William Shakespeare, also known as the Bard of Avon, is a man who is well known throughout the world and yet his personal history remains a mystery. The only sources that give us details on his person are his plays, poems, and sonnets along with his official documents such as church and court records. However, they provide very little about the bard.
While little is known about him, his plays have gained popularity throughout the ages, making them one of those timeless classics that will live on forever. Though the chronology of his works is difficult to determine, he wrote a total of 37 plays between the years 1590 and 1613. He covered various themes such as histories, tragedies, comedies, and tragicomedies.
Shakespeare’s initial plays were mostly histories. He mostly depicted weak or corrupt rulers who later caused a destructive effect in the story. Some historians interpret these plays as Shakespeare’s way of justifying the origins of the Tudor Dynasty. Julius Caesar portrays turmoil in Roman politics that could have resonated with the people at that time during England’s monarch, Queen Elizabeth I had no rightful heir to the throne. This created potential future power struggles.
He also wrote several comedies during his early days as a playwright: the witty romance A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the romantic Merchant of Venice, the wittiness and repartee of Much Ado About Nothing, the delightful As You Like It and Twelfth Night.
THE HUMANITY IN HIS CHARACTERS
Later on after the 1600s, Shakespeare wrote tragedies like Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello and King Lear. It was in these plays that his character portrayed vivid traits of human temperament that are universal and timeless. The best-known play to depict humanity was Hamlet which dealt with betrayal, retribution, incest and moral failure. It was a play that completely destroyed the hero and those he loved. A play that explored emotions in a level that was never before experienced in Shakespeare’s plays.
STYLE OF WRITING
William Shakespeare’s early plays were written in the conventional style of that time, using metaphors and rhetorical phrases that more often than not didn’t bring into line naturally with the story’s plot or characters. However, Shakespeare, being the innovative man that he was, adapted the traditional style to his own style and created a free flow of words. With very little variations, he primarily used a metrical pattern that consisted of unrhymed iambic pentameter or blank verse to write his plays. At the same time, it can be noticed that there are certain passages in all the plays that deviate from this style and use a poetic format or even simple prose.
AUTHORSHIP OF THE PLAYS
There has been a debate for a very long time on the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. Scholars have questioned how a man of such modest education can write plays with such poetic intensity. However, the massive majority of Shakespearean scholars argue that William Shakespeare did write all his plays. They also point out that other playwrights of that time, like Christopher Marlowe, Edward de Vere and Francis Bacon also had vague histories and came from modest backgrounds.
Shakespeare was a well-respected man in the dramatic arts, however, he didn’t get the recognition he deserved until the 19th century. It was during this time that acclaim for his works reached a new high. In the 20th century, new movements in scholarship and performance have helped rediscover and adapt his works.
Today, William Shakespeare’s plays are highly popular and constantly studies as an important piece of literature. They are also performed with a diversity in cultural and political interpretations. The humanity in his characters and plots is what helps us resonate with his works despite the time difference between the place and setting of the plots.
His works are celebrated and appreciated by so many of us today, that we can’t imagine there will ever be a time when William Shakespeare is forgotten. He is never truly dead so long his works continue to inspire and awe us.
If you are a booklover and love to write, share your thoughts on reading and writing, contribute articles for us.