William Shakespeare is a prominent English poet, playwright, and actor in English literature in particular, and world literature in general. He was called the poet of patriotism and the epic poet of Avon.
His works are extant, consisting of 39 plays, 158 short poems (sonnets), two ballads (two long narrative poems) and some poems. His plays and works have been translated into all living languages, and have been performed more frequently than the writings of any other playwright.
Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. He married Anne Hathaway when he was eighteen, and had three children with her: Susanna and twins: Judith and Hamnet. Between 1585 and 1592 he began his successful career in London as an actor, writer and partner in a show company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later known as the King’s Men. He retired at the age of forty-nine about 1613 to Stratford, where he died three years later. Few and limited records exist of Shakespeare’s private life; This led to much speculation about several things such as his physical appearance, sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether or not the works attributed to him were written by others. Such opinions and speculations are often criticized because they fail to refer to the fact that few records of his life survive from this period.
Shakespeare completed most of his famous works between 1589 – 1613. His first plays were primarily about comedy and history, and it was considered one of the greatest works produced in this type of writing. After that, he mainly wrote tragic theater until 1608, the most important of which are: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth. In the last period of his life, William wrote comic tragedies, “tragic comedies”, which are also known as “romances”, and he also collaborated with other playwrights. The 400th anniversary of his death came in 2016, and famous personalities in the UK honored Shakespeare and his works across the world.
Many of his plays were published in editions and versions of different quality and accuracy throughout his life. In 1623, two fellow actors, John Hemings and Henry Condell, published a definite text known as the First Folio, an edition of the posthumous collection of Shakespeare’s dramatic works that included most of the plays we now know of him. Accompanying this volume is a poem by Ben Jonson, in which the poet praises the playwright’s rigor in his now-famous dictum, “Not for this age, but for all ages.”
Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, Shakespeare’s work has been continually modified and rediscovered by new movements in study and performance. His plays and plays remain hugely popular, and are constantly studied, performed, and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts around the world.
The most severe tragedies in his works are not devoid of moments full of open humor, as he depicts life that beats in a muffled voice at the signature of emotions, lusts, and contradictions, in a language that is sometimes strange, and at other times emotional, which gave his works the character of high tragedy.
Shakespeare’s theatrical output can be divided into three main types: tragedy, comedy, and historical plays. He also wrote a number of plays that are difficult to include within these familiar classifications, and critics used to describe them as “romantic play” or “tragicomedy”. It is possible, for the sake of ease, to divide his work into four stages, although the date of his writing of plays is not known with certainty. The first stage extends from its beginnings until 1594, the second from 1594-1600, the third from 1600-1608, and the last from 1608-1612. These divisions are approximate and developed by theater historians and critics to follow the development of his literary life within a clear framework. The first and second stages are located within the Elizabethan Theater stage in relation to Queen Elizabeth I, while the third and fourth stages are located within the Jacobean theater stage in relation to James “Jacob” I, King of England, who assumed the throne in 1603 and died in 1625.
The first stage
Shakespeare at this stage was a beginner writer compared to his contemporaries such as John Lilly, Marlowe and Thomas Kidd. His works at this stage were not characterized by literary and artistic maturity. Rather, the structure of his texts was superficial and clumsy, and his poetic compositions were stilted and rhetorical. Historical plays spread during this period, as a result of the great interest in the history of England, especially after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, and the desire of the public to glorify heroism and learn from history. At this stage, Shakespeare wrote several plays depicting the era between 1200-1550 in the history of England, specifically the civil war that took place between the Lancaster and York families, such as his trilogy “King Henry VI” 1590-1592, and “King Richard III” 1593, in which he was portrayed The negative consequences of the rule of a weak king. These four plays cover the period from the reign of Henry VI to Henry VII and the beginning of the rule of the Tudor dynasty, to which Queen Elizabeth belongs, and is called the era of the Wars of the Roses. Shakespeare’s style is similar to the style of medieval theater, the Roman writer Seneca’s theater and Thomas Kidd’s violent theater, and this appears in the bloodyness of some scenes in the four plays, and through the rhetorical rhetoric. This feature appeared in the tragedy “Titos Andronicus” 1594, where Shakespeare portrayed revenge and murder with visible bloody details on the stage, so his texts were the least polished and mature. Here, Shakespeare mixes history, politics, and patriotic feelings among his historical figures, with a sense of humor in drawing some dramatic figures.
At this stage, Shakespeare also wrote a number of texts such as “The Comedy of Errors” 1592, which is a comic play that follows the style of traditional Roman comedy in terms of ambiguity in the identity of the characters and the similarities between them, and the resulting pandemonium, and “The Taming of the Fierce” 1593, in which he focused on the characters, their actions, emotions, and behavior as a baseline for funny situations loaded with meanings at the same time, and the play “Two Gentlemen from Verona” 1594, which tells about romantic love, and “Disappointed Lovers” 1594, in which he presented a negative picture of love and the changes and transformations that accompany it. Personalities and behavior of lovers and their childish behavior. The second phase
National Gallery of Victoria Melbourne, Australia
Shakespeare wrote his most important historical plays at this stage, such as “King Richard II” Richard II of England 1595, “King John” 1596, “King Henry IV” Henry IV (clarification) 1597, in two parts, and “King Henry V” Henry V (Explanation) 1598. He also wrote his funniest and most distinctive comedic scripts, such as the comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” 1595, “The Twelfth Night” The Twelfth Night, or as you like it 1595, “A fanfare without grinding,” A fanfare without grinding 1598, “As you like.” 1599, in addition to “Romeo and Juliet” Romeo and Juliet 1595, “Julius Caesar” Julius Caesar 1599, and “The Merchant of Venice” The Merchant of Venice 1596. At this stage, a remarkable development appears in his style, which has become inclined to privacy and distinction.
The play “King Richard II” tells the story of a weak king who loses his throne and his kingdom, which angered Queen Elizabeth because she dealt with a sensitive political issue, so she prevented it from being shown, saying: “I am Richard.” Shakespeare continues the historical sequence in the play “King Henry IV”, which he wrote in two parts, and “King Henry V”, about his son who proves his ability to rule and assume responsibility. The play “Henry IV” was known as the character of the fat knight Volstaff, who inspired the writers, and became a source of funny and funny characters, but they have deep human dimensions, as Shakespeare mixes sadness, joy, fear, cowardice and enthusiasm in it.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is considered one of the most wonderful works written by Shakespeare in the comedy, as he relied in it on a complex dramatic tapestry of three plots and three different and intertwined worlds of jinn and humans, depicting a couple of lovers from noble families in Athens, and a group of comic characters from the people of its countryside Who attend a theatrical performance to celebrate the marriage of the Duke and Hippolyta, in addition to the fairy world led by Oberon and the fairy queen Titania and their energetic servant Buck. In this play, Shakespeare shows the emotions that govern everyone, even the jinn, such as love, jealousy, and sometimes hate, in a funny romantic template full of meanings and lessons. After that, he began writing “The Merchant of Venice”, which is a kind of black comedy, in which he portrayed the story of the noble lady Portia and her marriage to Bassanio, and his friend, the merchant Antonio, who borrows from the money of the Jewish usurer Shylock, who in turn is eager to take revenge on this debt from the society that rejects him, especially that his daughter The only one who ran away with the money he had accumulated throughout his life with a young Christian. In this play, the concepts of friendship between two men overlap with the concept of romantic love between Portia and Bassanio, in the face of the inhumanity of the Jewish usurer and his suffering in a society that does not accept him. What most distinguishes this play is the character of Portia, who became one of Shakespeare’s female characters who constituted a revolution in theatrical literature, and was a source of other female characters that he created in his other plays. Shakespeare portrayed female characters who depended on their intelligence and acumen and not on their beauty, and thus he was able to transform one of the obstacles in the Elizabethan theater in his era into an advantage, as the roles of women were represented by boys, and he used the disguise of boys in the roles of women as a key factor in the plot in this play and also in “Twelfth Night” and “As You Like It”, where two main female characters, Viola and Rosalind, appear in the form of two boys to be able to approach those they love freely, which creates tension and funny and human situations at the same time.
Shakespeare wrote The Merry Wives of Windsor at the end of this period, in which the character of Folstaff reappears. As for “Romeo and Juliet,” he portrayed young love with high poeticism and the painful fate of two lovers who fell victim to an old dispute between their families and died as a result of their emotional impulse. And “Julius Caesar” is from Ash
The fame gained by any other writer cannot be compared to Shakespeare’s worldwide fame at all levels, as he entered all cultures and literary, artistic and theatrical societies in all countries of the world. In his theater and poetry, he relied on human emotions and feelings, which strengthened his universality and continuity. The heroes of his tragic plays are personalities characterized by nobility, greatness, and human emotions, and influence the audience and readers wherever they are, and the comic characters still make the audience laugh because of the intelligence, accuracy, and humor in their depiction. His female characters, such as Cleopatra, Juliet, Lady Macbeth, Rosalind, Portia, Beatrice and Miranda, leave the greatest impact on readers and theater and cinema audiences wherever they are. Shakespeare’s ingenuity lies in the exciting stories he uses in his plays, the rich stock of characters in which good and evil, emotion and reason mix, the eloquent poetic language, the ingenuity in manipulating words and expressions, and the new vocabulary.
The importance of Shakespeare is due to his being the noble son of the thought and art of the European Renaissance par excellence. This thought, which dealt with the essence of the individual man, his position in the universe, and his role in life, at all levels, was clearly reflected in his plays, especially in the third and fourth stages. The characters of these plays, despite their diversity and disparity, are only an expression of the individual’s suffering in his reality and his eagerness to liberate himself from any restriction that impedes his openness and ambition. Shakespeare’s intellectual and artistic maturity is evident in the formulation of the struggle that the individual wages between his impulses, instincts, and ambitions, and the conditions of the surrounding reality and historical inevitability. There are no characters in Shakespeare’s plays suspended in the air, but are always the daughter of reality with its social, economic and political manifestations. On the artistic level, Shakespeare himself was the son of his reality and data, and his artistic genius was manifested in absorbing traditional, contemporary and popular art forms and reformulating them in response to the requirements of the times and the conditions of theatrical practice in poor theaters with theatrical equipment at the time. Hence his departure from the classical laws (the three units) and his emphasis on the double plot, or even the tripartite sometimes, as in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and his delicate blending between the real and the imaginary and between conflicting emotions and passions, and his use of poetry and prose in the one theatrical work and at different linguistic levels according to the nature of The personality and its social position, in addition to emphasizing the multiplicity of places of events and the opening of time without any restrictions that restrict its freedom.
Whoever delve deeper into his works clearly realizes that Shakespeare was the son of the precursors of the industrial revolution, economic prosperity, and openness to the wide world in response to the aspiration of the new individual, the son of the late Renaissance.