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The Work of William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is believed to have been born on 23rd April 1564 in Stratford near London. Though little is known about the life of this great actor and renowned writer, his parents John Shakespeare and Mary Arden are assumed to have taken him to a grammar school where he read lots of mythology which he used later in his career life. He was married to Ann Hathaway with whom they had three children, Susanna, Hamnet, and Judith (The life and times of Mr. William Shakespeare, n.d, para. 1).

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Throughout his life, William Shakespeare has made tremendous contributions to the field of English language, theatre, poetry as well as literature. He is usually considered the most outstanding writer of the English language and the world’s finest playwright. He has transformed English theatre by intensifying the outlook about what could be achieved through, plot, language, characterization, and genre (Terry, 1997, para.5).

Due to his nationalistic attitude, Shakespeare together with other writers of his time used English, the vernacular language, in most of their works and noticed that the language could be used as a sensible means of getting to the public. This was also favored by the mass production and extensive circulation of books.

According to Ashlee, Shakespeare made the grammatical structure more complicated for the sophisticated user adding more dignity to the language (2003, Para. 5). English language gradually rose to a greater level and was frequently used for educational purposes unlike the case earlier where the English language was primarily used only for oral communication. Style and structure became dominant to an otherwise loose and spontaneous language.

Among the changes that were made during the Shakespearian time to the early modern English is the addition of flexibility to its unfixed structure. He increased vocabulary, to the language, both spoken and written, adding more words that he borrowed from fields such as diplomacy, explorations, colonization, and war. Others were borrowed from orthodox literature and foreign languages. He has been credited for having added more words into the English vocabulary, approximately 10,000 words that were considered to be limited earlier on. The English Oxford Dictionary for example has recorded a very large number of words whose origin can be traced back to Shakespeare (Noel, Brenon, Corey, James, 2009, p.20).

Consequently, Shakespeare has greatly influenced the rise in standards of the English language especially during the sixteenth century (Amanda, 2005, para.1). He gave the language some confidence and maturity that was lacking before, enhanced it, and added more color to its appearance. Prior to the coming of Shakespeare to London, there was little or no hope for the future of English. It was only used by the illiterate. After his coming, writers began to associate the English language with good values and a sense of national pride. It has since become a respectable language.

According to Amanda (2005), he also contributed to the standardization of the English language. With many Shakespearean words and phrases that were fixed in the English language. For instance, phrases such as ‘To be or not to be’ and ‘All is well that ends well’ have become an essential part of the English language and have been used in day-to-day communication. Such phrases made his style unique and are major contributions to everyday conversation in the English language (para. 2).

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His work has influenced a large number of writers over the years (Amanda, 2005, para, 3). Charles Dickens and H. Melville are among great writers whose writings show a great tendency towards the writings of this legendary. They have extensively included Shakespearean quotations all through their writings. Dickens, for example, draws his titles from Shakespeare, while Melville has regularly used Shakespearean devices, such as extended soliloquies and formal stage directions.

According to Amanda (2005), Shakespeare has also influenced several English poets, particularly the idealistic poets including Samuel Taylor Coleridge who was passionate about self-consciousness. This is a common theme that Shakespeare projected in most of his work. In fact, throughout the history of English speaking world, he is the most frequently quoted writer. Shakespeare’s writings had so much influence on English poetry of the 1800s that some critics described all English poetic plays as weak variations of Shakespearean themes (para. 5).

He also stretched out the range of English literature by introducing new words and phrases in this area, testing with the blank verse, and also bringing in new poetic structures. He mostly included dialogues in his plays which were written in verse form. His literary work was rich with rhyme, and mostly in the form of prose. Through his creativity, he invented a new style of blank verse.

Most of Shakespeare’s plays were performative, and because of his stylistic use of somewhat vernacular language, his writings very much mirrored oral use than the existing formal writing, As a result, literary language gained power and liberty of popular speech while persuasiveness of the language reached the general public. He made the language popular to the people tremendously. His drama played an essential part in this.

His identified work composes of 154 sonnets, two long narratives, 38 plays, and several other poems (The literature network, n.d, para.8). His work has since then been translated into the world’s main languages and his plays are the most frequently performed compared to other playwrights.

Shakespeare has been worshipped by many literary writers of the twentieth century and especially the romantics. His work has been constantly adapted, performed revived, and reinterpreted by scholars and artists. It remains popular today and is widely studied in various cultural and political contexts worldwide.

Among his many works, Shakespeare produced several sonnets which formed a basis of all his other works. They evidently depict repetitiveness of the main arguments and reveal great attention to structural details. For instance, the first two volumes of the sonnets are unique, inclusive, and constant. The sonnets are systematic in nature representing his definitive philosophy and get rid of the traditional issues of ordering and dating as found in sonnet 76. They bring out a sense of perception and the need for justice (Bruce, 2005, para 1)

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Shakespeare has also produced several plays. Among them are Romeo and Juliet, a distinctive romantic play (Petri& Ari, 2008, p, 4). It is a tragicomedy play whose plot is borrowed from a classical writer Arthur Brooke. In this play, Shakespeare has created more supporting characters with the aim of expanding the plot. He has used several dramatic techniques which include switching between tragedy and comedy in order to heighten the tension and sub-plots within the main plot to emboss the story and humor. This has indeed shown his intellect in dramatic skills. His philosophy is based on common sense without bigotry. For instance, he has questioned the traditional Christian prototype in the face of his natural logic (Petri& Ari, 2008, p, 4).

However, it is difficult to interpret most of his plays since he wrote them without considering the conventions of drama, providing no guide to the underlying philosophy. This has contributed to their misconception. Many people find their real meaning only after examining them using the sonnet philosophy.

Shakespeare’s success as an actor and writer has since thrived where he later became one of the associates in the New Globe Theater. This group was an incredible combination of brilliant actors who were also cohorts in business and close allies. Shakespeare’s efficiency and reputation continued uninterrupted. He invested in London real estate, and purchased a second theater by the name of Blackfriars Gatehouse, together with his fellow artists (Globe Theatre Actors, 2009, para. 7).

However, Shakespeare has had several setbacks. Unbelievably, most of Shakespeare’s plays were only published in form of brochures and simply stored as acting scripts. This has made it difficult for scholars to retrieve. This notwithstanding, some copies of his plays have been reconstructed by various members with whom he acted. Henry Condell and John Heminges his friends are said to have preserved his 36 plays to keep the memory of their associate alive (Noel et al, 2009, p. 23).

Shakespeare experienced some financial setbacks from when he was young until during his peak of the playwright’s recognition and victory. This forced him to leave school at an early age to look for a job that could cater to his needs.

Some critics have based his image on neoclassical grounds as a poor Latinist and have started doubting his significance on the expansion of the English vocabulary. They argued that it was not possible for people to understand his plays if they contained words that were unheard of.

Sometimes around 1592, the theaters were clogged for about 2 years. This was a major obstacle that forced Shakespeare to temporarily walk out of the theater arena. He however used this time writing some of his sonnets. This however did not go for a long time since the theaters were reopened in 1594.

In the midst of his success, Shakespeare lost his only son Hamnet in 1596. This however did not derail his work.

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In conclusion, though some of Shakespeare’s work was to some extent unsystematic in nature and some texts had some typographical errors, we can not deny the fact that William Shakespeare is a legendary who has had a great influence on the English language and literature. It is therefore no doubt a necessity for scholars in this line to study more about him and establish his philosophy in life as well as gain more insight from his works.

References

  1. Amanda, M. (2005).Did Shakespeare invent words and phrases we use today? London: Amanda Mabillard Publishers.
  2. Ashlee, J. (2003) The importance of Shakespeare. Amanda Mabillard Publishers: London. Web.
  3. Bruce, M.(2005) Shakespeare’s sonnets. Web.
  4. Globe Theatre Actors (2009) William Shakespeare the actor.
  5. Noel, B, Brenon, H, Corey, C, Christian, M, Shannon, P & James, W.(2009) Life and
  6. times of Mr. William Shakespeare. Alberta: Grande Prairie Regional College.
  7. Petri, L.& Ari, P,K.(2008) William Shakespeare (1654-1616).
  8. William Shakespeare (1993) The complete works. Manhattan: Gramercy Publishers. Web.
  9. Terry, A.G (1997) Some account of Mr. William Shakespeare, Harvard: Loeb classical Library.
  10. The literature network (2009). William Shakespeare. Web.

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