What do you really know about the 16th century?

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What do you really know about the 16th century?
Directions: Read each of the following statements. Determine if the statement is true or false and mark the appropriate space. If it’s false, write your best guess at the correct answer under the statement in the lines provided.
True False

  1. The average life expectancy for both men and women during the Renaissance was forty years old.


  1. During the Renaissance, lobster was an expensive food item, and could only be afforded by the wealthy.


  1. People of all classes during this time in history bathed only about once a month.


  1. Most women were married by the age of 26, while most men were married by the age of 29.


  1. In the Elizabethan theatre of Shakespeare’s time, men always played the female roles since women were forbidden to become actresses.


  1. Much like today, the theatre was an expensive form of entertainment and reserved for only those who could afford it.


  1. The plays of Shakespeare were highly respected in society and viewed as great works of literature.


  1. Four out of five children died before their tenth birthday.


  1. Shakespeare actually “stole” many of his ideas for plays from other sources.


  1. During this time, hundreds of women and some men were tortured, burned and died as accused witches.


For Goodness Sake”

150 Shakespeare expressions

The old joke goes something like this: A guys walks out of the theater after seeing Hamlet for the first time.  “I don’t know why everybody thinks Hamlet is such a well-written play,” he says.  “It is full of clichés.”   Well, here is a whole list of clichés, along with where they originated.

A fool's paradise—Romeo and Juliet

A foregone conclusion—Othello

A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse! —Richard III 

A little pot and soon hot—The Taming of the Shrew

A tower of strength—Richard III

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him—Hamlet

All the world's a stage—As You Like It

An eye-sore—The Taming of the Shrew

As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods—King Lear

As white as driven snow—The Winter's Tale

Ay, there’s the rub—Hamlet

Bag and baggage—As You Like It

Bated breath—The Merchant of Venice

Beware the Ides of March—Julius Caesar

Blow, blow, thou winter wind—As You Like It

Breathe one’s last—Henry VI, part 3

Brevity is the soul of wit—Hamlet

Budge an inch—The Taming of the Shrew

Cold comfort—King John

Come full circle—King Lear

Come what may—Macbeth

Conscience does make cowards of us all—Hamlet

Cowards die many times before their deaths—Julius Caesar

Crack of doom—Macbeth

Dead as a doornail—Henry VI, part 2

Death by inches—Coriolanus

Devil incarnate—Henry V

Dish fit for the gods—Julius Caesar

Dog will have its day—Hamlet 

Done to death—Much Ado About Nothing

Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn, and cauldron bubble—Macbeth

Eaten me out of house and home—Henry IV, part 2

Elbow room— King John

Et tu, Brute! –Julius Caesar 

Every inch a king—King Lear

Fair is foul, and foul is fair—Macbeth

Fatal vision—Macbeth

Flaming youth—Hamlet

For goodness sake—Henry VIII

Foregone conclusion—Othello    

Frailty, thy name is woman—Hamlet

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears—Julius Caesar

Full of sound and fury—Macbeth

Get thee to a nunnery—Hamlet

Give the devil his due—Henry IV

Good night, ladies—Hamlet

Good riddance—Troilus and Cressida

Green-eyed monster—Othello

Halcyon days—Henry VI ****

Her infinite variety—Antony and Cleopatra

Hoist with his own petard—Hamlet

Hold a candle to—The Merchant of Venice

Household words—Henry V

I am fortune's fool—Romeo and Juliet

I have immortal longings in me—Antony and Cleopatra

I have not slept one wink—Cymbeline

In my heart of hearts—Hamlet

In my mind's eye—Hamlet

Into thin air—The Tempest

It smells to heaven—Hamlet

It was Greek to me—Julius Caesar

It's a wise father that knows his own child—The Merchant of Venice

Kill ... with kindness—The Taming of the Shrew

Knock, knock! Who’s there? —Macbeth

Laughing-stock—The Merry Wives of Windsor

Lean and hungry look—Julius Caesar

Lend me your ears—Julius Caesar

Let slip the dogs of war—Julius Caesar

Lord, what fools these mortals be!—A Midsummer Night's Dream

Love is blind—The Merchant of Venice

Merry as the day is long—Much Ado About Nothing

Milk of human kindness—Macbeth

More fool you—The Taming of the Shrew

More in sorrow than in anger—Hamlet

More sinned against than sinning—King Lear

Murder most foul—Hamlet

My own flesh and blood—The Merchant of Venice

My salad days, when I was green in judgment—Antony and Cleopatra

Neither a borrower nor a lender be—Hamlet

Not a mouse stirring—Hamlet

Now gods stand up for bastards—King Lear

Now is the winter of our discontent—Richard III

O, Brave new world—The Tempest

Once more unto the breach—Henry V

One fell swoop—Macbeth

One that loved not wisely, but too well—Othello

Out, damned spot!—Macbeth 

Out, out, brief candle—Macbeth

Paint the lily—King John

Paint the lily—King John

Parting is such sweet sorrow—Romeo and Juliet

Play fast and loose—Love's Labour's Lost

Pomp and Circumstance—Othello

Primrose path—Hamlet

Put out the light—Othello

Sharper than a serpent’s tooth—King Lear

Short and the Long of It—Merry Wives of Windsor

Short shrift—Richard III

Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep—Henry VI, Part II

Something in the wind—The Comedy of Errors

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark—Hamlet

Sorry sight—Macbeth

Spotless reputation—Richard III

Star-crossed lovers—Romeo and Juliet

Stony-hearted villains—Henry IV, part 1

Stood on ceremonies—Julius Caesar

Strange bedfellows—The Tempest

Suit the action to the word—Hamlet

Sweets to the sweet—Hamlet

The be-all and the end-all—Macbeth

The better part of valour is discretion—Henry IV, part 1

The course of true love never did run smooth—A Midsummer Night's Dream

The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose—The Merchant of Venice

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers—Henry VI, part 2

The game is afoot—Henry IV, part 1

The game is up—Cymbeline

The naked truth—Love's Labour's Lost

The play’s the thing—Hamlet

The quality of mercy is not strained—The Merchant of Venice

The lady doth protest too much, methinks—Hamlet

The readiness is all—Hamlet

The rest is silence—Hamlet

The time is out of joint—Hamlet

The working day world—As You Like It

The world's mine oyster—The Merry Wives of Windsor

There is a tide in the affairs of men—Julius Caesar

There’s a divinity that shapes our ends—Hamlet

They say an old man is twice a child—Hamlet

This was the noblest Roman of them all—Julius Caesar

Though this be madness, yet there is method in't—Hamlet

Throw cold water on it—The Merry Wives of Windsor

Till the crack of doom—Macbeth

'Tis neither here nor there—--Othello

To be, or not to be: that is the question—Hamlet

To make a virtue of necessity—The Two Gentlemen of Verona

To the manner born—Hamlet

To thine own self be true—Hamlet

Too much of a good thing—As You Like It

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown—Henry IV, part 2

Unkindest cut of all—--Julius Caesar

Unsex me here—Macbeth

We are such stuff as dreams are made on--The Tempest

We have seen better days—As You Like It

Wear my heart on my sleeve—Othello

What a piece of work is a man—Hamlet

What the dickens—The Merry Wives of Windsor

What’s done is done—Macbeth

What's in a name?—Romeo and Juliet

What's past is prologue—The Tempest

When shall we three meet again? –Macbeth 

How do you use Shakespeare? Look at the phrases you are familiar with and write at least 3 sentences using as many of the phrases as you can.
For example: The short and long of it is the fact that jealousy is the green-eyed monster that put me in a pickle between a flaming youth and a heart of gold which left me no choice but to disclose the naked truth; that I wear my heart upon my sleeve and there’s no such thing as a spotless reputation.



Video: Shakespeare in the Classroom

1. Why is Shakespeare performed everywhere and so popular?

2. These are the only known facts about Shakespeare:

    1. Christened April 26, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon

    2. Married to Ann Hathaway November 27, 1582

    3. He had 3 children: _____________, ___________, and ____________.

    4. ______ was the first year his name was in print.

    5. He died April 23, 1616 (April 23 is also his b-day)

3. How can you learn about him without many facts?

4. What are the subjects of William Shakespeare’s plays?

5. What is Romeo and Juliet about?

6. Describe the theaters during Shakespeare’s time.

7. Describe the clothing during Shakespeare’s time.

8. What is so special about the color purple?

9. Why did the London officials hate the theater?

10. What were the regulations on plays?

11. What did plays need to have in order to be popular?

12. Describe the lives of actors during Shakespeare’s time.

13. Describe women’s roles in Elizabethan England.

14. Describe Queen Elizabeth I.

15. What is the name of the play that set Shakespeare apart from all other playwrights of his time?

One Day at the Globe

In Shakespeare’s London, a day’s entertainment often began with a favorite

amusement, bear-baiting. A bear would be captured and chained to a stake inside a pit. A pack of dogs would be released, and they would attack the bear. Spectators placed bets on who would die first. Some bears, such as “old Henry Hunks,” became crowd favorites. many bear pits had to keep up to 120 dogs at a time, just to ensure enough healthy dogs for the day’s “sport.” The bear pits only cost a penny, so they were very popular with the working-class Londoners.
After the bear-baiting was over, another penny purchased admission to a play. Each theatre had its own company of actors. These actors were often supported by a nobleman or a member of the royal family. For example, Shakespeare was a member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. The Lord Chamberlain arranged entertainment for the Queen and her court.

bear_baiting.jpgBear Baiting before the show

When he wasn’t at Court, Shakespeare was busy as part owner of the Globe Theatre. He wrote plays, hired actors, and paid the bills. Since the Globe presented a new play every three weeks, Shakespeare and his actors had little time to rehearse or polish their productions. To complicated matters even more, most actors played more than one part in a play. One troupe used only seven members to play 18 roles.

In order to overcome these problems, actors and managers had to improvise. If one cast member was sick, another took over. It didn’t matter if the character was young or old, male or female. makeup could make anyone look old, and young boys played all the female roles. Most acting companies had three or four young boys who were practically raised in the theatre. They started acting as early as age seven and played female roles until they began shaving. Shakespeare had a favorite boy actor (probably named John Rice) who played Juliet, Cleopatra, and Lady Macbeth. Actresses would not become part of the English theatre for another 50 years.

  1. Why were plays so important during Shakespeare’s time?

  1. Describe the sport of bear-baiting.

  2. How much did it cost to go to the bear pits?

  1. List 3 of Shakespeare’s responsibilities as co-owner of the Globe Theater.

  1. How often was a new play presented at the Globe?

  1. What were two problems associated with putting on a play?

  1. Who played the female parts in plays during Shakespeare’s time?

Most plays were performed in the afternoon. That seems strange to us, but Elizabethan play-goers didn’t have 9-to-5 jobs. One writer noted, “For whereas the afternoon being the idlest time of the day, wherein men who are their own masters (such as Gentlemen of the Court and the number of Captains and Soldiers about London) do wholly bestow themselves upon pleasure...either into gaming, following of harlots, drinking, or seeing a play, is it not better...they should betake themselves to the least [of these evils] which is plays?”

The audience crowded into the theatre at about 2 P.M. The cheapest seats weren’t seats at all, but standing room in front of the stage. This area was occupied by “groundlings” or “penny knaves,” who could be more trouble to the actors than they were worth. If the play was boring, people would throw rotten eggs or vegetables. They talked loudly to their friends, played cards, and even picked fights with each other. One bad performance could cause a riot. One theatre was set on fire by audience members who didn’t like the play.

The stage was open to the sky, so if it rained or snowed, the actors were miserable. The stage was rather bare, with only a few pieces of furniture. Some theatres did add a few special effects. For example, Shakespeare had trapdoors installed at the Globe Theatre. he used them when he needed a ghost to rise up on the stage. Blood was also a big attraction at most theatres. During battle and murder scenes, actors hid “bags” of pigs blood and guts under their stage doublets. When pierced with a sword, the bags spilled out over the stage and produced a realistic gory effect.

In addition to designing sets and finding actors, managers had to deal with the unexpected. In 1575, a group of players put on a pageant for Queen Elizabeth I. Unfortunately one of the actors had drunk too much ale. In the middle of his performance, he pulled off his mask and shouted, “ No Greek God am I, your Grace! Honest Harry Goldingham, that’s me!” Luckily, Queen Elizabeth thought it was a great joke.
Despite all these obstacles, theatre became widely popular. By the time Shakespeare died in 1616, there were more than 30 theatres in and around London. Even today, English theatres are considered some of the best in the world.


  1. When were plays performed?

  1. What names were given to the people who stood in front of the stage?

  1. What problems could the groundlings cause if they did not like the play?





  1. List two of the special effects used at the Globe Theater.

  1. How many theaters were in England by the time Shakespeare died?

Shakespeare: Poet and Psychologist

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  • How long have Shakespeare’s plays been performed?

  • Underline three reasons that Shakespeare’s plays have lasted such a long time.

Today a play is a hit if it runs for several months. But William Shakespeare’s plays have been performed for almost 400 years. They were hits when they first opened in London, England, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and they’ve never stopped being popular.

What makes Shakespeare’s dramas last? For one thing, his characters seem like real people. He understood human psychology, long before there were any psychologists. He explored human nature in his plays. He doesn’t just show us personality, he introduces us to real men and women loving, hating, suffering and thinking. He shows them making decisions and reacting to events. He shows how they grow up and how they grow old. He knew the human heart so well that his characters nearly always seem like people we might know.

Shakespeare also makes us experience and think about the problems of life. He examines questions of loyalty, to a family or to a king. He looks at the struggle between good and evil forces in society. But he doesn’t give simple answers. It isn’t always easy to condemn his villains or to praise his heroes. He reminds us that a bad person may have good qualities, and a good person may have weak moments.

Shakespeare does something else, too. He presents his characters’ thoughts and feelings in poetic rhythms and images. When Macbeth cannot sleep after murdering King Duncan, he doesn’t say, “I can’t sleep.” He says, “I thought I heard a voice cry, ‘Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep,’ the innocent sleep, sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care…”

Shakespeare’s Language Key mcj02307490000[1]

Alas – Oh, dear

An – if

Anon – now

Art – are

Aught - anything

Ay or Aye – Yes

Beseech – beg

Beshrew – curse

Betimes – soon, early

Canst – cannot

Choler – anger, rage

Didst – didn’t

Draw - fight

Doth – does

Durst - dared

Ere – before

E’en – even

Exeunt – all actors leave stage

Exit – one actor leaves stage

Fain – gladly

Forsooth - truly

Forsworn – swear not to do something

Hark - listen

Hadst – hadn’t

Hath/Hast – has, have

“Have at thee” – “Take that!”

Hence – from here

Hie - hurry

Hither – here

Issue - offspring

I warrant – I’ll bet

Like - likely

List – listen

Loathe - unwilling

Marry – By the Virgin Mary!

Maw – stomach

Methinks – I think

Methought – I thought

Mettle – courage

Naught/Nought – nothing

Nay – no

Nigh - near

O’er – over

Of late - recently

Oft – often

Pate – head

Prithee – please

Quoth – spoke, said

Sirrah – sir

Soft – wait a minute; hush!

Sooth - truth

Thee – you (direct object of verb)

Thine – yours

Thither - there

Thou – you (subject)

Thrice – three times

Thy – your

‘Tis – it is

Twain - two

Vanished - gone

Visage – face

Were – would be

What ho! – What the heck!

Whence – from where?

Wherefore – why?

Whither – where?

Withal – with, with this

Within – inside

Without - outside

Would - wish

Wouldst – would

Interpreting Shakespeare’s Language
Decode the following message using the language key.

Alas, an thou canst learneth these words, thou hast nay brains in thy pate! Aye, ‘tis enough to maketh thy teacher’s visage in choler, sirrah. Wherefore art thou waiting? The bell will ringeth ere thou hast begun!

How would you say the following sentences in modern English? Use the language key page for help. Also, remember that the worked order may be inverted. Put the words in the order we would say them today or paraphrase altogether.

  1. Wherefore didst thou not hear that noise?

  1. Whither have they vanished?

  1. I would that thou hadst heard me not!

  1. Hie thee hither, methinks thou are loathe to show thy mettle.

  1. Fail not our feast, I beseech thee.

  1. An we be in choler, we shall draw and say, “Have at thee!”

  1. Thou art a villain; I would that thou wouldst hark to me!

  1. Wherefore were thou fighting ere I did approach hither?

  1. Under a grove of sycamore trees, that westward rooteth from the city’s side, did I see you son.

  1. Could we but learn from whence his sorrows come, we would cure them.


Directions: Combineth one word or phrase from each of the columns below and addeth “Thou” to the beginning. Make certain thou knowest the meaning of thy strong words, and thou shalt have the perfect insult to fling at the wretched fools of the opposing team. Let thyself go. Mix and match to find that perfect barb from the bard!

Column A

  1. Artless

  2. Bawdy

  3. Beslubbering

  4. Churlish

  5. Dankish

  6. Dissembling

  7. Fishified

  8. Fobbing

  9. Frothy

  10. Gleeking

  11. Goatish

  12. Impertinent

  13. Infectious

  14. Loggerheaded

  15. Lumpish

  16. Mammering

  17. Mangled

  18. Poisonous

  19. Pribbling

  20. Puking

  21. Puny

  22. Rank

  23. Reeky

  24. Roguish

  25. Saucy

  26. Spongy

  27. Tottering

  28. Unmuzzled

  29. Vain

  30. Venomed

  31. Villainous

  32. Warped

  33. Wart-necked

  34. Weedy

  35. Yeasty

Column B




































Column C





Canker blossom













Maggot pie



















Thou _____________________ ________________________ _______________________

You ______________________ ________________________ _______________________

Shakespearean Insult Tournament

You’re a

Oh Yeah! Well you’re a

At least my mom’s not a

Yeah, but she is a

You’re a

Oh Yeah! Well you’re a

At least my mom’s not a

Yeah, but she is a


Elizabethan Era Rapid Research

Romeo and Juliet may be the first Shakespeare play you will read. Shakespeare was a very productive writer, and his plays are full of allusions to history, mythology, and the Bible which may be strange to you. Researching some of the people, places, and stories which he and his audiences of 400 years ago instantly recognized can help you more thoroughly understand this play and give you a better appreciation of Shakespeare’s incredible craftsmanship as a writer.

On your own, research one of the topics below and complete the picture window on the next page to share with your classmates.

Elizabethan sports Elizabethan architecture

Elizabethan entertainment Elizabethan lives of children

Elizabethan occupations/jobs Elizabethan festivals

Elizabethan education Elizabethan hospitals

Elizabethan life for women Elizabethan education

Elizabethan clothing Elizabethan interpretations of witches

Elizabethan medicine Elizabethan crime and punishment

Elizabethan customs/marriages Elizabethan foods

Elizabethan music and dance Elizabethan art

Rapid Research Picture Window

BOX 1: Draw a picture of something that stands out about your topic.

BOX 2: What would you say to inform others about the picture you drew in box 1?

BOX 3: Can you elaborate or predict why this may have existed during Elizabethan times?

BOX 4: Identify two reasons how your topic may have influenced the writing of William Shakespeare?

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