The History About William Shakespeare English Literature Essay

David Funderburk

Mrs. Kidwell

English 12

February 19, 2012

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is sometimes regarded as one of the greatest writers of all time. His works are intriguing, mysterious, and even tragic. Though his plays were not as popular when he wrote them as they are now, he was able to create so many applicable works to everyday life. The life, works, and legacy of William Shakespeare is peculiar, mysterious, and also legendary.

While no official documents have been found regarding the date of William Shakespeare's birth, church documents have been found stating that William Shakespeare was baptized in the Holy Trinity Church of Stratford-upon-Avon on April 26, 1564. Because there is evidence that William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564, many scholars have concluded that William Shakespeare was born between April 22 and April 24. 1564 but acknowledge April 23 as his birthday. William Shakespeare grew up in the market town of Stratford-upon-Avon. He was born of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden. William was the third child of six. William had two older sisters and three younger brothers. His two sisters' names were Joan and Judith, and his three brothers’ names were Gilbert, Richard, and Edmund. There is very little information on the education that William Shakespeare acquired. However, many scholars infer that William Shakespeare attended the King's New School in Stratford located about half a mile away from his house. There, William learned reading, writing, and the classics. Because William Shakespeare was the child of a public official, William would most likely have been eligible for free school tuition. Other than these facts, very little is known about the early childhood of William Shakespeare.

As opposed to the childhood years of William Shakespeare's life, more is known about the adult life of William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare married a woman from the small village of Shottery named Anne Hathaway on November 28, 1582. Despite this romantic affair, William Shakespeare was 8 years younger than his bride for he was 18 and she was 26. When William and Anne got married, Anne was pregnant with a girl. William and Anne had their first child on May 26, 1583 and named the girl Susana. Next, William and Anne had twins on February 2. 1584 named Hamnet and Judith. Later however, Hamnet died at age 11 of an unknown cause. The seven years after that are sometimes considered to be the "Lost years". Little is known of William Shakespeare during this time period. Many scholars have done research and have concluded that William may have fled the town due to danger of being prosecuted for poaching of a man named Thomas Lucy's deer.

After the seven year hiatus, William Shakespeare began his playwright life. When Shakespeare began writing his plays, he was ridiculed by more "learned" writers who considered Shakespeare's writings to lack intellectual depth. While nobody knows exactly when Shakespeare started writing his plays, they began to be performed 1954.

During the beginning of William Shakespeare's career, only the Lord Chamberlain's Men performed Shakespeare's plays. Lord Chamberlain's men were a group of performers that included William Shakespeare. A man named Richard Burbage played the role of the lead character in most of the plays. Soon, Lord Chamberlain's Men became the most popular playing group in London. The men performed their plays at a place known as "The theatre" in Shoreditch, a district in the east-end of London. However, on December 29, 1598, "the theatre" was taken down and moved to a new area. The new area was in Southwark, a district of central London, and was the "Globe Theatre". The "Globe Theatre" was built in 1599 but was tragically destroyed in a fire in 1613.

One of William Shakespeare's most famous plays is The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The play is recognized by many critics as being one of the best plays ever written. The story tells of a young prince named Hamlet plotting revenge on his uncle named Claudius. Hamlet is seeking revenge for the death of his father. After his father appears to him as a ghost, Hamlet realizes that Claudius is the one who murdered Hamlet's father. The play unfolds with many plot twists and turns. At one point in the play, Hamlet claims that he must feign insanity. Throughout the play, the audience is given the decision of whether to think that Hamlet is actually insane or that he is faking. Because of this, the question of whether Hamlet was insane or not is one of the most widely disputed questions in literature. Hamlet is one of the most quotable works in the entire English language. Along with that, Hamlet is often included on lists of greatest pieces of literature to ever have existed.

Macbeth is another outstanding play written by William Shakespeare. This play has an overall dark atmosphere to it. Written between 1603 and 1607, Macbeth tells of the dark conversion of a valiant knight into a power- hungry killer. Throughout the play, Macbeth becomes more and more power-hungry and is cursed by witches who are able to predict what will happen to him. As the play continues, Macbeth trusts the witches more and more and eventually trusts them with everything. In an effort to gain power, Macbeth does many unlawful deeds to gain what he wants. Throughout the play he continuously murders people who, in his mind, stand in the way of his egotistical aspirations and even goes on to kill innocent children. This dark and creepy tragedy portrays the breakdown of the psychological morals of Macbeth when he is introduced with a small portion of power. This play tells of the evil nature of humanity and how power can trump all morality. With the help of his wife, Macbeth murders the king in pursuit of kingship. Macbeth's secret murders attempt to keep the murder of the rightful king hidden though these attempts are futile. At the end of the play, Macduff kills Macbeth.

Romeo and Juliet is one of the most ubiquitously known love stories in all of literature. aThe tragedy was written in the early portion of Wiliam Shakespeare’s career. The story is about two young lovers from two different types of people who view love as more important than their feuding families. During the lifetime of William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet was viewed as on of Shakespeare’s most popular plays. Romeo and Juliet is one of many tragic romances stretching back to the beginning of time. The plot of Romeo and Juliet is actually based on an Italian tale that was translated into English. A man named Arthur Brooks in 1562 then translated it into The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet. Also, in 1567 a man named William Painter retold the story in prose in Palace of Pleasure. Because Shakespeare borrowed from both plays, his works were not necessarily original. In order to not blatantly steal the work of others and also to expand the plot, Shakespeare developed supporting characters in the play like Mercutio and Paris. Many believe that Shakespeare wrote the play in between 1591 and 1595. In 1597, a butchered version of Shakespeare’s work was published and was criticized for its poor quality. After that, editions corrected the work making it more similar to the original work of Shakespeare.

When William Shakespeare was writing during his time, modern English had not been set in stone meaning that there were many inconsistencies in grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure. This was very different from Greek and Latin as those languages were firm in all of their language. When William Shakespeare began to write his plays, the English Language was constantly adding new words from other languages due to many factors such as colonization and wars. By the time of Elizabeth, English was being used in many different fields such as philosophy, theology and physical sciences. However, because the vocabulary kept changing due to words consistently being added, many writers were desperately trying to express their ideas through the language. Because the language was so rapidly changing, many writers would invent words to use for the words they did not know. Along with that, many writers such as William Shakespeare actually borrowed words from other languages to use in their works. The process of stealing words from other languages is called eulogizing. During this tremendous era, most scholars speculate that between the years 1500 and 1659, over 30,000 new words were added to the English Language

Shakespeare's plays displayed a wide variety of emotions. His plays usually exhibited violence, plotting of a major character, and comedy. In the play King Lear, Shakespeare deliberately brings two completely different plots together. Because Shakespeare was so phenomenal at bringing his plays to the heart of his audience, Shakespeare was much better than others of his time. The reason he was able to bring the plays so close to other’s hearts was because he was in contact with people all the time and was really in touch with the pop culture of the time. Shakespeare was really excellent at portraying English people in his plays as actual people with feelings while others were portraying their characters as merely puppets.

During the early portion of Shakespeare’s career, William mostly produced history plays with a few comedies. Of the first eighteen plays Shakespeare wrote in the first decade of his career, Nine were chronicles or histories. His histories were based on the Tudor political thought. Those works displayed the successes and failures of kings. Along with that, they also displayed the king’s misgovernment and church problems that arose. His characters were very near to the reality of life.

Shakespeare combined the three main portions of literature: verse, Poetry, and drama. Shakespeare was very eloquent in his speech throughout his writing. He is often praised for such excellence in speech. The second, the poetry was bound in structure. He was excellent at being concise. The third and most important area of his writing was his inclusion of drama into his works. Once again, Shakespeare excelled in creating emotional attachments to the character for which he was writing. Because of this, many were very interested in any tragedy that would happen to that character during the play. Shakespeare's work in those three categories marked the beginning of modern English Literature.

The sexuality of William Shakespeare has been the subject of recurring debate. It is known from public records that he married Anne Hathaway and they had three children; scholars have analyzed their relationship through these documents, in particular through the bequests to her in Shakespeare's will. There has been speculation that he had affairs with other women, based on contemporary writings of others anecdotally recounting such affairs and possibly on the "Dark Lady" figure in his sonnets. Scholars have also speculated that he was bisexual, based on an analysis of the sonnets, many of which, including Sonnet 18 "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day", are love poems addressed to a man, the "Fair Lord", and which contain plays on words relating to sexual desire between men.

Another question that arises is "was William Shakespeare a Christian?" Some of the anecdotes about his life make that doubtful. Nonetheless, a month before his death, he wrote his will, which he concluded by saying, "I commend my soul into the hands of God my Creator, hoping and assuredly believing through the only merits of Jesus Christ my Saviour to be made partaker of life everlasting.

In the days leading up to Shakespeare’s death, William decided that he should retire in Stratford. However, during that time period, it was uncommon for men to completely retire from all of their duties so Shakespeare continued to visit London. In the year of 1612, Shakespeare was called to appear at the trial of Bellot versus Mountjoy, a court case dealing with the marriage settlement of Mountjoy's daughter, Mary. In March of 1613 William Shakespeare bought a gatehouse and from November 1614 he was in London for several weeks with his son-in-law, John Hall. Shakespeare died on the 23 of April 1616 (which coincidentally is the day he was supposedly born)and left his wife and two daughters alone. Susanna, one of the daughters of Shakespeare married a physician named John Hall, in 1607, and Judith, the other daughter, married a man named Thomas Quiney two months before her father died. After 1606–1607, Shakespeare wrote fewer plays, and no plays are credited to him after 1613. His last three plays were collaborations, probably with John Fletcher, who succeeded him as the house playwright for the King’s Men.

In his will, Shakespeare left the almost all of his large estate to his oldest daughter Susanna. Her father told instructed her to leave the estate to her first son and instruct her first son to do the same. Susanna and her husband had three children, none of which got married. Susanna’s sister, Judith, and her husband had one child, Elizabeth. Elizabeth married twice but died without children in 1670. Because Susanna and Judith’s children had no offspring, Shakespeare’s direct line ended with them. The will of Shakespeare scarcely mentions his wife, Anne, who automatically was probably entitled to one third of his estate. He didsay in his will, however, to leave her "my second best bed", a request that has led to many questions. Some scholars see the inheritance as an insult to Anne; whereas others have speculated that the second-best bed may have been referring to the matrimonial bed. If that is true, this would not be an insult at all but a true honor.

Two days after the death of William Shakespeare, William was buried in the chancel of the Holy Trinity Church. On his epitath reads a curious quote: "Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare,

To digg the dvst encloased heare.Bleste be ye man yt spares thes stones,And cvrst be he yt moves my bones."

William Shakespeare's life has many intriguing facts. Also, his plays are very well-written and many consider him to be the greatest English writer of all time. Overall, William Shakespeare was a very interesting man with many unusual facts about his life.