Shakespeare and His Marks on the English Language and Literature, Term Paper Example
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5,000 BCE to 1700 CE is a very long period where a lot of noteworthy people and occurrences came to life. It is a period where the world witnessed an immense growth and development in terms of economy, cultures, religion, traditions and government. Throughout this historical era, language and literature developed as a form of art and communication. Numerous writers and poets made the world of literature lively and up to now, their works are valued and studied by the present generation.
Literature is a presentation of language, beauty and art. More than just a creative form of language and communication, literature is also an important part of the world’s history and culture. Literary works may be written in a form of tragedy, novels, poems, plays, romantic comedy and a lot more. Truly, these literatures have brought us to a new world of fantasy, experiences and antiquity. Since these creative works can imply numerous and different meanings, it’s up to the authors on how they would deliver it to the audience. On the other hand, it’s the audience role to understand the meaning behind the superfluous words from the authors.
One of the significant writers who have changed the world of English language and literature is William Shakespeare. Without any embellishment, Shakespeare is labeled as the most unforgettable figure of literature in the world’s history. From his Romeo and Juliet, to Hamlet and a lot more, this man had undeniably touched the hearts of audiences and readers through his works about love, life and death. These three themes reflected the real face of humanity which resulted to the success and unforgettable mark Shakespeare left in the world (“Shakespeare – an unforgettable Literary Figure” par. 2).
Shakespeare’s Life and Early Works
In a place called Stratford-on-Avon in England, William Shakespeare was born on the 26th of April 1564 during the Age of Elizabethan. Queen Elizabeth I was the head of the country where he was raised by a glove-maker father named John Shakespeare and his mother named Mary. Mary was a daughter of a well-off farmer. Both Shakespeare’s parents were illiterate and he and his siblings took the privilege to get into learning after his father won the election as an alderman (“Elizabethan Education”, par. 1). The young Shakespeare went to a local grammar school until the age of fourteen. He then left to London in the year 1587 (“Introducing Shakespeare for KS3”, p. 11).
Shakespeare turned out to be a well-known playwright and was considered the most inexhaustible writer of his time. Many scholars think that he is a genius because of his works and the way he turn the words into a creative assembly. He was able make ordinary words sound like music to his audience.
There were thirty six plays included on Shakespeare’s folio. Scholars have traced four various periods of his creations (“Shakespeare – an unforgettable Literary Figure” par. 6). It was in the late 1595 when he arrived in London and stated to leave a mark during his first and early experimentations on his compositions. Literary scholars believe that this period was marked by “youthfulness and liveliness of imagination with the use of extravagant language”. It was also during this time when Shakespeare learned and discovered his language of black verse wherein he combined these to his popular works entitled Two Gentlemen of Verona, Love’s Labor Lost and Richard III (“Shakespeare – an unforgettable Literary Figure” par. 8).
The period of Growth and Development was established during the year 1595 to 1600 wherein plot, artistry and fine comprehension of human nature started to emerge in Shakespeare’s compositions. He used these elements during this period on his works entitled A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, and Henry IV. From the year 1600 to 1607, Gloom and Depression period came to place because of the maturity that Shakespeare had incorporated on his powerful languages. This period was very evident in his sonnets and other works which include Twelfth Night. This period was also considered as the time for the rise of the greatness of Shakespeare’s tragedies including Othello, Macbeth, Hamlet, Julius Ceasar and King Lear. The period of Restored Serenity was felt during the year 1607 until the great playwright’s death. Restored serenity was fondled on his plays including The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale (“Shakespeare – an unforgettable Literary Figure” par. 12).
Without a doubt, Shakespeare received the title prolific writer because he was evidently focused on different genres unlike other contemporary authors that are only concentrated on a single theme during his time. He was able to write in diverse forms such as history, comedies, romance, tragedies that were always connected to life’s important elements including love, life and death (“Shakespeare’s Influence on American Literature” p. 2). It is in no uncertainty that Shakespeare had been an influence to different elements of Literature.
Impact on Blank Verse
Shakespeare is famous for his own experiments on his compositions during the time he was continuously learning from errors and mistakes when he was just starting to become a playwright. During the period of his experimentations, his vocabulary had progressively followed a creative improvement which had resulted into a perfect process of creating drama. Shakespeare’s experiments on his writing had resulted to a style of writing that had evidently showed on his plays.
His continuous experimentations lead his style of writing to find various manifestations in his plays. Consequently, finally the dialogues that were included in his play were written in verses that followed a decasyllabic rule (“William Shakespeare” par. 34). These decasyllables are found in his first ever play, Titus Andronicus. Sooner or later, in his future plays including The Comedy of Errors and Love’s Labor have lost, scholars have discovered a perfect meter abundance made of rhythms and a lot of proses arrangements in every stanza. He persisted to do the experiments with his other compositions until he matured as a writer with his own style which is popularly known now as Blank Verse.
This technique used by Shakespeare is composed of metrical patterns that are comprised of lines formed in an n unrhymed iambic pentameter (Mabillard, par. 4). This parameter uses a prose as a representation for the final words in the lines and these do not rhyme in any regular pattern. Blank poetry’s difference from prose is the elements used include its meter which is a distinguishable rhythm located in a line of verse that contain a regular pattern containing unstressed and stressed syllables. These lines are in the form of iambic pentameter that are usually containing ten syllables that are alternating from stressed to unstressed and also having a lot of irregularities (Schwartz, par. 5).
All sonnets written by Shakespeare are in this manner excluding the Sonnet 145 that was written in iambic tetrameter. This is a very significant influence of the great playwright in the history of poetry as Shakespeare was able to present and introduce the Free Speech rhythm that gave writers the liberation to experiment on their unique and own techniques just like what Shakespeare did. Scholars said that this method of free speech permits the poet to express natural emotions and situations that are unsurprisingly free flowing language that also contributes to the flexibility and spontaneity of elements (“Shakespeare’s Influence on American Literature”, p. 7). Similarly, it also contributes to the natural speaking rhythms that improve the ordinary English language without needing to sound unnatural. Scholars also assert that the utilization of blank verse in poetries sharpens the distinction of art that tends to increase, enhance and distill the mundane events (Schwartz, par. 4).
The utilization of blank verse is also considered as a primary factor for passionate occasions and events or for self-examinations that would contribute to the enhancement of a character. The famous dialogues of Lady Macbeth during her plotting scene in Macbeth, Soliloquies of Henry V, Prospero’s Farewell to magic in the Tempest and Hamlet, which are all famous works of Shakespeare, were written in the form of blank verse to create a distill difference in their characters because this is the function of blank verse when used in literary works (Schwatz, par. 8).
Influence on Poetry
It is known that the sonnets made by Shakespeare contributed to the examination of human psychology during period of Renaissance and became the precursor of the growth and improvement of spiritual psychology by the author W.B Yeats and T.S Elliot (“On the Nature of Poetry”, p. 6). Since the meaning of the period of Renaissance is “rebirth”, it also means in the concept of Italians as “the rebirth of learning” that stated during the fourteenth century. It progressively spread to the northern regions of the world including England. The Period of Renaissance also concluded in the north during the mid-17th century. This conclusion gave way to the massive rebirth of interest in the study of classical history, (Hartley, p.4).
This period was also the time for new discoveries such as geographic explorations of the new world, colonization and education. The thought during the renaissance period were regarded as voyage into the new and modern age. This is the time when Shakespeare started to introduce his sonnets which up to now patronized by scholars and literary enthusiasts. Shakespeare had written one hundred and fifty four sonnets which were straight expression of his emotions and feelings (“Shakespeare – an unforgettable Literary Figure”, par. 9).
So far, the biggest and most notable contribution that Shakespeare, the greatest playwright was the descriptive art of poetry. It was his overview to verbal nearness and stress on emotions as a necessary language of poetry. Once more, the universal elements and themes of his works concerning life, love and death captivated and captured the psyche of humans. He had a great capability to comprehend the complexity of the emotions shown by humans and he was also able to analyze these by utilizing simple and memorable words to express them. He was indeed a master of originality in the context of using language. He wrote with fluidity in his words, sounds, rhythms and thoughts. Shakespeare managed to present the materials in a complicated way but not too hard to understand for even the most untried reader (Jenson, par. 10).
It was in his sonnet entitled CXXVIII where he wrote the line “When my love wears that she is made of truth I do believe her, though I know she lies”. It was a representation of how he showed in every ordinary word the complicated and inconsistent attitudes of a single human emotion. He has influenced poetry by starting the utilization of verbal closeness as to create and shape the flow of the emotions. These gave life to his poetic language by bringing a human soul to his works and words. Shakespeare indeed made the complexity of human’s emotion through his delivery of simple yet creative words of poetries.
Impression on the English Vocabulary
One of the skills that Shakespeare possessed is that he was able to become playful with his words to make it creative. This creativity contributed to the meaning and depth of his compositions. Other than his great impact on the literature such as poetries, Shakespeare is also well-known for his contributions on the development of the contemporary English Language. It was during his time of experimentation until the end of the period of renaissance when the English language was improved and altered after the rise of modernization. Because of that, Shakespeare had the chance to invent various words and phrases that are now used in the modern English language. In fact, this famous playwright had contributed to around 3000 words to the Oxford English dictionary which are utilized at the present (Hartley, p. 5).
During the rise of Protestant reformation period, the plays authored by Shakespeare were performed considering the political and social factors in England. These factors are said to have influenced Shakespeare’s desire and passion for the English language. He then gave this passion a chance to grow and be nurtured (Hartley, p. 3). Aside from contributing a lot on the language, Shakespeare also changed the grammar by using endings like suffixes which imply the word’s grammatical purposes. The language that was used by Shakespeare on his playwrights was inspired by other European vocabularies that resulted to what they call cross pollination. These permitted the countries that aren’t united to communicate with each other. Shakespeare had the ability to get words from other languages due to the factors influenced by diplomacy, war and colonization (Hartley, p. 5).
During this period, a lot of writers and compositors were not knowledgeable these vocabularies for expressing their thoughts in the evolution of philosophy, theology and physical science. Only Shakespeare was able to invent and get phrases coming from other languages which are referred to as Neologising. This method was used by Shakespeare to articulate his new thoughts. This method has way to new varieties of English words and led to endless probabilities to create more works (Hartley, p. 4). He was able to invent new purposes for each word regardless of the strict Latin and French rules. Shakespeare liberated people from using the language.
In his composition entitled Love’s Labor’s Lost, he was able to connect a lot of meaning in just a single word for him to create a sentence like Light, doth light of light beguile, seeking light, daylight, eyesight and wisdom. Today, this can be connected to the idea of light with a meaning of being intelligent or religious (Hartley, p. 4 ). Shakespeare had invented a lot of words together for him to create famous phrases in English including “A sorry sight” which means pitiful, “Vanish into the air” which means disappeared, “A laughing stock” which means fool and a lot more. Although Shakespeare’s words were not all used nowadays, he had approximately twenty one thousand varieties of words during his time. With this, the scholars believe the English language would never be the same without the contribution of Shakespeare. He gave rise to up to one thousand seven hundred common words that are commonly utilized nowadays. He was able to formulate all of these by twisting nouns into verbs, verbs to adjectives and relating words together, putting prefixes and suffixes and creating his own unique words. Hartley (p. 5) believes that Shakespeare had the greatest on todays’ Phraseology of English.
He has the biggest impact in what we call today as the “Phraseology of English” (Hartley).
Shakespeare only lived for 52 years and in just 23 years, his impact in the world of literature and English language has become so immense and significant not only to the people during his time but also for today’s generation.
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