William Shakespeare and His Eternal Works

Courtesy: Getty Images
Courtesy: Getty Images

              William Shakespeare is known for his famous art works, such as drama, tragedy, and poetry. However, not everybody knows how his life was like. William Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom. Many scholars assume that he might have attended the King’s New School, in Stratford. This assumption arose due to the lack of records recounting Shakespeare’s childhood.

            William Shakespeare wedded Anne Hathaway of the neighbouring village of Shottery on November 28, 1582 when he was 18 years old, and she was 26. The marriage took place in Worcester, in Canterbury Province. From this marriage, Anne gave birth to three children; they are Susanna, who was baptized in Holy Trinity, and the twins Hamnet, and Judith, baptized on February 2, 1585. Nevertheless, Hamnet died from unknown disease at age 11. After that, William Shakespeare was missing from the records which was assumed to be ‘the lost years’. Some believed that he might have hidden himself from a landlord or taught as a schoolmaster in Lancashire.

            William Shakespeare was believed to touch down in London in mid- to late 1580s. In this city, his ability as an actor as well as playwright emerged. Some of his plays were produced. In 1597 he bought a new house, in which was also the second largest house in Stratford, and then took the whole family of his to that new residence. By 1599, William Shakespeare was in partnership with his business partner to establish a theatre close to the Thames River bank called the Globe.

            As a rising star, some people were envious of him. One of them is Robert Greene stating his remarks in the Stationers’ Register that he implicitly coveted Shakespeare’s success. What makes William Shakespeare different from Greene is that he is not only a writer, but also an actor.

          William Shakespeare died on April 5, 1616 at Trinity Church. He bequeathed his possession to his eldest daughter, Susanna. In some reports said that Shakespeare left only a “second-best bed” to his beloved wife. After his death, the popularity of Shakespeare became widespread, especially in Europe in the 19th and 20th century. Despite his popularity, the existence of Shakespeare is occasionally questioned. According to the report made by the Holy Trinity Church and the Stratford government, William Shakespeare did ever exist, but was never noted as the actor or prolific playwright.

            However the doubt is like, the works that had been resulted by William Shakespeare seem to be eternal. Some of his notable works are like Hamlet (a tragedy), Shakespeare’s sonnets, the Lover’s Complaint, etc. Most of his works about human life go with plenty of emotions. There are also conflicts depicted through the works he made. These points are what makes William Shakespeare different from other poets. The moral value and history-accounts may be able to be found in every one of his works.

            On the other hand, most of his poems are unrhymed iambic pentameter or blank verse which means that every line in each verse does not contain unstressed syllable followed by stressed syllable, and so on. This partly made William Shakespeare unique. It, however, is very common at that time to use such rhyme.

           In every work composed by William Shakespeare always contains the quotations and extracts that do reflect to our life. One of them is “God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another face” which means that sometimes do all men get unsatisfied with whatsoever belongs to them. They do not acknowledge having been given by God all things that make them live on. This quote was extracted from Hamlet act III scene I.

            Another quote that exposes a reality is “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players” taken from Shakespeare’s As You Like It act II scene VII. This quote implicitly means that the life all men are undergoing right now is just like a stage with the actors and actress, and in it, some conflicts may arise. Life is probably depicted in such way because men always must have a contradiction in their life in order to make their life more alive and that might be the purpose of living on this earth. It is merely similar to what happens in a theatre with so many actors and actress playing their roles, facing conflicts, and being contented after being able to solve all matters. Without any conflicts, the plays could have been so bad and even dead.

           Of all the works composed by William Shakespeare, one that is so interesting is The Lover’s Complaint. This narrative poem was published in 1609 by Thomas Thorpe. Recounting a lass weeping next to a river bank, this forty-seven-stanza poem is sort of narrative one. It functions to retell how badly a woman feels after being abandoned by her guy. The woman sat down on the edge of the river, weeping as stated on sixth stanza:

A thousand favours from a maund she drew

Of amber, crystal, and of beaded jet,

Which one by one she in a river threw,

Upon whose weeping margent she was set;

Like usury, applying wet to wet,

Or monarch’s hands that let not bounty fall

Where want cries some, but where excess begs all.

            This sort of poem is comprised of seven lines for each stanza which numbers 47 stanzas. Uniquely, each line consists of ten syllables. Moreover, most of the rhymes used is perfect rhyme, as exemplified in tenth stanza of The Lover’s Complain:

So slides he down upon his grained bat,

And comely-distant sits he by her side;

When he again desires her, being sat,

Her grievance with his hearing to divide:

If that from him there may be aught applied

Which may her suffering ecstasy assuage,

‘Tis promised in the charity of age.

            This stanza, rhyming a-b-a-b-c-d-d, is called rhyme royale due to being composed of seven lines. This circumstance also applies to other stanzas in The Lover’s Complaint.

               On the second out of 47 stanzas, we can have a look at an alliteration:

Upon her head a platted hive of straw,

Which fortified her visage from the sun,

Whereon the thought might think sometime it saw

The carcass of beauty spent and done:

Time had not scythed all that youth begun,

Nor youth all; but, spite of heaven’s fell rage,

Some beauty peep’d through lattice of sear’d age.

              The first line’s alliterations are her-head-hive with the initial sound ‘H’ while the second and third line’s alliterations are fortified-from with ‘F’ and the-thought-think with ‘T’, respectively. Through this stanza, we can also find figurative language, such as Nor youth all; but, spite of heaven’s fell rage (line 6). A heaven in abstraction was pictured as if it were wrathful like a man. In line 3 at the same stanza, it said Whereon the thought might think sometime it saw which figuratively means that the thought in the writer’s mind ‘thinks’. For sure it is not the ‘thought’ that thinks, but men do.

              By learning this kind of poem, we can infer that William Shakespeare mostly used the smart-way to compose it by ignoring the rhyme standard (blank verse). Nonetheless, the message that it contained is so deep though the language used is primarily an Old English. The Lover’s Complaint has a theme of love and social. These topics might be very common in that era.

            The Lover’s Complaint sends us a morality implicitly (through the story of the lady) to honour for women. This issue may be relevant to the condition at that time when Shakespeare lived. A condition in which women became so weak for man’s dominant power or arbitrariness. Shakespeare may have wished to unveil what was really going on through publishing this poem.

             Being himself, Shakespeare is admired with his writings that are all picturing freedom and a truth. He was who he was and had tried to jot down anything around in order to introduce them to many people that what he had written down was a reality you all cannot deny.


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Ingpen, R. & Wilkinson, P. 1995. Encyclopedia of World Events: Eighty Turning Points in History. Surrey: Dragon’s World Ltd.

http://www.biography.com/people/william-shakespeare-9480323 (accessed on May 12, 2013)

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This mini biography was ever submitted in order to fulfil a literature final assignment of mine in 2013


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