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Trivia / William Shakespeare

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General Trivia:

  • Creator Breakdown: Shakespeare's only son, Hamnet, died at the age of eleven. Harold Bloom, Bill Bryson, and Stephen Greenblatt (among others) all speculate that Shakespeare's grief over his son seeped into his plays - from Constance's monologue mourning her son in King John, to the ecstatic scene of the twins reuniting when each thought the other dead, in Twelfth Night (Hamnet was the fraternal twin to Judith), and, especially, Shakespeare's tragedy of sons, fathers, and legacies, Hamlet.
  • Fan Nickname: Several Fan Nicknames referring to his work have become widely used by Shakespeare scholars over the years, and are now generally accepted by almost everyone.
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    • "The Henriad" for the History tetralogy encompassing Richard II, Henry IV parts I and II, and Henry V.
    • "The Minor Tetralogy" for the History tetralogy encompassing Henry VI parts I, II and III and Richard III (contrasting with "The Major Tetralogy", an alternate name for the tetralogy mentioned above).
    • "Two Gents" for Two Gentlemen of Verona.
    • "The Fair Youth" for the addressee of Sonnets 1 to 126.
    • "The Dark Lady" for the addressee of Sonnets 127 to 152.
    • "The Rival Poet" for the rival alluded to in Sonnets 78 to 86.
  • Reality Subtext: Some scholars have theorized about the dynamic of Shakespeare's company via reading the plays to explain some of some of plays' quirks. For example, Shakespeare is assumed to have fallen out with Will Kempe, the company clown, for his constant improvisations and audience-mugging, due to Falstaff (one of his most famous roles) dying offstage in Henry V and due to the diatribe against ad-libbing clowns in Hamletnote . It is known from historical records that Kemp, an otherwise high-ranking stakeholder in Shakespeare's Company, suddenly left for some reason. Shakespeare's bad experiences with Kempe probably explains why he hired Robert Armin, who plays a more subdued and intelligent Sad Clown-type character (his most famous role probably being Feste from Twelfth Night). Shakespeare wrote Hamlet with Richard Burbage in mind, which would explain why the character is middle aged when the original character was a teenager.
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  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The difficulty in procuring boy actors who can carry a leading lady's role and how short their careers are could probably explain why all the plays with more than one major female role seem to be written back-to-back, to squeeze as much work as he can out of them: The Comedy of Errors, Love's Labour's Lost, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and The Merchant of Venice were all written in the same three years.

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