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Shakespeare Essay Topics & Paper Examples

Shakespeare’ The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice is one of the more challenging works of William Shakespeare. When read at face value, it presents a rather problematic tale of Spanish Christians who must suffer the harsh and unrelenting lack of mercy of a Jewish moneylender, which concludes in a rather unsettling fashion by forcing him to convert to Christendom all while they get their happily ever after. Over the course of the play, we are presented with a rather unflattering portrait of the Jew and the manner by which he exercises his place in society, which is easily read as a rather anti-Semitic characterization. However, it wouldn’t be out of hand to suspect that perhaps Shakespeare’s perceptions of Jews may not have been…

Love as a Theme in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

A German philospher by the name of Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness. ” Love, therefore, can cause some madness in a person and can make him or her forget reason. What then is reason and what then is logic if love exists within the depths of one’s soul? What then is common sense if love resides in the very core of a person’s heart and it makes him or her forget the logic of things? Love is just one very simple word, and yet it embodies so much within its existence. The actual presence and existence of the word of love itself can mean so…

10 Things and Taming of the Shrew Comparison

The playwright of Taming of the Shrew, by Shakespeare, and the film text 10 Things I Hate about You, directed by Gil Junga, convey similar plots, however, the composition of these two texts spreads across 400 years. With this, audiences who have experienced both of these texts can witness the differences of the society within the 17th and the 20th century. This is conveyed through the social context of both era’s (the Elizabethan Era and 20th century USA) and also the Shakespearean language in contrast with the colloquial language. Not only do these play a part, but the gender roles of both women and men are distinctly represented. Finally, the plot and events of both texts coincide with the other…

The Complete Works of Shakespeare

Helen Keller once said “The Fearful are often caught with the bold. ” This was with reference to danger. She believed that those who avoided danger met danger as often as often as those who confront it. Shakespeare’s Hamlet has its share of the fearful and the bold, and both fearful and bold were met by a tragic death. There were numerous instances in the play that presented this. The whole cause of the plot of the play, the death of King Hamlet, is an example of this. He is known to have conquered lands and fought a lot of wars. He can be considered one of the bold for he faced death head on and yet the reason why…

Freytag Pyramid of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare

Lysander and Hermia, Demetrius and Helena, Titania and Oberon, Pyramus and Thisbe 1) Exposition: Lysander and Demetrius both want Hermia’s hand in marriage – Lysander because of love, Demetrius because of the position and power it would afford. Demetrius wants to marry Hermia to gain her father’s favor, along with his power and position. Helena is in love with Demetrius, who will not give her a second look. Titania and Oberon are angry with each other, jealous over each other’s fascination with Theseus and Hippolyta respectively. Pyramus and Thisbe cannot be together and can only whisper through a wall. 2) Inciting Incident: Hermia’s father orders her to marry Demetrius or commit herself to a nunnery forever. Helena finds out Hermia…

Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Many authors will utilized the technique of introducing a character that is seemingly unrelated to the protagonist in order to form a basis of comparison. Shakespeare uses the scenes with Prince Fortinbras of Norway in this very manner. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the character of Fortinbras serves to further define and illuminate the character Hamlet. Fortinbras is introduced in the first act as Claudius reminds the people that an old act of aggression is breeding new conflict. Fortinbras intends to regain his father’s lands that were taken when Hamlet’s father, the king at the time, killed Fortinbras’ father. young Fortinbras, Holding a weak supposal of our worth, Or thinking by our late dear brother’s death Our state to be disjoint and…

Father-Daughter Conflicts in Shakespeare’s Plays

William Shakespeare is a playwright and poet with no need of introduction. He has written several of the most distinguished and well-received plays in the history of literary writing. With so much reflection focused on his works and writings, little is said about Shakespeare’s personal life. It has been generally accepted however that Shakespeare himself had two daughters and one son. Shakespeare placed great value in the ability of his offspring to immortalize his own name and to uphold the dignity of his family (Bevington 193). However, his hopes were not to be carried out through Hamnet, his only son. With Hamnet’s early death, Shakespeare was left to look to his daughters for the propagation of the respect due his…

Ophelia Shakespeare Wife

Ophelia has been known as “the good daughter.” She does whatever is asked of her by any male figure in her life. In the list of characters found in the lay she is simply listed the “daughter of Polonius.” This implies that she is a minor character who still “belongs” to her father. Amanda Mabillard believes that it is out of love that Ophelia obeys her father’s and brother’s every desire (Mabillard, “Ophelia”). However, many believe that it is not out of “love” that prompts her obedience, but fear. When Laertes tells Ophelia to distrust Hamlet, she willingly obeys him and gives him the authority over her heart. In many of the exchanges between herself and her father, she simply…

Shakespeare’s Othello

Shakespeare’s Othello, as a tragedy, offers a plot and theme which are so closely connected that one can only be interpreted in regard to the other. For example, Othello’s pride is explored through the use of irony while, during the course of the play, Iago manipulates Othello (along with the other characters) into progressively more damaging and violent acts of self-destruction. Iago realizes, as the audience realizes, that Othello’s prideful nature along with his professional and temperamental propensity for violence will probably end in blood-shed. This realization which the audience enjoys is not known to Othello himself and that is where Shakespeare’s use of irony is both brilliantly executed and highly expressive of the play’s deepest theme: that of self-knowledge….

Describe the Different Forms of Disguise and Deception That Feature in Twelfth Night

Shakespeare’s play ‘Twelfth Night’ is a comedy centred on a main theme of disguise and deception. The elements of both bring confusion to the characters creating comical situations throughout the play, also adding a lot of dramatic irony to entertain the audiences through the ages. There are many different types of disguise and deception in the play, most are used for the comical effect, but one deception in particular gives the play a darker edge because of the malicious intent to hurt the character. Viola’s disguise as the young man ‘Cesario’ is the stimulus that triggers the love triangle which is the foundation of the whole play. Antonio assists Viola to disguise herself as a man, ‘conceal me what I…

Globe Theatre

We do not know much about Shakespeare’s life. He comes from the small provincial town Stratford that lies on the Avon. His father was a workman, and he was a member of the town council; and he was also the mayor of the town for three years. Shakespeare most likely went to Stratford Grammar School, which can still be seen in the town, however we do not know much about what he learned in school. In 1582, when he was 18 years old, he married Ann Hathaway who was 7-8 years older; she was the oldest daughter of a wealthy farmer. Their first child was born the year after, only six months after the wedding; later they also had twins….

Does the Brutal Truth in Sonnet 130

Does the brutal truth in Shakespeare’s ‘Sonnet 130’ and Swift’s ‘A beautiful Young Nymph going to bed’, take away from the beauty of the two poems. Beauty and aesthetics can be defined as “Nothing more nor less, than sensitivity to the sublime and the beautiful and an aversion to the ordinary and ugly”, this means that beauty can be absolutely anything which is beautiful as long as it is not ugly or ordinary, this may seem harsh, much like the poems by William Shakespeare and Jonathan Swift. In both poems; ‘Sonnet 130’ by William Shakespeare and ‘A beautiful young nymph going to bed’ by Jonathan Swift, aesthetic beauty is explored in a brutal and honest light. Shakespeare’s ‘Sonnet 130’ tells…

Macbeth

In Shakespeares famous play, Macbeth, the themes of murder, guilt, ambition and the ruthless pursuit of power is explored. He does this through the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth who are tied together in an eerie search for absolute power. Throughout the play, Macbeth reveals many traits that have horrible consequences for Macbeth himself and for Scotland. In the beginning of the play, Macbeth portrays himself as a noble, sincere man who would die for his country but as the play moves forward we discover that we may have been misled. At first it seems that Macbeth is a noble warrior, but as time goes on it becomes apparent that he is a cruel, heartless tyrant, particularly when he…

Julius Caesar

A perspective is a representation of a particular event, situation or personality formulated due to varying ideologies prevalent within a particular time period. As such we see, persuasive texts endeavor to utilise the fears within our context, in order to instigate an emotive response through the use of manipulative language, which ultimately leads to the infiltration of our psyche. This is prevalent within Shakespeare’s historical tragedy Julius Caesar, the October 2001 TIME magazine article, “The Manhunt Goes Global” composed by John Cloud et al, in addition with Michael Moore’s 2004 scathing documentary film Fahrenheit 9/11. As a result of their times of composition, we see conflicting perspectives concerning the fear of tyranny arising within these texts. This tyranny for a…

Close Analysis on Hippolyta a Midsummer Nights Dream

Hippolyta is a dominant character in the play; A Midsummer night’s dream. Some views on the play may suggest that Shakespeare represented her as the Queen- Queen Elizabeth I. This may be illustrated through Act 4 Scene 1 where Hippolyta marries Theseus and becomes the Queen of the Amazons. Shakespeare bases Hippolyta’s character on the ancient Plutarch’s portrayal of her in his ‘life of Theseus’. This ideology covers the big mythological battle between Theseus and the Amazons. In the play Hippolyta uses long silences when speaking, this could show her expressions towards her wedding; there is no hurry for her wedding night. There are slight disagreements between Hippolyta and Theseus in the play where it is shown that they have…

The Tempest – Character Relationships

In William Shakespeare’s play, the Tempest, the main theme centers on the idea of power and how the desire for it is the basic motivation for humans. Some of the issues dealt with in The Tempest, are the desire for control, power imbalance and challenging authority. Through the construction of the characters in the play, Shakespeare portrays different levels of power and the imbalance of self-given authority within a small island society. The majority of the play portrays a relationship between a character that possesses power and one that is subject to that power. The master-servant relationships dominate in the cases of the characters Prospero and Ariel; and Prospero and Caliban. Though the two relationships are different, the one with…

A Filmic Analysis of Hamlet

Shakespeare’s Hamlet inspired many film directors to adapt the play onto the big screen. In Kenneth Branagh’s version, he takes on the challenge of both directing the film and portraying Hamlet. In Marco Zeferelli’s edition, celebrated actor Mel Gibson stars as Hamlet. The directors use different aspects of cinematography and mise-en-scene to depict distinctive interpretations of the famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy. Branagh interprets the scene as a contemplation of Hamlet’s decision whether to kill himself or Claudius, whereas Zeferelli construes the scene as a deliberation of life, death, and the afterlife. Branagh uses props, varied camera angles, and thoughtful acting to describe the “To be or not to be” soliloquy as a brooding decision haunting Hamlet…

Shakespeare vs Ran Comparison

One of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies ever written, King Lear, is one that deals with many aspects of human condition. It is recognized as a difficult and complex play, but Kurosawa’s Japanese interpretation, Ran, allows the audience to come to a better and more obvious understanding of the events and emotions that are portrayed in King Lear. Both the play and movie portray themes and issues that deal with foolishness, revenge and selfishness. These factors brought upon the catastrophes for both King Lear and Lord Hidetora. A very vital symbol of each representation of Shakespeare’s play is through the power of nature with the storm. With the extensive use of the storm creating the main source of imagery and symbolism, it…

Othello and Reputation

Othello is tragedy written by William Shakespeare, that demonstrates the power and strength of reputation. The play describes how Othello and Desdemona attempt to build a life together, disregarding their difference in age and race. Although soon after their marriage, an envious Iago uses cunning lies to sabotages their once healthy relationship. Reputation plays a vital role in this play; it enables or restricts certain characters, inevitably opening the doors to the tragic ending. Iago uses his reputation for honesty to gain the trust of certain characters, only to use it for dishonest purposes. Firstly Iago uses his honest reputation to manipulate Cassio, causing him to lose his position as Othello’s lieutenant. When Iago states, “ I know my price,…

Shakespeare Sonnet 129

Sonnet 129 is an interesting poem in Shakespeare’s set of sonnets, supposedly, addressed to his dark mistress. This sonnet is full figurative language and other poetic devices that let the reader know exactly how the poet feels about the emotions and dangers associated with lust. He also uses interesting punctuation choices that create the flow and tone of the poem. As the readers, we do not know who this poem is addressed to due to the lack of thou, he, or she in the poem. It does seem to be describing a personal experience, but we do not know for sure whom our poetic persona interacted with to cause these emotions. The poetic persona starts by describing just how cynical…

Iago Manipulates

In the play Othello, written by William Shakespeare, the antagonist Iago manipulates other characters. He makes them act in ways that benefits his plan of destroying Othello by making him believe that his wife, Desdemona, is having an affair with his lieutenant, Michael Cassio. In the beginning of the play, Roderigo who is in love with Othello’s wife, Desdemona, comes to Iago for help. Iago manipulates Roderigo by promising him Desdemona’s attention and love if he “put money in thy purse,” as Iago says. Roderigo gives money to Iago in the mistaken belief that Iago is using his money to help him get to Desdemona, but Iago is using it to finance his own plan. Roderigo is a desperate character…

First Poem for You

The Shakespearean sonnet “First Poem for You” has an iambic pentameter and consistent rhyme scheme. Every other line represents a true rhyme – the final accented vowels and all succeeding consonants or syllables are identical. For example the words “complete” and “neat” (Addonizio 1, 3). Every line of the poem has a basic stressed and unstressed syllable format, except the last line. The extension of the last line “but touch them, trying” implements a longer stress (14). I believe this has definite meaning to the structure of the poem. In addition, the final verse of the poem is the longest line. In relation to the word “trying”, I believe that the longer stress and length in the final line of…

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Book or Movie

Personally, I prefer the original play of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” only slightly more than the film adaption that was recreated in the late 1990’s. Not only had William Shakespeare managed to fully grasp the meaning of true love, but had also comprehended the dark times that came alongside such an influential and overpowering emotion. Although the movie had effectively and humorously portrayed the problems that were brewing amongst the fairies, workers, and lovers, it still missed the raw, poetic depth that the play embodied. Also, the film had strayed from the original story line more times than was acceptable. For example, the play was set in the 1500’s, which was long before the time of bicycles and flashlights that…

Critical Analysis of Mark Antony’s Funeral Speech

Of all Shakespeare’s works , Julius Caesar is a play that hinges upon rhetoric – both as the art of persuasion and an artifice used to veil intent. The most striking of Shakespeare is his command of language. In Mark Antony’s funeral oration for Caesar, we have not only one of Shakespeare’s most recognizable opening lines but one of his finest examples of rhetorical irony at work. The speech could serve as a thematic synopsis to Julius Caesar. One of the most important and significant parts in the play is the funeral speech given by both Brutus and Mark Antony. At first, the funeral speeches seem to have no true significant meaning. However in further investigation it is established that…

King Lear

In William Shakespeare’s outstanding play, “King Lear”, we witness the break down in Britain that is a tragedy. The title character King Lear is the person who should to be blamed. The first crucial event triggers this tragedy is that King Lear banishes his little daughter, Cordelia from the Kingdom. The king of France, who has courted Cordelia, says that he still wants to marry her even without her land, and she accompanies him to France without her father’s blessing. Then King Lear other two daughters Regan and Goneril, take over his power and realm, their true natures surface at once. King Lear goes to live with Goneril at first, but she reveals that she plans to treat him like…

No Fear Shakespeare

In English class, everyone lets out loud groans when they hear about their next units: Shakespeare. With the class complaining about the hard language and the difficulty of understanding the plays, the teacher might grow exasperated and let them read the infamously talked about book No Fear Shakespeare. The teachers are doing question thing when they keep a supplementary text with the original. Yes, 15th century Elizabethan era is a tad difficult to understand, but that is one of the beauties of Shakespeare. No Fear has a good translation but is missing a few key elements such as symbolism, poetry, allusions, and other literary techniques. I think the original version is much better than the translated version because it has…

Julius Caesar

The play Julius Caesar by William Shakespear, contains no true friendships. Friendship is an important element in the play and it also seals the protagonist’s, Julius Caesar’s, fate. The friendships in the play are used to blind Caesar from the truth and the plots against him. Little gestures the main characters bring about provide trust with Caesar, therefore portraying the key to all friendships. The trust would later be lost and transform into betrayal. Although Caesar is murdered because of the plots against him, friendship is still considered a valid theme because it had covered the conspirators intentions of murdering Caesar. Caesar was vulnerable to the power of friendship and was blinded by his trust in Decius, Brutus, and the…

Hamlet Theme Analysis

In William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, the title character’s logical soliloquies, and over thinking of situations inhibit his abilities to act on his passions. It’s safe to say that Hamlet was a logical and reasonable person right from the start. In the society he was raised in most actions carried out through passion were considered taboo. Take jealousy, lust and vengeance for example; in the play all of these passions are put into satisfying action by the people surrounding Hamlet. Everyone but Hamlet makes a move based on emotion; Claudius murdered his brother for his crown, Gertrude quickly married Claudius, and Laertes takes revenge on Hamlet. The prince, instead, takes the path of thought and only allows himself to do what…

The Two Sides of Prince Hal: Charmer and Wit, yet Cold and Calculating

One of the most captivating plays made by William Shakespeare is the play “Henry the IV,” which offers a very descriptive and exciting account of the life of Henry the IV, king of England. In fact, the play Henry the IV is one of the three royal historical plays made by Shakespeare, the two other being the plays “Richard the II” and “Henry the V. ” All of these three plays vividly explore the malice and the intrigue of medieval England, especially in the race for the English throne, amidst the fiercely competing kings. The play “Henry the IV” also gives an insight in the important characters that shaped this part of English history. This essay would focus upon the…

Hamlet

Hamlet represents many things: tragic hero, over-thinking educated man, and poor friend. He is also a revolutionary, a philosopher, and a dreamer, and reconciling these good qualities with the bad proves as maddening for the audience as it does to Hamlet himself. However, what is often lost in the shuffle of Christian theologies in the play is the fact that nihilism as a persistent force, guiding Hamlet’s actions (or inaction, as the case may be) and serving as the catalyst for tragedy. Nihilism serves in the play as a kind of spiritual nether region into which men like Hamlet can find themselves being pulled into. It represents something that, to Hamlet and those like him, comes across as something off…