Thesis: Shakespeare’s life while growing up greatly impacted his later fame because of how he was raised in the early years, where he grew up, and what was to come.
The Early Years:
Shakespeare was one of many children and was lucky enough to survive."William Shakespeare was the third child of John and Mary Shakespeare... The parish register also records the christening of four other children: Gilbert, on October 13, 1566, buried in 1612; Anne, on September 28, 1571, buried in 1579; Richard, on March 11, 1574, died in 1613; and Edmund on May 3, 1580". (Baker) William was part of a huge family with many unfortunate deaths. Since William was the third born child out of 8, he had to deal with the mourning of his family when a sibling died. (Which happened often)
This is the house where Shakespeare was born and where he grew up.
Shakespeare's education played a key role in his career that was to come. "William attended grammar school where he studied Latin grammar, literature, and rhetoric".(Anderson) Shakespeare had a pretty good understanding of how to write before he became known for his plays because of all of the Latin courses he took in grammar school. Taking these classes helped guide him to writing his wonderful plays.
Where Shakespeare Grew Up:
Stratford Upon Avon very much influenced the way that Shakespeare wrote his plays. "Shakespeare’s poems and plays show a love of nature and rural life. This display undoubtedly reflects his childhood experiences and his love of the Stratford countryside".(Lander) Shakespeare's childhood played a key part when he was writing his plays. The good memories made his plays more fun where if his childhood was bad his plays might be darker. What would happen if his childhood was boring? Would his plays be boring?
Portrait of William Shakespeare himself.
The importance of Shakespeare's parents in Stratford helped him make a name for himself in a way. "His father, John, was a shopkeeper and a man of some importance in Stratford". (Anderson) Because William's father had some sort of importance within Stratford, it would be easier for him to create a name for himself. If he already came from an important family then people may take him more seriously. Since William's father served as mayor many times, why didn't he want to follow in his footsteps?
The dangers for children in Shakespeare's time were very scary and it is suprising that kids died at such young ages."The sixteenth century was a dangerous time for children. Stratford imposed a curfew that kept all children inside after dark, but parents could do little to protect their children from the era's dangers. Sickness was common, and in the days before antibiotics, many children did not see the end of their sixth year".(Sanna) Shakespeare was very lucky to be able to live until he was 52 considering most kids didn't make it past 6. It is also surprising that he lived to an old age (at the time) considering most of his siblings died. What would have happened if Shakespeare had died at a young age? Would modern theater still be the same as it is today?
People worked their hardest to make a name for themselves even if people don't appriciate what the do. "...Playwriting was not a highly regarded occupation, and so people saw little point in recording the lives of mere dramatists". (Lander) The fact that playwriting was not really thought of at the time, made Shakespeare have to work even harder because people didn't take playwriting seriously. Shakespeare's plays had to be great so people would notice him. Was Shakespeare the reason why everyone started liking plays?
A scene from one of Shakespeare's most popular plays Romeo and Juliet.
What Was to Come:
People were so angered at the plague that they blamed it on the first thing that they could think of. "The middle class of England, composed mainly of Puritans, looked to find an explanation for the plague. Immediately, they turned the blame on the theater...Somehow, despite the pall that lay over London, Shakespeare was experiencing tremendous success".(Sanna) Even though the middle class of people did not like Shakespeare too much because of the plague, he was still extremely successful with the higher class and lower class because his box office numbers were going through the roof. What made the people blame theater? How did they choose just theater to blame?
Shakespeare married and had children at a very young age. "Hathaway, Anne was the wife of William Shakespeare...She married Shakespeare in 1582, when she was 26 years old and he was 18." Shakespeare found love at a young age and to a much older woman. He eventually left Anne and his family to pursue playwriting. What would have happened if Shakespeare had waited longer to marry Anne? Would they have stayed together?
People n the 1500s did not think about the life choices that they were making in advance. "William and Anne's first child, Susanna Shakespeare (later Hall) (1583–1649), was baptized on May 26, 1583, six months after her parents' marriage".(Baker) Shakespeare had his first child after only six months of being married. Was he really in love with Anne or did he feel like he was tied down because she was having his child? Why would Shakespeare continue to have kids with Anne if he was eventually going to leave her to pursue playwriting?
Shakespeare was a very loved person and he changed the lives of many people. It is a shame that he wasn't able to live longer and create more brilliant work."On Feb. 10, 1616, Shakespeare’s younger daughter, Judith, married Thomas Quiney, the son of his Stratford neighbor Richard Quiney. Six weeks later, Shakespeare revised his will. Within a month, he died".(Lander) Shakespeare died during an important time in his life and the life of others. Both of his daughters got married and he was at the peak of his career. What was the cause of Shakespeare's death?
The grave of William Shakespeare's son-in-law.