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ENG 209- Lecture 2 Notes

by: Miranda Browning

ENG 209- Lecture 2 Notes ENG 209

Miranda Browning
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Lecture 2: Shakespeare's London & Intro to "Taming of the Shrew"
Intro to Shakespeare
William Shaw
Class Notes




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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Miranda Browning on Thursday August 25, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ENG 209 at North Carolina State University taught by William Shaw in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 59 views. For similar materials see Intro to Shakespeare in English at North Carolina State University.


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Date Created: 08/25/16
Lecture 2: Shakespeare’s London & Intro to “Taming of the Shrew”   Opens with imaged map from 1616, a “wonderful tableau” of what Shakespeare’s London  would have looked like. Provides an interesting insight into Shakespeare’s world. Providing  a sort of social and historical context from his time.   The London eye—huge sort of Ferris wheel that tourists get into and provides a wonderful  view of London.   Presence and domination of churches, telling us that religion was extremely important  during this time. Roman Catholics of the time mainly had to keep their religion to themselves and practice in privacy. They still had to outwardly conform to the Anglican religion and  church.   Very small city with rural, open hills—used for grazing, wind mills that would provide power  to the city.   London Proper—considered a suburb of the city, rather a poor, degraded suburb.   Predominance of boats, sailboats and ships. On both the banks, there are houses right up  against the water. River at the center of the city.   Globe Theatre—where Shakespeare’s plays would have been performed.  o The Globe Theatre, along with the surrounding area was a suburb of the city—this side of the city was London Proper and considered a disreputable area marked by poverty,  etc. Thought that actors were disreputable and the entire acting profession was  considered vulgar and filled with sin.  o People living in this area were those who could not afford the finer life on the other  side of the river (students, poor people, shopkeepers, prostitutes, etc.). Actors  themselves were considered vagabonds and had to be under the protection of the  nobility.   Bear­baiting: one of the main forms of competition for consumer entertainment. Bear would  be taken and chained to a post, and then several fighting dogs would be turned loose in an  open pit to attack the bear. People in attendance would bet on who would die first, how  many dogs would die, etc.   Notice the London Bridge, famous from the nursery rhyme. Foundations could not handle all of the weight of the houses that were built across the bridge, resulting from its falling down.  With all of the houses across the bank, problems with pollution were extraordinary. No  adequate plumbing in those days, and people living here took all their house waste and  human waste and threw it into the water from the bridge. Ultimately, this was a major factor  in the outbreaks of the Bubonic Plague—waste would attract the rats, disease would spread  rapidly killing thousands of people.   Entrance to the bridge, you see about a dozen stakes upon the building. On the stakes are  the heads of “traitors”—the process of killing these traitors ended with their head being  decapitated, after a brutal and lengthy process of cutting off limbs, opening your body,  taking out your beating heart, etc. Depicts the crude and violent world that Shakespeare  lived in.   Clip from the movie “Shakespeare in Love”.  o Has many historically accurate details and the projection of the Globe playhouse are  all relevant.  o About Shakespeare falling in love with a young woman of noble statue who aspires to  be an actress. But in his time, women were not allowed to perform on stage. She  appears before Shakespeare to audition to be in one of his plays—here, he falls in  love with her.  o But, because she in a noblewoman she is forced into a marriage to a man she doesn’t  love. The scene we watch is on her wedding day, where she runs off to see the  opening night of Romeo & Juliet. Finds out that the young boy playing the part of Juliet is not the best fit because his voice is changing; Shakespeare fears this will ruin the  play.  Taming of the Shrew   From the clip, notice how the stage came out into the audience (the “thrust stage”)—with  audience on all three sides of the stage and the three tiers above the stage. With poor  people being on the floor and nobility having seats with views from above.   Also notice the lack of props—the whole action is carried from the action, the language, the  way the actors move on stage, gestures, etc. This is the way meaning is carried.   Priority on costumes—notice how elaborate the costumes were and how colorful. The color  of costumes was symbolic of the family ties (i.e., color of the Montagues different from that  of the Capulets).   High priority placed on good speaking and blocking/movement. Very important in terms of  appreciating something as intimate as live theatre.   Taming of the Shrew is a triple action play where you have three plot lines: (1) deals with  Christopher Sly and the trick that is played on him, (2) romantic plot with Lucentio/Bianca,  (3) the taming plot with Petruchio and Kate.   The Induction is the framing plot, the larger plot that within which the other plot takes place.  Sort of like “a play within a play.”  o Sly—most of what we know about him is through the way he speaks and the way he is  treated.   o Taking place with Sly in a tavern. o From the lines, we know he is drinking and is very drunk to the point where he falls  asleep at the tavern.  o Notice the way Sly speaks—in slang and prose that is rough and coarse. He is rude  and mistreating to the hostess.  o From here, the Lord enters, the important nobleman in town. They see Sly with his head on the table and they are astonished: “What’s here? One dead, or drunk?” They realize  he is alive and breathing.  o Notice how the upper class characters speak in blank verse: meaning that there are 10  syllables to the line and spoke in a heartbeat kind of rhythm. Linguistic invention is  Shakespeare’s drama. Used to represent the part of their higher level culture and  intelligence. Also, their diction is more formal, with fewer informalities and slang  expressions.  o Going back to the play, the nobleman says: “I’ll practice on this drunken man.” Going to  play a trick, practical joke on Sly. The proposition: going to dress him like a nobleman,  treat him with respect, and tell him that he has a wife and that he is experiencing  amnesia, as they will question where he has been. They will try to persuade him that he went lunatic. So, they will try to deceive him into thinking he is now a nobleman. o Saying how he wants this trick to be carried out properly, without people doubling up  and laughing.  o Second part of the induction: the next morning, Sly wakes up and the first thing he asks  for is a pot of small ale. The serving man says, “Well please your lordship drink a cup of sac.” Sac is a sherry wine, something the upper classes would have drank instead of  ale.  o Sly gets upset by their attempts at distorting his sense of his own reality. Tells them to  ask Mary Anne Hackett, who will tell them that he is a beggar and always in debt to  people.  o Keep attempting to press onto him that he is a nobleman. After much pressing, the Lord becomes direct and emphatic. With all of this, Sly now begins to think that maybe he  really is a Lord: “Am I a Lord? And have I such a lady? Or do I dream, or have I  dreamed until now?”  o Notice his language—he no longer in this passage is using any informal usages, and  now speaks in formal English and in blank verse. Now taking on the manners and  language of a nobleman.  o At any rate they prepare to hear a play and the actors are now here and take their  places on the stage. Sly says at the end of the scene: “Well, we will see it. Come  madam wife, sit by my side and let the world slip. We shall ne’er be younger.”  o So, Dr. Shaw proposes a question: How does this plot relate to the other?—such that,  what they had just done to Sly; does this give any indication about what will happen in  the other plots with Petruchio/Kate and Lucentio/Bianca.  o Also, another question has to do with blocking and the thrust stage, and where  characters would be placed on stage. In last week’s lecture Dr. Shaw mentioned how  upstage there was a room and above that was a balcony. So, it is no doubt that Sly and Bartholomew dressed as his wife would be watching the play from the balcony looking  down below; so, not only upstage, but above stage as well.  o Sly only appears for one other moment within the play, where they have to wake him up to watch the performance. The question then from a theatrical point of view is: what we  do with him? Basically the way it is usually done in performance is that he falls asleep  or falls off his chair and attendants carry him off—that way, he is not upstaging and is  not distracting the performance taking place below.  o Now, the “play within the play” emerges as the main plot.  o Dr. Shaw urges us to think about tricks being played on characters, deceptions, and the theme of change. Such that—do characters’ change because they want to, or, because  they have been coerced into change?  o Shakespeare is likely getting us to think about the complexity of the human personality  and how we evolve from one state of consciousness to another. 


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