SparkNotes Blog

We’ve Got 30+ New Essays to Help You Ace All of Your Shakespeare Homework

The Father of English literature. Billy the Bard. Mr. “90% of My Writing Is Just Thinly Veiled Sexual Innuendo.” No matter what you call him, you can’t dispute that William Shakespeare is the most renowned and prolific writer who ever lived. If you’ve taken a high school or college English class, there’s a good chance that you’ve read one of his plays, and if you have, you’re probably familiar with our Shakespeare study guides, which have everything from text translations to scene summaries to quotes and themes.

What you may not be familiar with is our brand new Shakespeare’s Life and Times section, which features more than 30 new essays that examine Shakespeare’s works in the context of his life and the world in which he lived. We’ve created a special video to help introduce you to this new resource.

The Life and Times essays were tailor-made to enhance your understanding of Shakespeare’s plays and to provide valuable insights that will help you with all of your Shakespeare assignments. Here are a few examples of the fantastic content you’ll find:

-Detailed biographical information about his early life, the closure of London’s theaters, the personal tragedies that had a profound effect on his work, and much more

-A thorough exploration of social context, including the restrictions on women in Elizabethan England, sexuality in Shakespeare’s plays, and the prejudicial treatment of Jews during the time the late 16th century

-Historical context ranging from the Reformation to censorship to Shakespeare’s contemporaries and influences. 

Below, you’ll find a list of even more of the great (and free!) resources we offer for Shakespeare’s works, as well as 4 new videos that explore everything from an English teacher’s tips for studying Shakespeare to who’s to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.

Resources 

Videos

Shakespeare’s Life & Works
In spite of the fact that he’s been dead for over 400 years, we know more about the life of William Shakespeare than you might realize. This video describes key events in the Bard’s life and how historians and critics believe those events could have influenced the plays we’re still reading today.

5 Keys to Studying Shakespeare
English teacher Lauren Cavarra offers students tips for successfully studying Shakespeare. Topics include dealing with Shakespeare’s 400-year-old English and not being intimidated by people who need you to know just how much they love Shakespeare.

Students Talk about Shakespeare
Were Romeo and Juliet really in love, or were they just infatuated? What kind of king would Hamlet have made? In these videos, student offer their opinions when asked these and other questions about Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet.

How to Use the SparkNotes Study Guide and the No Fear Shakespeare Translation to Help You Study Othello
SparkNotes.com offers comprehensive study guides and side-by-side No Fear Shakespeare translations for most of Shakespeare’s plays. The video highlights how that unbeatable combination of free online resources can help you as you read and study Othello.

If you need a break from studying, check out one of these hilarious Shakespeare slideshows from our blog!