William Shakespeare by Karla Leon

Thesis: William Shakespeare is arguably the world's greatest playwright, actor, and poet our world has ever seen.


"...his reputation was largely that of a popular playwright" (Lander)

William Shakespeare was, and still is, wildly famous for his plays. They have been translated into many languages all around the world, and have been performed on many stages. His most famous works being Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and of course Romeo and Juliet.

"Shakespeare was unusual among Elizabethan playwrights." (Lander)

Being an actor and sharer of his company greatly influenced his works. He was able to have a close association with the actors he worked with and the conditions of production, allowing him to manipulate his works in different ways. This was something other playwrights didn't tend to do. For example, Shakespeare would write his plays to suit the talents of specific actors. He would write short jigs for comedic actor Will Kemp and made the dialogue so that it would fit Kemp's acting style, and when Kemp left and was replaced by Robert Armin, the comedy in the plays noticeably shifted.

"The strength of Shakespeare's plays lies in the absorbing stories they tell, in their wealth of complex characters, and in the eloquent speech—vivid, forceful, and at the same time lyric—that the playwright puts on his character's lips." ("William")

The language that Shakespeare used was unlike any other. His sentences and phrases had a sort of rhythm to them that you would only ever find in a song. It has a way of captivating you and it forces you to think in different ways. It's almost as if it's no longer English, but a language of its own.

"The stage was "set" by language." (Anderson)

William Shakespeare did not feel the need to use big and extravagant sets to set a scene and get the point across. He felt that the only thing he really needed was language. He was able to establish a scene with a forest with a simple line like "Well, this is the Forest of Arden." This was something new and different that other playwrights did not do.


"...by 1592, Shakespeare had already become an actor..." (Anderson)

Although little is known about the life of Shakespeare, we do know that William Shakespeare became an actor and playwright in 1592. We also know that only two years later he became a charter member of of one of the most popular companies in London called Lord Chamberlain's Men. The company would later become King's Men after King James issued a royal license to Shakespeare and the company.

"The appearance of Shakespeare's name serves as a salutary reminder not merely of his success but of the fact that he was also an accomplished actor... " (Baker)

During that years that Shakespeare was active, he was very well known and a surprisingly good actor. It is believed that people would only go to see shows in hope of seeing Shakespeare in action.

"...it is thought that as an actor he played old men's roles... " ("William")

It is believed that Shakespeare portrayed roles such as the ghost in Hamlet, and Old Adam in A You Like It .


"...Shakespeare made no effort to make a career of poetry." (Lander)

From mid 1592-1594, London theaters were constantly being closed due to frequent outbreaks of plagues. With nothing to do, Shakespeare turned to writing poetry. He wrote Venus and Adonis which became the first of Shakespeare's works to be published. The work became immensely popular, and he later went to to compose more poetry, writing up to 154 sonnets over the years. Despite the tremendous amount of success he had with his poems, Shakespeare did not want to pursue his career as a poet and went back to acting and play writing when the theaters reopened.

"Although Shakespeare’s plays contain prose and rhymed verse, he chiefly used an unrhymed, rhythmical form of poetry..." (Baker)

The type of poetry that William Shakespeare used was called blank verse. Each line is divided into five units called feet, with an accent falling on every second syllable. Blank verse is the pattern that comes closest to everyday speech.

"Shakespeare’s poetry is full of vivid metaphors and brilliant images." (Lander)

Shakespeare's work was filled with literary devices such as puns and metaphors that form beautiful images in the reader's mind. His style of writing is easily to differentiate among other artists' work because of this.


Anderson, Robert. “Shakespeare and His Theater: A Perfect Match.” Holt Literature & Language Arts: Mastering the California Standards: Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking, by G. Kylene Beers et al., Austin, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 2003, pp. 778-80.

---. “William Shakespeare’s Life: A Genius from Stratford.” Holt Literature & Language Arts: Mastering the California Standards: Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking, by G. Kylene Beers et al., Austin, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 2003, pp. 776-77.

Baker, William. “Shakespeare, William.” In Baker, William, and Kenneth Womack, eds. The Facts On File Companion to Shakespeare. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2012. Bloom’s Literature.

Lander, Jesse M. “Shakespeare, William.” World Book Advanced. World Book, 2016. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.

“William Shakespeare.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition (2016): 1-4. History Reference Center. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.


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