Decontructing the Tudor Myth

By usurping Richard III in 1485, Henry Tudor (now Henry VII) brought about the end of the Wars of the Roses, decades of turmoil for the English people. The Tudor Dynasty meant a long period of peace and prosperity for England...at least that is what they wanted us to believe. Unfortunately for the Tudors, Henry’s … Continue reading Decontructing the Tudor Myth

Introduction to Henry IV, Part 1

It will surprise no one to know that Shakespeare took a fair amount of creative liberty when presenting the history of Henry IV's reign. He did this in part to create a more compelling story and in part to satisfy the Tudor propaganda that was extremely relevant to his ability to produce plays. First, he … Continue reading Introduction to Henry IV, Part 1

Portia: Independent and Controlled

Since I touched on the anti-Semitism in my introduction, I thought I would try to take the road less travelled (or at least the road less congested) and discuss Portia. I found Portia to be a striking female character because she exists in this grey area in between being independent and being under the control … Continue reading Portia: Independent and Controlled

The Merchant of Venice Discussion Guide

Introducing students to The Merchant of Venice is tricky, but directly confronting the issues that make it so can lead to several interesting and necessary discussions. What is anti-semitism and how has it appeared throughout history? It is important to take the time to identify the stereotypes and develop and understanding of how those stereotypes … Continue reading The Merchant of Venice Discussion Guide

Richard II and Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I was famously supposed to have compared herself to Richard II. We may find that surprising to think of today because she is remembered as Gloriana, a great Queen. However, late in her reign when Richard II was written, this was not that surprising of a comparison. As the Queen aged, eyes started looking … Continue reading Richard II and Elizabeth I

Female Complexity in Taming of the Shrew

In The Taming of the Shrew, we see two sisters pitted against each other. Bianca is a perfect example of feminine virtue. She is obedient, soft-spoken, and studious. Katherine, however, is the exact opposite. She is outspoken, even rude sometimes, about what she wants and thinks. However, if we look more closely at these two … Continue reading Female Complexity in Taming of the Shrew

Taming of the Shrew: Introduction

Understanding the Many Readings of the Play The Taming of the Shrew can be a drastically polarizing play to those who study and perform Shakespeare. Like most of his plays, it can be interpreted in a wide variety of ways, but the two main readings of Shrew are particularly divisive. Some read it as a … Continue reading Taming of the Shrew: Introduction

Introducing King John

Alright, here we go, another history play. King John is one of Shakespeare’s outlier history plays. John was king about 169 years before Edward III. While the play takes some definite liberties with history, it is helpful to know some context before jumping into the plot. Unfortunately, to get a full understanding, we have to … Continue reading Introducing King John

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Peek into Elizabethan Theatre

Occasionally, Shakespeare gives us a glimpse into what life was like in Elizabethan England. A Midsummer Night's Dream may offer a look into what the theatre was like during Shakespeare's time through the dysfunctional group of actors. The few short scenes that feature the actors show us the collaborative nature of the theatre from casting … Continue reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Peek into Elizabethan Theatre

Romeo, Juliet, and the Suicide Discussion

Romeo & Juliet is often a teen's first introduction to Shakespeare. This is a logical decision given that the two protagonists are quintessential teens. It gives the students someone to relate to. However, in recent years we have become more aware of how portraying suicide within the media effects young people suffering from depression. The … Continue reading Romeo, Juliet, and the Suicide Discussion