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Shakespeare’s World: Then and Now

Oct 28, 2008 818 Words
Shakespeare’s World: Then and Now

William Shakespeare is regarded by many as one of the worlds’ prominent literary figures. Though his abilities were able to capture an audiences’ attention and hold it for the duration of the performance were superior to many, his works have been over celebrated since their creation. Shakespeare was able to master many fundamentals, which in sequence enabled him to become successful. He was able to create plot twists, which added the element of surprise to each performance, keeping the audience on their toes as the ending neared. Despite his talents of weaving together characters and plot lines with twists, much of his work was not original, which is disappointing to some, including me. Some of his works are also questionable as to whether or not he actually wrote them.

Much of a playwrights’ success is based upon the audiences’ response. Shakespeare created intriguing plot lines and characters that the crowds could connect with. His themes were universal, making them applicable to almost any situation in whichever place they were performing. Education also played a part in his accomplishments. This was all possible because Shakespeare was born into a middle-class family whose financial situation was decent. Therefore, he was able to attend a school day that lasted from light until dark every day where he studied languages. Though not much is known about his childhood, the quality of his writings suggest that he had a solid education.

Yet, he never proceeded to university level schooling, which has some people questioning whether his works actually belonged to him. Many of Shakespeare’s most famous works, such as Romeo and Juliet, have borrowed plot lines. He was not the first to come up with the idea that the children of two feuding families were to fall in love and eventually die together. He borrowed plot lines from earlier plays and other forms of literature. Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice is thought to be created from many Italian story collections. The characters and the basic plot line are all similar to those from folk tales and he borrowed several details from writings that already existed. The marriage portion of the plot line is also similar to that of his earlier works, which means that he was not exactly coming up with new ideas for each one of his works. Shakespeare is also questionable as an author. According to a study done by Oxford University, the Bard was known in Stratford as a businessman, not a playwright or a poet. There is a statute that depicts him holding just a stack of papers, but no pen, quill, or any other form of writing utensil, which would not indicate him as a playwright. Oxford further explains that a businessman would not have been able to write roughly 37 plays and 154 sonnets. Some of the leading contenders that could have written Shakespeare’s plays include Edward de Vere (17th Earl of Oxford), Francis Bacon (a philosopher and writer), and Christopher Marlowe (another playwright of the period). De Vere was a noble man who received a good education, which is thought to be more suited to the genius that wrote the plays of Shakespeare. He was also believe to have stopped writing at an early age, but could have chosen to write under the pen name of William Shakespeare. Bacon also was well educated, but his style varied from the works of Shakespeare greatly. Finally, Marlowe was thought have died in 1593. Yet, there were many accounts of people who insisted his death was phony because he had been spotted around town, spying for the crown. The literary works of Shakespeare have gained much attention over the years since they have been written. The way their words are wound together to form a storyline and characters have entranced audiences since their creation. Yet, they are not out of the ordinary. The plays that were written by Shakespeare are products of a time that was engrossed with the importance of fundamentals and plot twists. He would suddenly turn the play in another direction because the audience would be able to figure out the ending if it was straightforward. A good amount of modern works have just as many plot turns, proving that they aren’t something to marvel at. Furthermore, there’s the question of authorship. Shakespeare did seem to fit the profile of someone who could come up with all of these great stories and yet he takes credit for them. Overall, his works seemed to be over celebrated and over analyzed. We pick them apart, making it impossible for enjoyment after they’ve been reduced to nothing but the components that put them together. In order for Shakespeare to be viewed as good, it shouldn’t be over thought about, but instead, acted out or read aloud like its author had meant it to be.

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