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Shakespeare

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Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, and is widely regarded today as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet. As quoted in an article,” The Romantics, in particular, acclaimed Shakespeare's genius, and the Victorians worshipped Shakespeare with a reverence that George Bernard Shaw called "bardolatry"”. In the 20th century, his work was repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance, and is currently an active part of education curriculums. His plays remain highly popular today and are constantly studied, performed and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world. It is safe to say that although Shakespearean plays were set in the Renaissance Era, they are still the epitome of English literature and are revered by theaters, performers and audiences alike due to their remarkable credibility in portraying everlasting political, social and moral issues. http://www.neptunetheatre.com/content/Shakespeare_hat_trick
His plays move from romantic to tragic, humorous to serious so much so that he not only caters to all tastes but also all times by portraying the political situation of his times as well as the way of living. Even Romeo and Juliet, considered by many as a die –hard romantic scripture actually highlights political issues. One of the main political aspects of the play was when count Paris uses his political and aristocratic power to threaten Juliet if she did not marry him. The romance provided a perfect front to front to address the rich/poor issues in the Elizabethan era, and even today we see such situations where the influential overpower the lower castes, forcing them to sometimes give up on their dreams and hopes. The relevance is uncanny and once you read the play you understand how Shakespeare’s ideologies were far ahead of the time. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/othello/tg_race.html)
Another social issue that Shakespeare addressed in various plays was the importance of women. In a time where women weren’t even allowed to perform on stage, his female characters (then played by men) were not sidelined; in fact, many of them had critical roles to play in his dramas. In the Twelfth Night, Viola disguises herself as a man to serve Duke Orsino and through her integrity manages to win his heart. And who could forget the infamous Lady Macbeth who piloted Macbeth’s rise to power, the shrewish Katherine or the wise Portia, among so many others? This back then would’ve been seen as rather meek characters but today it is understood that Shakespeare, through his plays encouraged the sovereignty of females on a global scale; a truth today.
Even though his characters portrayed dukes or kings, Shakespeare’s characters were fallible and real in reality; another reason why Shakespeare is revered today. Let’s look at the following lines from Richard III.
“Rivers: Have patience, madam; there’s no doubt his Majesty
Will soon recover his accustomed health.
Grey: In that you brook it ill, it makes him worse.
Therefore for God’s sake entertain good comfort
And cheer his Grace with quick and merry eyes.
Queen Elizabeth: If [the King] were dead, what would betide on me?
Grey: No other harm but loss of such a lord.
Queen Elizabeth: The loss of such a lord includes all harms.”( http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/othello/tg_race.html)
At a first glance, these characters seem only to be concerned about the poor health of their King. Yet each line reveals something about each character. Lord Rivers cares nothing for the King’s well being, and desires only to comfort the Queen, so that he might be well in her favor and possibly gain some higher position. Lord Grey knows nothing of the King’s true condition, and honestly foolishly believes he will recover. The Queen is far more concerned with what will become of her once the King is dead, than she is concerned about the death of her husband. Compare these characters to today’s world at any caste, you will definitely find a caring wife who fears the aftermath of her husband’s passing, a person who is denouncing to accept the truth foolishly, and a person who tries to gain momentum in life through capitalizing on somebody’s death and utilizing his sympathies shrewdly.
Although the plots of Shakespeare's plays are specific, the motivations of the characters - as well as of Shakespeare himself - have been the source of much debate. Arguments continue over interpretations of Shakespeare's intentions in part because his plays remain so profoundly relevant. Race is a particularly critical factor in Othello, the story of the "dark Moor" who succumbs to sexual jealousy amidst a white society. Why does Iago mislead Othello so cruelly? And why does Othello believe Iago's lies, and ultimately commit the heinous act of killing his beloved wife? Shakespeare, through this play highlights the 17th century, where racism was an accepted part of public life; people of color were often thought of as "savage." Shakespeare would have encountered no societal pressures against presenting such ideas. Yet he doesn't actually portray Othello as inferior. Although Iago and Roderigo make him sound despicable in their disparaging first-act conversation, Shakespeare then shows Othello as a well-spoken and highly regarded military leader who has won the hand of an aristocratic woman. This is an excellent representation of how race or creed must not interfere with a characters judgment, and for this fact during the civil war of 1965 in the US; peace speakers such as Martin Luther King quoted Shakespeare to promote racial equality and unity. And it is exactly why Shakespeare stands so relevant even today. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/othello/tg_race.html)
Religion has also been a source of controversy in Shakespeare's plays, specifically in The Merchant of Venice. Shylock, the Jewish moneylender, is vilified by a flagrantly anti-Semitic society. He is presented in the most stereotypical of anti-Semitic terms: he has red hair (a 17th-century reference to the devil) and a big nose, dresses in filthy clothes, and is a seemingly greedy loan shark with little compassion for others. When his daughter runs off with a Christian suitor, taking a considerable sum of her father's money with her, the devastated Shylock can't decide which loss is greater - his ducats or his daughter. But Shakespeare also lets a Jewish character make an impassioned plea for empathy. When maligned by Antonio and his Christian cohorts, Shylock says in his now-famous speech, "Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions...If you prick us do we not bleed...?" Bassanio, the Christian courtier, is as fond of money as Shylock is. In Shakespeare's time, audiences expected a Jewish character to be fiendishly cruel. Yet Shakespeare put forward a concept of equality and tolerance through the above given quote; something that each generation should understand, putting Shakespeare’s plays on the frontline again as a must read for all times.
Many critics have said that Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' isn't relevant in society today that society has moved on. If this statement is true, then why are movies being made on 'Hamlet' and why students in schools and universities are being made to study it? The answer is that 'Hamlet' is an unparalleled adventure story full of suspense, intrigue and murder. It is a story of a young Danish Prince whose ploy to revenge his father's murder result ultimately in tragedy. 'Hamlet' explores many themes that are relevant in society today. The main themes are suicide, revenge, frailty in women, murder, and fate and destiny.

These themes are the backing for 'Hamlet's' relevance in society today. They are all evident in today's society and have been continuously since Hamlet was ever written. Such themes like suicide are clearly seen by people today, and it is increasing as the years go on. There are many young girls, like Ophelia, that are heart broken and confused who turn to suicide as there only way out of their situation. Frailty in women, like Gertrude, is also an occurrence and women like her today are influenced to make decisions by domineering men and get themselves in trouble easily. They also tend to fall in love at the drop of a hat and can be pushed around. Many women are like that in society and it will be always evident in society. Murder and revenge are the most common themes that are still existent in today's society and we see it everyday on the news, movies and video games. Society is surrounded by it and it succumbs to a rule of violence.

With these themes occurring in 'Hamlet', it may appear to be too violent. However, people today are constantly surrounded by violence evident in video games, movies, books, and especially the news. Everyday children and adults see a great amount of violence on the news every night and morning. It has been shown that 70 percent of the news is violence. Every child sees this and takes it in. Kids look up at the television and see people dying and blood everywhere, and critics are complaining about Hamlet being too violent? Violence can also be seen in video games. For example, the Grand Theft Auto series is a series of games that are full of people killing other people and people breaking the law in other ways. In one series, the goal of the game is run over a prostitute, but don't kill her, then beat her up and take her money. Children of all ages play this game and so many of them will be influenced by the amount of violence. However, the news and video games are not the only ones who promote the violence, movies and TV shows do the same thing. Take a look at the Simpsons and all the movies that have been created filled with violence. The Simpsons is meant to be PG, though it has too much violence in it that shouldn't be shown to younger kids. Compared to 'Hamlet', society has way more violence then what 'Hamlet' does and there should be no question posed to whether 'Hamlet' is 'too violent'.

Violence is a result of human motivations which are explored in Shakespeare's plays. The way he portrays human nature and our motivations are very realistic today. With Hamlet's motivation for revenge on his father's murder, it tragically ends in death, violence. This is realistic as in today's society revenge often leads to violence. In 'Hamlet', Shakespeare's portrayal of the human life is common and realistic in society today. People still fall in love, they are still are motivated for revenge, they commit crimes, they go mad and break down, this is all part of our society.(http://www.asiaone.com/News/Education/Story/A1Story20090526-144005.html)
Society has been molded from the days of Shakespeare and this is where our royalty came from. In 'Hamlet' the main characters are all royalty and this aspect of 'Hamlet' does not make it at all irrelevant to today. What about Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth? Our royalty certainly didn't come from nowhere. It originated from the Shakespeare era starting with Henry VIII. How can the royalty in 'Hamlet' possibly affect the relevance that it has in society today when we still have royalty that affects us"
Critics have been complaining about the humour in Hamlet as they believe it is too 'sexual'. The humour hasn't changed from that era to today's era. People are just as sick minded and there are jokes worst than Shakespearian humour, which are known by everyone of all ages. The only difference is in the way that they are told. Shakespeare made his jokes more formal and in addition, it was in Shakespearian. "Hamlet: Lady shall I lie in your lap", Ophelia: no my lord!, Hamlet: Do you think I met in country matters".....Ophelia: You are keen my lord....Hamlet: It would cost you a groaning to take off my edge..." This may seem like a harmless quote to a reader and easy to by pass as a joke, however, if we decipher it to modern tongue it is seen differently. Hamlet is trying to say that he wants sex and Ophelia senses that he is very 'keen' (sexually tensed) and he reacts to that by saying that her groaning can relieve him. Now that it has been translated you can see how rude it is and that there has been much worse on television and music.
With the themes evident in Hamlet and the similarities with today's society there is no argument that Hamlet can be irrelevant. The amount of violence is presently greater in society, the humour is the same, just a different context to it, and the royalty still exists today. Hamlet is relevant to today's society.
Many critics have slammed teaching Shakespeare at a school level, stating that some concepts adorned by Shakespeare are too vulgar for the young mind. Particularly quoted were: adult children getting frustrated and angered by the erratic behavior of their parents, leading to elder abuse (King Lear), teenagers breaking from their parents' wishes and go their own way (Romeo and Juliet), if you take power by violence you must keep it by violence (Macbeth), amongst others. They claim that these are ancient concepts that cannot be incorporated into today’s lives and are just infusing the children’s minds with rebellious ideas. This is a very monotonous approach to Shakespeare’s work. He does not encourage such behavior but instead provides an in depth analysis of what are the resultants of such acts, ensuring that children learn to distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong. (http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/comparative_drama/v041/41.3taylor.html)
Another point raised by critics is that these plays are too ancient to be compared with modern times. This is extremely narrow minded as most scholars today admit that Shakespeare’s works are most of his writings are satires of his time and generation.. They are timeless and even today.. you can read them and take a lot from the work whether comedy or tragedy they make you ponder how it affects your own life. Also we cannot ignore the fact that Hollywood has adopted various Shakespearean efforts into movies, the most recent being “she’s the man”; inspired by twelfth night it was re visualized into a teenagers life. This is a clear indication of how these works are an everlasting phenomenon and no matter which generation reads it they will always find within them something to learn and challenge them with.
One of the most commonly debated topics regarding Shakespeare’s works is the language in which his prose is written. As society continues to evolve, as our use of language gets further and further away from Shakespeare's Early Modern, we will start speaking a different language, linguistically, and he will become harder to read centuries in the future. Many wager that, he will be viewed centuries in the future as Chaucer is now: A brilliant writer, but very hard to understand, and the basis of a college course instead of a high school course. If society continues to be as dumbed-down as it is trending, that is absolutely the case. It is agreed that the language is definitely somewhat of a challenge to understand, yet we must realize that Shakespeare’s works have already made it through 4 centuries already with nothing but critical appreciation being given to them. Shakespeare is timeless for one reason only: No matter what generation reads his plays and poems, he is always challenging. Challenging the reader is the essence of literature and challenging the audience is the essence of drama. Shakespeare accomplishes both.( http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/othello/tg_race.html)
One may sometimes read Shakespeare and be annoyed that he is difficult to read. But that is what makes him great. When you understand the beauty of his craft, you are truly being challenged as a reader and becoming a better reader. Too many of today's popular authors are not challenging: They are fun and exciting, but ask yourself, When was the last time you read a popular novel that was fun but also challenging? In today’s world of literature where fantasies such as Harry Potter create tremors and are revered by generations alike, no one can say that it has an underlying moral value or lesson. It is merely a commercial product whereas Shakespeare is a splendor of emotions and socio-political issues with various solutions and repercussions of misdeeds and fate.
Conclusively, despite departing this earth nearly 400 years ago, William Shakespeare’s legacy of written works (including 37 plays!) ensure his relevance to society, past and present never wanes. His characters and stories reveal universal truths about the human condition in a way we can all relate to; whether it is the tragic outcome of unchecked greed and ambition, an unrelenting desire for revenge, or the pursuit of love. His representation of human nature is just as real and as relevant today, as it has been through the centuries. Elder abuse, corrupt justice, teen rebellion, frustrated love affairs, blood feuds, jealousy, antisocial behaviour, racial prejudice, conflicts between internal morality and social expectation, political assasination, leadership, violent coups - all these still exsist in our society and therefore are still relevant.

WORKS CITED

Source: Barnet, Sylvan. Shakespeare: An Overview. Richard III. By William Shakespeare. 1597. Ed. Mark Eccles. New York, London, Victoria, Toronto: Signet Classic. 1998.

Shakespeare, William. Richard III. 1597. Ed. Mark Eccles. New York, London, Victoria, Toronto: Signet Classic. 1998.
Baer, Daniel (2007), The Unquenchable Fire, Xulon Press, ISBN 9781604773279.
Baldwin, T. W. (1944), William Shakspere's Small Latine & Lesse Greek, 1, Urbana, Ill: University of Illinois Press, OCLC 359037.
Barber, C. L. (1964), Shakespearian Comedy in the Comedy of Errors, England: College English 25.7.
Bate, Jonathan (2008), The Soul of the Age, London: Penguin, ISBN 978-0-670-91482-1.
Bentley, G. E. (1961), Shakespeare: A Biographical Handbook, New Haven: Yale University Press, ISBN 0313250421, OCLC 356416.
^ Shakespeare's Soliloquies by Wolfgang H. Clemen, translated by Charity S. Stokes, Routledge, 1987, page 11.
Texts and Traditions: Religion in Shakespeare 1592–1604, and: Shakespeare's Christianity: The Protestant and Catholic Poetics of Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Hamlet (review) Comparative Drama - Volume 41, Number 3, Fall 2007, pp. 397-401

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...Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ is a classic example of a Jacobean Tragedy; the appearance of the Witches, Banquo’s ghost, the settings and the Good vs Evil dichotomy all provide evidence for this. Perhaps the most distinctive feature is the inclusion of major characters with a single obsessive motive. When Malcolm refers to Macbeth as a “dead butcher” in Act Five, Scene Four, the point is clear: the events of the play have been created and undertaken by a man with a driving blood-lust and lack of respect for propriety. This would suggest Macbeth’s commitment is to status, position and power however, Shakespeare offers us a different Macbeth in the opening scenes. During the course of the play, the audience witness Macbeth dealing with various commitments – his commitment to being a soldier, his commitment to his wife, and perhaps, a commitment to evil. In addition, Shakespeare presents to the audience other characters who demonstrate adherence to, and dismissal of, their own commitments. Thus, ‘Macbeth’ can be read as a play of commitments, as each of the characters struggle to find balance among their various allegiances. At the start of the play, ‘brave Macbeth’ is clearly committed to King and country in his actions of ‘disdaining fortune’ and ‘[unseaming] him from the nave to th’ chops’. His commitment is rewarded as he is named as Thane of Cawdor. The combination of the Witches’ prophecies and his commitment to his ‘dearest partner of greatness’ offer Macbeth a new focus:......

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Shakespeare

..."DIMITRIE CANTEMIR" Christian University FACULTY OF FOREIGN LANGUAGES LOVE AND TIME IN SHAKESPEARE’S SONNETS GRADUATE: SCIENTIFIC COORDINATOR: -2016- Important aspects about William Shakespeare William Shakespeare, English dramatist and poet He is considered the greatest writer of the English language literature of all time The first one (until approximately 1598) belongs to a series of pieces in which youth girded Shakespeare’s current fashions, adapting issues to public taste In the second Shakespearean stage, which runs from 1598-1604, are located the pieces often called "middle works", characterized by a higher stage virtuosity Dramas Julius Caesar, Hamlet and Othello announce the next period, known as the great tragedies (1604-1608), in which Shakespeare delves into the deepest feelings of the human being The final phase (1608-1611) shines his latest masterpiece, The Tempest, in which fantasy and reality intermingle offering a testimony of wisdom and acceptance of death. •Human vision (caught in the passion play); •Relationship with the company and provided genius; •Nature, love and art - universal ways of saving time and evil attack. Sonnets give the feeling and eventually even convince the reader to visit a temple and understands that the priest officiating the ritual union between text and reading is a creature with a special expertise whereof modern poetry can not even have the feeble idea ANALYSIS OF......

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Shakespeare

...the most profound explorations of the mysteries of human existence. (43) This play is ranked by many as the very greatest ever written. Cumberland Clark in “The Supernatural in Hamlet” gives the consensus regarding Hamlet that exists among literary critics of today: At least six or seven years pass after the writing of Midsummer Night’s Dream before we find Shakespeare engaged on Hamlet, the second of the great plays with an important Supernatural element, and, in the opinion of many, the greatest tragedy ever penned. (99) There is no more exalted ranking than the above. Richard A. Lanham in the essay “Superposed Plays” maintains that no other English tragedy has generated the literary comment which this play has produced: “Hamlet is one of the great tragedies. It has generated more comment than any other written document in English literature, one would guess, reverent, serious comment on it as a serious play” (91). Robert B. Heilman in “The Role We Give Shakespeare” relates the high ranking of Shakespeare to the “innumerableness of the parts”: But the Shakespeare completeness appears graspable and possessable to many men at odds with each other, because of the innumerableness of the parts: these parts we may consider incompletenesses, partial perspectives, and as such they correspond to the imperfect (but not necessarily invalid) modes of seeing and understanding practiced by imperfect (but not necessarily wrongheaded) interpreters......

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