William Shakespeare is the greatest of all playwrights and poets of all times. Not much is known of his life. He was probably the son of a businessman and was born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. He probably attended the local grammar school and got a classical education. In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway and had 3 children. Little is known of his life before 1592, when he appeared as a playwright in London. Soon he became an actor playing supporting roles like the ghost in “Hamlet”. In 1599 Shakespeare became a part owner of the Globe Theatre in London.
Shakespeare’s work as a playwright is subdivided into 3 periods. Written in the first period, Shakespeare’s plays are mostly history plays like “Henry VI”, and comedies with strong elements of farce. His masterpiece of this period is “Romeo and Juliet”.
In the second period Shakespeare wrote a number of comedies where he moved away from farce towards romance. In the third period,
after 1600, appeared his major tragedies – “Hamlet”, “Othello”. They presented a clear opposition of order to chaos, good to evil.
Shakespeare was a great poet and would be well known for his poetry alone. His major achievement as a poet is his sonnets, first published in 1609. A sonnet is a poem consisting of 14 lines, with a moral at the end. The sonnets are addressed to some “W. H.”, and to mysterious “Dark Lady of Sonnets”. The sonnets deal with the great themes of love, friendship, death, change and immortality. Shakespeare looks at his own poetry as a means of immortality. Shakespeare’s sonnets are excellent. They are full of harmony and music; they praise love, friendship and beauty, though there is no sentimentality in them.
Shakespeare’s poetry is at the summit of human achievement. Many centuries have passed since his death in 1616, but Shakespeare is still considered to be the greatest of all playwrights and poets.
2. Life of Shakespeare.
The great poet and dramatist William Shakespeare is often called by his people “Our National Bard”, “The Immortal Poet of Nature” and “The Great Unknown”. More than two hundred contemporary references to Shakespeare have been located amoung church records, legal records, documents in the Public Record Office, and miscellaneous repositories. When these owe assembled, we have at least the sceleton out line of his life, begining with his baptist on April 26, 1564, in Trinity Church, Stratford-on-Avon, and ending with his burial there on April 25, 1616. Shakespeare’s native place was Sratford-on-Avon, a little town in Warwickshire, which is generally described as being in the middle of England.
Shakespeare’s father, John, was a prosperious glove maker of Stratford who, after holding minor municipal offices, was elected high bailiff of Stratford. Shakespeare’s mother Mary Arden, came from an affluent family of landowners.
Shakespeare probably recieved his early education at the exellent Stratford Grammar School, supervised by an Oxford graduate, where he would have learned Latin smattering of Greek. In 1582 Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, who lived in a neighboring hamlet. The first child born to Ann and William was their daughter Susanna. In about two years Ann bore him twins a boy and a girl, Hamlet and Jidith.
Then life in Stratford became intolerable for William Shakespeare and he decided to go to London and begin a theatrical career. Shakespeare’s major activity lays in the field of drama. He became a full shareholder in his acting company, he was co-owner of “the Globe” theatre and later of “the Blackfriars” theatre, and in 1597 he purchased property in Strarford, including one of the largest houses in the town. He probably retired about 1610, travelling to London when necessary to take care of his theatrical business. In all, 154 sonnets were written. The sonnets were probably created in the 1590 but were first published in 1609.
3. Shakespeare’s works.
Shakespeare’s literary work is usually divided into three periods. The first period of his creative work falls between 1590 and 1600. Shakespeare’s comedies belong to the first period of his creative work. They all are written in his playfull manner and and in the brilliant poetry that conveys the spectator to Italy. Some of the first plays of the first period are: “Richard III” (1592), “The Comedy of Errors” (1592), “Romeo and Juliet” (1594), “Julius Caesar” (1599), “As You Like It” (1599), 1600 – “The Twelth Night”. Shakespeare’s poems are also attributed to the first period, “Venus and Adonis” and “Lucrece”, and 154 sonnets. “Venus and Adonis” was the first of Shakespeare’s works that came off the press. The second period of Shakespeare’s creative work during from 1600 to 1608. His famous tragedies appeared at this time. In the plays of this period the dramatist reaches his full maturity. He presents great humans problems. His tragedies and historical plays made Shakespeare the greatest humanist of the English Renaissanse. Some plays of the second period: 1601 – “Hamlet”, 1604 – “Othello”.
Shakespeare’s plays of the third period are called the “Romantic dramas”. There is no tragic tension in these plays. This period lasted from 1609 till 1612. 1609 – “Cymbeline”, 1610 – “The Winters Tale”, 1612 – “Henry 8”.