english literature essay university

english literature essay university

The Influence of Shakespeare on English Literature

1. Introduction

Many of his phrases have become so commonly used that they have, for all practical purposes, become clichés. Shakespeare’s words have been quoted and adopted as speech in many localities the world over. His sewer-born aphorisms like “break the ice”, “straight from the shoulder”, “whitewash”, and “vanish into air” have enriched the English language with numerous words and phrases. His works have been translated subsequently into every language in the world. His works bear testimony to his knowledge and intellectual capacity. His remarkable power lay in his ability to see into the mind, heart, and character of man. He understood the complexities and contradictions in human relationships and portrayed them with consummate skill.

William Shakespeare, an English playwright and poet, has had an impact on English literature and language for over four centuries. During the Renaissance period and continuing until the twenty-first century, an impressive assortment of literary works has been penned as a tribute to the Master Bard. The influence of Shakespeare has greatly manifested itself in so many literary works that it is difficult to imagine English literature without his illustrious contributions. His influence has been so far-reaching that he has managed to find his place in school textbooks, periodicals, and newspapers with quotations from his plays being peppered liberally throughout. The lines of his plays are so melodious that a gentle, sensitive, or tender tone of voice can make a line memorable.

2. Shakespeare’s Impact on English Literature

The influence of Shakespeare did not end with his language nor its refuge in modern English literature: he also explored subject matter (early onset madness, the poetry of utter despair, or just the trials of young love) that are again celebrated in literature and song. Arguably no one has done as well with the underdog as the audiences eagerly response to Shakespeare’s marginalized and outcast characters. While most followed parental genealogy rules, Juliette and Romeo declared their love for one another based upon their personal desires. Romeo in particular challenges the audience with the observation that he can and does love because he shares a human need for love. Speaking to the objectivity of those who coldly decide to define behavior and proscription of one’s fate that limitation arises simply from our unwillingness to view the matter from multiple perspectives.

Aside from biblical and classical works, Shakespeare influenced every literary form and every major author who came after him. Shakespeare came to define the sonnet form that has proven especially attractive to modern poets, and he helped establish blank verse as the standard for the English stage, who continued to honor the conventions of ‘proper’ playwriting: metered, unrhymed, blank verse for the plays of characters of high standing or moral force, and prose for lesser characters or situations of comic or ironic characterizations. Another legacy is his wordplay. So many aphorisms have been incorporated into our language that it is difficult to predict where Shakespeare’s language ends and our own begins. Queen Elizabeth I’s voluminous supply of words was a model broadly adopted by nearly everyone who sought anything from popularity to tenure. They were forced to demonstrate an ability to work effectively and/or pleasantly in her subjects’ speech patterns. And who better to emulate than one who approached her capacity to produce, through various conversational gimmicks, William Shakespeare?

3. Analysis of Shakespeare’s Works

Human nature is universal. The banquet of music must nourish the human soul; human appetites, their behaviour and what makes men create, enjoy or suffer. In the grand pageant of life, lasting values do not differ among the ages. All ages have their means, the lust for life and power, success and love. Men never stop to test children’s hearts, souls, and minds. Several formal and religious moralities may be imposed on men by some, but the love of life and the human and – rejoicement and renewal shall never be destroyed. The sun has told us, ‘A prix the lark at the break of day singing hymns at the start of another day’. And so Shakespeare inserts his familiar spirit into his songs. All Shakespeare’s plays, with the exception of very few, Mona’s plays are part of larger communities, regardless of class, gender or economic value, very useful. In this we are all equals. We all appreciate the experience of love, suffering, poison, ambition, revenge and death. For these reasons, Shaw’s words make sense: “I never allow wealth to live in the beautiful and co-augurate with my personal experiences”.

When Shakespeare began to write, English was acknowledged as a very potential language, but it was still in its infantile stage. His main concern is how to reveal the deepest and most permanent aspects of his age and of human nature without depending too much on time-bound form. Competitive to transliterate the effect of time on individual existence, Shakespeare seldom mentions the historical events of his time, but he takes elements of lasting value. His mainly existing in his universal format and not as a historian or a philosopher. Shakespeare’s interest is not in the change brought about by the times, but in the setness of human nature. For him, man remains the same, flesh and blood and bones, driven by the same unchanging oil.

4. Shakespeare’s Legacy in Modern Literature

In a sense, then, Shakespeare’s contemporaries resented having received a gift so precious from an admired author, who had regurgitated several rivers of poetry which made their own seem shallow when looked at from a deprived distance. To a certain extent, the negations of Shakespeare’s talent at first sounded just and even perceptive, but soon gave rise to silly platitudes and unforgivable deductions. For instance, Robert Greene wrote with rather classical restraint that an obscure upstart had tried to match him in moral philosophy, i.e. in his application of precepts extracted from classical wisdom, while Thomas Nashe took the fight for supremacy a stage further by actively trying to extinguish Shakespeare’s ascendant star. But with his dying breath, Robert Greene atoned for his two recent whimsical oversights by acknowledging “an upstart crow”: i.e., the English rose despite being, in his eyes, already half-foreign for his breeding, was likely to out-Shine himself.

Regarding the quantity of new plot material added by Shakespeare to English letters, there is no gainsaying; nor is it possible to appraise in figures the extent of his influence on his successors and contemporaries. Some authors of undoubted genius, such as George Chapman and Ben Jonson – perhaps Christopher Marlowe – resented the popularity and prestige of their successful rival, but could not help being influenced by him. Chapman dared to criticize Shakespeare for his use of “phantasticism” – perhaps objecting to his refinements and assortment of language. Jonson thought that “Shakespeare wanted art” but at the same time placed him in the very top ranks of the profession and was well-acquainted with his plays. It was shown by Harold Walley that Jonson knew in detail as many as thirty Shakespearean plays, many of them very rare. Marlowe would not have been himself without Shakespeare’s influence, and Marston and Tourneur openly borrowed one from the other and both from Shakespeare.

5. Conclusion

Shakespeare was now universally acknowledged king of English drama. While he lived no writer could rival him, his plays were regarded as classics long before they were published. At his death, Ben Jonson proclaimed his genius in that memorable eulogy. The first folio of his plays was issued in 1623, and in the quarto form about twenty of his plays had appeared. But in this case, the eulogy was more enthusiastic than true. In point of fact, there was an outburst of Shakespearean imitation between the years 1600 and 1610 which is without parallel in the history of literature. Conte pursues us show in their Autography editions of Shakespeare that nearly every play of his was adapted by someone or touched up by himself in order to compete with some rival dramatist.

Shakespeare’s influence in English literature is proved not only by the quality of the work he did and the number of masterpieces produced, but also by the number of imitators in his own time and after his death down to the year 2000. It is absolutely true in the case of William Shakespeare that he worked and the rest have played. He has been inimitable. No other writers have left such deep impress on English literature like Shakespeare. He is in a peculiar sense the poet of all the ages.

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