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SHAKESPEARE'S STAGE and HIS TECHNIQUE
- SHAKESPEARE'S STAGE and HIS TECHNIQUE
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- 대학원 영어영문학과
- 이화여자대학교 대학원
- Woo, Hyung Kyu
- Nowadays it is easy to compile the biography of a modern dramatist. The essential facts of his life, his birth, his progress at school, at the university, and else where, his marriage, and his death, are available in public records. While he is alive a number of the facts of his life will be given in Who's Who. His plays, as they come out, are noticed in newspapers and periodicals, and a little research in the files of old newspapers and periodicals, and a little research in the files of old newspapers will show when the run of any particular play began and ended. Probably he will have given interviews, and when he dies newspaper-men and critics hasten to write obituary notices and to record their impressions of his personality. He will certainly have written letters, which will be carefully preserved, for the letters of eminent authors are commercially valuable. Enough material will thus be provided for any-one to write quite a considerable life.
Little of this material remains for the biographer of dramatists of the seventeenth century. The parish registers record the dates of baptism, marriage and burial, but many of the registers are lost. There were no newspapers, very few diaries, and few individuals wrote chatty letters. Of Shakespeare's life the records are far fuller than might be expected.
The main sources for a biography of Shakespeare are of four kinds. First, and most important, are documentary records. These are definite and reliable, but usually dull, records. Thus, the parish register of Stratford-on-Avon givesthe date of the baptism of William Shakespeare and of his brothers and sisters, the date of burial himself, and of his father, mother and other relatives. His name is to be found in some records of lawsuits either as plaintiff, witness or defendant. In the accounts of the Court of Queen Elizabeth and KingJames the sums paid to his Company are noted. His will survives in Somerset House. There are many of these records.
The second kind of evidence is tradition. Traditions are of varying value, and frequently cannot be either tested or trusted. There is only one contemporary anecdote of Shakespeare recorded in the diary of John Manningham, a barrister, It is possibly an invented jest : "Upon a time when Burbage played Richard Ⅲ there was a citizen grew so far in liking with him that before he went from the play she appointed him to come that night unto her by the name of Richard the Third. Shakespeare, overhearing their conclusion, went before, was entertained, and at his game ere_Burbage came. Then a message being brought that Richard the Third was at the door, Shakespeare caused return to be made that William the Conqueror was before Richard the Third.
John Anbrey, a gentlman of the Restoration period, and a great collector of gossip, recorded a few anecdotes in his notebook, including traditions which he gathered at second and third hand from an old actor called William Beeston, who was the son of one of Shakespeare's fellow actors.
Betterton, a famous actor of Restoration times, went down to Stratford-on-Avon to examine the town records; and there he collected from local inhabitants some stories which he hand over to Nathaniel Rowe, who used them in his biographical introduction. Other anecdotes were current in the early part of the eighteenth century, and are recorded by Pope, Dr.Johnson and others.
The third source is literary. There are a number of references to Shakespeare in the writings of his contemporaries, and many more to his plays and characters. Most of them are literary and give no indication of what the man himself was like.
The fourth source of information is his work - the plays and the sonnets, The plays by themselves are not reliable material for a biographer, Shakespeare has said so much that It is impossible to know when he himself is speaking out of his own experience or creating experiences proper to his characters, but is, and must be, generally true that no writer who portrays a great variety of characters and shows acquaintance with almost the whole range of human experience can have lived all his life in a narrow or confined environment. All great writers to some extent betray their origin.
Into Stratford town there came about 1550 the poet's father, John Shakespeare. He belonged to a family, perhaps originally Norman, that had many branches in Warwickshire. John come of sound yeoman stock; his father, Richard, was a farmer who rented the fifty-acre farm of Asbies from Robert Arden, a rich squire of the neighboring village of Wilmcote. John, however, turned his back upon the farm, and opened a shop in Stratford for the sale of country produce, corn, wool, timber, skins, and so forth, and enrolled himself in the Glovers' guild. Stratford-on-A패n in the sixteenth century was a small but important country town, and John Shakespeare, his father, was one of the wealthiest citizens who held in turn the chief municipal
office of the place. No doubt his marriage about 1557 to mary Arden, the daughter of his father's landlord, helped to establish his social position and she belonged to an ancient and distinguished Catholic family which suffered during the religious persecutions In Queen Elizabeth's reign. It Is probable from recent researches that John Shakespeare himself was a Catholic and that William was brought up in the Old Faith.
John and Mary Shakespeare had at least eight children, William being the third child and eldest son. He was baptized in the Parish Church of Stratford-on-Avon on the 26th April, 1564, the exact date of his birth being unrecorded.
There are no records ofhis boyhood; It would be surprising if there were. A good education was available at the grammar school, of which the head masters were competent scholars from Oxford and Cambridge. Nor were the better-class of Stratford either bookless or illiterate. Several of Shakespeare's younger contemporaries and friends of the family went up to Oxford University.
Then John Shakespeare seems, however, to have failed to retain the honorable position that he had won in the community. His family and his expenses increased rapidly and he seems to have met with financial losses. We hear of vexatious lawsuits and heavy fines, It Is probable that he was in our sense of the word uneducated; indeed it was almost impossible for a country boy in the early sexteenth century to obtain even the rudiments of an education.
In 1582 he got with child a woman named Anne or Agnes Hathaway, eight years older than himself. Her relatives saw to it that he married her, A daughter (Susanna) was born to him in May 1583, less than six months after the marriage. In January 1585 twins were born to him, a son (Hamnet) who died in 1596) and a daughter (Judith).
It is not known when Shakespeare first appeared in London. The essential years, when most men collect their experiances; are missing. There are various traditions : that he was obliged to leave Stratford because he was in trouble for poaching deer from Sir Thomas I,ucy, the great man of those parts; that for a time he was a school master in the country ; that he first entered the theatre in some mean employment. But they do not account for everything. In order to gain a livelihood, he began by holding horses at the doors of theatres. This business of holding horses at the door still existed at London in the last century, and it brought together a kind of small band or corps that they called 'Shakespeare's boys'. And at last he was received into a theatrical company "in a very mean rank". 'That he was a lawyer's clerk, a soldier in the Low Countries, a sea-man, or a printer, as some have written books to attempt to show, is not evidence, nor legend, but wild surmise. It might be urged , with as great likelihood, that he became a king, an ancient Roman, a tapster or a brothel keeper.
It is fairly certain that the company which first received him was the Earl of Leicester's company, then performing at The Theatre in Shoredich, The company changed its patron and its theatre several times, but Shakespeare, having been admitted to it, stayed with it throughout his theatrical Career, He acted with it at The Theatre, at the Rose said Globe Theatres, at the court, at the Inns of Court, and possibly on many stages in the provinees. For many years he professed the quality of actor. Legend says that he acted well in what are called “character parts”. Soon after his entrance into the profession he began to show a talent for improving the plays of others.
Nothing interesting is known of his subsequent life, except that he wrote great poetry and made money by it. It is plain that he was a shrewd, careful, and capable man of affairs, and that he cared, as all wise men care, for rank and an honourable state.
He strove with a noble industry to obtain these and succeeded. He prospered, he bought New Place at Stratford, he invested in land, in theatre shares and in houses. During the last few years of his life he retired to New Place, where he led the life of a country gentleman. He died there on the 23rd April, 1616, aged fifty-two years. The cause of his death is not known. His wife and daughters survived him.
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