William Shakespeare


William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)[a] was an
English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the
English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called
England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His
surviving works consist of 38 plays 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems,
and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major
living language, and are performed more often than those of any other
playwright.
Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613. His
early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the
peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the sixteenth century.
Next he wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King
Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest examples in the English
language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as
romances, and collaborated with other playwrights.
Scholars have often noted four periods in Shakespeare's writing
career. Until the mid-1590s, he wrote mainly comedies influenced by Roman
and Italian models and history plays in the popular chronicle tradition.
His second period began in about 1595 with the tragedy Romeo and Juliet and
ended with the tragedy of Julius Caesar in 1599. During this time, he wrote
what are considered his greatest comedies and histories. From about 1600 to
about 1608, his "tragic period", Shakespeare wrote mostly tragedies, and
from about 1608 to 1613, mainly tragicomedies, also called romances.
Shakespeare's early classical and Italianate comedies, containing
tight double plots and precise comic sequences, give way in the mid-1590s
to the romantic atmosphere of his greatest comedies. A Midsummer Night's
Dream is a witty mixture of romance, fairy magic, and comic low-life
scenes.. His characters become more complex and tender as he switches
deftly between comic and serious scenes, prose and poetry, and achieves the
narrative variety of his mature work. This period begins and ends with two
tragedies: Romeo and Juliet, the famous romantic tragedy of sexually
charged adolescence, love, and death; and Julius Caesar.
Shakespeare's so-called "tragic period" lasted from about 1600 to
1608, though he also wrote the so-called "problem plays" Measure for
Measure, Troilus and Cressida, and All's Well That Ends Well during this
time and had written tragedies before. Many critics believe that
Shakespeare's greatest tragedies represent the peak of his art. The hero of
the first, Hamlet, has probably been more discussed than any other
Shakespearean character, especially for his famous soliloquy "To be or not
to be; that is the question." Unlike the introverted Hamlet, whose fatal
flaw is hesitation, the heroes of the tragedies that followed, Othello and
King Lear, are undone by hasty errors of judgement. The plots of
Shakespeare's tragedies often hinge on such fatal errors or flaws, which
overturn order and destroy the hero and those he loves. In Macbeth, the
shortest and most compressed of Shakespeare's tragedies uncontrollable
ambition incites Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth, to murder the rightful
king and usurp the throne, until their own guilt destroys them in turn.
Shakespeare's sonnets, or simply The Sonnets, is a collection of poems
in sonnet form written by William Shakespeare that deal with such themes as
love, beauty, politics, and mortality. They were probably written over a
period of several years. All 154 poems appeared in a 1609 collection,
entitled SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS, comprising 152 previously unpublished
sonnets and two (numbers 138 and 144) that had previously been published in
a 1599 miscellany entitled The Passionate Pilgrim.
The first 17 sonnets are written to a young man, urging him to marry
and have children thereby passing down his beauty to the next generation.
These are called the procreation sonnets. Most of them, however, 18-126,
are addressed to a young man expressing the poet's love for him. Sonnets
127-152 are written to the poet's mistress expressing his love for her. The
final two sonnets, 153-154, are allegorical. The final thirty or so sonnets
are written about a number of issues, such as the young man's infidelity
with the poet's mistress, self-resolution to control his own lust,
beleaguered criticism of the world, etc.


Romeo and Juliet is an early tragedy by William Shakespeare about two
teenage "star-cross'd lovers" whose "untimely deaths" ultimately unite
their feuding households. The play has been highly praised by literary
critics for its language and dramatic effect. It was among Shakespeare's
most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with Hamlet, is one of
his most frequently performed plays. Its influence is still seen