William Shakespeare Essay

Submitted By georgialouise172
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Pages: 8

William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright and has been regarded as the greatest and most influential playwright in the English language. He was born on the 26th of April, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, England to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden. He was one of six children, with three younger brothers, Gilbert, Edmund and Richard and two older sisters, Judith and Joan. William and his brothers received a free education at King Edward Vl Grammar School due to his father’s election as an alderman (a senior member of the local council) in Stratford-upon-Avon. William did not finish high school because of his father’s financial problems, nor did he attend university unlike the other playwrights of his time. In society today it is expected that you attend university if you want to succeed in writing plays and in general, you are more likely to be successful if you do. In his lifetime, William constructed and presented 38 plays and 154 sonnets. At the age of eighteen he married Anne Hathaway. They then had 3 children, their first child, Susanna, was born in 1583 and then two years later his twins Hamnet and Judith were born. Hamnet passed away 11 years later due to unknown causes and it is believed that Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” was dedicated to him. By 1592, he was both an actor and playwright in London but two poems that were dedicated to the Earl of Southampton: Venus and Adonis (1593) and the Rape of Lucrece (1594) established his reputation as a writer. From then on he devoted most of his time to writing for the stage. At first he wrote in a formal and self-conscious fashion but later he decided to make his own genre. Shakespeare’s plots frequently came from history – old plays or from classical and modern sources. He got stories from anywhere and everywhere. In 1594 he became a member of a theatrical company called the Chamberlain’s men. From 1599, the company was acting in the Globe Theatre and from there they moved to the Blackfriars Theatre in 1608. Shakespeare wrote many different types of plays. He wrote two sets of plays about his country’s history in which he argued for the upholding of the existing levels of society and against rebellion, early comedies, mature comedies, tragedy and romances. His first attempt at tragedy was Titus Andronicus. He then went on to create Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth. These plays ended up being four of the supreme tragedies in dramatic history. It is believed that Shakespeare died on his birthday, at the age of fifty-two.
Shakespeare was alive mainly in the Elizabethan era and there were many factors that influenced William Shakespeare’s writing. During this era people strongly believed that god created society and everything was ranked in a hierarchy. The social system was divided into two groups – the upper and lower class. These classes were determined by how much money you earned and the lower class had less money than the upper class. In today’s society there is still a social ranking that it is not based around money, but more so around authority and power. In a school environment today, teachers have power over students, then head teachers have power over classroom teachers, the principal has power over the head teachers and then finally the department of education have power over the principal. The gender roles in the Elizabethan era were clearly defined. Men reigned superiority over women and women believed that they were inferior to men due to how they were raised. Women were only given an education if they were members of the nobility. If they weren’t, they were forced to stay home and learn how to run the household. They were also expected to learn several languages including Latin, Italian, Greek and French. The men had all the authority within the family and were expected to be obeyed. The Queen of the time was very religious and this meant that everyone in England was expected to attend church. The punishment for crime was torture and you would face