Why Shakespeare is considered so great

89 viewsOther

In comparison to his contemporaries in English Literature?

In: Other

5 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

The first challenge for you: Who were his contemporaries?

There are common turns of phrase that have their root in plays by William Shakespeare.

A common representation of theater is the smiling mask and sad mask representing Tragedy and Comedy, but in his own day Comedy wasn’t well regarded as a subject for the theater. His works challenged that perception.

He had an impact on the medium changing the opinion of what’s appropriate, his legacy is enduring, and he didn’t get in any notable shit-flinging piss fights alongside or against the Church and find himself executed.

Anonymous 0 Comments

My Shakespeare processor used to say that you don’t start liking Shakespeare until you read at least 4 of his plays

And you don’t REALLY like him until you read 14 of them

Shakespeare understood that his audience was made up of both upper class nobles and “standing room only” (literally) lower class people. His plays were constructed to be accessible to both of them at the time, with enough depth to be interesting and engaging to everybody

Additionally, Shakespeare was really really good at subverting expectations in the theater. Plays are either comedies (upward movement to a happy ending) or tragedies (downward movement to a usually sad ending), but many of Shakespeare’s plays do both. Some characters end up ok, others don’t. The audience may not know if it’s a comedy or a tragedy until the very end of the play.

All of that combined with just all around really good word play and prose makes Shakespeare the big cheese (at least starting the mid 1700s when his popularity really hit off)

Anonymous 0 Comments

Find a common story trope, and a lot of them will trace back to Shakespeare.

10 Things I About You, Taming of the Shrew
Lion King, is Hamlet
Warm Bodies, Romeo and Juliet

The list goes on and on. He did for romance and comedies, what Agatha Christie did for mysteries.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Kind of in the same way Dante Alighieri somewhat codified the italian language with his writing, William Shakespear invented a lot of the words and phrases in his plays that came into use at that time. It wasn’t just about the quality of his writing but about how it contributed the lexicon of the English language afterward.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I asked the same question of the Beatles. Their best song isn’t 10 times better than the next band’s best song. But the Beatles are great because they do write great songs, because they were prolific, and because they spoke to many people in ways other bands didn’t. It’s quality x quantity x appeal. And now I think that they (basically) deserve the hype.

This is a way to think about Shakespeare. He did a lot of quality work, with some memorable hits, strong themes, and gorgeous language. In language, Shakespeare really is better than anyone else. Many titles of works by *other people* are ripped off of Shakespeare: *The Sound and the Fury, Infinite Jest, Brave New World, What Dreams May Come*.

The way to get into Shakespeare is the “No Fear” book series, which has the original language and a plain paraphrase side by side. Being able to read the play easily allows you to appreciate it, and then you can switch back for the big speeches and read the original language. The series also gives notes on the archaic terms that can really confuse the reader.

Also check out his sonnets. They might not blow your mind, but they are great traditional poetry that flow and stick to a meter / rhythm. They are much easier to follow than the plays and show a high level of skill in poetry. He might not be your favorite poet, but you will have a hard time finding someone doing much better in the same style.