William Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564. He was born to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden in Stratford-upon-Avon in England. The Bard’s contributions to literature are substantial. The Complete Works of Shakespeare is second only to King James Bible regarding its influence upon culture.
Speaking of culture, some students initially cringe when teachers cover Shakespeare’s plays. Educators are often met with significant resistance when they mentioned Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet. Far from being a sixteenth century instrument of torture, the Bard’s work elegantly captures the scope of human nature.
We owe a lot of our own language to Shakespeare. According to experts, he invented over 2,000 words for use in his plays. No scribe can approach with Shakespeare in crafting phrases. The expression Et Tu Brute in Julius Caesar comes from Shakespeare’s intellect and not history. Shakespeare’s ability as a wordsmith teaches us the importance of language. The following passage is from The Tempest.
Be not afraid; the isle is full of noises sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not. Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices, that, if I then had waked after long sleep, will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming, the clouds me thought would open, and show riches ready to drop upon me; when I walked I cried to dream again.
This specific segment comes from Caliban and is very memorable. In this play, he presented as a beast (half human and the other half animal) and is a slave to the main protagonist Prospero. Prospero enslaves the Caliban because he almost rapes his daughter Miranda. Ironically, Shakespeare uses this specific character as a vessel of beautiful poetry. In the text, we see the humanity within the monster.
Shakespeare’s insight into life resonates with people. An example of Shakespeare’s deep understanding of into our nature takes places in this brief monologue from Brutus in the first scene in Julius Caesar.
Be not deceived: if I have veil’d my look, I turn the trouble of my countenance. Merely upon myself. Vexed I am Of late with passions of some difference, conceptions only proper to myself, which give some soil perhaps to my behaviors; but let not therefore my good friends be grieved– Among which number, Cassius, be you one–Nor construe any further my neglect, than that poor Brutus, with himself at war, forgets the shows of love to other men.
In this scene, we witness the struggle taking place within Brutus. We understand the emotions and mindset of a very important character. Is Brutus a hero of the Rome? Or does he deserve his fate in Dante’s Inferno? Regardless of your view, Shakespeare’s captures his complexity.
The Bard has no rival among storytellers and captures the essence of life. Shakespeare’s work covers love, loss, defeat, death, jealousy and victory. Shakespeare’s work shows the power and importance of words.