Class Intro powerpoint

Century England
The Life and Times of Shakespeare
• A cess-pit was a chamber in which sewage from each
individual house was 'stored' until it was emptied. This
task was for the so called 'night-soil men' to do. As
disgusting as this job was, it could also be dangerous,
as when in 1326 a certain Richard the Raker fell into his
cess-pit and drowned "monstrously in his own
excrement" while he was attempting to empty it. By
the 16th century a new cess-pit related job was
invented, that of the 'saltpetre man'. These men
extracted nitrates from excrement, so it could be used
to make gunpowder. Saltpetre men had a licence from
the king to enter into anyone's house at any time and
remove the sewage-ridden earth of the cess-pit.
In October 1660, Samuel Pepys records in his diary: "Going down
to my cellar...I put my feet into a great heap of turds, by which I
find that Mr. Turner's house of office is full and comes into my
cellar". Unfortunately this sort of thing did happen often as cesspits were not built very well and therefore leaked. Incidently, it
took five days after Pepys's disgusting cellar experience until his
neighbour sent the night-soil men to empty it and when they did
come they added insult to injury by having the contents of the
cess-pit carried through his house. However, as Lisa Picard puts it,
Samuel got his own back three years later, when he had his cesspit emptied via that same neighbour's house!
There were many houses however which did not have cess-pits
and so their inhabitants resorted to the use of chamber-pots, the
contents of which were regularly emptied out of windows, much
to the chagrin of unsuspecting passers-by.
"The Great Stink of London", by Stephen Halliday, published by Sutton Publishing
"The Worst Jobs in History", by Tony Robinson & David Willcock, published by Boxtree
"Restoration London: Everyday Life in London 1660-1670", by Liza Picard, published by Phoenix
“In 16th-century England, the habit of emptying
chamber pots out of upper-story windows into the
gutter made a city stroll so hazardous that
gentlemen gallantly took the side nearest the curb
when walking with their ladies--a position they
have assumed ever since, without quite knowing
why." (
Can you imagine the conversation at that point in
the date?
"I'm really looking forward to this drawing and
quartering, Young Gawain."
"As am I, but, oh my, you seem to have some
excrement on your petticoat."
Romantic! Later, the danger was getting one's
trussings splashed by a runaway horse and buggy,
but the idea remained the same.(
The bubonic plague or sometimes referred to as the “black death” is a disease
that has caused several epidemics in history (as early as 1346)
People with the bubonic plague have swollen lymph nodes called bubo that
usually occur in the arm pits, neck, groin, and site of initial infection. They may
also have muscle pain, fevers, headache, and tiredness similar to flu symptoms.
Some people would develop round, black areas around the swollen nodes.
Seizures are also a symptom. In addition, there is blood-vomiting, heavy
breathing, and pain associated with the decaying of skin while the person is still
Bubonic plague is an infection of the lymphatic system caused by a flea. The
fleas bite an infected rat and then spread the virus to humans by biting them
and regurgitating ingested bacteria.
Due to its bite-based form of infection, the bubonic plague is often the first step
of a progressive series of illnesses. Two other types are pneumonic and
2 out of every 3 patients died within 2-6 days
A popular folk etymology holds that the children's game of "Ring Around the
Rosy" derived from the appearance of the bubonic plague. Proponents claim
that "Ring around the rosy" refers to the rosy-red, rash-like ring that appeared
as a symptom of the plague. "Pocket full of posy" referred to carrying flower
petals as at the time it was believed the disease was spread through the ether
of unhygene, and scent stopped the spread. "Ashes, ashes" referred to the
burning of infected corpses (in the UK the words of the rhyme are "atishoo,
atishoo" mimicking sneezing), and "we all fall down" referred to the virulent
deaths attributed to the plague.
Bubonic plague is believed to have claimed nearly 200 million lives, although
there is some debate as to whether all of the plagues attributed to it are in
fact the same disease.
It is generally held that the most infamous and devastating outbreak of
bubonic plague was the black death, which killed a quarter to half of the
population of Europe in the 14th century
William Shakespeare lived in the Elizabethan era when the bubonic plague,
sometimes referred to as the Black Death, was virulent. He was known to have a
terrible fear of the deadly disease
In the Elizabethan era there was pestilence and repeated outbreaks of the
Bubonic plague (Black Death) and these were not just confined to highly populated
towns such as London. The country area and villages were not exempt from the
disease either - there was no hiding place.
In the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries victims of the Bubonic plague (Black
Death) would be sealed in their houses. The houses would be locked and bolted
from the outside. The victims were not allowed to leave and neither was anyone else
allowed to enter. This action was tantamount to signing a death warrant for the
whole family and one of the terrible consequences of the disease. Any victim of the
Bubonic Plague or Black Death would have to obtain a ' Certificate of Health ' to
resume normal life - if they recovered...
Watchmen were allocated to watch the ' plague houses ' and the only means of
sustenance was for the victims to lower baskets from an upper window for the
watchman to put food into it. Plague Pits were rapidly dug. These pits were
approximately 20 feet deep - the width of the pit would continue to be extended as
the outbreak of the Bubonic plague spread. A consequence of continued outbreaks
was that even old Plague Pits were re-opened. The death cart laborers generally
undertook their gruesome work at night and the bodies were hurried out of the
house wrapped in any kind of improvised shroud.
The Elizabethan City of London was filthy. It's population was growing continuously
with poor people moving from the country to London in search of work. There was a
total lack of a structured sewage system in Elizabethan London. All of the waste was
just dumped into the River Thames. The River Thames is a tidal river and, as such, it
would have acted like a natural sewer.
There was nowhere to hide from the disease and no one was safe, not even the
monarch. Queen Elizabeth was terrified of the disease and implemented quarantine
measures to try to ensure the safety of herself and her courtiers. When the Black
Death ( Bubonic Plague ) broke out in London in 1563, Queen Elizabeth I moved her
court to Windsor Castle where she erected gallows and ordered that anyone coming
from London was to be hanged - so great was the fear of the plague and avoiding any
spread of it to her court. Queen Elizabeth I also prohibited the import of foreign
goods as a measure to prevent the spread of the disease to the Elizabethan court.
There were three very serious outbreaks of the disease which led to the closure of
all places of Elizabethan entertainment, including the Globe Theater. These occurred
in 1593 , 1603 and 1608. The impact of closure must have been extremely
frightening, not to mention the threat of the Black Death ( Bubonic Plague ) itself.
There would have been no money coming into the theater companies and therefore
no money for the Elizabethan actors. It would not have been certain when it would
be safe for the theaters to re-open. And there would have been the constant fear of
contacting the Black Death ( Bubonic Plague ) or seeing friends and family dying
from the deadly disease. The Elizabethan era was truly a dangerous time. The spread
of the disease continued.
Passing wind or farting, was to be done when
alone. If it was not possible for the flatulenceriddled pesron to hold it in, they would have to
"cough over the sound". There is an amusing
story of the Earl of Oxford, who apparently
farted as he bowed to Queen Elizabeth on one
occasion. he was so embarassed that he did
not appear at Court for seven years. When he
eventually met the Queen at Court again, she
told him: "My Lord, I have forgotten the fart",
which obviously proved she hadn't...
Shakespeare’s Language
• Shakespeare did NOT write in “Old English.”
• Old English is the language of Beowulf:
Hwaet! We Gardena in geardagum
Þeodcyninga Þrym gefrunon
Hu ða æÞelingas ellen fremedon!
(Hey! We have heard of the glory of the SpearDanes in the old days, the kings of tribes, how
noble princes showed great courage!)
• Shakespeare did not write in
“Middle English.”
• Middle English is the
language of Chaucer, the
Gawain-poet, and Malory:
We redeth oft and findeth
And this clerkes wele it
Layes that ben in harping
Ben y-founde of ferli
thing… (Sir Orfeo)
• Shakespeare wrote in “Early
Modern English.”
• EME was not very different
from “Modern English,”
• 6 days a week (NO Sundays)
• In the afternoon,(2-5)No lights
• Changed plays often to keep
the people coming
• They announced what kind of
play was showing with flags:
• One of the most famous
Elizabethan theatres
• Surrounded on three sides by
seating “galleries”
• Shakespeare’s troupe
performed here.He was part
owner in the theatre
• The acting company had about
25 actors, all male
• Half of the actors were share
holders in the theatre.
• Young boys played the roles of
females because their voices
had not changed yet. They
would wear makeup. The
makeup was made of lead.
Lead makeup poisoned/killed many. Queen
Elizabeth I was a well known user of white lead
which she used to create a look called “the
mask of youth”
Globe cont.
• The Globe held about 3000
• 1c admission for standing room
• Higher price for gallery seating
• Private boxes for the nobility
• Sold refreshments
• No restroom, no intermission
• “Box Office”
• The Globe theatre was
burned to the ground in
• Fire started when a prop
cannon explode during the
first night performance of
Henry VIII.
• Rebuilt on the same site.
• Was Demolished in 1644
when theatres were closed.
• Paid by the play
• Shakespeare averaged two
a year
• Often plays of specific
playwright written
exclusively for one theatre.
• No copyright laws; use of
• William Shakespeare, Sir
Walter Raleigh, Christopher
Marlowe, Edmund Spencer
were all Elizabethan
• Born April 1564 at Stratford–upon-Avon
• Father John Shakespeare was a glove
maker and trader
• Married Anne Hathaway 1582.She was
26.He was 18
• Three children:Susanna,Twins:Judith &
• Wrote 37 plays,poems and sonnets.(154)
• Plays are divided into
Histories,Tragedies,Comedies &
• Died 1616 Left his wife his “second best”
Copyrights and
During Shakespeare's lifetime Elizabethan
playwrights cared little about seeing their work
in print. Only the rare drama was actually
intended to be read as well as performed.
Writers would usually sell their plays to the
theatrical company which staged the
performances, and if the company committed
a particular play to paper, it would create only
one copy - the official copy - in the form of a
prompt-book. A prompt-book was a transcript
of the play used during performances,
cluttered with stage directions, instructions for
sound effects, and the names of the actors. If a
play was printed for a reading audience, it was
often without the author's consent.
Unprincipled publishers would steal the
prompt-book, and sell copies for about
fivepence apiece.
They believed that most of the quartos in
circulation had been either stolen outright by
unscrupulous printers who plagiarized the
official prompt-books belonging to
Shakespeare and his company or they had
been horribly reconstructed from the memory
of people who had seen the plays performed.
Heminge and Condell were right to be
concerned about the integrity of Shakespeare's
great works. The flaws in some of the quartos
are wretched. Take for example the opening of
Hamlet's famous soliloquy: "To be, or not to
be: that is the question" (3.1.56-65). In the
quarto version of 1603 we have, "To be or not
to be. Aye, there's the point/To die to sleep, is
that all? Aye all."
the modern belief is that, far from being the
ruling practice in the Elizabethan book-mart,
piracy was exceptional, and that Elizabethan
printers, taken as a whole, were neither
exceptionally stupid nor exceptionally
dishonest" (Holzknecht 355). It is now believed
that only ten of the quartos are corrupt or
Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet are unique in
that they were published twice each in quarto
format and the earlier quartos of the two are
considered "bad" while the latter two are now
considered "good" quartos.
Quarto - A quarto is a book in which eight
pages are printed on a single sheet which is
folded twice to form four leaves. The average
quarto contains about one hundred pages, and
is about 6 3/4 x 8 1/2 inches in size.
Folio - A folio is a book in which each sheet is
folded over only once through the middle,
forming two leaves (or four pages). The First
Folio has 454 leaves, approximately 8 1/2 x 13
3/8 inches in size.
Mabillard, Amanda. Shakespeare in Print.
Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. (date when
you accessed the information) <
l >.
Shakespeare Today
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The Taming of the Shrew
Twelfth Night

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