With the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, England faced a new century and a new monarch. Shakespeare, who in the 1590s wrote some of his greatest love-comedies, began in the Jacobean period to present a less optimistic worldview. With Measure for Measure, we have a new type of play, the ‘problem play’, with a darker view of love and marriage. This is followed by the great tragedies, including his first exploration of marital jealousy, Othello. Both these plays are from early in James I’s reign. The theme of jealousy that threatens marriage is one that Shakespeare returns to near the end of his writing career, in two plays of problematic genre, Cymbeline and The Winter’s Tale.
1. Introduction: from Elizabethan to Jacobean Shakespeare
2. Measure for Measure
5. The Winter’s Tale
The lecturer will be using either the Arden or New Arden editions of the individual plays, but any edition of Shakespeare’s works will be acceptable.