Colton Keith Essay

1143 words - 5 pages

The Bard and His Bygone Days
Shakespeare is credited for being one of the single most inspirational and influential English writers to ever lift a pen. However, when reading his works one must wonder, how historically accurate was The Bard when he was spinning his tales? Surprisingly, this small town, son of a glove maker was dead on with his history. Romeo and Juliet was almost cut out of fifteenth century Verona and A Midsummer Nights Dream is almost a mirror image of Ancient Rome. Shakespeare knew every nook and cranny of the times that his plays where set in, from the myths and legends that were widely used, to the functioning of family structures, all the way down to how women where ...view middle of the document...

” (Shakespeare, William.). When Romeo referenced the “moon” he was speaking of the Greek Goddess Diana who was the goddess of virginity and maidens. There is also references to Cupid, Cleopatra, Helen and Hero, Thisbe, Dido, and Phoebus, just to name few. The Bard clearly had an understanding of not only folklore and legends, but of religion and the symbols that were widely used in Verona during the time period of Romeo and Juliet. It is obvious that Shakespeare knew almost all there was to know about the beliefs and myths that were common during the times that his plays were set in.
Another way that The Bard established historically accurate information, was through his depiction of family life in Ancient Rome and fifteenth century Verona. According to an article by Papp, Joseph and Elizabeth Kirkland, upper class women would give their children away to wet nurses at birth and would pay them to breast feed the child. They believed that breast feeding would ruin their figure and their social life. This is apparent in Romeo and Juliet because Juliet was not raised by her own mother, but by a wet nurse, who was the mother figure in Juliet’s life. It was also noted in the same article that children were not in complete control of their marital affairs. This is apparent in both novels. Within Romeo and Juliet, there was an arranged marriage between Juliet and Paris, which was one of the single most important plot points in the play. This theme is again represented in A Midsummer Nights Dream, as Hermia is arranged to marry Demetrius but loves Lysander, which was one of the events that set the entire play into motion. Shakespeare not only smoothly incorporated these themes, he made them major parts of his plays, while also making them historically precise. Truly, his works are considered masterpieces, and encompassing all the “little things” that he did is nothing short of an admirable accomplishment.
One of the last ways Shakespeare made his plays historically accurate was the way he portrayed women in his works. According to a paper by Margret Rosenthal women were “denied freedom of mind and body, and their identities were confined within their own domestic fortresses”. This, again, was expressed in both novels. Both cases of the female...

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