Shakespeare, William Shakespeare, was an English dramatist and a poet. Born in 1564, he was one of the many children of his parents and studied a little (more than enough to become world famous). Shakespeare’s fame largely rests on the pillars of some of the extraordinary plays that he wrote – Othello, Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, and a few others. In total, he wrote 37 plays, a famous sonnet-series and a few more lines. Often described as the best English dramatist of the Elizabethan Age and all time, Shakespeare’s popularity’s graph did never go down as his works have been there in the syllabus of almost every University that offers courses in English Literature.
Shakespeare’s writings were mostly seriously driven by the ideas of inherent, or you can say traditional human weaknesses. The best of his tragedies exhibit this assumption very well. King Lear tells us about the passion in human beings and Othello draws our attention to the fact that we all have that share of doubt in our thoughts. Moreover, ambition and indecisiveness are also the weaknesses and you must be getting the names of the Tragedies by now.
Coming to the Comedies written by Shakespeare, you can find that his works were not like the pessimistic comedies written by other dramatists – Dr Jonson and William Congreve, for instance. Shakespeare’s comedies were light but deep; he always had messages to deliver to his audience and the readers. As You Like It tells us how can we find solace every day looking at the nature around us, present in plenty and ready to offer shadow and love. Strong gender messages were already delivered by Shakespeare in his plays like Twelfth Night a long time ago. It is also said about the comedies by Shakespeare that they often end with marriage bells.
On a whole, William Shakespeare was certainly a complete dramatist who continuously developed himself. He developed as he wrote and one can certainly see that the latter of his plays display a great level of artistic maturity. He exploited (in a positive way) the use of blank verse in his writings and set examples for the generations to follow. A rhythm is always found in his plays – whether tragic or comic.
Nevertheless, there are also the critics who have raised questions on the dramatic art and understanding of Shakespeare. Some of them have even claimed that Shakespeare was not the original author of the works ascribed to his name (Freud and Bacon). Many have praised him and many have thought that he was not ‘there’. This is an ongoing debate which will continue to drag itself longer.
Shakespeare was married to Anne Hathaway, a woman who was almost 8 years elder to him. They married in 1582. Shakespeare died in 1616.
We will explore more about William Shakespeare in this series on ‘English Literature Education’.