Wikipedia:Peer review/William Shakespeare/archive2

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William Shakespeare[edit]

William Shakespeare is currently a Good Article. WikiProject Shakespeare is attempting to bring this article to featured article status, so we are looking for overall comments about the article, along with specific critiques and corrections. The members of WikiProject Shakespeare feel it is vitally important to bring this article to FA status because William Shakespeare is ranked among the 50 most viewed articles on Wikipedia.

For the record, there have been two previous peer reviews. The first, at Wikipedia:Peer review/William Shakespeare/archive1, was of limited use because the review mainly focused on the cuts an editor made to the article. The second review, at Wikipedia:WikiProject Biography/Peer review/William Shakespeare, was extremely specific. We have addressed all the concerns in this review, as detailed on the article's talk page. Best, --Alabamaboy 00:09, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

  • See several missing citations which are mentioned on the talk page and in the main article. Wrad 22:05, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Comments by Smatprt[edit]

I just did a top to bottom review and did a fair amount of spelling/grammer/readabililty work, which I hope is not contentious. The following is a list of items I saw that will require a number of editors to consider, depending on their particular expertise. The article gets better all the time.Smatprt 04:33, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

  • Excellent: I've looked through that, great work - all improvements.AndyJones 07:46, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

1) There are so many citations in the first paragraph (7 at last count) that it is difficult to read. Any way to combine references or find some references that can cover more than just one fact each?

  • I don't agree that thorough sourcing is ever a bad thing. If footnotes make the text more difficult to follow, that should be raised with the project's techies: it's not a reason to provide fewer footnotes. WP:ATT is a policy, and one that Wikipedia is trying to tighten up on. AndyJones 07:46, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

2) Same with first paragraph of Early Life.

3) Do we really need citations for such non-contentious issues as Shakespeare making numerous references to the theatre? So many citations for universally accepted statements make much of the article hard to read.

  • Surprised that you take this view: until recently the article said that the plays demonstrated they were written by an actor and you changed it to say they demonstrated they were written by "a man of the theatre". [And for the benefit of others reading this comment, that is because Smatprt holds the view that another author wrote the plays.] What I'm getting at is that you personally are one of the few people who finds this kind of statement contentious therefore it's odd that you are arguing it may not need citing. (I'm not trying to imply hypocrisy or anything, don't get me wrong, I'm just pointing out the reason why citations for this sort of thing can be important.) AndyJones 07:46, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
    • Actually - I changed that line with little thought of the authorship. Yes, Shakespeare (whoever he was) was an actor, but he was more than that - author, director (Hamelt's notes),devisor of props and costumes & sets (midsummer - rustic converstions), song writer (numerous), etc. I simply thought "man of the theater" was more all encompassing, and given the Tempest quote that appears in the article (and now appears opposite this info), I thought the statement would not need a citation. I thought is was an example of a non-controversial statment. If you disagree, no prob. And I completely understand and support the need for sources - just wish there was a way to source these articles without so much clutter. It's the readablility issue that Alabamaboy raised (which I also agree with). Yes, maybe the techies can ultimately figure this out.Smatprt 14:10, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
      • Yes, and just to be clear I do agree that the "man of the theatre" edit was a good one. AndyJones 16:08, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

4) Yes check.svg Done The first paragraph of Plays also has lots of cite requests and a statements in parentheses that make for a confusing read.

  • Agreed but don't worry: will be short-term. AndyJones 07:46, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

5) Same section – I find the “three stylistic groups” problematic. It’s a contentious issue that relies on dating, which is equally controversial (and I am talking about mainstream debates). For example “middle period romantic comedies and tragedies... as well as “problem plays”…). That's a lot for one stylistic period. Is there really agreement on these stylistic groupings as stated in this article?

6)Yes check.svg Done Suggest moving up the “All the world’s a stage” quote to “London and Theatrical Career" next to the paragraph that mentions Shakespeare making numerous references to the theatre. The context would be appropriate for the image, which also doesn’t need to be quite so wide. I don’t know how to adjust the box size or I would.

  • I figured out how to do this one myself, and didn't think it controversial, so I did it. If anyone objects, feel free to move it back.Smatprt 05:46, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

7)Yes check.svg Done In Style, you have: “While many passages in Shakespeare's plays are written in prose, he almost always wrote the most important passages in iambic pentameter.” Really? Seems like a reach to me.

  • Agree. That seems wrong to me, too. AndyJones 07:46, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

8)Yes check.svg Done By comparison to the rest of the article, the Authorship section is underwritten. As a summary of the main article, it’s a pretty poor example. I am not referring to what was cut in the last concensus, but rather the lack of reasons or examples why the topic ever arose, and why it exists today.

9)Yes check.svg Done The Religion section has grown to be almost the longest section. Oddly, there is no main article, even though the subject is full of controversy and disagreement between scholars. Perhaps this should be the beginning of a Main article and someone could just summarize it for this page. It’s just too long.

  • I agree. I was going to suggest that it be broken out, myself. AndyJones 07:46, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

10) Under the bibliography, we now have a parody section?? Shouldn’t this be elsewhere or deleted and moved to another article? The list of parodies would be endless…

Yes check.svg Done This is gone now. Wrad 21:54, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

Review by Awadewit[edit]

A thorough review for an important figure. If Shakespeare is one of the top 50 viewed pages, then that page should be some of wikipedia's best work. Thank you all for working so hard on this. Here are my suggestions and comments:


  • Yes check.svg DoneIn general, the lead does not meet the requirements of WP:LEAD - it is not a standalone summary of the article.
  • He is widely regarded as the greatest writer of the English language and the world's preeminent dramatist. - Modern Shakespeare scholars really don't say things like this anymore (except perhaps for Harold Bloom) - I noticed that your sources are other encyclopedias for this, something we try not to do. To claim that anyone is the "world's greatest writer" in any genre is simply unsupportable. Let's take the rhetoric down a notch, shall we?
    • I thought it was taken down a notch, "world's greatest writer" is very different from "world's preeminent dramatist". Where does wikipedia discourage citing encyclopedias? Wrad 20:23, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
      • WP:ATT emphasizes that articles should use secondary sources. Encyclopedias are tertiary sources are not the most trustworthy regarding the subject at hand. Also, I have a problem with "world's" - I do not believe that it is agreed that Shakespeare is the world's best playwright. Some people have argued that he is the best playwright within the Western tradition, although, like I said, serious academics no longer make this claim. Awadewit | talk 21:05, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
  • his work has been adulated by eminent figures through the centuries - very awkward passive
By the way, 7 figures quoted in wikisource does not lend credibility to this claim.
    • Why not? I would think two would support the plural, "figures", although shakily. Seven seems fine. Besides, this is in the lead, and doesn't need to be cited if supported in the article, which it is, very thoroughly. Wrad 20:23, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
      • From WP:LEAD: The lead should be capable of standing alone as a concise overview of the article, establishing context, summarizing the most important points, explaining why the subject is interesting or notable, and briefly describing its notable controversies, if there are any. The emphasis given to material in the lead should roughly reflect its importance to the topic according to reliable, published sources. The lead should not "tease" the reader by hinting at but not explaining important facts that will appear later in the article. It should contain up to four paragraphs, should be carefully sourced as appropriate, and should be written in a clear, accessible style so as to invite a reading of the full article. - The implication of the statement "eminent figures through the centuries" is certainly more than two. I can come up with a list of seven such quotes for almost any writer - does that make them as "great" as Shakespeare? That is the problem with these sorts of statements. Awadewit | talk 21:05, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
    • Still don't see the point, how does the fact that the statment applies to other writers make it any less true for Shakespeare? Also, How exactly does that quote show that this statement doesn't belong? Wrad 21:21, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
  • You wanted proof that statements in the lead needed to be cited - I gave that to you.
  • Why are we saying that Shakespeare's works have been praised throughout several centuries? We could say this about any writer. It is therefore a meaningless statement unless you say who has made the statements or how many people have made them. It is just too vague. I believe that what you mean to say is that many other writers who are considered great have lauded Shakespeare, but this is a difficult statement to prove. A secondary source would be better since everyone will disagree on the "many" needed to establish such a statement and an assemblage of quotes actually qualifies as original research. Awadewit | talk 21:42, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Many FA articles do not have any sources in the lead, for the very reasons I listed, and this continues to be trend in many current FAC's that seems to be accepted. Also, such a statement is not meaningless in my mind because it places him "among" the greatest writers for which that statement could be true. (Sorry if I sound really contentious here, but I am genuinely confused. I have made the "cite the lead" argument in several FAC articles and been shot down every time. I've never seen any such argument stand in an FAC discussion, and I've seen many, but the guideline seems to point otherwise. Perhaps this is a discussion to bring up on the guidelines' talk page or something.) Wrad 22:13, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Well, I have seen FAs use citations in the lead; since the guideline suggests it and we should use citations for statements likely to be challenged, such as this one. I urge you to find a citation or remove it. A list of quotations is actually original research, which cannot be included in a wikipedia article. If you want to prove that Shakespeare was adored by many writers after him, find a reputable secondary source that says so. Awadewit | talk 02:38, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
  • He is one of the few playwrights considered to have excelled in both tragedy and comedy. - Please remove this sentence until you have a citation. It seems a particularly problematic statement, given that later in the article, you do not break his plays down into tragedies and comedies.
Yes check.svg Done statement adjusted. Wrad 18:46, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Shakespeare is the most quoted writer in the history of the English-speaking world - I don't understand the "in the history of" part
Yes check.svg Done fixed. Wrad 20:41, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes check.svg DoneMany have speculated about his sexuality, religious affiliation, and the authorship of his works. - This sentence is just hanging off the last paragraph of the lead.
Probably best fixed after making the changes suggested below. Wrad 20:53, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

The authorship reference used to be connected to uncertainty over the works. Now it's included with two references about his personal beliefs. It was probably better before the edit wars between myself and a few overzealous editors who believe the authorship debate is not worthy of wikipedia. Until the regular editors of this page stop trying to stifle discussion of this subject, I fear that this article will always be problematic. During this FA review, for example, many, many suggestions are acted upon without debate. However, in reviewing the 3 or 4 authorship related references, I find that no action has been taken and only Wrad has even bothered to respond to those suggestions. If we all want FA status for this article, then we really need to deal with all the issues, even the unpleasant ones.Smatprt 23:23, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

I did not realize that there had been edit wars (I am sorry to hear that). I am still concerned about the "Speculations" section as a whole. Please note its size in relation to other sections (it is larger than many). When reading this page I asked myself "What information would you include in an undergraduate Shakespeare course?" Interestingly, much is missing from sections on Shakespeare's writings (more on themes and style, for example) and much is included (such as "Speculations") that many academics would not bother to mention. I feel that this page privileges some rather sensationalized or arcane disputes instead of focusing on the basics of Shakespeare's life and works. I realize how difficult that this page must be to write (everyone has their pet theory about Shakespeare), but perhaps the best solution is to consult books like the Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and use its bibliography. Such books provide "standard" readings and "standard" historical narratives, meaning the most accepted readings and narratives. Their bibliographies would also provide the editors with the most important Shakespearean criticism. (Then maybe we won't have people referencing obscure websites.) Awadewit | talk 23:38, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
    • I agree that we need much more on themes and style. These sections do seem underwritten and do make the "speculations" look rather large by comparison. I will add for the record that I believe the Shakespeare Authorship question is a topic that merits research and scholarship and I do beleive it is achknowledged by many recognized researchers. Several colleges are now offering courses that are devoted to (or at least cover) the topic, and a number of international research conferences are presented each year.Smatprt 00:22, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
    • I also agree that his style, etc. could be developed, but I don't know if the article is as unbalanced as you say. In my undergrad classes, we don't really study the biographical Shakespeare, because it's not a biography class. This, on the other hand, is largely a Biographical article (as well as a literary one). If I were to take a biographical history class on Shakespeare, rather than an English class, it would probably mention more about the speculations and less about his style and works. It's all how you look at it. Wrad 02:42, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
      • I'm sorry, I should have made my assumptions clearer - I meant a class that was using some sort of historical framework. Not all Shakespeare classes do that (some are psychoanalytic, some are feminist, etc.), I will grant you that. But any class that does use a historical framework for discussing Shakespeare's work will mention his biography. (I'm not really sure what a "biographical history class" would be - that is a strange phrase.) Awadewit | talk 03:12, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
      • On the point of "Shakespeare authorship," one should probably consider several factors before including much about it in the article. It is difficult to know what Shakespeare wrote at all because we don't have manuscripts for the plays (I know less about the poetry) - we only have second-hand and third-hand copies based on pirated publications and collections of actors' parts and other miscellaneous. The three different versions of Hamlet's "to be, or not to be" soliloquy is an excellent large version of this problem and the "too, too solid flesh" vs. "too, too soiled flesh" line is a good small example. Which version is Shakespeare's? No one knows anymore and there may never have been one, true Shakespearean text, as the plays altered from performance to performance. As far as I know, no reputable Shakespeare scholars take any of the "Earl of Oxford" kinds of theories seriously (I studied with at least two of the leading Shakespearean scholars as an undergraduate who said in no uncertain terms that these theories were crap, but perhaps these theories have suddenly gained traction? I know some popular books have been published on the topic, but that is not the same thing.). Most scholars are more interested in the kinds of problems I quoted above. I am curious what scholars Smatprt could point to support his/her argument. Also, just because there are conferences on a topic does not make it legitimate. There are conferences dedicated to creationism - that is not evidence of its acceptance by the mainstream scientific community; not all conferences have the same status within the academic community. Again, I would like to know what conferences. Awadewit | talk 03:12, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

Major content and prose suggestions:

  • Yes check.svg DoneThe last paragraph of "Plays" should be organized more coherently - it does not follow in a logical order.
  • Please describe Shakespeare's "Other poems" a bit - their topics, their major themes, etc.
    • Agree. Wrad 20:30, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes check.svg DoneIn the "Style" section, you chart Shakespeare's changing use of iambic pentamenter. I am sure that scholars have speculated on why he did this. Could you provide some of that information here?
    • I added more info on "why" Shakespeare used iambic pentameter. Does that help?--Romeo in love 19:36, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
  • In the "Style" section, you note Shakespeare's use of soliloquies - why did he use soliloquies? What rhetorical effect did they achieve? Again, scholars have written stacks on Shakespeare's soliloquies - something could be inserted here to explain them. This paragraph merely defines them.
    • Yes check.svg Done I added a paragraph about this.--Romeo in love 16:52, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Shakespeare's writing (especially his plays) also feature extensive wordplay, in which double entendres and clever rhetorical flourishes are repeatedly used. - I would either expand on this one-sentence paragraph or delete it.
  • The "Influences" section (except for "Later influences") seems like it all belongs under "Plays" because it describes Shakespeare's development as a dramatist and his literary debts. Also, this section should be shortened so that it corresponds to the length of the others.

Yes check.svg Done I think this was fixed. Wrad 20:30, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

  • I found the "Later influence" section largely useless - it just listed names and the second paragraph was particularly incoherent. It needs to clearly state that Shakespeare and other writers could experiment with the language specifically because it was not yet standardized. (English did not become standardized until the 18th century - see John Barrell's An Equal Wide Survey). Moreover, if it is revised, it should be placed in the "Legacy" section - that is the more appropriate location.
    • This section has changed a lot, could you look at it again? Wrad 18:16, 9 June 2007 (UTC)
  • The "Religion" section is much too long compared to the other sections, given its relevance (or, really, irrelevance). I would suggest that it be condensed into a single paragraph and the rest spun off into a separate article.

Yes check.svg Done Also fixed. Wrad 20:30, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

  • I would insert information from the "Sexuality" section into the "Biography" and put anything here not in the "Sexuality of William Shakespeare" article into that one.
    • This part is speculative; it doesn't belong in the "life" section.
      • Much of that section is speculative as well, if you really look closely at what is being claimed. What we know solidly about Shakespeare can be reduced to handful of facts. Awadewit | talk 17:03, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
  • I would place the "Authorship" controversy in the "Works" somewhere as that is the topic it is most relevant to. Topics should be addressed where applicable.
    • As above, the subject is speculative and would clutter the Works section if added there.
      • But it is related to that topic. I think that it is disingenuous to create a "controversies" section, which is what the editors have in effect done here. Either the "speculations" merit discussion under the relevant topics or they do not. Decide which it is. Awadewit | talk 17:03, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

I think Awadewit is correct on the above points. Because so much about Shakespeare is speculative,to spin off the three topics Authorship, Religion and Sexuality is a questionable move, and may be more about the editors POV regarding these issues than the issues themselves. Regarding the authorship references, a few months ago (before the ugly edit wars) the authorship references were more informative and better cited. The reference in the lead was also connected to the uncertainty about the plays - not tagged onto the other references (religion and sexuality)about his life.Smatprt 23:23, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

  • I would also add the bit about Shakespeare's will and the "second best bed." It is famous and funny.
    • I think that might be best placed in the Shakespeare's life article, rather than here. Wrad 20:30, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
      • But it is one of the few verifiable facts that we have about Shakespeare, thus I would argue that it should go in the "biography" section of this article. Since so much of Shakespeare biography is speculation, I believe that we should include every solid fact that we can in the main Shakespeare article. Awadewit | talk 20:51, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
        • Much of his biography is based on solid evidence (mostly records), but the intricacies and little details are the stuff of speculation. The "second best bed" part is trivia; it's charming but not particularly important. It is usually raised in debates about authorship. RedRabbit1983 07:06, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
          • It is interesting and right now the biography lacks interest - this tidbit spices it up. Awadewit | talk 14:31, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
            • Fair enough. Without the little details his biography seems too much like patchwork. RedRabbit1983 15:28, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

Minor content suggestions:

  • Please check the "Black Plague" link in "Early life" - there might be a better page. That one focuses on the Black Death in the Middle Ages.
    • Yes check.svg Done Wrad 18:50, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
  • You might consider putting [sic] after the quotations that contain early modern spellings so that later editors don't change them (I've had this problem on other pages).
  • Every paragraph of "London and theatrical career" starts "By [year]" - a little variety in style would be appreciated. In fact, many sentences within the paragraphs themselves start this way as well.
    • I prefer parallelism to elegant variation. RedRabbit1983 07:12, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
      • This is not parallelism. It is repetition. It is poor writing. Awadewit | talk 14:31, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
        • I am not defending the quality of the writing; that is for others to judge. However, the device is parallelism — a form of repetition. It is exemplified by the King James Bible. There, if the forms were varied, the parallelisms would collapse. Every example of parallelism has a repeated form. I think the problem is structure, not repetition of "By". It could be changed to, for example, "By... In... X years later... By... In... etc." but the result would be ostentatious and unnecessary.
          • I know what parallelism is. I have to fix it in my students' writing all of the time. It is not only the KJV that uses it for emphasis, by the way. The problem is when parallelism becomes repetition. When I read that section, I thought to myself, "wow, that writer was really at a loss for sentence structures." I did not think to myself, "what a nice use of parallel sentence structure - it really highlights an important point." The form (here parallel structure) should be used to highlight particular content. In this case, there is no reason to have any parallelism - the content does not merit it. It is merely repetitious. Awadewit | talk 15:42, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
  • The First Folio of his works divided these plays into tragedies, histories and comedies. - This sentence should probably mention that Shakespeare himself did not publish the First Folio.
    • Yes check.svg Done Good point.
  • You might mention Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery and Garrick's Shakespeare Jubilee - these are usually used as markers of Shakespeare's "arrival" - it helps to prove Shakespeare's popularity. There are pretty pictures associated with them as well.
  • Neoclassicism (the view that dramatic works should be judged by principles established by Aristotle) damaged Shakespeare's reputation until the Romantic era - This is unclear because the section suggests that it was during the 18th century (with Rowe's, Pope's and Johnson's editions), which was the time of neoclassicism, that Shakespeare became popular. Please clarify that there were opposing Shakespeare "camps" at this time.
  • Could the "See also: Timeline" be moved to the top of the "Reputation" section?
Yes check.svg Done Wrad 20:54, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Are the "Shakespeare on Screen" and "Parodies" necessary under the Bibliography? Shakespeare was never presumed to have written them, after all. I believe they should be placed in a "See also" section.
    • Currently under debate. Probably should be moved. Wrad 20:30, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
      • Yes check.svg Done Wrad 18:14, 9 June 2007 (UTC)

Specific prose suggestions:

  • As christenings were performed within 3 days of birth, tradition has settled on 23 April, Saint Georges day,[14] as his birthday. - too many little clauses
    • Two is too many? I agree that it is awkward.
    • Rewritten it. Yes check.svg Done
  • popular enough for the new king, James I (1603) - unclear what 1603 is referring to unless you already know
    • I extended the parenthesis. Yes check.svg Done
  • Shakespeare's writing shows him indeed to be a man of the theatre, with many phrases, words, and references to the stage. - This is an interesting statement - I would definitely need a cite for this. While I don't doubt that Shakespeare was involved in the theater, deducing that from his writings is an interesting move and highly problematic. Was Vladimir Nabokov a pedophile, then? See the problem? I wonder if scholars make this move so easily - they might qualify it.
    • Heh. Good point. I think the writer meant that Shakespeare described his craft in detail through his writings, although not directly.
    • I revised it. Yes check.svg Done
  • There is a tradition that Shakespeare, in addition to writing many of the plays his company performed, and being concerned as part-owner of the company with business and financial details, continued to act in various parts, such as the ghost of Hamlet's father, Adam in As You Like It, and the Chorus in Henry V. - wordy and full of clauses
    • I removed the cluttering pharses. Yes check.svg Done
  • A monument on the wall nearest his grave, probably placed by his family,[26] features a bust showing Shakespeare posed in the act of writing. - wordy
    • Revised it. Yes check.svg Done
  • They have been translated into every major living language,[27] and are continually performed all over the world. - Language is repeated verbatim from the lead.
    • I'm not sure what to do with this.
  • Like many of his contemporaries, Shakespeare based many of his plays on the works of other playwrights and reworked earlier stories and historical material. - repetition of the word "many"; in general, a redundant sentence
    • Don't agree it is redundant. It is general statement followed by a specific one. I removed one "many" and revised the sentence slightly.
      • How about "Like many of his contemporaries, Shakespeare based many of his plays on the works of other playwrights and earlier historical material." The "stories" part is vague. Awadewit | talk 02:38, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
        • Stories include poems and other stories. Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, for instance, was partly based on Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, and Chaucer wasn't a playwright. I'm open to suggestions but I don't know how to make it more specific. RedRabbit1983 06:38, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
          • A poem is not a story. This sentence doesn't have to list all of his sources, just give an idea of them. "Stories" is simply too vague. No reader who doesn't already to what you are referring is going to understanding that phrase. Awadewit | talk 14:33, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
            • A narrative poem is, but I see your point. RedRabbit1983 15:28, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
  • For plays on historical subjects, Shakespeare relied heavily on two principal texts: Plutarch's Parallel Lives (from the 1579 English translation by Sir Thomas North[28]) for most of his history plays, and the 1587 edition of Raphael Holinshed's The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (which provided material for Macbeth and King Lear) for his English history plays. - very awkwardly worded
    • I made the sentence simpler and moved part of it to the following sentence. Yes check.svg Done
  • Shakespeare's plays tend to be placed into three main stylistic groups - by scholars? who does this?
    • By scholars, I think. I didn't contribute this, so I don't know what the source is.
  • The late romances have redemptive plotlines with ambiguous endings and magic and other fantastical elements. - too many "and's"
    • One fewer now. Yes check.svg Done
  • However, the borders between these genres are never clear. - These are not "genres" - the earlier sentence called them "stylistic groups." That is very different.
    • True. Duly amended. Yes check.svg Done
  • The lack of an authoritative print version of his plays during his lifetime accounts for part of the textual problem, the difficulty of identifying which plays he wrote, and for the different textual versions of some of his plays. - awkwardly worded - first phrase doesn't seem parallel with the others
    • I created a subordinate clause and simplified the sentence. Yes check.svg Done
  • Shakespeare served his dramatic apprenticeship at the height of the Elizabethan period, in the years following the defeat of the Spanish Armada - "dramatic apprenticeship" is a lovely phrase, but I wonder if it is too poetic for wikipedia
  • Shakespeare served his dramatic apprenticeship at the height of the Elizabethan period, in the years following the defeat of the Spanish Armada; he retired at the height of the Jacobean period, not long before the start of the Thirty Years' War. - Remind the reader of the dates.
  • His style changed not only in accord with his own tastes and developing mastery, but also in accord with the tastes of the audiences for whom he wrote. - "in accordance"?; also, give us a hint of what the change was
    • I fixed "accord".
  • Shakespeare wrote a large proportion of his plays and poems with a rhythm known as iambic pentameter - do we really need the rhythm bit?
    • Not at all. I got rid of it. Yes check.svg Done
  • To end many scenes in his plays he used a rhyming couplet—two rhyming lines of poetry—to heighten expectation of what is to follow. - redundant
    • I removed the fluff. Yes check.svg Done I might come back to this article later. Thanks for the review. RedRabbit1983 01:10, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Shakespeare's works have been a major influence on subsequent theatre and literature. - should be more restricted
  • The second paragraph of "Influences" has inconsistent verb tenses.
    • This section has changed a lot, could you look at it again? Wrad 18:16, 9 June 2007 (UTC)
  • In the twentieth century, a professional field of study known as "English" developed, - I am not quite sure why "English" is in scare quotes here - would it not be better to say "the discipline of English literature developed" (for that is what it is called)
  • In the twentieth century, a professional field of study known as "English" developed,[79] so among academics, Shakespeare was subjected to critical methods such as structuralism, poststructuralism and semiotics, and was analysed from feminist and Marxist perspectives. - very awkward
    • I'll leave those sentences alone. If you have any more suggestions, don't hesitate to add them. RedRabbit1983 06:48, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

Sources: Yes check.svg Done Please cite all of your sources in the same way. They are all over the place in the notes.

  • The Making of the National Poet: Shakespeare, Adaptation and Authorship, 1660-1769 by Michael Dobson, Oxford University Press, 1995. Accessed Feb 26, 2006. - This is a book abstract. Please quote from the actual book. Book abstracts are written by publishers. They often contain misinformation.
  • Footnote 13 - Shakespeare online - is a self-published website. There is no reason to use self-published websites for Shakespeare material. See here for a description of the site.
  • Footnote 19 - Who wrote this site? Why is this site reliable? I see that it comes from a .edu, but that doesn't mean a scholar put it up - it could be some student project.
  • Footnote 28 - Please note that on the site it says "We have used here J. W. Skeat's nineteenth century edition of North's Plutarch that selects several of the major Lives." - I'm not sure how useful that would be to someone interested in finding the version Shakespeare read.
  • Footnotes 107 and 108 need to be fixed.
  • Footnote 108 is promotional material for a seminar series. According to the page, "This seminar is adapted from chapter 4 of The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare, Cambridge University Press." Why don't you just get the information from there? Awadewit | talk 17:17, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
This has been pointed out and is in the process of being fixed. Wrad 20:43, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

Analysis of "Influence" paragraph[edit]

Yes check.svg Done Shakespeare's works have been a major influence on subsequent theatre and literature. Not only did Shakespeare create some of the most admired plays in Western literature,[71] Which of his plays are most admired? Not all of them have been equally influential. he also transformed English theatre by expanding expectations about what could be accomplished through characterisation, plot, action, language, and genre.[72][73][74] How? Can you give any examples of any of these "expanded expectations"? This is much too vague. The success of his plays also helped raise the status of popular theatre, permitting it to be admired by intellectuals as well as by those seeking pure entertainment.When and how did this happen?

Shakespeare's influence isn't has not been limited to the theatre. His plays and poems have influenced a large number of writers in the following centuries, including novelists such as Charles Dickens[75] How? What specifically is Shakespearean in Dickens? and William Faulkner,[76]Again, how? and Romantic poets such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge (with critic George Steiner calling all English poetic dramas from Coleridge to Tennyson "feeble variations on Shakesearean themes."[77]What themes?

Finally, Shakespeare's writings greatly influenced the entire English language. Prior to and during Shakespeare's time, the grammar and rules of English were not fixed.[78] As England and English culture gained power and pride during Shakespeare's time, he and other poets and playwrights experimented with the English language.[78] Because of the popularity of Shakespeare's plays, a large number of English words and phrases that Shakespeare created or modified[79] are now in common usage.The logic here still doesn't work.

How about something along these lines (it's messy, but you can fix it up): Finally, Shakespeare's writings greatly influenced the English language. Because English during Shakespeare's time was not as standardized as it is now, playwrights could experiment and play with the language. But once Shakespeare's plays became popular in the late seventeenth and eighteenth century, they helped contribute to the standardization of the English language, with many Shakespearean words and phrases becoming embedded in the English language, particularly through projects such as Samuel Johnson's Dictionary which quoted Shakespeare more than any other writer.<ref>Lynch, Jack. ''Samuel Johnson's Dictionary: Selections from the 1755 Work that Defined the English Language''. Delray Beach, FL: Levenger Press (2002), 12.</ref> Awadewit | talk 18:48, 9 June 2007 (UTC)

Since I wrote most of this section, I'll address your concerns. Won't get a chance for a day or two, though. Most of your comments are fine with me, but the rewrite of that English language section doesn't quite work for me b/c it removes too much relevant and referenced info. How about if we combine the two versions into a new baby? --Alabamaboy 20:51, 9 June 2007 (UTC)
Sounds fine to me. The last paragraph, in its present form, just doesn't follow in a logically coherent manner. I tried to rewrite it so that it could be sourced from your sources and added the necessary source for what you probably don't have. Awadewit | talk 21:35, 9 June 2007 (UTC)
I've made most of these changes. However, the more I think some of the changes you want in this section, the more I think that's too much detail for the main article. Perhaps a subarticle should be spun off just on Shakespeare's Influence. let me know what you think of the new version.--Alabamaboy 19:08, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

There is obviously ample information for an article on Shakespeare's influence, but I think that this section has to have some specifics. Vague generalizations are not very informative. I still feel that the section is basically puffery. It proves next to none of its claims because it offers no evidence. Awadewit | talk 19:28, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

Check out the section again b/c I was still revising as I wrote the previous comment. I think I addressed most of your concerns. What I didn't add was a detailed explanation of how Shakespeare influenced those novelists. That's too much detail, I think. Also, it's not that Dickens is Shakespearean, but that Dickens acknowledged a massive debt to Shakespeare. Same with Faulkner and others.--Alabamaboy 19:34, 15 June 2007 (UTC)
The question is what is the debt? What is the influence? Shakespeare achieved many things with his plays and poetry - from the new version, I still don't know which of those things influenced later writers. The second paragraph still makes too many unsubstantiated claims. Citations are not enough - you need to give the reader some evidence to prove your point. Awadewit | talk 20:25, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

I have cross-referenced to this conversation in my vote at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/List of English words invented by Shakespeare. AndyJones 08:19, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

The section has been revised and now addresses the concerns raised here. See this link for verification of this. Thanks to Awadewit for his incredibly helpful critiques on all this. --Alabamaboy 13:45, 18 June 2007 (UTC)


The article is getting there. Congratulations to the editors for all the efforts they have put in. My strongest suggestion would be that website references be changed to print references except where reliable scholarly websites carry full publication details of articles or books they have reproduced. In the latter case, the whole book or article should be carried and the website should have permission to carry it. Anything short of this standard will leave the article's referencing looking amateurish in places.

Particular points:

  • His plays combine popular appeal with complex characterisation and poetic grandeur with philosophical depth.
The sentence invites a miscue.
Not sure what you mean by miscue, but I don't like that sentence either. I'm not sure how to fix it, though. Wrad 02:40, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
The miscue is: "His plays combine popular appeal with complex characterisation and poetic grandeur..."
A short term solution would simply be: "His plays combine popular appeal, complex characterisation, poetic grandeur, and philosophical depth". But, I don't like the sentence either: it attempts too much and comes over like a blurb.
How about: "His plays combine popular appeal and complex characterisation; poetic grandeur and philosophical depth." Wrad 03:15, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
A semicolon doesn't work for me there; it needs to be followed by a full sentence form (as in the sentence I am writing now). The trouble is that the original parts don't match: "popular appeal" is antithetical to "complex characterisation", but "poetic grandeur" does not have a similar relationship to "philosophical depth". So no attempt to set these four qualities off in pairs will work. qp10qp 04:09, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
There's another potential miscue here: Stories of various genres were enacted for audiences consisting of both the wealthy and educated and the poor and illiterate. The miscue is: "audiences consisting of both the wealthy and educated..." I've advocated removing that whole passage (see below).
  • Two Noble Kinsmen and Pericles are listed under both apocrypha and comedies. I would list them under comedies, noting that they were only partly written by Shakespeare. The number of scholars who would dispute that description is too few to justify a listing under apocrypha as well, in my opinion. In any case, the double listing looks confusing, in my opinion. Whatever the decision, Henry VIII needs to be listed comparably (with a note that it was partly written by Shakespeare).

Yes check.svg Done Wrad 03:31, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

  • There is a tradition that Shakespeare also continued to act in various parts of his plays, such as the ghost of Hamlet's father, Adam in As You Like It, and the Chorus in Henry V.
"There is a tradition" seems to me too bald. If the tradition has no basis in fact, that should be stated, as it was for the "lost years" traditions; if there is any evidence or notable scholarly theory, for example, for Shakespeare playing the ghost (which I doubt), then it should be noted. Fact and fiction, and fact and tradition, should be scrupulously separated when it comes to Shakespeare's biography, and even traditions should be sourced. Yes check.svg Done Wrad 02:45, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

The same applies to "Supposedly, Shakespeare died on his birthday, if the tradition that he was born on April 23 is correct."

    • I'm tempted to just delete this line. Wrad 02:45, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
  • By 1596 Shakespeare had moved to the parish of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate...He appears to have moved across the River Thames to Southwark sometime around 1599. By 1604, he had moved north of the river, lodging just north of St Paul's Cathedral with a Huguenot family named Mountjoy.
I think this all needs to be made clearer. Not everyone knows which side of the river was which. The first sentence here assumes that Shakespeare had lived somewhere else in London before he moved to Bishopsgate, but I can find no mention that in the article, so it lacks an antecedent.
  • He was married to Anne Hathaway until his death and was survived by her and their two daughters, Susanna and Judith. Although Susanna married Dr John Hall, there are no direct descendants of Shakespeare alive today.
This seems odd. Why mention Susanna's marriage and not Judith's? And why not mention their children, if we are talking about descendants? I believe Judith's children died very young (including one called Shakespeare Quiney) and Susanna's daughter Elizabeth Hall in about 1670. I'm not saying this information is actually needed, but the sentence should be logical and consistent, I think.
    • Sounds good. Do you have a source for that I could use? Wrad 02:55, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
For death of Judith's children, Schoenbaum, 296; for death of Elizabeth Hall in 1670 and extinction of Shakespeare's line, Schoenbaum, 319. 1988 edition. ISBN 0195051610.
Yes check.svg DoneI added this. Any idea who Judith married? Wrad 03:43, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
Thomas Quiney. qp10qp 04:26, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done Wrad 04:49, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

  • There's considerable analysis of the different versions of King Lear, for some reason. I suspect there's too much for this general page; perhaps that could be covered in a sentence or two, with one or two added about Macbeth, just as problematic a text, though in different ways (missing scenes, added Hecate scenes, corruption).
  • In a Shakesperean sonnet, poets often divide its 14 lines into 3 quatrains, followed by a closing couplet.
The text has jumped from Shakespeare's sonnets written by Shakespeare to Shakespearian sonnets written by others. A transition and explanation is needed, I think; better still, this stray little paragraph could be cut, with no loss, in my opinion, to the article.

Yes check.svg Done I didn't cut it, since I thought the fact that a poetic form is named after him is very notable, but I changed it and worked it into the prose a little better. Hopefully it doesn't stick out so bad now. Wrad 02:55, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

  • In "Other poems", should it be noted that Shakespeare wrote Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece at times when the theatres were closed owing to plague?
    • Really? Wow. I had no idea. What's the source? Also, do you have any other facts like that up your sleeve I could add? Wrad 02:57, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
The situation is fully explained on pages 9 and 10 of Roland Mushat Frye, Shakespeare, Routledge, 2005. ISBN 0415352894. The theatres were shut for almost two years in 1593 and 1594 because of plague. qp10qp 03:59, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
The citation isn't working right, the ISBN turns up empty. Wrad 04:05, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
Here it is: ISBN search qp10qp 04:26, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done Wrad 04:49, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
  • During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, "drama became the ideal means to capture and convey the diverse interests of the time." Stories of various genres were enacted for audiences consisting of both the wealthy and educated and the poor and illiterate.
To me, this sounds weak. I would cut it and replace it with a similar point made in a less generalised way. The reference does not read like a proper academic reference (2005, Elizabethan Period (1558–1603), from ProQuest Period Pages, ProQuest). There's so much on Elizabethan drama that it is possible to make the same point with reference to a print source with a named author.
    • This was debated on the talk page, and I hesitate to change it. Apparently, the reference is more reliable than it looks, but I'll let someone closer to the issue decide. Wrad 02:59, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
      • I don't even know how to find this source - how do you find it? Google didn't do me much good. Can we not link to it so that the rest of us can judge for ourselves? Awadewit | talk 04:27, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Shakespeare served his dramatic apprenticeship at the height of the Elizabethan period, in the years following the defeat of the Spanish Armada; he retired at the height of the Jacobean period, not long before the start of the Thirty Years' War.
Here again, this is generalised and imprecise, in my opinion. What does "dramatic apprenticeship" mean? How do we know he didn't serve his dramatic apprenticeship during the lost years? If it is meant that he wrote his first known plays in the years after the Spanish Armada, then perhaps the article could say just that. However, I would suggest cutting this paragraph as far as the point where style is at last mentioned, since the section is supposed to be about style, not history. Also because there are other things wrong, it seems to me: the word "height" is problematic applied to both the Elizabethan and the Jacobean period here—for a different reason in each case. It's true that the Elizabethan literary flowering was at its height in the last decade and a half of the reign, but, despite the defeat of the Armada, that is not true of the political situation itself: it was during this period that discontent infected the country and criticisms of and challenges to Elizabeth's policies arose: far from being at her height, she was past her sell-by date. In the case of the Jacobean period, it is true that the reign enjoyed both its greatest literary flowering and most of its political successes during its first ten years; but it seems to me questionable, from a semantic point of view, whether a reign can reach its height at its beginning. Finally, I don't see what the Thirty Years' War has to do with anything in this context, since James I kept out of it till his dying day (1625).
  • Yes check.svg Done Style: when we do finally get to questions of style in the "Style" section, the treatment seems to me rather tangential and superfical. The fact that Shakespeare used soliloquies, couplets, prose and verse in his plays was a question of form rather than style. And I wouldn't say that his originality lies in using those forms, which were common to all the playwrights of the time. A mere one-sentence paragraph at the end of this section at last addresses style itself by talking of word play and rhetoric, though without developing the point. However, writing a short section on Shakespeare's style is a stiff challenge, I admit.
    • Huh, weird, only reason we added it was because a previous reviewer wanted it. I'm not sure what to do, here. Wrad 03:06, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
Nothing wrong with having a style section; it's what goes in it. qp10qp 04:53, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
That's just it, we already had the section, someone wanted soliloquies and stuff in it. Wrad 05:09, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
As it stands, the section says that he used soliloquies and merely describes what they are. But it's the style of the soliloquies that counts. I'm not informed on this matter, but we can be sure that Shakespeare, being a genius, developed soliloquies in original ways; how he did that would reflect his style. I've seen Marlowe and I've seen Shakespeare, and it is very clear that Shakespeare brought the soliloquy on a long way from Marlowe's use of it.qp10qp 05:23, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
  • He and other dramatists at the time used this form of blank verse for a lot of the dialogue between characters in order to elevate drama to new poetic heights.
Shakespeare and his contemporaries certainly elevated drama to new poetic heights, but was it anything to do with writing dialogue in blank verse? I've just checked the pre-Shakespearian plays Arden of Faversham and Gammer Gurton's Needle, and, as I thought, they used iambic pentameters and verse dialogue too.
  • The plays of Shakespeare were also dismissed as rubbish by Leo Tolstoy.
This struck me as a rather crude sentence, and since it is referenced to Orwell's essay Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool, I looked it up. What Orwell actually says is: "As Tolstoy justly complains, much rubbish has been written about Shakespeare as a philosopher, as a psychologist, as a ‘great moral teacher’, and what-not." Rather different. I would therefore remove "as rubbish" from the sentence, because certainly Tolstoy did dismiss Shakespeare in other terms, if not that one.

Yes check.svg Done Wrad 03:06, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

  • While none of this evidence proves Shakespeare's own Catholic sympathies, one historian, Clare Asquith, has claimed that those sympathies are detectable in his writing. Stephen Greenblatt makes the case that the "equivocator" arriving at the gate of hell in the Porter's speech in Macbeth refers to the Jesuit Father Henry Garnet after his execution in 1606.
Yes check.svg Done I'm not quite sure how the two sentences above hold together. One would expect an example of Asquith's theory to follow, not a reference to the porter's scene, which in its ridicule of equivocation would suggest the exact opposite of Catholic sympathies ("Here's a farmer that hanged himself on the expectation of plenty...Faith, here's an equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against either scale; who committed treason enough for God's sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven"). Certainly Greenblatt is right in identifying this equivocator with Garnet (mind you, nothing original in that reading); but we need an example from Asquith (I wouldn't really call her a historian) against which to juxtapose it, and a reference to the book in which she says it (Shadowplay). qp10qp 02:05, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
    • I agree, but am not familiar with the theories discussed. Can anyone fix this? Wrad 03:06, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
I just took out the second sentence (which mentions Garnet). If people want to the detail on all of that, they can go to the main article. Is this ok with people?--Alabamaboy 12:41, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure. Because the best solution would be to contrast the referenced view that Shakespeare was a Catholic with the contrasting referenced view, using a linking sentence. I'll have a poke round to see if I can find something: it needn't take up much space in the article. qp10qp 14:58, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
I was able to find parts of Asquith's book on Amazon Search Inside, so I have added a short quote from her in a note and have referenced the page. I have removed the description of her as a "historian": she's a diplomat's wife with a pet theory, and the book is cringe-makingly dreadful, in my opinion (for example, she says that Titania's court is Catholic and that Puck is a coded representation of Sir Robert Cecil). qp10qp 22:03, 10 June 2007 (UTC)


Yes check.svg Done Why do I see naked URLs in the footnotes?--Rmky87 19:23, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

We are in the process of fixing citations. You can help if you like. Wrad 19:32, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

Thank you. I couldn't tell if anyone else saw that.--Rmky87 21:01, 10 June 2007 (UTC)