Humanism in England

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Пособие для учителей и учащихся. Часть III

Волкова Н. Л.

At the head of the English Renaissance better known as Reformation stood a group of new thinkers known as the Oxford Reformers. The leaders of this group were William Grocyn (1440?-1519), Thomas Linacre (cir. 1460-1524), John Colet (1467?-1519?), the great Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus (1467-1536), and Sir Thomas More (1478-1535). In 1491 Grocyn returned from Italy, where he had studied under greatest classical scholars of the day, and he started the regular public instruction in Greek at Oxford. He was soon joined by his friend Linacre. Among Linacre’s students was Thomas More, the attractive and quick-witted youth who already seemed likely to prove a “marvellous man”. By 1497, Oxford had acquired such a reputation as a school for the classics that Erasmus, too poor to go to Italy, came to England instead, to study under Grocyn and Linacre. Under these men and their associates Oxford became the centre of new learning in England and Cambridge soon joined in. The work of Oxford Reformers bears the stamp of a deeply serious and religious spirit. The knowledge of Greek which Colet gained in semi-pagan Italy he applied to the study of the New Testament, he also read a course of lectures on the Epistles of St. Paul. Colet devoted a considerable part of his fortune to the establishment of the free grammar school of St. Paul in London; and in this school (although great attention was given to the classics), the image of the child Christ was set up above the headmaster’s desk, with the inscription, “Hear ye Him”. Both Erasmus and More were profoundly serious, having caught much of Colet’s spirit. More jested with his executioner on the steps of the scaffold, but he willingly died for his faith. Thomas More was keenly alive to imperfections of both Church and State. In his account of imaginary commonwealth of Utopia (1516), he set before Europe a picture of an ideal state.

The Bible was translated and Luther faced Pope and Cardinal with his “Here I stand, Martin Luther; I cannot do otherwise: God help me.” The year of 1525 saw the introduction of Tyndale’s translation of the Bible, and eight years later the policy of Henry VIII withdrew the Church from the headship of Rome.

The difference between these English humanists and many of their Italian contemporaries is more than personal, it is national also. The Renaissance in England was a thing different from the Renaissance in Italy. The Renaissance in England produced no Raphael, no Michel Angelo; but it produced no Borgia or no Machiavelli. The Renaissance in Italy, which embodied in colour and stone a love of beauty, produced no such mighty intellect as that of Bacon, it produced no Shakespeare. The attraction of Italy for the English is the attraction of opposites.

In the fifteenth century England had absorbed many vital influences; early in the sixteenth century these new ideas began to find the outlet in the work of a new class of writers, and we reach the threshold of the Elizabethan Era, when the Renaissance expressed itself in English literature.

The Bible

The English Bible became, in its various forms, the single most important book of the sixteenth century.

Prior to the Reformation, most laypeople encountered the Bible through the interpretations of priests, who were able to read it in the Latin translation known as the Vulgate. Protestants insisted that the Scriptures should be available to all laypeople in their own languages. In 1525, a remarkable English translation of the New Testament by the Lutheran William Tyndale was printed on the Continent and smuggled into England. In 1530 it was followed by Tyndale’s translation of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament). Attempts to suppress the edition were futile, although Tyndale himself was arrested and executed in 1536. Three years after Tyndale was burned at the stake, this book was ordered to be placed in every church in England.

With the accession of Edward VI, many editions of the Bible followed, but the process was sharply reversed when Mary came to the throne in 1553: along with people condemned as heretics, English Bibles were burned in great bonfires.

Marian persecution was directly responsible for what would become the most scholarly Protestant English Bible, the translation known as the Geneva Bible. After Elizabeth came to the throne, church authorities ordered a careful revision of the Great Bible. The success of the Geneva Bible prompted those Elizabethan Catholics to bring out a vernacular translation of their own, the Douay-Rheims version, in order to counter the Protestant readings and glosses.

After Elizabeth’s death in 1603, King James I and his bishops ordered that a revised translation of the entire Bible be undertaken by a group of forty-seven scholars. The result was the Authorised Version, more popularly known as the King James Bible.

In the passage selected here, I Corinthians 13, Tyndale’s use of the word “love,” echoed by Geneva Bible, is set against the Catholic “charity.” The latter term would gesture toward the religious doctrine of “works,” against the Protestant insistence on salvation by faith alone. It is a sign of the conservative, moderate Protestantism of the King James version that it too opts for “charity.”

From the Tyndale’s Bible, 1525, 1535.

1 Corinthians 13

Though I spake with the tongues of men and angels, and yet had no love, I were even as sounding brass: or as a tinkling cymbal.

And though I could prophesy, and understood all secrets, and all knowledge: yea, if I had all faiths so that I could move mountains out of their places, and yet had no love, I were nothing.

And though I bestowed all my goods to feed the poor, and though I gave my body even that I burned, and yet had no love, it profiteth me nothing.

Love suffereth long, and is courteous. Love envieth not. Love doth not frowardly, swelleth not, dealeth not dishonestly, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh not evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity: but rejoiceth in the truth, suffereth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth in all things.

Though that prophesying fail, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge vanish away, yet love falleth never away.

For our knowledge is imperfect, and our prophesying is imperfect.

But when that which is perfect is come then that which is imperfect shall be done away.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I imagined as a child. But as soon as I was a man, I put away childishness.

Now we see in a glass even in a dark speaking: but then shall we see face to face. Now I know imperfectly: but then shall I know even as I am known.

Now abideth faith hope, and love, even these three: but the chief of these is love.

From the Geneva Bible, 1560, 1602.

1 Corinthians 13

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not love, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains and have not lov
e, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned and have not love, it profith me nothing.

Love suffereth long and is kind.

Love envieth not.

Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doeth not behave itself unseemly.

Seeketh not her own.

Is not easily provoked.

Thinketh no evil.

Rejoiceth not in inequity, but rejoiceth in the truth.

Bareth all things.

Believeth all things.

Hopeth all things.

Endureth all things.

Love never fails.

But where there be propheses they shall fail, whether there be tounges, they shall cease, whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

When I was a child I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I fought as a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things.

For now we see though a glass dark plain, but then face to face.

Now I know in part, but then shall I know even also as I am known.

And now abideth faith, hope, love — these three, but the greatest of these is love.


From the Douay-Rheims Bible, 1582.

1 Corinthians 13

1 IF I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

4 Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up; 5 Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8 Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child. 12 We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know I part; but then I shall know even as I am known. 13 And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.


From King James Bible, 1611

1 Corinthians 13

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.



13:1 si linguis hominum loquar et angelorum caritatem autem non habeam factus sum velut aes sonans aut cymbalum tinniens

13:2 et si habuero prophetiam et noverim mysteria omnia et omnem scientiam et habuero omnem fidem ita ut montes transferam caritatem autem non habuero nihil sum

13:3 et si distribuero in cibos pauperum omnes facultates meas et si tradidero corpus meum ut ardeam caritatem autem non habuero nihil mihi prodest

13:4 caritas patiens est benigna est caritas non aemulatur non agit perperam non inflatur

13:5 non est ambitiosa non quaerit quae sua sunt non inritatur non cogitat malum

13:6 non gaudet super iniquitatem congaudet autem veritati

13:7 omnia suffert omnia credit omnia sperat omnia sustinet

13:8 caritas numquam excidit sive prophetiae evacuabuntur sive linguae cessabunt sive scientia destruetur

13:9 ex parte enim cognoscimus et ex parte prophetamus

13:10 cum autem venerit quod perfectum est evacuabitur quod ex parte est

13:11 cum essem parvulus loquebar ut parvulus sapiebam ut parvulus cogitabam ut parvulus quando factus sum vir evacuavi quae erant parvuli

13:12 videmus nunc per speculum in enigmate tunc autem facie ad faciem nunc cognosco ex parte tunc autem cognoscam sicut et cognitus sum

13:13 nunc autem manet fides spes caritas tria haec maior autem his est caritas.


Queen Elizabeth (1533-1603).

Elizabeth I, queen of England from 1558 to 1603, set her mark indelibly on the age that has come to bear her name. Endowed with intelligence, courage, cunning, and a talent for self-display, she managed to survive and flourish in a world that would have easily crushed a weaker person. Her birth was a disappointment to her father, Henry VIII, who had hoped for a male heir to the throne, and her prospects were further dimmed when her mother, Anne Boleyn, was executed three years later on charges of adultery and treason. At six years old, observers noted, Elizabeth had as much gravity as if she had been forty.

Under distinguished tutors, including the Protestant humanist Roger Ascham, the young princess received a rigorous education, with training in classical and modern languages, history, rhetoric, theology, and moral philosophy. Her religious orientation was Protestant, which put her in great danger during the reign of her Catholic half-sister, Mary. Upon Mary’s death, she ascended the throne and quickly made clear that the official religion of the land would be Protestantism.

Throughout her life Elizabeth took pride in her command of languages and felicity of expression. Her own writing includes carefully crafted letters and speeches on state occasions; verse translations of selections from the Psalms, Petrarch, Seneca, and Horace; prose translations from Boethius, Plutarch, and the French Protestant Queen Margaret of Navarre; and a few original poems.


Speech to the Troops at Tilbury (1)

My loving people,

We have bee
n persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit our selves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear, I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust. I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already, for your forwardness you have deserved rewards and crowns; and We do assure you in the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the mean time, my lieutenant general(2) shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject; not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.


1. Delivered by Elizabeth to the land forces assembled at Tilbury

(Essex) to repel the anticipated invasion of the Spanish Armada.

2. Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester; he was the queen’s favorite,

once rumored to be her lover.


Many sixteenth-century artists, such as Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, and William Shakespeare, brooded on the magical, transforming power of art. This power could be associated with civility and virtue but it could also have the demonic qualities. It is manifested by the «pleasing words» of Spenser’s enchanter, Archimago, or by the incantations of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus. It is significant that Marlowe’s great play was written at a time in which the possibility of sorcery was not merely a theatrical fantasy but a widely shared fear upon which the state could act with horrendous ferocity. Marlowe was himself the object of suspicion and hostility.

Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)

Edmund Spenser’s fancy for reforming English verse by discarding rhyme and substituting unrhymed classical metres have caused him to be regarded as merely an obstreperous and pragmatic pedant. During his residence at the university the poet acquired a knowledge of Greek, and at a later period offered to impart that language to a friend in Ireland. Spenser’s affinity with Plato is most marked, and he probably read him in the original.

Three years after leaving Cambridge, in 1579, Spenser issued his first volume of poetry, the Shepherd’s Calendar.

The Shepherd’s Calendar was hailed with enthusiasm as the advent of a «new poet.» Not only was it a complete work in a form then new to English literature, but the execution showed the hand of a master. There had been nothing so finished, so sustained, so masterful in grasp, so brilliant in metre and phrase, since Chaucer. It was felt at once that the poet for whom the age had been waiting had come.

The secret of Spenser’s enduring popularity with poets and lovers of poetry lies specially in this, that he excels in the poet’s peculiar gift, the instinct for verbal music. Shakespeare, or the author of the sonnet usually assigned to him, felt and expressed this when he drew the parallel between «music and sweet poetry»: «Thou lovest to hear the sweet melodious sound That Phoebus’ lute, the queen of music, makes; And I in deep delight am chiefly drowned Whenas himself to singing he betakes.» This is an early word in criticism of Spenser, and it is the last word about his prime and unquestionable excellence — a word in which all critics must agree. Whether he had imagination in the highest degree or only luxuriant fancy, and whether he could tell a story in the highest epic manner or only put together a richly varied series of picturesque incidents, are disputable points; but about the enchantment of his verse there can be no difference of opinion.

Sonnet 54

by Edmund Spenser

Of this world’s theatre in which we stay,

My love, like the spectator, idly sits;

Beholding me, that all the pageants play,

Disguising diversely my troubled wits.

Sometimes I joy when glad occasion fits,

And mask in mirth like to a comedy:

Soon after, when my joy to sorrow flits,

I wail, and make my woes a tragedy.

Yet she, beholding me with constant eye,

Delights not in my mirth, nor rues my smart:

But, when I laugh, she mocks; and, when I cry,

She laughs, and hardens evermore her heart.

What then can move her? if nor mirth nor moan,

She is no woman, but a senseless stone.

William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare is a part of the English civilisation. Thomas Carlyle wrote of him: “I think the best judgment, not of this country only but of Europe at large, is pointing to the conclusion that Shakespeare is the chief of all poets hitherto; the greatest intellect who, in our recorded world, has left a record of himself in the way of literature.”

Shakespeare did not create that dramatic era of which he was the greatest outcome. The Elizabethan drama was more than a national amusement. The theatre was then, as in classic Greece, a national force, and a means of national education. The number of readers was still small; there were few bookbuyers. So, a man of talent had to choose the dramatic form. The first regular tragedy was produced about the time of Shakespeare’s birth, and he was twelve years old before the first licensed theatre was erected in England (1576). This drama had its origin in religion: it dealt with religious or moral themes and at first it was in Latin. Gradually it became a popular possession and was written in English. The gradual stages of its development were the Liturgical drama, the Miracle plays and the moral plays, or Morality.

The Liturgical drama. The services of the Church were in Latin, an unknown tongue to the great majority of the congregation. On certain important festivals of the Church, therefore, the clergy arranged in the chancel an actual representation, or tableaux, on the event commemorated on that day, that the service might be more intelligible and impressive. On Good Friday, for instance, the crucifix was taken down and solemnly buried, and on Easter it was brought from the tomb and replaced with solemn ceremonies. These dramatic ceremonies introduced into the services are commonly called the Liturgical Drama.

The Miracle plays. Out of such beginnings, plays founded on various incidents in the Bible, or on some legend of the saints, gradually took shape. In England the plays dealing with saintly legends were called Miracle plays. They were brought into England by the Normans. The first miracle play in England of which there is some record was given by the pup
ils in a school near St. Albans about 1100-1119. This was a play in honour of St. Katherine.

The moral plays. To answer the need to know the Bible and the legends of saints another kind of play, called the Moral play, or Morality, grew side by side with the miracle plays. The earliest date from the time of Henry VI. The object of a moral play was to teach a moral lesson by showing in the form of an allegory everyman’s lifelong struggle with the various temptations which are the common enemies of mankind.

Interludes. Interludes were short, comic scenes, intended to be played between the courses of a banquet, or immediately after its conclusion.

Through the interlude the drama became less religious and it drew nearer to life in its everyday aspects. all that was needed to transform the Interlude into a comedy was the introduction of a more fully developed plot.

Also, it had become customary to produce classic plays mostly in Latin at some of the schools and universities.

About 1580 we find the drama rapidly taking form in London through the work of a group of rising dramatists many of whom brought from the universities a tincture of new learning. Many of these dramatists lived in a wild, bohemian fashion. They were, as a class, mere literary adventurers, struggling to live by their wits as best as they could.

“The stream of time, which is continually washing the dissoluble fabrics of other poets, passes without injury by the adamant of Shakespeare.”

Dr. Samuel Johnson.


England’s celebration of their patron Saint George is on 23 April, which is also the day claimed to be the birth date of Shakespeare. Although birth and death dates were not recorded in Shakespeare’s time, churches did record baptisms and burials, usually a few days after the actual event. The infant William was baptised on 26 April 1564 in the parish church Holy Trinity of Stratford upon Avon Warwickshire. He lived with his fairly well-to-do parents on Henley Street, the first of the four sons born to John Shakespeare (c1530-1601) and Mary Arden (c1540-1608), who also had four daughters.

His father, John Shakespeare, was a businessman. His mother, Mary Arden, was connected with one of the oldest and most distinguished families in Warwickshire. . John Shakespeare was a local businessman and also involved in municipal affairs as Alderman and Bailiff, but a decline in his fortunes in his later years surely had an effect on William.

In his younger years Shakespeare attended the Christian Holy Trinity church, the now famous elegant limestone cross shaped cathedral on the banks of the Avon river, studying the Book of Common Prayer and the English Bible.

Early on Shakespeare likely attended the Elizabethan theatrical productions of travelling theatre troups, come to Stratford to entertain the local official townsmen, including the Queen’s Men, Worcester’s Men, Leicester’s Men, and Lord Strange’s Men. There is also the time when Queen Elizabeth herself visited nearby Kenilworth Castle and Shakespeare, said to have been duly impressed by the procession, recreated it in some of his later plays.

Although enrolment registers did not survive, around the age of eleven Shakespeare probably entered the grammar school of Stratford, King’s New School, where he would have studied theatre and acting, as well as Latin literature and history. The old school at Stratford was suppressed along with many others when the monastic system of education was broken up. The religious upheaval of the early part of the century, and the impulse of the New Learning were thus felt in this provincial town. The boy’s school life was interrupted at about 13 because his help was needed at home. There is no much evidence about Shakespeare’s life at this time, but we may feel sure that with his deep and delicate apprehension of human life, he was quick to respond to the beauty, the pathos, the comedy, and the tragedy, that lay around him.

The next record of his life is in 1582, when still a minor at the age of eighteen and requiring his father’s consent, Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway (1556–1623) married in the village of Temple Grafton. Baptisms of three children were recorded; Susanna (1583-1649), who went on to marry noted physician John Hall, and twins Judith (1585-1662) who married Richard Quiney, and Hamnet (1585-1596) his only son and heir who died at the age of eleven.

Three or four years later William Shakespeare left his wife and children and went to London. We know that Shakespeare became an actor there and that he made a place for himself among the crowd of struggling dramatists. He became a member of a leading company of players, the “Lord Chamberlain’s Company,” and by 1592 he had entered upon a prosperous career. In this active and hard-working years Shakespeare grew in fortune as well as in reputation. By 1597 he was able to buy a home for himself in his beloved Stratford. In 1599 he was one of the proprietors of “The Globe Theatre,” built in this year.

William Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616, according to his monument, and lies buried in the chancel of the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford upon Avon. While there is little known of her life, Anne Hathaway outlived her husband by seven years, dying in 1623 and is buried beside him. It is not clear as to how or why Shakespeare died, but in 1664 the reverend John Ward, vicar of Stratford recorded that «Shakespeare, Drayton and Ben Johnson had a merie meeting, and itt seems drank too hard, for Shakespeare died of a feavour there contracted.” His tombstone is inscribed with the following epitaph;

Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare

To digg the dust encloased heare

Blessed by y man y spares hes stones

And curst be he y moves my bones.

First Folio would be the first collection of Shakespeare’s dramatic works, a massive undertaking to compile thirty-six plays from his quarto texts (Shakespeare wrote most of his plays as `quarto texts’, that being on a sheet of paper folded four ways), playbooks, transcriptions, and the memories of actors. The approximately nine hundred page manuscript took about two years to complete and was printed in 1623 as Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. It also featured on the frontispiece the famous engraved portrait of Shakespeare said to be by Martin Droeshout (1601-c1651).


Shakespeare seems to have begun his work as a dramatist by adapting and partially rewriting old plays. Titus Andronicus, a coarse and brutal tragedy, was probably one of the plays of the period. His arrangement of Henry VI was brought out in 1592 and seems to have brought him into notice. Among these earlier plays were The Comedy of Errors, in which Shakespeare joins the imitators of Plautus; The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Love’s Labour’s Lost, into which many characteristic features of the Italian comedy were introduced, and the poetic fantasy of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.

In 1594 Shakespeare produced Richard II, and the other plays of his great historical series followed in quick succession. These plays are not merely nobly patriotic, they are, above all, broadly human. They show us the usurper Henry IV sleepless in his lonely power, and the jolly roisterers in the taverns of Eaastcheap; he shows us two royal failures: the incapable Richard II with his strain of poetry and sentiment, and the saintly but ineffectual Henry VII. He shows us also his hero-king Henry V, the doer of great deeds.

After the completion of this series of historical studies, Shakespeare turned for a time to comedy. The witty and brillia
nt Much Ado About Nothing, with its inimitable Dogberry and its touch of tragedy, the woodland pastoral As You Like It, and Twelfth Night were written in this time.

Up to 1600-s, Shakespeare’s success had been in comedy and in the historical drama. He had, indeed, written Romeo and Juliet, that romantic tragedy of ill-fated love, and had given hints of his power to sound the depths of yet profounder passion. But toward the close of the sixteenth century a change begins to be apparent in the spirit of Shakespeare’s work. As early as 1594-1595 he had already composed the greater part of his Sonnets. The general tone of the Sonnets is sombre; we read of a conflict between love and duty, of the passing youth, of the death of friends, of a profound disgust for a world in which evil is captain over good.

In the same year in which he wrote Twelfth Night (1601), he began in Julius Caesar that great series of plays which won him a place among the supreme tragic poets of the world. Now we find him to face the ultimate problems of existence, and to sound the depths of human weakness, agony, and crime. Whatever interpretations of the source for these tragic inspirations might have been suggested, it is evident that the thought of Shakespeare in these plays is largely occupied with the great fact of sin; sin, not in its remote and possible origin, nor even in its relation to a life hereafter, but sin as it is in this present world. Whatever form it assumes, – covetous ambition, envy, malice, ingratitude, – sin is represented as an ulcer at the heart of life, poisoning its very source, and bringing with it a train of miseries which confound alike the innocent and the guilty.

In Macbeth we are present at the ruin of a soul, standing irresolute at the brink of the first crime and then hurrying recklessly from guilt to guilt; in Othello we see the helplessness of a “noble nature” in the hands of fiendish ingenuity and malice; Ophelia, “the fair rose of May,” and Hamlet, perish with the guilty King and Queen; the outcast Lear, “more sinned against than sinning,” and the spotless Cordelia fall victims to a monstrous wickedness.

The stress and turmoil of these mighty tragedies culminates in King Lear. Shakespeare does not seek to evade or palliate, he faces the worst, and he reports honestly with that fearless sincerity which is characteristic of his genius. He shows us the worst, and yet he makes us feel that human society, with all its imperfections, rests securely on the basis of a moral order. He shows us that there is nothing so loathsome as sin, nothing so beautiful as goodness. He shows us that high endeavour, greatness, and innocence cannot really fail so long as they remain true to themselves, because they are their own exceeding great reward. He makes the good suffer, but he shows us that to the good the uses of adversity are sweet. Good is not “captive” in the hands of Ill, it is free and invulnerable. Worldly success may mean spiritual ruin; worldly ruin, spiritual success. Shakespeare does not explain the dark riddle of life; he does say with unequalled earnestness: “Woe unto them that call darkness light, and light darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.”

Shakespeare is no apologist for error; in his plays sin is laid bare in all its repulsive baseness and deformity. The great moral distinctions which – more than differences of class, or race, or intellect – separate soul from soul, are everywhere sharply and firmly drawn. If Richard III, or Iago, or the two woman fiends in Lear, reveal the spirit of wickedness incarnate, in no poet are virtue and holiness more lovely and divine. Our conceptions of the worth and dignity of humanity are raised, our ideals purified and ennobled, by the contemplation of the heroic in Shakespeare’s world. Cordelia, Virgilia, Miranda, Portia, elevate and sanctify our thoughts of womanhood by their loveliness and purity. The knightly courage of Henry V, the faithfulness of Kent, the blunt honesty and loyalty of Falconbridge, the Roman constancy of Horatio, all inspire us with a generous admiration for manly virtue. “Shakespeare,” says Coleridge, “is an author, of all others, calculated to make his readers better as well as wiser.” Yet with all his uncompromising morality, his stern condemnation of sin, Shakespeare pours out over the faults of the erring creatures he has made, the fullness of a marvelous tenderness and pity. The humility of a great nature under the sense of its own shortcomings, the recognition of an ideal excellence shine out through Shakespeare’s lessons of forgiveness and of charity. Throughout all of Shakespeare’s work, this compassion for human weakness, this large-hearted sympathy with human failures and mistakes, sheds a gracious and kindly light, but in two plays, Measure for Measure and The Merchant of Venice, the need of mercy is given an especial prominence. Shakespeare, hating and condemning sin, teaches us that our human weakness requires another law than that of rigid justice. Neither in our heavenly nor our earthly relations dare we “stand upon our bond.” He says that without mutual forbearance human life would be literally unlivable. Shakespeare enforces in his way the parable of the unjust servant, “Shouldest not thou, also, have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee?” Perhaps the greatest single characteristic of Shakespeare is his union of righteousness with charity.


Some probably inspired by Shakespeare’s study of Lives (trans.1597) by Greek historian and essayist Plutarch and Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles (1587). Some are reworkings of previous stories, many based on English or Roman history. The dates given here are when they are said to have been first performed, followed by approximate printing dates in brackets, listed in chronological order of performance.

Titus Andronicus first performed in 1594 (printed in 1594),

Romeo and Juliet 1594-95 (1597),

Hamlet 1600-01 (1603),

Othello 1604-05 (1622),

Antony and Cleopatra 1606-07 (1623),

King Lear 1606 (1608),

Coriolanus 1607-08 (1623), derived from Plutarch

Timon of Athens 1607-08 (1623), and

Macbeth 1611-1612 (1623).



Two households, both alike in dignity,

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,

From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,

Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes

A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;

Whole misadventured piteous overthrows

Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.

The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,

And the continuance of their parents’ rage,

Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove,

Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage;

The which if you with patient ears attend,

What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend…”

Act V, Scene III. A churchyard; in it a tomb belonging to the Capulets.



This letter doth make good the friar’s words,

Their course of love, the tidings of her death:

And here he writes that he did buy a poison

Of a poor ‘pothecary, and therewithal

Came to this vault to die, and lie with Juliet.

Where be these enemies? Capulet! Montague!

See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,

That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.

And I for winking at
your discords too

Have lost a brace of kinsmen: all are punish’d.


O brother Montague, give me thy hand:

This is my daughter’s jointure, for no more

Can I demand.


But I can give thee more:

For I will raise her statue in pure gold;

That while Verona by that name is known,

There shall no figure at such rate be set

As that of true and faithful Juliet.


As rich shall Romeo’s by his lady’s lie;

Poor sacrifices of our enmity!


A glooming peace this morning with it brings;

The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head:

Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;

Some shall be pardon’d, and some punished:

For never was a story of more woe

Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”


Hamlet, Act 3. Scene I


To be, or not to be: that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;

No more; and by a sleep to say we end

The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause: there’s the respect

That makes calamity of so long life;

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,

The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,

The insolence of office and the spurns

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

When he himself might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death,

The undiscover’d country from whose bourn

No traveller returns, puzzles the will

And makes us rather bear those ills we have

Than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,

And enterprises of great pith and moment

With this regard their currents turn awry,

And lose the name of action…”


Shakespeare’s series of historical dramas, based on the English Kings from John to Henry VIII were a tremendous undertaking to dramatise the lives and rule of kings and the changing political events of his time. No other playwright had attempted such an ambitious body of work. Some were printed on their own or in the First Folio (1623).

King Henry VI Part 1 1592 (printed in 1594);

King Henry VI Part 2 1592-93 (1594);

King Henry VI Part 3 1592-93 (1623);

King John 1596-97 (1623);

King Henry IV Part 1 1597-98 (1598);

King Henry IV Part 2 1597-98 (1600);

King Henry V 1598-99 (1600);

Richard II 1600-01 (1597);

Richard III 1601 (1597); and

King Henry VIII 1612-13 (1623)

The Tragedy of King Richard the Second

The story

This play opens with King Richard II and his uncle John of Gaunt trying to convince Henry Bolingbroke (Gaunt’s son) and Thomas Mowbray (Duke of Norfolk) settle a quarrel, wherein Bolingbroke accuses Mowbray of murdering Richard’s brother the Duke of Gloucester (Thomas of Woodstock). Although Mowbray didn’t kill him, he could have prevented it or at least told the truth that Richard II had ordered it. Richard II cannot calm them, so he allows them to compete in a joust, then stops the joust while it is starting and sentences the two to banishment from England Mowbray forever and Bolingbroke for five years. Mowbray predicts while leaving that Bolingbroke will retaliate and defeat Richard II. In despair, Bolingbroke’s father Gaunt dies, and Richard II seizes all of Gaunt’s lands and money. The Earl of Northumberland (Henry Percy), his son Henry Percy (Hotspur), Lord Ross, and Lord Willoughby all criticize Richard II of wasting England’s money, for taking Gaunt’s money to fund a war with Ireland, of taxing the commoners, and of fining the nobles for crimes their ancestors committed. Bolingbroke secretly returns to England with their help to usurp Richard II and correct these problems. Gaunt’s brother (Richard’s last surviving uncle) Edmund of Langley (1st Duke of York) tells Bolingbroke that he is doing wrong to defy Richard’s order of banishment.

Bolingbroke defeats and executes Sir John Bushy, Sir Henry Green, and the Earl of Wiltshire, all accused by Bolingbroke of being favorites to Richard II and of misleading him. Edmund’s (York’s) son the Duke of Aumerle helps Richard II defend the crown, gaining courage from the hope that Heaven will support the «right», since Richard II feels he is the rightful King of England. Unfortunately, Richard’s 12,000 Welsh soldiers disperse when they hear a false rumor that he is dead. Furthermore, the commoners revolt and Edmund (York) joins Bolingbroke. Consequently, Richard II flees to Flint Castle with Aumerle, the Earl of Salisbury, Sir Stephen Scroop, and Bishop Carlisle. There Richard II meets Bolingbroke asks Richard to repeal his banishment in exchange for peace. Richard, regretfully, replies, then becomes deeply depressed feeling Bolingbroke will usurp the throne. Bolingbroke does, by practically forcing Richard II to hand over the crown to him, renaming Bolingbroke to King Henry IV. Bishop Carlisle echoes Richard’s prediction that England will fall to disorder because of the usurpation, so Northumberland arrests him. Aumerle wishes Richard II were still king and Lord Fitzwater falsely accuses Aumerle of killing Gloucester.

Richard II is ordered by Henry IV (Bol.) to go to Northern England and Richard’s wife (the Queen) is ordered to return to her native France. Edmund (York) tells his wife (Duchess of York) of Richard’s tragic journey to the north where the commoners threw dust at him. Their son Aumerle (renamed Rutland by Henry IV for being a friend to Richard II) plots with others to poison Henry IV at Oxford. Edmund (York) informs Henry IV and Aumerle and his mother plea for Aumerle’s pardon, which Henry IV reservedly grants. Sir Pierce of Exton murders Richard II (in prison at Pomfret Castle) thinking it is Henry IV’s wish that Richard II is dead. Richard II manages to kill two of Exton’s helpers before dying himself, however. Henry IV has the Earl of Salisbury, Lord Spencer (formerly the Earl of Gloucester), Sir Thomas Blunt, and the Earl of Kent executed for treason. Sir Leonard Brocas and Sir Bennet Seely are also executed for plotting with Aumerle to poison Henry IV. The Abbot of Westminster kills himself, to avoid capture by Henry IV, though Bishop Carlisle is captured, then released by Henry IV and ordered to hide away in some secret place. Finally, Exton shows Richard II’s body to Henry IV, whereby Henry IV reveals that though he sort of wanted Richard II dead, it will now only slander him and may bring repercussions. Henry IV banishes Exton.


Act 5. Scene II

SCENE II. The DUKE OF YORK’s palace.


My lord, you told me you would tell the rest,

When weeping made you break the story off,

of our two cousins coming into London.


Where did I leave?


At that sad stop, my lord,

Where rude misgovern’d hands from windows’ tops

Threw dust and rubbish on King Richard’s head.


Then, as I said, the duke, great Bolingbroke,

Mounted upon a hot and fiery steed

Which his aspiring rider seem’d to know,

With slow but stately pace kept on his course,

Whilst all tongues cried ‘God save thee,


You would have thought the very windows spake,

So many greedy looks of young and old

Through casements darted their desiring eyes

Upon his visage, and that all the walls

With painted imagery had said at once

‘Jesu preserve thee! welcome, Bolingbroke!’

Whilst he, from the one side to the other turning,

Bareheaded, lower than his proud steed’s neck,

Bespake them thus: ‘I thank you, countrymen:’

And thus still doing, thus he pass’d along.


Alack, poor Richard! where rode he the whilst?


As in a theatre, the eyes of men,

After a well-graced actor leaves the stage,

Are idly bent on him that enters next,

Thinking his prattle to be tedious;

Even so, or with much more contempt, men’s eyes

Did scowl on gentle Richard; no man cried ‘God save him!’

No joyful tongue gave him his welcome home:

But dust was thrown upon his sacred head:

Which with such gentle sorrow he shook off,

His face still combating with tears and smiles,

The badges of his grief and patience,

That had not God, for some strong purpose, steel’d

The hearts of men, they must perforce have melted

And barbarism itself have pitied him.

But heaven hath a hand in these events,

To whose high will we bound our calm contents.

To Bolingbroke are we sworn subjects now,

Whose state and honour I for aye allow.


Here comes my son Aumerle.


Aumerle that was;

But that is lost for being Richard’s friend,

And, madam, you must call him Rutland now:

I am in parliament pledge for his truth

And lasting fealty to the new-made king.



Welcome, my son: who are the violets now

That strew the green lap of the new come spring?


Madam, I know not, nor I greatly care not:

God knows I had as lief be none as one.


Well, bear you well in this new spring of time,

Lest you be cropp’d before you come to prime.

What news from Oxford? hold those justs and triumphs?


For aught I know, my lord, they do.


You will be there, I know.


If God prevent not, I purpose so.


What seal is that, that hangs without thy bosom?

Yea, look’st thou pale? let me see the writing.


My lord, ’tis nothing.


No matter, then, who see it;

I will be satisfied; let me see the writing.


I do beseech your grace to pardon me:

It is a matter of small consequence,

Which for some reasons I would not have seen.


Which for some reasons, sir, I mean to see.

I fear, I fear,—


What should you fear?

‘Tis nothing but some bond, that he is enter’d into

For gay apparel ‘gainst the triumph day.


Bound to himself! what doth he with a bond

That he is bound to? Wife, thou art a fool.

Boy, let me see the writing.


I do beseech you, pardon me; I may not show it.


I will be satisfied; let me see it, I say.

He plucks it out of his bosom and reads it

Treason! foul treason! Villain! traitor! slave!


What is the matter, my lord?


Ho! who is within there?

Enter a Servant

Saddle my horse.

God for his mercy, what treachery is here!


Why, what is it, my lord?


Give me my boots, I say; saddle my horse.

Now, by mine honour, by my life, by my troth,

I will appeach the villain.


What is the matter?


Peace, foolish woman.


I will not peace. What is the matter, Aumerle.


Good mother, be content; it is no more

Than my poor life must answer.


Thy life answer!


Bring me my boots: I will unto the king.

Re-enter Servant with boots


Strike him, Aumerle. Poor boy, thou art amazed.

Hence, villain! never more come in my sight.


Give me my boots, I say.


Why, York, what wilt thou do?

Wilt thou not hide the trespass of thine own?

Have we more sons? or are we like to have?

Is not my teeming date drunk up with time?

And wilt thou pluck my fair son from mine age,

And rob me of a happy mother’s name?

Is he not like thee? is he not thine own?


Thou fond mad woman,

Wilt thou conceal this dark conspiracy?

A dozen of them here have ta’en the sacrament,

And interchangeably set down their hands,

To kill the king at Oxford.


He shall be none;

We’ll keep him here: then what is that to him?


Away, fond woman! were he twenty times my son,

I would appeach him.


Hadst thou groan’d for him

As I have done, thou wouldst be more pitiful.

But now I know thy mind; thou dost suspect

That I have been disloyal to thy bed,

And that he is a bastard, not thy son:

Sweet York, sweet husband, be not of that mind:

He is as like thee as a man may be,

Not like to me, or any of my kin,

And yet I love him.


Make way, unruly woman!



After, Aumerle! mount thee upon his horse;

Spur post, and get before him to the king,

And beg thy pardon ere he do accuse thee.

I’ll not be long behind; though I be old,

I doubt not but to ride as fast as York:

And never will I rise up from the g

Till Bolingbroke have pardon’d thee. Away, be gone!

Some historical grounds for the play

Richard II, was more than simple entertainment when it was first performed. It played an active political role in the Essex Rebellion of 1601. The rebellion was touched off, in part, by the elderly Queen’s refusal to name an heir, but there were other complex issues at stake. At the end of the 16th century, Elizabeth, like Richard II, «was criticized for having abdicated many of her powers in favour of Cecil and Raleigh» (de Chambrun). Robert Cecil and Walter Raleigh were particular enemies of Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, a longtime favorite of Queen Elizabeth, and a close friend of the Earl of Southampton, Shakespeare’s patron. By the beginning of 1601, Essex and a group of supporters had determined to resolve his difficulties and to rid Elizabeth of corrupt counsellors in one move. They planned to storm the Palace, arrest Essex’s enemies, and proclaim, «Long live the Queen and after her, long live King James of Scotland, only legitimate heir to the English throne». To generate support for the rebellion amongst Londoners, Essex’s supporters arranged for Richard II to be played the day before the rebellion. Sunday dawned and the Earl marched into the streets with his followers. But the play had failed to stir up support for Essex, and worse, news of his plan had been leaked to his enemies. Essex and his men met with armed resistance at the Palace and were forced to withdraw. They retreated to Essex House where they were besieged for a few hours before giving themselves up to arrest. There is no direct evidence that Shakespeare’s Company was ever punished for its part in the Rebellion. Some historians think that the actors were told to leave London for a period of time, but the Company played again for Elizabeth in December of 1601. The Queen had the last word in this affair, as an excerpt from a conversation between Elizabeth and the historian, William Lambarde, shows. Examining some antiquated historical documents, «her Majesty fell upon the reign of King Richard II, saying `I am Richard II. know ye not that?’ » Gaunt and the Duke of York await the King. Gaunt hopes that Richard will listen to the advice he has to offer, but York doubts that he will. In York’s opinion, Richard listens only to flatterers and has too much of a taste for luxury. Gaunt says that Richard’s reign will not last long; it will burn itself out. Then he gives a long speech in praise of England which he finishes with bitter regrets about the dismal state into which the nation has fallen as a result of Richard’s misgovernment. When the King enters with his courtiers, Gaunt puts his complaints directly to Richard. He says that if Richard’s grandfather, Edward III, had known how Richard would destroy the land he rules, he would have prevented Richard from becoming king. The situation is shameful, Gaunt says, claiming that Richard’s policy of “farming” the realm has turned him into a landlord rather than a king. Richard responds angrily, saying that if Gaunt were not his uncle, he would have him beheaded. Gaunt is not intimidated, and says Richard should not spare him, since Richard has already killed Gaunt’s brother, Gloucester. Gaunt sees himself as a prophet and warns that Richard’s vanity and treatment of the people he is supposed to govern will not last long, and will in fact be his undoing. Methinks I am a prophet new inspired And thus expiring do foretell of him: His rash fierce blaze of riot cannot last, For violent fires soon burn out themselves; Small showers last long, but sudden storms are short; He tires betimes that spurs too fast betimes; With eager feeding food doth choke the feeder: Light vanity, insatiate cormorant, Consuming means, soon preys upon itself. He sees that Richard believes that England is his to do with as he will. In the following soliloquy he admonishes Richard for violating the social order and for leasing out his land, the land he lovingly calls Eden and states that it is the envy of less happier lands. This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war, This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall, Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands, This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England, Gaunt continues heaping glory upon glory on England as his monologue continues and calls the country that he loves a nurse, and equates the land to a mother. To Gaunt, England is a mother that breeds kings that are feared by their very breeding and lineage, which makes them renowned throughout the then known world for their deeds. This deeds, he intimates, are instigated by some higher power for Christian service and true chivalry. His exultation of these kings of renown does not include Richard as Gaunt ends his speech and his life with a condemning admonishment against his nephew, and king, for his treatment of the land and its people. This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings, Fear’d by their breed and famous by their birth, Renowned for their deeds as far from home, For Christian service and true chivalry, As is the sepulchre in stubborn Jewry, Of the world’s ransom, blessed Mary’s Son, This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land, Dear for her reputation through the world, Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it. Richard does not realize that in violating the established social order he will bring disaster on his head. The passing of property and titles from one generation to the next was a foundation of the medieval social order. When Richard violates this by illegally seizing Gaunt’s lands, he offends the very system, sanctioned by God, that confers legitimacy on his own position as king. Like King John, Richard II is a political play. Where in King John Shakespeare showed the pretensions of majesty – the monarch’s glory and greatness, his just right to govern, and his moral obligation to govern well – being undercut at every turn by tickling commodity, in Richard II, Shakespeare combines his sources to bring out the complexity of the conflict between an incompetent king and an efficient usurper. He constructs his plot around the successive stages in the development of this conflict, and he defines his characters by the two principles that arise from it – the nature of kingship and the right of rebellion. The play’s central figure Richard, is characterised in terms of his conception of himself as king, and his tragedy as a man is inseparable from his tragedy as a ruler of a people, a people who must continue to suffer the consequences of that tragedy long after he himself has been released from it. It is in the double focus created by the play’s structure.

COMEDIES, listed in chronological order of performance.

Taming of the Shrew first performed 1593-94 (1623),

Comedy of Errors 1594 (1623),

Two Gentlemen of Verona 1594-95 (1623),

Love’s Labour’s Lost 1594-95 (1598),

Midsummer Night’s Dream 1595-96 (1600),

Merchant of Venice 1596-1597 (1600),

Much Ado About Nothing 1598-1599 (1600),

As You Like It 1599-00 (1623),

Merry Wives of Windsor 1600-01 (1602),

Troilus and Cressida 1602 (1609),

Twelfth Night 1602 (1623),

All’s Well That Ends Well 1602-03 (1623),

Measure for Measure 1604 (1623),

Pericles, Prince of Tyre 1608-09 (1609),

Tempest (1611),

Cymbeline 1611-12 (1623),

Winter’s Tale 1611-12 (1623).

Taming of the Shrew



Worse and worse; she will not come! O vile,

Intolerable, not to be endured!

Sirrah Grumio, go
to your mistress;

Say, I command her to come to me.



I know her answer.




She will not.


The fouler fortune mine, and there an end.


Now, by my holidame, here comes Katharina!



What is your will, sir, that you send for me?


Where is your sister, and Hortensio’s wife?


They sit conferring by the parlor fire.


Go fetch them hither: if they deny to come.

Swinge me them soundly forth unto their husbands:

Away, I say, and bring them hither straight.



Here is a wonder, if you talk of a wonder.


And so it is: I wonder what it bodes.


Marry, peace it bodes, and love and quiet life,

And awful rule and right supremacy;

And, to be short, what not, that’s sweet and happy?


Now, fair befal thee, good Petruchio!

The wager thou hast won; and I will add

Unto their losses twenty thousand crowns;

Another dowry to another daughter,

For she is changed, as she had never been.


Nay, I will win my wager better yet

And show more sign of her obedience,

Her new-built virtue and obedience.

See where she comes and brings your froward wives

As prisoners to her womanly persuasion.

Re-enter KATHARINA, with BIANCA and Widow

Katharina, that cap of yours becomes you not:

Off with that bauble, throw it under-foot.


Lord, let me never have a cause to sigh,

Till I be brought to such a silly pass!


Fie! what a foolish duty call you this?


I would your duty were as foolish too:

The wisdom of your duty, fair Bianca,

Hath cost me an hundred crowns since supper-time.


The more fool you, for laying on my duty.


Katharina, I charge thee, tell these headstrong women

What duty they do owe their lords and husbands.


Come, come, you’re mocking: we will have no telling.


Come on, I say; and first begin with her.


She shall not.


I say she shall: and first begin with her.


Fie, fie! unknit that threatening unkind brow,

And dart not scornful glances from those eyes,

To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor:

It blots thy beauty as frosts do bite the meads,

Confounds thy fame as whirlwinds shake fair buds,

And in no sense is meet or amiable.

A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,

Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty;

And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty

Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.

Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,

Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,

And for thy maintenance commits his body

To painful labour both by sea and land,

To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,

Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;

And craves no other tribute at thy hands

But love, fair looks and true obedience;

Too little payment for so great a debt.

Such duty as the subject owes the prince

Even such a woman oweth to her husband;

And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour,

And not obedient to his honest will,

What is she but a foul contending rebel

And graceless traitor to her loving lord?

I am ashamed that women are so simple

To offer war where they should kneel for peace;

Or seek for rule, supremacy and sway,

When they are bound to serve, love and obey.

Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth,

Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,

But that our soft conditions and our hearts

Should well agree with our external parts?

Come, come, you froward and unable worms!

My mind hath been as big as one of yours,

My heart as great, my reason haply more,

To bandy word for word and frown for frown;

But now I see our lances are but straws,

Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare,

That seeming to be most which we indeed least are.

Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot,

And place your hands below your husband’s foot:

In token of which duty, if he please,

My hand is ready; may it do him ease.


Why, there’s a wench! Come on, and kiss me, Kate.


Well, go thy ways, old lad; for thou shalt ha’t.


‘Tis a good hearing when children are toward.


But a harsh hearing when women are froward.


Come, Kate, we’ll to bed.

We three are married, but you two are sped.


‘Twas I won the wager, though you hit the white;

And, being a winner, God give you good night!



Now, go thy ways; thou hast tamed a curst shrew.


‘Tis a wonder, by your leave, she will be tamed so.



What is ‘sonnet’? Some terms in Russian:

Сонет , что значит ‘песенка’, – особая форма стихотворения, зародившаяся в XIII веке в поэзии провансальских трубадуров. Из Прованса сонет перешел в Италию, где достиг высокого совершенства в творчестве Данте Алигьери и Франческо Петрарки. Классический итальянский сонет состоит из четырнадцати строк и делится на две части – октаву (восьмистишие), включающую два катрена (четверостишия) и секстет (шестистишие), распадающийся на два терцета (трехстишия). Примером этой стихотворной формы может служить сонет А.С. Пушкина:

Суровый Дант не презирал сонета;

В нем жар любви Петрарка изливал;

Игру его любил творец Макбета,

Им скорбну мысль Камоэнс облекал.

И в наши дни пленяет он поэта;

Вордсворт его орудием избрал,

Когда вдали от суетного света

Природы он рисует идеал.

Под сенью гор Тавриды

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Humanism in England