William Shakespeare

November 25, 2012 6:17 am

No author is quoted more often than William Shakespeare. His is the most famous name in all of English literature. What makes him so great?
Shakespeare was born in 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon, a prosperous town in England. His local grammar school had a demanding curriculum. At age 18, he married Anne Hathaway. They had a daughter, Susanna, and twins—Hamnet and Judith. At some point, Shakespeare left Stratford for London, to work in the theater.
Shakespeare made his reputation with 38 glorious plays. He wrote about two plays a year, while living in London. He never published the plays, but he saw them performed at the Globe and other London theaters.
Shakespeare’s plays were well liked by audiences. But we know little about his life in London. Later, he retired in Stratford as a prominent citizen. He died in 1616. Two actors saw that his plays were printed. A collection called the First Folio came out seven years after his death.
Shakespeare was a fabulous storyteller. His plays entertained audiences. Most people of his time considered his plays merely popular entertainments, much as we think of the movies today.
Shakespeare was also a profound thinker. He created a variety of true-to-life characters in his plays. These characters seem real because Shakespeare presented their viewpoints so well. The richness of his language is amazing. He even invented many words and phrases that are now common, including leapfrog, lonely, and watchdog.
Shakespeare’s plays reflect many aspects of human life. He wrote delightful comedies, such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream,Much Ado About Nothing, and As You Like It. He wrote plays about England’s kings that teach history in an entertaining way. The great tragedies explore flaws in human nature. These plays include Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. In his spare time, he wrote poetry. His 154 sonnets are among the most famous love poems of all time.
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