63 Answered Questions for the topic William Shakespeare
Looking for an essay comparing Beethoven to Hamlet?
I read an essay in school--I think a survey course on British literature--that compared the music of Beethoven to the soliloquies of Hamlet; the essay said that Beethoven's music is "spoken"... more
Watchman characters in Much Ado About Nothing?
Are the "first watchman" and "watchman" in *Much Ado About Nothing* actually the same character, or are they different? As Shakespeare doesn't pay much attention to minor characters, I couldn't... more
Origin of symbolic interpretation of Prospero's breaking of his staff?
At the end of *The Tempest*, which is generally believed to be the last plays that Shakesepare wrote alone, Prospero breaks his staff and drowns his book. This has often been read as Shakespeare... more
Comparison between beatrice of Much Ado About Nothing and Offred of The Handmaids tale?
> Compare and contrast the way Offred in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Beatrice in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing view romantic love. Discuss 2 similarities and 2... more
Are there earlier incidences than Merchant of Venice of an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other?
In [act 2, scene 2 of *The Merchant of Venice*](http://shakespeare.mit.edu/merchant/merchant.2.2.html), Launcelot Gobbo is conflicted regarding whether to run from Shylock, or continue working for... more
Did Shakespeare's audience believe Measure for Measure to be realistic?
In the play _Measure for Measure_ Vincentio, the Duke of Vienna, leaves his city in the charge of a judge while he goes on a "diplomatic mission". It transpires that he has not, in fact, left the... more
Was the sealed letter ordering Hamlet's death a Biblical reference?
Is the sealed letter that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern carry that orders Hamlet's execution a deliberate reference to the Biblical [King David](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David) having [Uriah... more
The meaning of "The rest is silence" in "Hamlet"?
Hamlet's very last words are > The rest is silence. What do they actually mean? This being Shakespeare, I reckon the significance of these words cannot be only the banal comparison between... more
Did King Richard III prove a villain because nature chose him to be a disabled person?
In the play *King Richard III* by Shakespeare did King Richard III become a villain because of nature selected him to be a disabled person (if we look at the villainous plot of the villain from his... more
What does the line “Excellent, i' faith, of the chameleon's dish. I eat the air, promise-crammed. You cannot feed capons so.” mean, from Hamlet?
> “Excellent, i' faith, of the chameleon's dish. I eat the air, promise-crammed. You cannot feed capons so.” <sub>*Hamlet*, act 3, scene 2</sub> What does this sentence mean? What... more
What is the benefit in the Prologue "spoiling" the play in Romeo + Juliet?
In the Act 1 Prologue to the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare > Two households, both alike in dignity, > In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, >From ancient grudge break... more
Benvolio and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet?
What do the characters of Benvolio and Mercutio in *Romeo and Juliet* symbolize, if anything? Mercutio's character mainly provides jokes, and then, in his hot-headedness, is slain by Tybalt.... more
What does the Malvolio subplot add to Twelfth Night?
Most of Shakespeare's comedy *Twelfth Night* is about the group of main characters Viola, Sebastian, Orsino, and Olivia, and the affections requited and unrequited between them. But there's also a... more
What does Holofernes deer epitaph from Love's Labour's Lost mean?
I find it a bit hard to understand this epitaph of the deer in *Love's Labour's Lost*. > The preyful princess pierced and prick'd a pretty pleasing pricket; > Some say a sore; but not a... more
Were all of Shakespeare's plays fully in iambic pentameter?
Were the plays within The Complete Works of Shakespeare entirely in iambic pentameter? I seem to recall singing bits (when there were lyrics) from Twelfth Night and definitely from Much Ado About... more
Why didn't it occur to Othello that Iago might be upset about being passed over for the promotion?
The entire storyline of *Othello* is precipitated by Iago's resentment over being passed over for a promotion in favor of Cassio. That being said, why doesn't it seem to occur to Othello that Iago... more
Why was it necessary to have the page dress up as a woman?
In the beginning of *The Taming of the Shrew*, the Lord has his page dress up as a woman: >Sirrah, you go get Bartholomew, my page, And dress him in all suits like a lady. That done, escort... more
What does a dog barking at a crow signify?
In *[Much ado about nothing](https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Much_Ado_About_Nothing)* by William Shakespeare, Act 1 Scene 1, Beatrice declares to Benedick >'I had rather hear my dog bark at a... more
Comparing frequency of word use across Shakespeare's plays?
There are numerous concordances that list all of the words, and their frequency of use within each of Shakespeare's plays. However, I am interested in the presence and frequency of use of words... more
How did Theseus woo Hippolyta by doing her injuries?
In *A Midsummer Night's Dream*, Theseus tells Hippolyta: > THESEUS: > Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword And won thy love doing thee injuries, But I will wed thee in another key, With... more
Did Shakespeare write his own stage directions?
It's [well known](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare's_plays#Shakespeare_and_the_textual_problem) that Shakespeare had no part in publishing the text of his own plays - indeed, many of them... more
Was Shakespeare a religious fanatic?
In the play *The Merchant of Venice*, Shylock is pretty much disdained and humiliated only because he was a Jew. His thirst for revenge against Antonio is fuelled by the fact that Antonio... more
In the Hollow Crown speech, what does the line "Cover your heads" imply?
In the "hollow crown" speech in *Richard II*, there is a line with the words "Cover your heads". I need a paraphrase for this line. What does Shakespeare imply by this line in the context of this... more
Does this passage in King Lear develop the theme of compassion or truth? Also is the structure prose, blank verse, or rhyming iambic pentameter?
This is from [Act 5 Scene 3 of *King Lear*](http://shakespeare.mit.edu/lear/lear.5.3.html): >A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all! <br /> I might have saved her. Now she’s gone for... more
Why does Anne call Richard a Hedgehog in Act I, Scene II of Richard III?
This is probably an easy question, but why does Anne call Richard a Hedgehog in Act I, Scene II of Richard III: > Dost grant me, hedgehog? then, God grant me too Thou mayst be damned for... more