Shakespeare’s Life and Influences

Shakespeare’s Life and Influences


William Shakespeare is often referred to as
England’s national poet and is recognized as one of the greatest dramatists of all time. Still today, most high school and college
students study a vast majority of his works. Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564, in
Stratford-upon-Avon, England, but his later life existed primarily in London where he
wrote many of his pieces of literature. His birthplace and home still
remains as a museum in Stratford-upon-avon, England and is popularly known as a Mecca
for all literature lovers. In 1582, he married Anne Hathaway and, together,
they had three children named Susanna and twins, Judith and Hamnet. Shakespeare’s works were influenced by many
different experiences and people. Most notably, his time at the Stratford School
of Grammar influenced his passion for writing and education. His writing was also impacted
by his intense studies within the Latin language. Linguistic and poetic knowledge even led to
his creation of the Shakespearean sonnet. Due to his Latin background, Shakespeare often
created his own words to convey meanings in his writing, and, in fact, many of these words
are still in use today within our own modern language. William Shakespeare’s writing can be divided
into three key periods with each characterized by an enveloping theme, personal reflection,
or emotion. Shakespeare’s first plays were mostly of
historical allusion and context. They dramatized weak and corrupt rulers during
Shakespeare’s time as evidenced within the play Henry VI. However, his early works also included a radical
shift from the historical schema and featured the widely-popular and well-known tragic love
story of Romeo and Juliet. The second period of Shakespeare’s literary
art can be characterized by comedy and includes comedic drama such as the more light-hearted
a Midsummer’s Night Dream and Twelfth Night. The final creation period of Shakespeare’s
work is referred to as one of darkness. Beginning in the early 1600s, Shakespeare
began writing tragedies such as the gloomy and haunting MacBeth. In fact, many scholars believe that Hamlet,
written during this tragic period, was a result of the sudden death and harbored emotions
for Shakespeare’s young son Hamnet. The style and purpose of Shakespeare’s writing
was also adapted to the advent of the theatrical stage. Patrons could now see his work with costuming
and actors. In the early 1590s, William Shakespeare was
a managing partner in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men which was an acting company in London. Seeking to embrace the theatrical opportunity,
in 1599, Shakespeare and his partners built the Globe Theatre on the south bank of the
Thames River. In 1599, the theatre opened with its first
play, Julius Caesar. With an audience of over two thousand people,
Shakespeare’s theatrical debut on the Elizabethan stage was a huge success. The Globe Theatre allowed the masses to attend
plays. Even the poor could afford to watch from the
floor, or the “pit,” while the more wealthy patrons sat in the high-level boxes. For the first time, Shakespeare’s plays
could be enjoyed by everyone. Due to Shakespeare’s influences, theatre
has experienced many changes. His complex characterizations still affect
modern-plays by allowing character’s choices to drive the plot. Influences from Shakespeare are clearly evident
in the world around us today. His language and writings are a large part
of the way in which we characterize literature and theatre as a part of our cultural identity.

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