William Shakespeare and the Importance of His Literary Works

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

“Triumph, my Britaine, thou hast one to showe, To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe. He was not of an age, but for all time!” These were words written by Ben Jonson, about the one and only William Shakespeare. As a poet and a playwright, Shakespeare has long since held the title of one of the greatest and most influential writers in history. His works have become widely known in countries all over the world, and have explored topics ranging from politics to sexuality. In the literary world, Shakespeare has had more influence than anyone. His works have influenced all types of art, ranging from plays to novels to songs. He single handedly expanded the english language, inventing roughly 1,700 English words, ranging from common terms to bizarre phrases. But Shakespeare’s impact on the world does not stop there.

Born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England on April 26th, 1564 to a leather merchant and a local landed heiress, Shakespeare was the third child in his family. Though few records of his childhood exist, he most likely attended school where he received education on reading, writing, and the classics. Around 1594, Shakespeare joined a theatrical company known as Lord Chamberlain’s Men, where he later became managing partner and had his works published and sold. By 1597, 15 of his 37 plays were published, and he began to establish himself as an artist. Despite his local fame and popularity, Shakespeare did not become known around the world until after his death in 1616.

Though his own political views and beliefs were unclear, Shakespeare has had a great effect on many world leaders and famous figures. The Robben Island Bible, the copy of his complete works disguised as a Hindu text and smuggled into a prison, was marked by activists such as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and others who were inspired by his passages.

Shakespeare played a part in Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, as John Wilkes Booth was inspired by his own performance in “Julius Caesar” only a few months earlier. Booth shot Lincoln in a theater, shouting “Sic Semper Tyrannis”, which was a line spoken by Brutus in the 1864 production of “Julius Caesar”. Booth became a real-life Brutus, taking the life of the nation’s leader for the sake of making a name for himself.

Shakespeare was also involved in the Civil Rights Movement through Paul Robeson, an African-American actor who performed “Othello” on Broadway. After acting in the play, Robeson gained status and influence over his audience, sending the image of a strong African character and interracial acceptance to those who saw him. “ ‘Othello’ has taken away from me all kinds of fears, all sense of limitation, and all racial prejudice,” he told reporters. “‘Othello’ has made me free.”

Throughout his life, Shakespeare produced 40 plays, 150 sonnets, and a countless number of poems. His works portrayed a wide variety of human emotions, conflicts at the time, and controversial topics such as religion and sexuality. His influence spread beyond literature, beyond England, and reached all around the world, becoming an inspiration to those who caused change long after his death. As the man who is considered the greatest writer in history, his works and the morals they present have been adopted by saints and by sinners. His ideas were never bound to society, instead they expressed the different sides of humanity, and became more than ink on paper. His words transcended the centuries, interpreted by all generations in a different manner, and defined the spirit of being human.

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