Abitur: Shakespeare: 1. Historical context: a. historical background: Queen Elizabeth ruled England (1533-1603) Elizabethan age ("golden age"); relative stability, economic growth, flowering of literature, music and theatre Elizabeth managed to avoid external conflicts and restored the economic and political situation (battles between Protestants and Catholics, English Reformation) closely connected to the "Renaissance" (rebirth of interest in art,sciences · humanism; human being in the focus of interest) under reign of Elizabeth: philosophers, explorations, modernised universities, development of arts, professional writers from university in 1588: an attempt of spain to invade England was defeated (Anglo-Spanish War) England became the first naval power of the world Elizabeth had no children/no heir to the throne (led to political uncertainty as to who would be the next king/queen) → Theatres in Shakespeare's time: role of theatre as entertainment: very popular form of entertainment, more than 2500 spectators from all social classes how was the play performed: hardly any scenery; playhouse opened to daylight; spectacular costumes; groundlings standing around the stage; audience took a lively part; actors only had a transcript of their own role; only male actors; plays were performed in the afternoon b. characteristics of the Elizabethan age: i. the great chain of being chain: reveals hierarchical position interdependence: if one element breaks, the chain as such does not exist any longer ladder: also expresses social hierarchies, but suggests social mobility any attempt to break...
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the chain would upset the established order and bring about universal disorder peace and harmony were only possible if everyone stuck to the order → a neatly ordered world: human: physical part belongs to the earth, soul belongs to the world of angels (in him, the material and spiritual world are united) → psychologie: human consists of 4 liquid elements (choler, blood, melancholy, phlegm) = ideal mixture means harmony the macrocosm (the whole universe) is always influenced by the microcosm (human society) → if something wrong goes on in the microcosm, it affects the macrocosm despite the modern thinking (renaissance), the prevailing worldview was still strongly influenced by medieval paradigms god/ church as authority traditional world view with earth as centre of cosmos (Ptolemaic world view) ii. the wheel of fortune 2. the english language: fate was the main controlling force in life just like a wheel moves from high to low, so does a person's life 3. Sonnets: during elizabethan age, people did not believe that man could control his own destiny iii. elizabethan beauty standard Fortuna (goddess) spins the wheel at random, changing the position of the people who are in the wheel ""the Petrarchan ideal of beauty": Francesco Petrarcha became famous for the ideal of beauty he depicted in his sonnets characteristics: white skin, red lips and cheeks, bright eyes, lily-like hands, blonde hair, pleasant voice her physical beauty is only a sign of her inner beauty she is chaste and devine and can't never be reached by the poet a. Shakespeare's influence on the English language: had a great influence on the English language → more than 1700 words were first used by him he adapted words from other languages; changed already existing words (turning verbs into nouns etc.) lots of Shakespeare's "inventions" found their way into modern English (e.g. gossip, gloomy, demonstrate...) b. famous quotes from Shakespeare: "all that glisters is not gold" (the Merchant of Venice) "all's well that ends well" (All's Well That Ends Well) "love is blind" (the Merchant of Venice) "it smells to heaven" (Hamlet) a. technical terms stanza [Strophe], line [Zeile, Vers] rhyme scheme: metre: enclosed rhyme (abba) alternate / cross rhyme (abab) rhyming couplets (aabb) free verse (abcd) iambiambic [Jambus] trochee / trochaic [Trochäus] anapaest / anapaestic [Anapäst] dactyl / dactylic [Daktylus] tetrameter · → a line consisting of four feet [Versfuß, Silbe] pentameter → five feet hexameter → six feet - b. Shakespearean Sonnets; characteristics poems consisting of 14 lines three quatrains and a couplet (two concluding lines) each quatrain consist of four lines rhyme scheme: abab, cdcd, efef, gg (cross rhyme and rhyming couplet) metre: iambic pentameter [fünfhebiger Jambus] volta (=turn) after the second quatrain c. themes of Elizabethan sonnets Petrarchan concept of love: the Petrarchan lover admires a beloved lady, who is the subject of his poem Antithesis: deal with opposites, contrasts, (inner) conflicts, (e.g. love and lust, reason and passion, body and soul...) the cruelty of time/transience of human life: sonnets are concerned with time and transience (→ time is often personified as a cruel monster taking away beauty and youth) poetry as a monument: idea suggests that poetry can defeat time as the object of desire lives on in the poem (the poem serves as a kind of monument to show posterity how desirable its subject was) 4. Pro/Con Shakespeare: a. the Relevance of Shakespeare today: pro pro classic literature; part of general education/general knowledge Shakespeare had great influence on the development of the English language + European literature we learn about history through Shakespeare's works Shakespeare's plays are entertaining his plays show human emotions universal, timeless topics: → narrow topic: humanity - human feeling; love, anger, jealousy.... political aspects; tyrants and dictatorships social aspects; suppression of women and gender inequality racism (post-) colonialism a great psychologist; analyses the human soul helps us understand what causes people to behave in a certain way explains men and women to themselves shows us human lives in their perplexing and unpredictable variety →show us ourselves: "self-help"; as the characters are transformed, we see ourselves differently as well; see our own nature; self-recognition our lives are stories, we are the characters in our own drama (adaptations are proof of Shakespeare's popularity) still today, artists are inspired by SP learn something about history by reading the plays part of our daily life (e.g. quotes) b. modern film adaptations: con con Shakespeare is long dead language is outdated there are better contemporary writers norms and values are outdated outdated view of world the dramatic aspect of SP stories can easily be found in more modern plays pro plots are classic and timeless stimulating and dramatic tension simple and fundamental stories liberal interpretations possible; e.g. teenmovies How?: watching is different from reading SP (new perspective on the storyline) films can be very traditional and thus remain SP's intents → every generation should have access to great literature story is already written + teenmovies are lucrative c. should Shakespeare be taught in school? (and how?) part of general education /at least for advanced courses) appreciation for literature creating empathy, making us more human it teaches students how to problem solve (e.g. by figuring out how to understand it) lot to analyze (many literary devices) understand more references (quotes) rich interior lives of SP's characters: plays are constructed to makes us more human Shakespeare's name becomes a brand (lends instant pedigree) SP is used as "proven product" fast-paced production; original intents might get lost over time very/too liberal interpretations (often far-out interpretations); original story/plot gets lost some story details get lost (e.g. age difference in Othello) entirely different from reading; does not get across the original moral/intents teenmovies: story might not actually have anything to do with teens (wrong audience) con there are modern authors which are more interesting and fun to read too difficult, outdated language too difficult to be analyzed (not acted out in school) different view of the world (e.g great chain of being) very time-consuming teachers do not have the same answers; too many different interpretations his words were to be spoken or heard → reading is not the same does not belong in english classes but drama classes (its about the sounds and pictures not the words often, we don't know why the play is writing like so or so (but teachers have there own suppositions and deliver them as facts) actors and audiences are meant to argue over meaning makes students feel stupid rather than empowered Shakespeare's plays should be explored, not taught (acted out) it's not about finding answers → dealing with different types of media; literature, films, theatre.... (different perspective, different realisations; different aspects are getting across, different approach to the topics...)