Imagine a single man steering the future of an entire language, enjoying fame and fortune during his life, and a full 400 years after his death he is still pervasively influential on the hearts and minds.
What made Shakespeare so great should be the question of most writers, perhaps even most managers, marketers, business owners, politicians, lawyers, spouses, parents, brothers, and sisters. How does he speak in such a lasting way to humankind? What did he know that we must learn?
Shakespeare Speaks to the True Nature of People
Jealously, confusion, stress, worry, joy, wit, humor, dryness, cruelty, envy, love, fidelity, power, family, religion, obedience, wrath, and the other potent feelings we feel are spoken to and given life by Shakespeare.
What Shakespeare writes in his plays can be felt personally, understood deeply to resonate. His work speaks to the epic, large scale affairs of states and kingdoms. Yet Hamlets, King Lears, Romeos, even Iagos, Claudius’ and fools can be found in our own lives, at work, at school, and in our families.
He gives life to thing’s we think but don’t have the words to speak. When Ophelia says “we know what we are, but know not what we may be” as she is going mad, it rings true. Who expects to go mad? No one! People don’t set out expecting to fail or become the villain, but we have to admit that we don’t know our own personal futures.
One place Shakespeare draws his intimate knowledge of people, was people themselves!
Shakespeare Was an Excellent Thief
Every person collects tid-bits, witticisms, clever ideas and phrases, and other amusing experiences over the course of a lifetime; the human experience is a collaborative one; What one person contributes another person witnesses.
The difference between the common person and Shakespeare, is that Shakespeare constantly had his ear out, constantly listened and eternalized other people’s wit and clever words, phrases, and other human experiences. He harnessed other people’s moments of brilliance to fuel his own, to the benefit of actors and audiences everywhere.
Drawing wisdom, useful moments, sayings, and words from the people around us is ripe pickings. We can use other people’s brilliant moments to generate our own. Witnessing, collecting, and even to some extent stealing other peoples brilliance enables our own development, just as Shakespeare did.
Shakespeare Was a Master at His Craft
Not the sexist section of this article, it can’t be ignored that Shakespeare was just plain good.
His word choice is exquisite, his language flowery and deep with imagery, allusions, wit, crudeness, and insults yet all the more powerful, not tacky, distasteful, or unoriginal.
When a word didn’t exist, he created it. Radiance, zany, lonely, laughable, eyeball, assassination, alligator, obscene, and advertising were all words Shakespeare created for his own use. See my source here.
He wrote in consistent Iambic Pentameter (a structure of 10 syllables per line, half stressed, half not), which I read is more pleasing to the ears. He became a master of this writing structure, which can at times be made to sound like rhyme while keeping its rhythm.
Shakespeare’s knowledge of culture was superb. His settings and scenery were accurate to their times and cultures, displaying life as it actually were in a intelligent and insightful way.
Shakespeare Was a Daring Writer
I feel conflicted making this point. I think that perhaps in our time the pendulum has swung too far, and nothing is sacred or off limits if it receives attention, buzz, and shock value.
However, bolding speaking your mind (and not lying) cannot be a mistake. Saying things even when they’re not the strictly accepted discourse must be encouraged. Otherwise, we could find ourselves having the exact same conversations and not growing.
At his time, artists and playwrights were it seemed usually controlled by powerful people, like royalty and nobility. They were in many cases dependent on their patron benefactor for their income. So when artists had a controversial thought they had to indirectly express it.
Shakespeare, however, was brave with his writing. He wrote about the mistakes of kings like in King Lear. He wrote about topics that are intimate.
Not only were his topics bold, but how he said them! He was extremely confident with his writing. If he wanted to write something in a certain way, he did that! Probably both for a positive crowd response and also recognition by the other playwrights and actors.
Shakespeare goes down in history as the greatest writer in the English language. His career is incredibly impressive, and one I would love to emulate.
Shakespeare knew his times well, but, more than that, he knew people and spoke to their deeper selves. He went beyond the obvious to speak to a more raw and true human nature; and, that has connected with experts the world over.
Shakespeare was a master at his craft. Spinning cultural, political, economic, and spiritual knowledge into epic works of plot, setting, and characters.
I plan to continue to study what made Shakespeare so timeless, and I will continue to make improvement to this article and hopefully, I will enrich your understanding as well.
Thank you sincerely for reading! My name is Evan River Welch. I’m a digital marketing learner with Simplilearn, a professional skills bootcamp provider. Feel welcome to write any comments that popped up for you. And do not hesitate to contact me!