Teaching Students About Shakespeare’s Death

Teaching Shakespeare is a common staple in many high school English classes across the world. Students learn about his plays, his place in history, his impact on literature, and his enduring legacy. However, what is often left out of the discussion is his death.

William Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616, at the age of 52. Although the exact cause of his death is unknown, it is speculated that he died of a fever after falling ill for several weeks. His death marked the end of one of the most prolific and influential literary careers in history.

Teaching students about Shakespeare’s death is an important part of understanding the man behind the plays. It allows students to see the human side of the literary giant and understand the context in which he lived and died.

One way to approach this topic is to discuss Shakespeare’s final days. Teachers can have students read historical accounts of his illness and death, including documentation from his doctors and contemporaries. They can also read Shakespeare’s will, which provides insight into his personal life and relationships.

Another approach is to have students examine how Shakespeare’s death was perceived by his contemporaries. They can read newspaper accounts, diaries, letters, and other primary sources to understand how people reacted to the news and how his legacy began to form.

Finally, teachers can use Shakespeare’s death as an opportunity to discuss the concept of legacy. They can have students examine how Shakespeare’s plays have endured over time, why they resonate with modern audiences, and what lessons we can learn from his life and work.

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