William Shakespeare was a great English playwright, dramatist
and poet who lived during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth
centuries. Shakespeare is considered to be the greatest playwright of
all time. No other writer’s plays have been produced so many times or
read so widely in so many countries as his.
Shakespeare was born to middle class parents. His father,
John, was a Stratford businessman. He was a glove maker who owned a
leather shop. John Shakespeare was a well known and respected man
in the town. He held several important local governmental positions.
William Shakespeare’s mother was Mary Arden. Though she was the
daughter of a local farmer, she was related to a family of
considerable wealth and social standing. Mary Arden and John
Shakespeare were married in 1557.
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford in 1564. He was one
of eight children. The Shakespeare’s were well respected prominent
people. When William Shakespeare was about seven years old, he
probably began attending the Stratford Grammar School with other
boys of his social class. Students went to school year round
attending school for nine hours a day. The teachers were strict
Though Shakespeare spent long hours at school, his boyhood was
probably fascinating. Stratford was a lively town and during
holidays, it was known to put on pageants and many popular shows. It
also held several large fairs during the year. Stratford was a
exciting place to live. Stratford also had fields and woods
surrounding it giving William the opportunity to hunt and trap small
game. The River Avon which ran through the town allowed him to fish
also. Shakespeare’s’ poems and plays show his love of nature and
rural life which reflects his childhood.
On November 28, 1582, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway of
the neighboring village of Shottery. She was twenty-six, and he was
only eighteen at the time. They had three children. Susana was their
first and then they had twins, Hamnet and Judith. Hamnet,
Shakespeare’s son, died in 1596. In 1607, his daughter Susana got
married. Shakespeare’s other daughter, Judith, got married in 1616.
In London, Shakespeare’s career took off. It is believed that
he may have become well known in London theatrical life by 1592. By
that time, he had joined one of the city’s repertory theater
companies. These companies were made up of a permanent cast of actors
who presented different plays week after week. The companies were
commercial organizations that depended on admission from their
audience. Scholars know that Shakespeare belonged to one of the most
popular acting companies in London called The Lord Chamberlain’s
Men. Shakespeare was a leading member of the group from 1594 for
the rest of his career. By 1594, at least six of Shakespeare’s plays
had been produced.
During Shakespeare’s life, there were two monarchs who ruled
England. They were Henry the eighth and Elizabeth the first. Both
were impressed with Shakespeare which made his name known. There
is evidence that he was a member of a traveling theater group, and a
schoolmaster. In 1594, he became an actor and playwright for Lord
Chamberlain’s Men. In 1599, he became a part owner of the prosperous
Globe Theater. He also was a part owner of the Blackfriars Theater as
of 1609. Shakespeare retired to Stratford in 1613 where he wrote many
of his excellent plays.
There are many reasons as to why William Shakespeare is so
famous. He is generally considered to be both the greatest dramatist
the world has ever known as well as the finest poet who has written in
the English language. Many reasons can be given for Shakespeare’s
enormous appeal. His fame basically is from his great understanding
of human nature. He was able to find universal human qualities and
put them in a dramatic situation creating characters that are
timeless. Yet he had the ability to create characters that are highly
individual human beings. Their struggles in life are universal.
Sometimes they are successful and sometimes their lives are full of
pain, suffering, and failure.
In addition to his understanding and realistic view of human
nature, Shakespeare had a vast knowledge of a variety of subjects.
These subjects include music, law, Bible, stage, art, politics,
history, hunting, and sports. Shakespeare had a tremendous influence
on culture and literature throughout the world. He contributed
greatly to the development of the English language. Many words and
phrases from Shakespeare’s plays and poems have become part of our
speech. Shakespeare’s plays and poems have become a required part of
education in the United States. Therefore, his ideas on subjects such
as romantic love, heroism, comedy, and tragedy have helped shape the
attitudes of millions of people. His portrayal of historical figures
and events have influenced our thinking more than what has been
written in history books. The world has admired and respected many
great writers, but only Shakespeare has generated such enormous
continuing interest. My source states explanations rather than
opinions on why Shakespeare’s contributions to literature are so vast.
My source devoted thirty pages to William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s plays are usually divided into three major
categories. These are comedy, tragedy, and history. Three plays
which are in the category of comedy are The Comedy of Errors, The
Taming of the Shrew, and The Two Gentlemen of Verone. Three
plays which are in the category of tragedy are Romeo and Juliet,
Titus Andronicus, and Julius Caesar. In the category of history,
three plays are Henry V, Richard II, and Richard III.