William Shakespeare: the Greatest Writer

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William Shakespeare
Thesis Statement: William Shakespeare: Often called England’s National Poet, the Bard of Avon, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language, the world's pre-eminent dramatist and is an author who inspired and influenced the writer of our time. Outline:

I. Introduction
Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright during his days. Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime. His plays remain highly popular today and are constantly studied, performed, and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world. Shakespeare is hailed, presciently, as "not of an age, but for all time."

II. William Shakespeare’s Life and Works
a. Shakespeare’s Early Life
William Shakespeare was the son of John Shakespeare, an alderman and a successful glover originally from Snitterfield, and Mary Arden, the daughter of an affluent landowning farmer. He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and baptised there on 26 April 1564. His actual birth date remains unknown, but is traditionally observed on 23 April, St George's Day. This date, which can be traced back to an 18th-century scholar's mistake, has proved appealing to biographers, since Shakespeare died 23 April 1616. He was the third child of eight and the eldest surviving son.

b. Plays
Most playwrights of the period typically collaborated with others at some point, and critics agree that Shakespeare did the same, mostly early and late in his career. Some attributions, such as Titus Andronicus and the early history plays, remain controversial, while The Two Noble Kinsmen and the lost Cardenio have well-attested contemporary documentation. Textual evidence also supports the view that several of the plays were revised by other writers after their original composition.

i. Macbeth
Macbeth is Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy, and is considered as one of his darkest and most powerful tragedies. The play is believed to have been written between 1603 and 1607, and is most commonly dated 1606. ii. Hamlet

Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest play and among the most powerful and influential tragedies in all literature, with a story capable of "seemingly endless retelling and adaptation by others". The play was one of Shakespeare's most popular works during his lifetime and still ranks among his most-performed, topping the Royal Shakespeare Company's performance list since 1879. It has inspired writers from Goethe and Dickens to Joyce and Murdoch, and has been described as "the world's most filmed story after Cinderella".

iii. Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written early in the career of William Shakespeare about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with Hamlet, is one of his most frequently performed plays. Today, the title characters are regarded as archetypal young lovers.

c. Poems

i. Sonnets
Published in 1609, the Sonnets were the last of Shakespeare's non-dramatic works to be printed. Scholars are not certain when each of the 154 sonnets was composed, but evidence suggests that Shakespeare wrote sonnets throughout his career for a private readership. Even before the two unauthorised sonnets appeared in The Passionate Pilgrim in 1599, Francis Meres had referred in 1598 to Shakespeare's "surged Sonnets among his private friends". Few analysts believe that the published collection follows Shakespeare's intended sequence.

ii. Style
Shakespeare's first plays were written in the conventional style of the day. He wrote them in a stylised language that does not always spring naturally from the needs of the characters or the drama. The poetry depends on extended, sometimes elaborate metaphors and conceits, and the language is often rhetorical—written for actors to declaim...
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