April 23 is a special day in the history of world culture. On this day, according to the few testimonies and legends, William Shakespeare, a connoisseur of history and explorer of the human soul, a wise philosopher and an intriguing playwright, was born in Stratford-upon-Avon. Philologists, art critics, directors, actors, theater fans, and poetry lovers all over the world celebrate this memorable date for world culture (Halpern 5). Tragedies, historical chronicles, comedies, and sonnets created four and a half centuries ago still live on, excite, and shake the imagination of the audience. The best theaters in the world and outstanding actors still consider it happiness to stage and play a Shakespearean play. This paper aims to analyze what makes William Shakespeare still relevant today.
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First of all, Shakespeare is popular since in his works, he raised the main life topics that will always interest people: love, jealousy, death, deceit, and betrayal. These are eternal themes that have always worried the humanity (Boston 1). His works contain the sheer truth and cover many pain points. Politics is another important topic that occupies a special niche in Shakespeare’s works. He often used socio-political vocabulary in his texts, even where it was not about politics, but about love. In many of his works, the theme of politics is the main one: with obligatory intrigues, a craving for power, and a well-described power of a leader (Boston 2). It does not matter that Shakespeare often took well-known plots from history, legends, and short stories as a basis; what matters is how he presented it.
Shakespeare is popular not only because of the relevance of his works but also because of the mystery around his person. He is the greatest figure in literature and there have always been many legends around his name. Some scholars tend to think that William Shakespeare did not exist and a group of people were writing under this pseudonym (Halpern 3). According to another thought, Shakespeare existed as a person, but other people worked for him. These hypotheses appeared because he wrote a huge number of works. The versatility of his work is embarrassing, so it is difficult to imagine that one person could write so many brilliant works even with constant inspiration and desire.
Shakespeare is a highly controversial person, which fuels his popularity. In the 18th century, when the personality of the great Bard was forgotten, but by no means his drama, doubts arose about Shakespeare’s authorship (Tumiel 1). Supporters of Shakespeare’s denial of authorship, anti-Stratfordians, believe that he was illiterate since information about his education has not been preserved anywhere. Besides, there is not a single manuscript written by the hand of William Shakespeare.
The signatures preserved on official documents are called scribbles by anti-Stratfordians and are considered another proof of Shakespeare’s illiteracy. Despite this, many words in British English, in fact, were introduced by the playwright (Tumiel 2). Besides, the author had an excellent understanding of many topics. He skillfully portrayed the characters of his plays without the slightest description, which also makes him popular to this day.
Little information has been preserved about the life of the great playwright. Shakespeare did not write memoirs, did not keep a diary and correspondence with contemporaries. The manuscripts of Shakespeare’s plays have not survived either, but only a few documents have been preserved that mention various circumstances of his life (Purewal 31). Despite this, many phrases from his plays turned into winged expressions, for example, “The whole world is a theater, and the people in it are actors”, “Love everyone, trust the chosen ones, do no harm to anyone”, or “People are the masters of their own destiny”.
The relevance of Shakespeare’s chronicles is explained not by the author’s intention to turn the historical events he depicts into a political allegory of modernity. It can be explained by the presence of some similar trends in the historical development of England both at the time when his plays are set and at the end of the 16th century (Purewal 28). The ideological depth of Shakespeare’s chronicles is due precisely to the fact that, drawing the events of English history, the author sought to understand and objectively reproduce the tendencies of the country’s development. Following this path, Shakespeare created a broad realistic picture in which the destinies of individuals and the broad popular masses are inextricably linked.
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Shakespeare’s plays will always be relevant since they can be staged at any time. They demonstrate that history is constantly repeating itself, the models of life are the same, and people are similar. Shakespeare splendidly covered the eternal problems of love, death, deceit, and power.
In his works, one can understand that the real function of politics is to provide people with well-being, but there are constant obstacles such as arrogance, lust for power, greed, hatred, and ingratitude. William Shakespeare is relevant in the modern-day since he approached the depiction of history as an objective pattern, before which people who oppose the main trend of its development are powerless.
Boston, Michelle. “Six Reasons Shakespeare Remains Relevant 400 Years After His Death.” USC News. 2017. Web.
Halpern, Richard. Shakespeare among the Moderns. Cornell University Press, 2018.
Purewal, Sandeep. “Shakespeare in the Classroom: To Be or Not to Be?” Warwick Journal of Education-Transforming Teaching, no. 1, 2017, 26-35.
Tumiel, Cindy. “Why Do We Still Care about Shakespeare? | Ovations | UTSA’s College of Liberal and Fine Arts Magazine.” Utsa. 2019. Web.