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Ch 1: Introduction to Shakespeare

About This Chapter

Learn more about William Shakespeare and his works through vivid and engaging video lessons. Our videos feature simple animations and specific examples that bring literature to life.

Intro to Shakespeare Chapter Summary

Get an overview of special topics about Shakespeare with this collection of video lessons. Find out more about this giant of English literature and his wide variety of works. These lessons span several broad areas of study related to Shakespeare and his writings, including:

  • Shakespeare's styles
  • Sonnets
  • Comedies
  • Tragedies
  • Historical plays
  • Character analysis

These lessons supplement our full-length courses in English literature, and are presented to you by qualified subject matter experts. Keep reading for a full list related courses below.

How to Use this Chapter

These lessons are tools that you can use to study for a test, complete homework, grasp an issue so that you're better prepared to write a paper, or just read up on a topic you've always wanted to know more about. Video topics cover more detailed explorations within a field of study. Their flexible format means you can view lessons in any order, and the lively animation means you'll remember what you're learning.

The lessons presented here can also be used to supplement our other courses. This chapter pairs well with several other relevant course topics in the humanities, including:

Click on the course links to view these courses and see many more lessons on the same subject; you can also use some of our other classes to earn college credits.

20 Lessons in Chapter 1: Introduction to Shakespeare
Shakespeare's Sonnet 18: Summary, Theme & Analysis

1. Shakespeare's Sonnet 18: Summary, Theme & Analysis

In this lesson, we will analyze Shakespeare's Sonnet 18, where he compares his love to a summer's day. Shakespeare's use of imagery and figurative language creates vivid pictures for the reader.

Shakespeare's Sonnet 116: Summary, Analysis & Interpretation

2. Shakespeare's Sonnet 116: Summary, Analysis & Interpretation

In this lesson, we explore Shakespeare's Sonnet 116, one of the bard's most heartfelt portrayals of true love. The love Shakespeare describes does not change no matter what difficulties and storms work against it.

Shakespeare's Sonnet 130: Summary, Tone & Literary Devices

3. Shakespeare's Sonnet 130: Summary, Tone & Literary Devices

Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 seems like a spoof! Instead of praising his lover, the speaker appears to insult her! In this lesson, we will analyze this unusual strategy Shakespeare uses to describe the woman he loves.

Shakespearean Sonnet: Form, Structure & Characteristics

4. Shakespearean Sonnet: Form, Structure & Characteristics

Investigate the inner workings of the Shakespearean sonnet in this lesson. Learn about its origins, its structure and its unique poetic power. Break down a Shakespearean sonnet by analyzing rhyme, meter and thematic elements.

Iambic Pentameter: Definition & Examples

5. Iambic Pentameter: Definition & Examples

Iambic pentameter is a poetic device that has been used by famous writers for centuries. In this lesson, find out how to identify iambic pentameter in many of the poems and sonnets you have read.

Character of Benvolio: Traits, Analysis & Profile

6. Character of Benvolio: Traits, Analysis & Profile

In Shakespeare's tragedy 'Romeo and Juliet,' we find a quiet, seemingly obscure character named Benvolio who almost solely weaves a role of stability in a tapestry of unsettled characters. We will trace Benvolio's role of peacemaker throughout this work.

Character of Tybalt: Profile, Traits & Analysis

7. Character of Tybalt: Profile, Traits & Analysis

Tybalt Capulet really likes to fight. He looks to draw his sword any time he can. He especially hates the Montague family. Learn about Juliet's angry cousin, Tybalt, and how his quick temper turned a beautiful romance into a classic tragedy in this lesson.

Balcony Scene in Romeo and Juliet: Summary & Analysis

8. Balcony Scene in Romeo and Juliet: Summary & Analysis

The balcony scene in 'Romeo and Juliet' stands alone as one of literature's most poetic, romantic exchanges between two lovers, and Shakespeare reveals their love through the use iambic pentameter and metaphor.

Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet: Character Analysis, Personality & Traits

9. Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet: Character Analysis, Personality & Traits

Every hero needs a best friend. In this lesson, we'll learn about Mercutio, Romeo's loyal comedic foil, who loses his life in a duel in order to protect the Montague name.

Queen Mab from Romeo and Juliet:  Analysis, Description & Speech

10. Queen Mab from Romeo and Juliet: Analysis, Description & Speech

In this lesson, we will examine a famous Shakespearean monologue and attempt to understand a complex fairy tale of sorts. Told from one of the bard's most beloved characters, Mercutio, this speech is not only fun to read but exciting to pick apart.

Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet: Soliloquy & Letter to Romeo

11. Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet: Soliloquy & Letter to Romeo

Friar Laurence may be the most important character in Shakespeare's play not named Romeo or Juliet. Read about the importance of Friar Laurence's soliloquy and how if a certain letter had made it to Romeo, an epic tragedy could have been avoided.

''Double, Double Toil And Trouble'': Meaning & Lesson

12. ''Double, Double Toil And Trouble'': Meaning & Lesson

'Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble' is one of the most popular lines in English literature. Learn more about the meaning of this phrase in this lesson.

Macduff in Macbeth: Traits, Character Analysis & Monologue

13. Macduff in Macbeth: Traits, Character Analysis & Monologue

Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' tells the story of Macbeth's rise as king and his eventual murder by a man named Macduff. Learn more about the character Macduff and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Malcolm in Macbeth: Traits, Character Analysis & Quotes

14. Malcolm in Macbeth: Traits, Character Analysis & Quotes

'Macbeth' is a classical tale written by William Shakespeare. Malcolm is a minor character who plays a major role in 'Macbeth.' Learn more about the character Malcolm and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Banquo in Macbeth: Character Analysis, Death & Characteristics

15. Banquo in Macbeth: Character Analysis, Death & Characteristics

In this lesson we will explore the character of Banquo from Shakespeare's tragedy 'Macbeth'. Banquo nobly stands out as Macbeth's foil, and after his murder, he returns to haunt Macbeth, gravely reminding him that crime does not pay.

King Duncan in Macbeth: Character Analysis, Murder & Quotes

16. King Duncan in Macbeth: Character Analysis, Murder & Quotes

Macbeth is one of William Shakespeare's most popular tragedies. It tells the story of the murder of King Duncan of Scotland by a general named Macbeth. Learn more about King Duncan and test your knowledge with a quiz in this lesson.

Character of Brutus in Julius Caesar: Traits & Analysis

17. Character of Brutus in Julius Caesar: Traits & Analysis

Brutus is one of the central characters in the play 'Julius Caesar' written by William Shakespeare. Brutus' character is complex, and he is often thought of as a tragic hero. Learn more about the character Brutus from the play 'Julius Caesar' and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Laertes in Hamlet: Character Analysis & Revenge

18. Laertes in Hamlet: Character Analysis & Revenge

Laertes is a minor character who plays a major role in William Shakespeare's play 'Hamlet.' He's a young man who feels responsible for protecting his family's name. Learn more about Laertes' character and test your knowledge with a quiz.

The Fool in King Lear: Quotes & Analysis

19. The Fool in King Lear: Quotes & Analysis

Sometimes, common sense and wit come from the place you would least expect it. Learn about the Fool from Shakespeare's 'King Lear' and how a court jester just might be the most reasonable and honest character in the entire play.

Shakespeare's Venus And Adonis: Summary & Analysis

20. Shakespeare's Venus And Adonis: Summary & Analysis

Venus and Adonis is a poem written by William Shakespeare. It is a story about the Greek goddess of love and her attraction to a man on Earth. Learn more about the story of Venus and Adonis and test your knowledge with a quiz.

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