By James Shapiro
Preeminent Shakespeare student James Shapiro exhibits how the tumultuous occasions in England in 1606 affected Shakespeare and formed the 3 nice tragedies he wrote that year—King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra.
In the years major as much as 1606, because the dying of Queen Elizabeth and the arriving in England of her successor, King James of Scotland, Shakespeare’s nice productiveness had ebbed, and it may well have looked as if it would a few that his prolific genius was once a specific thing of the prior. yet that yr, at age forty-two, he chanced on his footing back, completing a play he had began the former autumn—King Lear—then writing different nice tragedies, Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra.
It was once a memorable 12 months in England as well—and a grim one, within the aftermath of a terrorist plot conceived by way of a small team of Catholic gentry that were exposed on the final hour. The foiled Gunpowder Plot could have blown up the king and royal relations in addition to the nation’s political and non secular management. The aborted plot renewed anti-Catholic sentiment and laid naked divisions within the kingdom.
It was once in contrast heritage that Shakespeare comprehensive Lear, a play a couple of divided state, then wrote a tragedy that grew to become at the homicide of a Scottish king, Macbeth. He ended this brilliant yr with a 3rd masterpiece no much less steeped in present occasions and matters: Antony and Cleopatra.
The yr of Lear sheds gentle on those 3 nice tragedies through putting them within the context in their occasions, whereas additionally permitting us higher perception into how Shakespeare was once individually touched by means of such occasions as a bad outbreak of plague and starting to be non secular divisions. For someone attracted to Shakespeare, this can be an crucial publication.