Ⅱ. William Shakespeare
① Biographical Background
② Four Stages of Shakespeare's writing career
③ Shakespeare's Comedies and Histories
④ Shakespeare's Tragedies
Elizabeth Ⅰ died unmarried and without a direct heir in 1603. It seems more than a coincidence that William Shakespeare's most celebrated works, his major tragedies, were written around this time. Hamlet was probably first performed in 1600 or 1601; then, after the death of Elizabeth, Othello (1604), King Lear (1605) and Macbeth (1605-6) were staged in rapid succession. The reign of Elizabeth can be characterized as a successful period in English history, with commercial and military successes (most notably, the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588) contributing to a growing sense of national confidence. In addition, Elizabeth's Religious Settlement of 1559, enforcing the Protestant religion by law, cemented a sense of the national identity. But the very idea of imposing a uniform religious identity on people does begin to draw attention to fundamental problems in the Elizabethan period, problems that were to become more acute in the latter years of the queen's reign.