Themes

Explore Shakespeare and key Renaissance writers by theme.

Contemporary illustration of an androgynous face with heart and apple symbols

Comedies

From cross dressing in Twelfth Night to magical storms in The Tempest; from deception in Much Ado to biting satire in The Alchemist, discover the beauty and complexity of Shakespearean and Renaissance comedies.

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Tragedies

From Hamlet’s melancholy to Juliet’s eloquence; and from Othello’s misunderstanding to Doctor Faustus's damnation, discover the richness of Shakespearean and Renaissance tragedies.

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Histories

From the staging of disability to the influence of Machiavelli, explore the history plays of Shakespeare and other Renaissance writers.

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Handpainted illustration of gondola, a musician serenades a couple inside the boat. All four figures are wearing neck ruffs and Renaissance era dress

Shakespeare’s life and world

From the open air Globe to the candlelit Blackfriars; from countryside to city; and from noblemen to strangers, discover the world that shaped Shakespeare’s work and that influenced his legacy.

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Photograph of actress playing Lady Macbeth, holding crown above her head

Gender, sexuality, courtship and marriage

From courtship rituals to cross-dressing to love poetry, examine the ways in which Shakespeare and Renaissance writers explored identity, sexuality and gender roles.

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Elizabethan England

Exploration and trade, crime and punishment, clothing and social structure: explore key aspects of Elizabethan life, culture and society.

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Poetry

Discover close readings, critical interpretations and personal responses to Shakespeare’s sonnets, the poetry of John Donne and more.

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Printed portrait of Ben Jonson wearing a laurel wreath on his head

Renaissance writers

Uncover the fascinating, colourful lives of Renaissance writers including John Donne, Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe, and explore key features and themes in their groundbreaking plays and poetry.

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Photograph of a contemporary production of Othello, Desdemona stands with her arms around Othello

Ethnicity and identity

From Othello and Shylock to depictions of the ‘New World’ and anti-immigration riots, explore Shakespeare’s fascination with ethnic identity.

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Power, politics and religion

A murdered king, a homeless ruler, a man who sells his soul to the Devil: discover how Shakespeare and other Renaissance writers represented power and powerlessness.

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Global Shakespeare

Discover how Shakespeare’s work was influenced by other cultures, and how it’s been interpreted in nations across the world for 400 years.

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Photograph of a contemporary production of King Lear, showing King Lear holding the hand of the Fool, who wears a jester hat

Interpretations of ‘madness’

From Lear’s breakdown to Ophelia’s malady, examine the ways in which Shakespeare depicts ideas of ‘madness’.

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Hand painted illustration of travelling troupe of masked players

Deception, drama and misunderstanding

Investigate the ways in which Shakespeare and Renaissance writers explore miscommunication, dishonesty, trickery and the nature of theatre.

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Letter tiles spelling out words such as enjailed, cowarded and our blood

Language, word play and text

Prose and verse, word play, neologisms and rhetoric: discover how Shakespeare and Renaissance writers developed innovative and experimental uses of language.

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Black and white photograph of Vivien Leigh as  Titania, with fairy wings, pointing and looking to the left

Magic, illusion and the supernatural

Mischievous fairies, monstrous apparitions and scheming witches: examine the ways in which Shakespeare and Renaissance writers played with the magical and supernatural.

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