A_Midsummer_Nights_Dream_Text_book.pdf

Reason to accept the traditional attribution is that

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reason to accept the traditional attribution is that the plays show an understanding of the lives of people in all stations of life, from the lowliest peasants to men and women of the court. We know that Shakespeare came from a middle-class background and later moved in court circles, and this fact is consistent with his understanding of people from all walks of life. At the very least, a careful reader must conclude that the plays attributed to Shakespeare are the work of a single author, for they have a distinct voice not to be found in the work of any other dramatist of his day—a voice that has enriched our language as none other has ever done. The Uniqueness of Shakespeare’s Work No brief summary can begin to catalog the many virtues of Shakespeare’s work. He was a gifted observer of people, capable of creating unforgettable characters from all stations and walks of life. He used one of the largest vocabularies ever employed by an author, filling his plays with concrete details vi A MIDSUMMER NIGHT S DREAM
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and with speech that, while not always realistic, is always engaging and believable. His plays probe the range of human experience. They are romantic in the sense that they are full of intensely conveyed passion. However, the plays rarely strain credibility or sink into sensationalism or sentimental- ity. Shakespeare’s language tends to be dense, metaphorical, full of puns and word play, and yet natural, so that it comes “trippingly off the tongue” of an actor. A scene of Shakespeare tears across the stage, riveting and dramatic, and yet it bears close rereading, revealing in that rereading aston- ishing depth and complexity.Shakespeare wrote his dramas in a combination of prose, rhymed poetry, and blank verse always appropriate to the character or scene at hand. His plays have contributed many now well-known phrases to the English language. They have inspired audiences to laughter, joy, pity, fear, sadness, despair, and suspense for over four hundred years. In fact, his works have been performed more often and in more countries around the world than those of any other dramatist. To begin to read Shakespeare is to enter a world, one might say the world, for his art is, as Hamlet says it should be, “a mirror held up to nature”—to human nature. To read him well is to begin to understand others and ourselves. As Ben Jonson wrote, Shakespeare’s art is “not of an age, but for all time.” THE LIFE AND WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE vii
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viii A MIDSUMMER NIGHT S DREAM April 23, 1564 April 26,1564 1582 1583 1585 1589–1591 1592–1593 1592–1594 c. 1593 1593–1594 1594–1595 1595 1595–1596 1596–1597 1596 1597 1597 1598 1598–1599 1599 Time Line of Shakespeare’s Life William Shakespeare is born in Stratford-upon-Avon, to parents Mary Arden Shakespeare and John Shakespeare.
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