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University Extension Lectures

Syllabus

of a

Course of Six Lectures

on

The Dramas of Shakspere

by

Frederick D. Kershner, M.A.

Dean of Kee Mar College, Hagerstown, Maryland

No. 235

Price, 20 cents

Copyright, 1903, by
The American Society for the Extension of University Teaching

in South Fifteenth Street, Philadelphia, Pa.

THE SIX LECTURES WHICH ARE DEVOTED TO A STUDY OF SHAKSPERE'S LIFE WORK ARE ARRANGED

AS FOLLOWS:

I. THE PERIOD OF SCHOOLING.

Lecture I. (a) Richard III.

a
Lecture II. (6) Romeo and Juliet.
THE PERIOD OF SUNSHINE.

Lecture III. Twelfth Night.

II.

III. THE PERIOD OF STORM.

Lecture IV. (a) Othello,

Lecture V. (6) King Lear.
IV. THE PERIOD OF SERENITY.

.
Lecture VI. The Tempest.

THE DRAMAS OF SHAKSPERE.

I. THE PERIOD OF SCHOOLING

1583-1595 Love's Labor's Lost

1590 The Comedy of Errors

1590
The Two Gentlemen of Verona . 1592
Titus Andronicus

1589
(largely Green or Kyd)
Henry VI, Part I.

1588
Henry VI, Part II.

to Henry VI, Part III.

1592 (Revised plays or the result of col

laborations with contemporaries.)

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1609 (?)

THE PERIOD OF SERENITY

1609-1616 Pericles

(probably largely Rowley's) Cymbeline

1609-1610

.

.

The Winter's Tale .

1610 The Tempest

1611 Henry VIII. (Largely Fletcher's). 1612-1613 APOCRYPHAL.

Arden of Feversham
The Two Noble Kinsinen
Edward III.

The Yorkshire Tragedy This classification which follows, in the main, Ward, Dowden and Furnivall, can lay no claim to infallibility in the matter of dates, but it may be presumed to be at least approximately accurate, which is all that is needful for a systematic study of Shakspere's life work.

The facts kuown to a certainty with regard to Shakspere's life are scanty enough. He was baptized on the 26th April, 1564, according to the Stratford Parish Reg ister, and was therefore probably born on the 22nd or 23rd of that month. He was the son of John Shakspere and Mary Arden, who had been married seven years previously and had already had two daughters, both of whom died in infancy. He attended the grammar school at Stratford, and at eighteen years of age married Ann Hathaway, eight years older than himself. In 1585 he probably left Stratford to go up to London, in order to support his family and to escape from a calling which he must have felt was not his own. His trip was in all probability made on foot by way of Oxford and High Wycombe. At London he secured recognition only by slow and difficult stages, there being a tradition for a time that he held horses for visitors outside the doors of the theatre. While in London he lived near the theatres in Southwark. There is no conclusive evidence to prove that he was ever outside of England. His works were practically all produced within a compass of twenty years, beginning about 1590. From poverty he rose to comparative affluence, and finally retired from the stage about 1610 to enjoy in a quiet home life at Stratford the fruits of his well earned fame. He died 23rd April, 1616, and was buried at Stratford.

Sidney Lee’s“ Life of Shakspere” is, on the whole, the best biography. An excellent compend of it is found in his article on Shakspere in the “ Dictionary of National Biography."

GENERAL SUGGESTIONS.

In making any study of a drama by Shakspere, three things are, at least, absolutely essential.

First. A knowledge of the meaning of the text.
Second. A study of the plot or story of the play.
Third. A study of the characterization which it ex-

hibits. In other words : Interpretation, Plot,
Characterization.

NOTE. Mr. Meiklejohn in his plan for the “ Perfect Possession" of Shakspere, published in the Chambers' edition of “King Lear," London and Edinburgh, 1877, enumerates the following desiderata : « I. The Plot and Story of the Play.

(a) The general plot.

(6) The special incidents. II. The Characters. Ability to give a connected account of all that is done and most of what is said by each character in the plot.

III. The Influence and Interplay of the characters upon each other.

(a) Relation of A to B and of B to A.

(6) Relation of A to C and D.
IV. Complete Possession of the Language.

(a) Meanings of words.
(6) Use of old words, or words in an old meaning.
(c) Grammar.
(d) Ability to quote lines to illustrate a dramat-

ical point.

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