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Animal Imagery

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Animal imagery dominates Henry VI, Part 3, as in two passages here:

Margaret
And yet shalt thou be safe? Such safety finds

The trembling lamb environèd with wolves.
Had I been there, which am a silly woman,
The soldiers should have tossed me on their pikes
Before I would have granted to that act…
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Video: St. Crispin’s Day Speech, Mark Rylance at the Globe

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Mark Rylance at the Globe as Henry V

 
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The Snare of Vanity

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In Act 2, Scene 1 of Julius Caesar, Decius Brutus uses “betrayed” to mean fooled, tricked or misled. A person can escape a unicorn by hiding behind a tree; a bear can be misled by seeing itself in a mirror; an elephant can be tricked into falling into a hole; a lion caught in a trap; and men seduced by flatterers.
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Immigration in Tutor England

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Shakespeare’s contribution to the play Sir Thomas More, which may never have been produced, is noteworthy for More’s compassionate speech about immigrants. The scene recounts the events of Evil May Day in 1517, during Henry VIII’s reign when Londoners, after sporadic rioting, threatened to kill Flemish and other European immigrants who were thought to be taking Englishmen’s work.

From the British Library by Andrew Dickson and British Library curators:

… continue reading this note Manuscript of a portion the play Sir Thomas More in what is believed to be Shakespeare’s handwriting.

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You and Thee

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In Henry IV Part 1, in the exchange between Hotspur and Owen Glendower, about calling up devils from the vasty deep, Hotspur deliberately shifts from the word you to thee when he addresses Glendower. You was often used to convey respect while thee was used when speaking to someone of inferior rank,
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Epilogues and Genders

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Rosalind in As You Like It, the arch-feminist of Shakespeare’s plays, is the only female character to deliver an epilogue. But for the final laugh, she steps out of character and, as the boy actor who played her, says, —If I were a woman, would kiss as many of you as had beards that pleased me–
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Wives and Troubled Husbands

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Lady Percy’s plea to Hotspur in Henry IV, Part 1, is similar to Portia’s plea to Brutus in Julius Caesar. In both a wife is pleading with her husband to disclose the thoughts that seem to trouble him deeply. A difference, however, is that some psychologists consider Lady Percy’s speech a clinical description of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
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Christians and Jews

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Despite the sarcasm, the audience as well as father Abram are led to consider Shylock’s exclamation:

–what these Christians are,
Whose own hard dealings teaches them suspect
The thoughts of others!

Shylock more than implies the old adage that it takes one to know one.
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Lyrical Violence

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The cruelty that characterizes Titus Andronicus is established in the first scene. Tamora’s cry, “O cruel, irreligious piety!” captures the style of what follows in this play – the juxtaposition of religious language, an idyllic setting and barbarity. In many passages the descriptions of horror are cast in lyrical or pastoral language, e.g. Aaron explaining to Tamora’s sons the setting appropriate for raping,
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Demons & Madness

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Passages with obscure references send scholars on treasure hunts in search of the influences on Shakespeare’s works. In King Lear, Act 3 Scene 6, one such hunt starts with the question, “Who were Frateretto and Hoppedance, or Purr the cat for that matter?” Turns out that in 1603, Samuel Harsnett, the Vicar of Chigwell, wrote a short tract titled, A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures,
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