "Contributions to Shakespearian Study," as well as

retrospective articles on work done on particular aspects. A selection of

important scholarly essays published during the previous year is collected

in Shakespearean Criticism (annual).