If you're like most people, you probably think of William Shakespeare as some ancient relic who wrote boring plays about kings and queens. But did you know that Shakespeare was a prolific writer who produced a large body of work still relevant today? Learning about Shakespeare and his plays can help you better understand the origins of many words and expressions we use in everyday conversation.
It can also give you a new appreciation for one of the greatest writers in English history. So if you're interested in learning more about Shakespeare, be sure to check out this blog post!
Who Was William Shakespeare?
Shakespeare was one of the world's greatest poets and prose writers, delving into rich, complex language and complicated characters and themes that are still as much of today's world as they were in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright and actor born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, in April 1564. He was married at the age of 18 to Anne Hathaway, and they had three children together; Susanna in 1583 and twins Hamnet and Judith around 1585.
Shakespeare produced most of his best-known work between 1589 and 1613. His writings consisted of comedies, history, poetry and tragedies. And his plays have been translated into countless languages all over the world. Some of his famous works included:
- The Merchant of Venice
- A Midsummer Night's Dream
- Antony and Cleopatra
- Twelfth Night
- Romeo and Juliet
- King Lear
- Winter's Tale
- As You Like It
Of course, the list goes on, and all of Shakespeare's work deserves mention, in my opinion. Shakespeare had a successful career in London as an actor and writer before retiring around 1613 in Stratford, where he died in May 1616.
Frequently Asked Questions
Shakespeare wrote about timeless themes such as life and death, youth versus age, love and hate, fate and free will, to name but a few. Not only did Shakespeare teach us about ourselves and humanity, but he also invented around 1700 words that we still use in everyday English today.
They can teach us about the politics and the psychology of our current moment, the intricacies of hubris and the fluidity of desire, the perils of blind ambition and the satisfactions of true connection.
It is important to study Shakespeare to understand the modern world and understand people. Shakespeare's words are memorable; they stick with us, as he invented so many new ones. He is never afraid to use metaphors or puns. Moreover, he consistently wrote excellent, crowd-pleasing plays from comedy to tragedy.
Shakespeare's influence has expanded from traditional literature and theatre to present-day movies, western philosophy, and English. He is known as one of the best English-language writers and has introduced innovative ideas to novels, plays, dramas and even changed the world of poetry.
Shakespeare's scripts always had to be shortened for performance, even in his own time. Fifty years after his death, theatres with perspective scenery replaced the open innyard-style playhouses he wrote, so scenes had to be transposed, and designs added. Fashions were updated too.
Why Is It Important To Study Shakespeare?
People know Shakespeare's plays because they have been a part of our culture since published in the early seventeenth century. It is important to study Shakespeare because it is a part of popular culture. The greatest reason to study Shakespeare is that there is a reason it is still popular. The stories' themes are timeless and relevant four centuries after his death.
His influence on literature and the English language remains highly significant. It is important to study Shakespeare to understand the modern world and understand people. Although Shakespeare's language can be a challenge, there are more and more tools to help understand what he is saying, and if you can get beyond the difficult wording, you will delight in his work.
Shakespeare created characters that seem so alive. They struggle with their emotions and behave as if they are real people. Prince Charles once said he wanted to know how Shakespeare understood what it was like to be Prince of Wales. Shakespeare's words are memorable; they stick with us, as he invented so many new ones. Is never afraid to use metaphors or puns. He consistently wrote excellent, crowd-pleasing plays from comedy to tragedy.
Shakespeare is seldom boring: witches, ghosts, fairies, laughter, fighting, horror, romance and bloodshed. My love of Shakespeare has grown over the years because he has a moral compass and understands what it is to be the underdog. He understands the importance of mercy in people with power and what it is like to suffer.
So, it is important to study Shakespeare at school or, better still, for pleasure because it shows you what has come before and help you understand how our society has been built. It may seem that this is a question for the history class. However, it covers every subject imaginable, including literature.
Studying Shakespeare is important because his works are rich, and they can enrich a reader's life in many ways. For instance, his works are rich in English and are a good language source. In addition, Shakespeare contributed many words to the English vocabulary, which are still in use.
The works make one sensitive to the English language. Moreover, works are a challenge because they are not very easy, but once a person can study them and understand it, there is a feeling of accomplishment. The language is powerful, and through it, one experiences the power of drama.
Shakespearean works address various ethical dilemmas. The ethical dilemmas help us become morally sensible as they show the consequences of making bad judgments in life. For example, in the play The Hamlet, Shakespeare addresses the issue of greed for power. He shows how it causes instability in a country "or thinking by our late dear brother's death/our state to be disjoint and out of frame".
Claudius kills King Hamlet, rises to power, and possesses Gertrude's former queen. Consequently, Hamlet seeks revenge for his father's death and sadly losses his life. In addition, the play addresses revenge and shows that sometimes the obsession with revenge can lead to one's downfall. Through his plays, Shakespeare provided sources for debating human conduct.
The plays offer good examples of how human beings should treat matters such as power inheritance and shows that there is no shortcut to power as those who come to power illegally do not succeed, such as in Macbeth. Instead, as Macbeth noted, their evil deeds are punished, "bloody actions return/To plague th' Inventor".
The messages in his works are relevant even today. He talks of power and shows how corrupting power can be, especially greedy people.
He shows how people in power find it difficult to balance their private and public lives and manipulate the masses for selfish interests. The plays are very good at studying murders and conspiracy. In addition, his works explore other issues such as gender, sexuality, love, and war.
These issues show the kind of relationships people have in society. In addition, his plays contain wit and humour and are very entertaining besides being educative. Therefore, Shakespeare's works help college and school students to have a deeper literary appreciation.
His works open up our imaginations and radical thinking. He addresses issues such as the relationship between rulers and their subjects. He allows us to enter the characters' minds in his plays and thus enlarges our experience.
For instance, in Macbeth, he lets us see how Macbeth's conscience disturbs him for killing King Duncan, yet he ignores it and continues to commit murders to protect his throne.
The plays carry a universal message and are easy to relate to as they address human issues that one can identify. The universality of the messages in the play and their relevance make the plays important. It means that one can interpret the meaning of the plays according to their context, and Terence Hawkers puts it this way "Shakespeare does not mean; we mean by Shakespeare" (Why study Shakespeare 5).
The Shakespeare dramas well document the culture of the English. Through the plays, one can know how the society was together with its attitude towards its members. For instance, the play Taming the Shrew shows that men were considered inferior to men during the Elizabethan age, but it also shows that the women were powerful in their way, as proved by Kate.
Another play like the Merchant of Venice shows the relationship between people from different religions, such as Christians and Jews. The plays also show that the people valued religion, as Shakespeare uses biblical allusions in most of his plays to address issues.
There Are Allusions To Shakespeare Everywhere Within Our Modern Culture.
We've kept copious words and phrases invented by Shakespeare (or at least credited to him). In his time, Shakespeare invented close to 2,000 words. Think his audience knew what he was talking about all the time? Probably not, but context certainly helped, and I bet they thrilled over his absurd made-up words.
Please look at this list (or this one) to understand how extensive his influence has been on our modern language. It's impressive.
Shakespeare's Works Are Part Of The Foundation Of Modern Literature, And The Themes And Content Are Timeless, Connecting Past To Present.
While studying his work gives insight into past culture and society, it also serves as a bridge between our modern time and times far past. His works are still relevant today, addressing themes like love, revenge, social expectation, corruption, transformation. It's an important reminder that we are still human no matter how progressive our society becomes. Every last one of us. Throughout all of history. Something is comforting about that. We can read a text that is hundreds of years old and still connect to it– even while seeing how our society has grown and changed.
Additionally, many of our current beloved book series or movies stem from Shakespearean plays and characters, and I am not just speaking of books written in English. Shakespeare's influence is global and far-reaching.
Students Need To Read Challenging Material.
Material that challenges students is an opportunity for immense growth in comprehension and self-confidence! Often, classical works deal with thought-provoking situations that inspire students to wrestle with questions that are imperative in figuring out who they are and what they believe as individuals. Such stories allow for deep discussion and reflection. Additionally, finishing a literature work that seems lofty is an accomplishment to be proud of, and most students feel good about sticking with it until the end.
Language Is Ever-Evolving, And Reading Classics Encourages Word Study. Exposure to Shakespeare helps students see the progression of our recognisable language (if you think Shakespeare is tricky, try looking at some Old or Middle English) and gives students more contextual strength.
Classic literature helps improve vocabulary and comprehension of other texts. It also aids in seeing the progression of punctuation, syntax, and structure within the English language. While this may not seem important on the surface, it certainly helps when students learn a new language or when analysing other texts.
Thousands Of Resources Make Shakespeare Accessible To Students Who May Struggle With It.
Use them! Read the play, sure. But also consider a companion reader/modern translation. See a play (they were meant to be seen after all). Watch a movie. Don't shy away from something just because it is difficult. That difficulty is a great reason to tackle it head-on.
The takeaway here is that Shakespeare is still relevant, and his works are not boring. Anything taught well can be an enriching, engaging experience, and putting effort into studying Shakespeare is worth it!
Reasons Why Kids Should Study Shakespeare
The great thing about Shakespeare was his ability to write great plots. Some may say that Shakespeare's writing has inspired many of today's best modern works. His themes include:
All of Shakespeare's plays have terrific storylines. But, take Hamlet, a magnificent tragedy with an extremely powerful depth. The main character Hamlet finds out about his father's death his mother's marriage to his uncle and speaks to the ghost of his late father, who tells him to seek revenge on the new king (the same uncle) for his murder. In addition, the play explores different relationships, such as Hamlet's obsession with Gertrude, his mother and his love for Ophelia, who tries to convince his insanity. Beautifully written and a must for all who love literature, Hamlet is a truly gripping drama.
Macbeth is another stunning play about ambition and contradiction full of wonderfully creative characters and subtle witchcraft. Shakespeare's plays tell a storey enlightening and absorbing, captivating the reader into the tale. Children of all ages can benefit from reading the works of this literary legend whilst inspiring them to gain knowledge about past histories and enhance their imaginations.
you cannot dispute something. I believe Shakespeare's characters are so full of depth. Shakespeare had a wonderful way of exploring his characters and describing their emotions.
Romeo from Romeo & Juliet is the world's most famous young lover, whilst Hamlet is probably Shakespeare's most complex character. Shakespeare's characters are blessed with different traits and are created to grasp the reader's attention, which is what they do. From villains, murderers, lovers and dreamers to traitors, servants, witches and magicians, Shakespeare's characters are full of everything you can imagine and more. So what better way to build a child's imagination and teach them about the different themes today's world holds than to encourage them to read Shakespeare?
If there is one thing Shakespeare is still very well known for, it is his powerful portrayal of words and the famous quotes we still hear today from his works.
Probably one of Shakespeare's most quoted phrases is to be or not to be: that is the question from Hamlet. Hamlet deals with his obsession with death and questions whether to take his own life, forming a quote that was to be around nearly four hundred years after it was first written.
Other great Shakespearian quotes include:
Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou Romeo? - Romeo and Juliet
All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and entrances, And one man plays many parts in his time. - As you like it
If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? - The Merchant of Venice
I am one who loved not wisely but too well. - Othello
The course of true love never did run smooth" - A Midsummer Night's Dream.
The fault, dear Brutus, lies not within the stars but in ourselves, that we are underlings. - Julius Caesar
Challenging And Inspiring
I can think of no better way to challenge a child's reading than to have them study some Shakespeare. Once a child feels comfortable with their reading, a great way to build their eagerness and stimulate their brains is to encourage them to read some of Shakespeare's works. A great way to do this is to read together the first time to help them slowly understand the language and be there to help them overcome any difficulties they may face at first.
Reading Shakespeare can be a wonderful learning curve and a great ability for any child to possess. Shakespeare's writings are timeless and full of meaning. Children can learn so much from studying the works of this famous bard, including understanding the history behind his writings and learning from the messages he wished to convey.
Shakespeare And Modern-Day Drama
Shakespeare, in his work, addressed the human issue so articulately with his genius use of words. The works are timeless and form the basis of modern drama. Modern dramas such as The Fences address human issues that affect people in society, such as the issue of unwed pregnancies.
The modern-day dramas differ from the Shakespeare drama because they rely on visuals while the latter relies on words to pass messages. Moreover, the heroes in Shakespeare dramas are aggressive, unlike those in modern drama (Lukas and Baxandall 150-151). Therefore, the dramas are not in the same category as Shakespeare, who is clearly in a class of his own.
Shakespeare is relevant today and has stood the test of time. Readers can resonate with the universal message his works pass. The works are a good source for English literature, and thus one cannot claim to understand without understanding Shakespeare. He is the foundation of English literature, and thus, it would be unwise to banish him and be important for students' studies.