Shakespeare’s Dead Exhibit

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A major exhibition to mark the 400th year since Shakespeare’s death (May 3, 1616) opens in the Weston Library, Oxford and is proving popular with the city’s tourists and locals alike.

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The Shakespeare exhibition at the Weston gets to the beating heart of the author with important texts displayed chronologically.  Arguably the most important is the copy of the full folio of plays acquired by the librarian.

Shakespearean folio

The twists of Shakespeare’s personal life is explored with information about his father being Catholic at a time in English history when Cathedrals were being dismantled.  The next generation that Shakespeare was part of would be confirmed Protestant. This parallel is explored in the author’s character development of Hamlet who lived with a conflicted loyalty for his father.

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An old dagger is suspended in one of the cabinets at shoulder height so the visitor can feel the moment that took Macbeth from power to a state of desperation.  All of Shakespeare’s plays are available to read at the exhibition and it’s wonderful to share the sense of enthusiasm of the work with others.  Richard III is a popular manuscript with the recent discovery of his bones under a car park in Leicester.  The remains reveal Shakespeare’s description of a hunch back King may not have been accurate and to this end the play manuscript states that not all of the text is taken from reality.

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Some exhibits show how Shakespeare’s tales were drawn from other stories such as ‘Metamorphoses’; this epic poem by Ovid is illustrated with scenes from Greek mythology and also inspired Dante and Chaucer.

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Records of the time show death during Shakespeare’s life would be caused by something uneventful proving the causes employed in his plots, such as shipwrecks and poisoned wine, were crafted from imagination.  It is suggested that Shakespeare was not a fan of actors portraying long drawn out scenes of death on stage and this explains why the narrative of the plots constantly flow and fascinate.  An illustration showing ideas that could have inspired the types of death the writer draws upon is shown.

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The books display how images inspire writing with an illustration of Henry V battle scene as it would have looked.

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Shakespeare’s lean approach to keeping a poetic story tight with a narrative that was ushered in with continual actions shows a great respect for his audience.

I feel jubilant for this.

Thankfully there is also  a perfect coffee shop in the exhibition hall so time to celebrate.  Cheers!

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Sample my own recent stab at novel narrative here

Enjoy more Jubilant feelings here

18 thoughts on “Shakespeare’s Dead Exhibit

  1. What a down-to-earth exhibition on Shakespeare, his works and the life he lived. Those texts look really ancient, and I supposed have been preserved for so many centuries. I’ve never studied Shakespeare in my life, but from what I have read there are so many ways to interpret his work. Interesting to hear Dante is one of his influences – two very different creative minds. You could spend hours picking their works apart.

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    • Amazing insight Mabel (as always !). I love your viewpoint on Dante being a contrast to Shakespeare in outlook. I haven’t studied Dante but I have been to Florence so thank you for prodding me to find out a bit more. I’m going to start with a google 😉 PS Bravo on your recent blog awards, winner !

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    • A pleasure. It is such a delightful museum to hang out in. I had a beautiful moment reading an old post of yours about Anne Frank. So evocative. I have saved Hemingway’s desk for my next visit. Wishing you a great week ! Lovely to hear from you.

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    • Lovely to hear from you. Yes all good here especially as the sun is shining today and I agree, the exhibition was a good un. I love Your fab post featuring the cake shop has made me hungry 😉 Not sure which one I would have gone for though !

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s one thing to read Shakespeare as a student, yet another to see his thought process in chronological order. It seems you get a sense of the man and his progress and a feel for the times he lived in. Thanks for sharing your visit, Lita!

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    • Thank you. I was up in London and spotted Selfridges has their super cool windows inspired by Shakespeare quotes so the colours live on ! Happy Summer to you. I enjoy the story telling on your blog especially the tale of the Prince and rabbit !

      Liked by 1 person

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