50. “Exit Pursued by a Bear:” The Nobleman Antigonus, the Banishment to Sicily, Being Eaten Alive by A Bear, the Sky-Darkening Storm that Kills the Mariners, and the Clamors, Cries, and Roars

Perhaps, the most famous stage direction in the Shakespeare canon occurs in The Winter’s Tale and involves the doomed character Antigonus. He leaves the play abruptly after abandoning the banished baby Perdita on the shores of a distant land: “Exit pursued by a bear,” reads the stage-direction. We soon discover that Antigonus doesn’t survive, andContinue reading “50. “Exit Pursued by a Bear:” The Nobleman Antigonus, the Banishment to Sicily, Being Eaten Alive by A Bear, the Sky-Darkening Storm that Kills the Mariners, and the Clamors, Cries, and Roars”

49. North Marked the “Description of Sorrow” in his “Dial” That He Used in “Romeo and Juliet”

In North’s own copy of his translation of the 1582 edition of The Dial of Princes, the translator adds a marginal note highlighting the “description of sorrow (Fol. 296 in 1582 edition; 475 in 1619 ed.) The passage describes how people act when they are depressed: they crave solitude, hate the day, love the night,Continue reading “49. North Marked the “Description of Sorrow” in his “Dial” That He Used in “Romeo and Juliet””

43. In 1592, North Underlined and Wrote Out the Subtitle to “Arden of Faversham” (1592)

North’s note-writing begins early in this copy of Dial of Princes, even in the prologue and table of contents. Importantly, out of 13 pages of table of contents listing 177 chapters, North only adds notes to three of those listed chapter-titles. All three chapters and their titles are relevant to his plays –and two ofContinue reading “43. In 1592, North Underlined and Wrote Out the Subtitle to “Arden of Faversham” (1592)”

Did Shakespeare Really Adapt Old Plays? (YES! And No-One Denies This!)

As all Shakespeare source-scholars agree, and as umpteen pre-Shakespeare allusions to these earlier plays confirm, and as the first title pages of Shakespeare’s plays make clear, and as Shakespeare’s contemporaries frequently complained: Shakespeare remade old plays. While this is a fact that few experts deny, it still appears to be a major obstacle for some.Continue reading “Did Shakespeare Really Adapt Old Plays? (YES! And No-One Denies This!)”

35. Joan Pucelle’s and Henry VI’s Ironic Allusions to North’s Disastrous Stories about Caesar

As we have seen, many characters in the Shakespeare canon like to cite various stories from North’s translations–often using them to highlight parallels to their own situation. This especially occurs in the early English histories, with various characters referencing North’s chapters on Julius Caesar in North’s Plutarch’s Lives. This includes Joan Purcelle and Henry VI,Continue reading “35. Joan Pucelle’s and Henry VI’s Ironic Allusions to North’s Disastrous Stories about Caesar”

20. North’s Marginal Notes and “Richard II”

The Rise of One Requires the Fall of Another, Like Buckets in a Well or Sun Melting Snow On March 29, 1591, Thomas North purchased a used, 1582-edition of his Dial of Princes for 5 shillings, signing the back and dating the purchase—a copy now kept at the Cambridge University Library.[1] Then he began rereadingContinue reading “20. North’s Marginal Notes and “Richard II””

6. Arden’s Speech on the Fear of God and Speech of Men

In North’s Dial of Princes, Marcus Aurelius complains that in most instances, religious teachings and concern for reputation are often enough to keep women virtuous. But, he says, “if the fear of the Gods, the infamy of the person, and the speech of men do not restrain the woman, all the chastisements of the worldContinue reading “6. Arden’s Speech on the Fear of God and Speech of Men”

5. North’s “Dial” and Caesar’s Speech on Death and Cowards

As is well known, Caesar’s speech that “Cowards die many times before their deaths” was hinted at in North’s Plutarch’s Lives. But previously, it was believed that Shakespeare took that hint and then refashioned it himself with many new details. Yet, as we see both above and below, the specific words and notions of theContinue reading “5. North’s “Dial” and Caesar’s Speech on Death and Cowards”

4. Romeo’s Sorrow

In North’s own copy of his translation of the 1582 edition of The Dial of Princes, the translator adds a marginal note highlighting the “description of sorrow (Fol. 296 in 1582 edition; 475 in 1619 ed.) The passage describes how people act when they are depressed: they crave solitude, hate the day, love the night,Continue reading “4. Romeo’s Sorrow”

3. The Miseries of Hecuba and Hamlet’s Play to Catch The Conscience of a King

After Hamlet watches an actor perform a tragic description of Hecuba’s agonies caused by the “tyrant Pyrrhus,” he expresses astonishment at the actor’s abilities to fake such deep sorrow: “For Hecuba! / What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, / That he should weep for her?” (2.2.558-60). In this same speech, the Prince thenContinue reading “3. The Miseries of Hecuba and Hamlet’s Play to Catch The Conscience of a King”