Merits and Demerits of Shakespeare

Topics: Morality, Human, Virtue / Pages: 5 (1060 words) / Published: Apr 22nd, 2013
Merits and Demerits of Shakespeare In Preface to Shakespeare, Johnson has shown the merits and demerits of Shakespeare based on the plays he has edited. Here he gives the readers some sound ideas about the virtues and faults of Shakespeare. That Shakespeare's characters have am interaction with nature and that his works have a universal appeal are the major assertions of Johnson in favour of Shakespeare's merits and what he says about the demerit of Shakespeare is that Shakespeare tries more to please his audience than to instruct them which is a serious fault because it is always a writer's duty to make the world morally better. However, what Johnson has seen as the merits and demerits of Shakespeare are given below:
Merits of Shakespeare: At first Johnson explicates Shakespeare's virtues after explaining what merit can be determined by the Shakespeare's enduring popularity. He proceeds thence to elevate Shakespeare as the poet of nature. "Nothing can please many, and please long, but just representations of general nature" (7). He says, "Shakespeare is above all writers, at least above all modern writers, the poet of nature; the poet that holds up to his readers a faithful mirror of manners and of life".( 8). Again he says that Shakespeare's characters "are the genuine progeny of common humanity " In the writings of other writers , a character is too often an individual but a character of Shakespeare has a universal appeal, and his characters are the representatives of the common people.
Moreover Shakespeare is a prophet figure and from his writings we find the ideas of worldly wisdom and the principles which are of value in society and at home. He says, "from his works may be collected a system of civil and economical prudence." (9)
Again he says that by writings Shakespeare brings out the whole sphere of life. Moreover his heroes are like common human beings. And the qualities that are found in Shakespearean heroes can be found in every human being.

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