Shakespeare Essay, Research Paper
4 February 2000
The Globe Theater is probably the most important structure in Shakespeare?s
dramatic career. Built in 1599 by the Chamberlain?s Company, it stood on the Southern
shore of the Thames River in London. At this time Shakespeare was a member of the
Chamberlain?s Company, and therefore he became a shareholder in the theater. The
profits actors made off of their shares was their main means of support, as it was for
The Globe was the most important structure to Shakespeare?s drama because most
of his plays were written to be performed on the stage of the Globe. A common street
individual could attend a play in the Globe, but their seats were on the ground in front of
the stage, which was considered a poor place from which to view a play. The wealthier
audience members sat in box seats around the ring wall of the theater. The peasants
earned the name ?groundlings? because of the fact that they had to watch from the
The architecture of the Globe theater was purposely designed to bring out the best
in any play performed in it. The blueprints took into account the way shadows would fall
throughout the year, in regard to both the stage and the audience.
Tragically, the original Globe burned down in 1613 due to a cannon shot used as a
prop during a performance of Henry VIII. It was soon rebuilt, though, and remained open
on its original foundations until the Puritans closed it in 1642 and the Globe II was torn
down two years later to make room for housing. The foundation remained buried until the
mid-twentieth century, when one man made it his goal to bring the Globe back. Its
foundations were not discovered until 1989, though, yet once found, they were once again
to hold the weight of a great English theater.
Presently, there are many recreations and theaters which bear the name Globe all
over the world, as well as the rebuilt version in London. The building on the original site
includes much more structure than the original Globe built by the Chamberlain?s
Company, though the theater remains preserved as close to the original plan as possible.
William Shakespeare, surely the world?s most performed and admired playwright,
was born in April, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwicksire, about 100 miles northwest
of London. According to the records of Stratford?s Holy Trinity Church, he was baptized
on April 26. Since it was customary to baptize infants within days of birth, and since
Shakespeare died 52 years later on April 23, and since April 23 in St. George?s day, the
patron saint of England, it has become traditional to assign the birth day of England?s
most famous poet to April 23.
Shakespeare?s parents were John and Mary Shakespeare, who lived in Henley
Street, Stratford. John, the son of Richard Shakespeare, was a whittawer (a maker,
worker and seller of leather goods such as purses, belts and gloves) and a dealer in
agricultural commodities. He was a solid, middle class citizen at the time of William?s
birth. About 1577 John Shakespeare?s fortunes began to decline for unknown reasons.
There are records of debts. In 1592, he was reprimanded for not coming to church for
fear of process of debt.
Records for the Stratford grammar school from the time Shakespeare would have
attented have been lost, but attend he undoubtedly did since the school was built and
maintained expressly for the purpose of educating the sons of prominent citizens. School
began at dawn and proceeded most of the day, with breaks for meals, six days a week.
How long Shakespeare attended the school is not known, but form his obvious love for
the Latin authors, the grammar school must have at least begun the process that he later
On November 28, 1582 the Bishop of Worcester issued the marriage bond for
?William Shagspere? and ?Ann Hathwey of Stratford.? This was, almost beyond doubt,
Anne Hathaway, daughter of Richard Hathaway of Shottery–a gathering of farm houses
near Stratford. On May 26, 1583 their first daughter Susanna was baptized. Two years
later, twins were born to them, Hamnet and Judith, named after Hamnet and Judith Sadler,
apparently lifetime friends to Shakespeare.
There is no documentary record of Shakespeare?s activities from the birth of the
twins, in 1585 until Robert Greene?s complaint about him as an ?upstart crow? in 1592.
Biographers have therefore called these the lost years In fact, there is nothing certain
known about him form his birth in 1564 until 1592 except that he was married in 1582,
fathered his children in 1583 and 1585, and probably attented Stratford Grammar School.
Many have expressed the opinion that Shakespeare left the stage around 1611 and
returned to Stratford, from where he wote his parts of the final collaborations. During the
summer of 1614 we find Shakespeare swept up in an enclosure dispute in Stratford, but
his role is unclear, as are his views on enclosure in general. In these final years
Shakespeare seems to have been content to surround himself with his family and friends.
His eldest daughter Susanna had married Dr. John Hall in 1607. Hall had settled in
Stratford around 1600, where he founded a prosperous medical practice and became one
of the town?s leading citizens. He became widely famous for his skill as a doctor. The
Halls had one daughter, Elizabeth.
Shakespeare?s youngest daughter, Judith, who married in February of 1616, was
not so lucky. She, at age 31, married Thomas Quiney, age 27, a vintner in Stratford. The
Quineys had three children. The first, named Shakespeare, died in infancy. The other two
sons, Richard and Thomas, died in 1639, at ages 21 and 19. They left no heirs.
Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616 and was buried in the chancel of Holy Trinity
Church April 25. Seven years after his death, Shakespeare?s fellows Heminges and
Condell brought forth the First Folio: Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories &
Tragedies. It published 36 plays, 18 of which were published for the first time. The
volume was probably inspired by the 1616 folio edition of Ben Jonson?s Workes. Today
he is certainly the world?s most read and studied author and most performed dramatist.
The works are such that the fascination continues.