"All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts..."
(As You Like It, Act 2 Scene 7)
In an era that marked some of the greatest achievements in entertainment, one man rose above the rest through his eternal notions and literary tongue. His work not only captured and motivated the hearts and souls of his time, but also inspired an epic movement in literature that has set a standard for writers throughout history. William Shakespeare was merely a man, but he will forever remain in the hearts of millions through his writing.
The word, “hero,” cannot be defined by one person, nor does one person have every quality a hero may possess. Yet, it is within a person we place heroic qualities to both honor them for their lifetime achievements and give us someone to look up to and model ourselves after. Typically known for creating and writing about heroes rather than being considered one himself, William Shakespeare fulfills my ideas of a hero because of the timeless impact he left on the world through his famous literary works. No, Shakespeare did not risk his life for others, but he did dedicate his life to a cause, to his passion: to entertain the people. In doing so, William Shakespeare planted a seed in the heart of entertainment that would allow it to grow and evolve with time, while having deep roots tied to history.
For being a popular figure studied in history, not much is known about Shakespeare’s life before he achieved greatness. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon in April of 1564, as the first of eight children of John Shakespeare, a glover, and Mary Arden, a land heiress. The date of his actual birth can only be approximated as the twenty-third, based on his date of baptism, April 26. Growing up, he was given only a basic education while attending Stratford Grammar School. He received no further extensive education and was thought to have taught himself other basic principles.
November 28, 1582 marked a significant chapter in Shakespeare’s life, as he married Anne Hathaway, who was twenty-six at the time, making her eight years his senior. Their first daughter, Susanna, was born on May 26, 1583, which many believe was the reason for their quick marriage. Two years later, on February 2, 1585, Anne bore a set of twins, Hamnet and Judith. Unfortunately, Hamnet died at the age of 11 in 1596.
As a master playwright and avid poet, William Shakespeare wrote thirty-seven plays and compiled a total of one hundred and fifty-four sonnets. The numbers alone are astonishing, but the works themselves are even more impressive. Each of his plays falls under a category of comedic, tragic, historical, or a combination between two. Examples of his comedies include A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Much Ado About Nothing. His historical plays include those such as Henry VII. Shakespeare, however, was most renowned for his tragedies, which include Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello, and Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare, for the most part, used a specific rhyme scheme in writing his sonnets known as iambic pentameter. His sonnets range in topics, but he mainly focuses on love, loss, and preservation. “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see / so long lives this, and this gives life to thee” (Sonnet 18). Shakespeare knew that by writing these powerful masterpieces, he could make himself, or anyone he chooses, eternal.
|Shakespeare's Sonnets (http://www.bostonphoenix.com/archive/books)|
Through his writing, Shakespeare left a legacy in the world of literature that has stood for almost four hundred years. Even more impressive is the fact that his works are still enjoyed by millions of people who study and read Shakespeare today. Almost half a century later, the powerful and nurturing words of Shakespeare continue to amaze and inspire people of a totally different time than his own. The reason being, that the focus of Shakespeare’s work turns towards love, passion, betrayal, sorrow, revenge, and heartbreak; themes that people of any time and age can relate to. His thoughts on entertainment were to involve the people, and to have them relate to the emotions expressed through characters in his plays, or words in his sonnets. In doing so, Shakespeare made an extraordinary advancement in entertainment that has shaped the meaning of the word today.
It is a true rarity when one person can make great advancements in a field that may affect people centuries later. It is for Shakespeare’s excellent literary intuitiveness, rather than his courage, that gives him the qualities of a hero in my eyes. Without the epic plays and sonnets of Shakespeare, the standards for literature would reach nowhere near the magnitude they are today. For it is William Shakespeare, the playwright and bard, not William Shakespeare, the man, who will be remembered throughout history, and for all time. In the words of Shakespeare himself, “I wish you well and so I take my leave, / I Pray you know me when we meet again" (http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes).