Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesBooks & Authors · 1 decade ago

How much of William Shakespear's plays were based on truth/facts?

Plays like Julius Ceasar, Henry the V, I know the people are real, but the dialogue, the great speeches. Did they really say those things?
















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[Marc "the Bear" Antony]

Friends, Romans, countrybears, lend me your ears;

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

4 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Louise and Julie got it right. I haven't read all of Shakespeare's plays but the ones I've read and performed were truly marvelous experiences. I think everyone should have the opportunity to see at least one Shakespeare play in their life. I haven often thought of how difficult it would be for Shakespeare to sit and write such great soliloquies and speeches before the time of keyboards and spell check. All the ink and paper he must have went through. I'm sure what we read now wasn't a 1st draft.

    Here's an interesting tidbit of info: If you have a King James Version Bible, go to the Book of Psalms, 46. From the front of the verse, count forward 46 words. There, you will find the word 'Shake'. Now, go to the end of the verse and count backwards 46 words. There, you will find the word 'Spear'. The year that the King James Bible came out, Shakespeare was 46 years old. It is said that he was one of the people who translated the Bible and this was his way of putting his signature to it. Check it out. It's pretty cool.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Shakespeare, while a prolific writer and reader, did not have many original ideas, most of his plays were based on other works. His sources were as numerous and varied as his themes. While he used historical sources like Plutarch's "Lives", and Appian's histories of the Romans, his dialog is most always invented. No one knows what Mark Antony actually said in his funeral oration over Caesar's body or what Henry V actually said at Agincourt. His "Once more into the breach" soliloquy is Shakespeare's words, not Henry's. Shakespeare was not interested in historical fact, even if he knew them, he was a dramatist, and also in a way, a propagandist. His dialog had to stir the audience, to paint poetic pictures in their minds, so they could visualize the action of the battles and events, since thy could not see them. There was little or no scenery or "special effects" to visually impress this audience, so everything had to be "described" through heightened and poetic dialog, and the dialog itself had to fit a specific rhyme scheme and meter that made his speeches and dialog poetic, heroic and "classical". They were not verbatim transcripts but epic poetry crafted to entertain and thrill his audience. .

  • 1 decade ago

    In one of his last plays "Henry VIII" when Catherine of Aragon makes a speech in her own defense when henry is trying to annul their marriage, the words of the speech in the play are very close to what Catherine actually said in real life, so Shakespeare would probably have read an account of what she said.

  • 1 decade ago

    Nope. Shakespeare was a humble playwright, not someone who moved among royals.

    Many of his plots were taken from earlier stories or plays; we still correctly treat him as a genius because of his skill in writing and telling the story.

    It's Shakespeare's words we admire, not words from real historians. It's all him. (Or Bacon or another writer if you believe Shakespeare didn't write the plays attributed to him.)

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