William Shakespeare

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William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is sometimes considered the greatest playwright of all time. What is it that made Shakespeare so famous? In his plays he combined the elements that people of his time loved and that people still like today. Many things greatly influenced the writing of Shakespeare’s plays.

William Shakespeare had a very interesting life that undoubtedly greatly affected his plays. He was born on April 23, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon and was the third of eight children. Shakespeare went to grammar school and learned Latin and literature. He went on and married a woman named Annie Hathaway on November 27, 1582 and had three children. His first daughter was named Susanna and was born on May 26, 1583 and then, two years later, he had twins-Hamnet and Judith-that were born on February 2, 1585. By 1592, Shakespeare was a well-known popular actor in the Elizabethan theatres. Without a doubt, this probably had a great affect on him when he later on became a playwright. Shakespeare retired completely in 1613. On April 23, 1616, three years after his retirement, and on his fifty-second birthday, William Shakespeare died.

Shakespeare gathered ideas for some of his plays from other popular writers of his time. Although this may not have made for one hundred percent originality, his plays were interesting and became very popular. For The Winter’s Tale, Shakespeare got the names for some of his characters from Sir Phillip Sidney’s Arcadia. This was one of the most popular romances appealing to a courtly audience. People of Shakespeare’s time enjoyed romances set in far away lands, which was one of the reasons why people enjoyed Sir Phillip Sidney’s Arcadia so much. Such stories like, Guy of Warwick, Bevis of Hampton, Amadis of Gaul, Plamerin of England, and many others may have also inspired The Winter’s Tale. Shakespeare was very smart to have taken ideas from other popular plays of the time when writing The Winter’s Tale. Shakespeare used a very popular technique of the time called pastoral romance. Pastoral romance is romance that is not true to life and unreal. By using ideas from other popular plays and using the popular writing technique of pastoral romance, Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, as many of his other plays, were sure to captivate the audience.

Theatre in the sixteenth century was extremely different from theatre today. For one thing, there was no curtain like there is today. This made it more difficult to perform and sometimes playwrights had to add special scenes to clear everyone from the stage to signify the ending of a scene or act and the beginning of a new one. Also, the place on the main floor right in front of the stage (called the pit but now called the orchestra) was the place where the poor people stood to watch the show and it was the worst place to watch from. However, in modern theatres, orchestra seats are the most expensive and the best seats. Another big difference was that there were very few props whereas today there are many. The kind of props one would’ve found may have included a curtained area that could’ve been used as an inside room, etc., a balcony that could’ve been used as a window or as the deck of a ship, and a trap door that could've provided a way for ghosts and such to come onto the stage. These may seem like very simple and primitive things and when compared to what theatres have today, but in Elizabethan times those simple things helped for many of the elements in the plays. One other big difference was that there were no female actors like there are today, therefore a woman’s part had to be played by a young man who still had a high voice. Theatres have come a long way since the sixteenth century and there are many more differences between the theatres of the sixteenth century and the present day theatres.

In conclusion, many things influenced the writing of Shakespeare’s plays, including The Winter’s Tale. Without Sir Phillip Sidney’s Arcadia and other plays of the time, Shakespeare’s acting career and the theatres of the sixteenth century; Shakespeare’s writing would not have been the same. William Shakespeare is sometimes considered the greatest playwright of all time and may not have been without the many things that influenced his writing


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