Is there any playwright who could surpass Shakespeare, or at least be of equal match with him?Is there any playwright who could surpass Shakespeare, or at least be of equal match with him?

9 Answers

lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Considering the depth and breadth of his writing as well as sheer volume of plays, I would say that no other playwright it ever going to come close.  No playwright rivals his command of language.  Shakespeare deftly handled all genres and covered most of the universal themes of literature -- a true master!

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is fairly safe to say that no modern playwrights will ever have the impact on the world that Shakespeare had for lots of reasons. Modern playwrights such as those mentioned above (and I might add Tennessee Williams) will each have their own spheres of influence and do some things exceptionally well; however, Shakespeare did nearly everything well and made an impact it seems no one else will ever make.

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It would be hard for a modern playwright to match Shakespeare's influence because he is entrenched in our culture. One reason is definitely the brilliance of the writing and the grandiose nature of the stories. However, there is also the length of time is influence has had to build up.
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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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I doubt that any playwright will ever reach the heights that William Shakespeare reached during his relatively short career. Even some of the 20th century's finest playwrights, such as Arthur Miller and Edward Albee, pale in comparison. Even when divided, Shakespeare's tragedies, comedies and histories singularly make him the greatest playwright in all three respects. Long live The Bard!

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I must agree with post #5 and, therefore, post #4.  Literature is simply too subjective to make such a general statement. I would find it very hard to either make the statement, in regards to others, or have the statement made for me by another.

Simplistically, I do not believe that there are any modern day playwrights as wonderful as Shakespeare holistically. That being said, there are many who exist who can/have mastered individual elements of Shakespeare's writing.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Surely no one else has the range that Shakespeare exhibits, though.  Of course, as previous posters have said, this is very subjective.  But even a playwright like Miller does not show an ability to do everything from love poetry (within his plays) to tragedy to comedy.  Because Shakespeare was able to write great examples of so many kinds of plays, he surely does not have an equal.

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bigdreams1 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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This is a very difficult question to answer, because art/writing are such subjective things. What may seem eloquent and powerful to one reader (Shakespeare), may be clumsy and difficult to comprehend to another.

Another thing one must consider is what aspect of writing you are comparing. Is it storytelling, or style, or character development, or theme creation you are considering?...because I would have very different answers for all of these catagories.

However, if you are asking holistically...I would tend to agree with the first poster that Miller may be a modern-day type of Shakespeare. His language may not be as lyrical, but his messages are strong and so are his characters.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Given the general nature of this question, I will keep it in the literature group where it presently resides.

This is an interesting question, because many people actually believe that Shakespeare's plays are the creation of somebody else apart from Shakespeare, or at least the result of a collaboration between Shakespeare and another dramatist, such as Christopher Marlowe. Also, at the time of Shakespeare, it is interesting to note that the plays of Marlowe were actually considered to be superior to Shakespeare's work. Some critics today still argue that Marlowe is the better dramatist, and that we should be studying Marlowe instead of Shakespeare. I have included some links below to give you more information about Marlowe, but certainly his plays, including the great Doctor Faustus and also Edward II and Tamburlane the Great are certainly excellent.

If you are after a more modern day playwright, I would personally like to suggest Arthur Miller as being somebody whose plays at least approach equality in terms of greatness. He has managed to create modern day triumps such as The Crucible and Death of a Salesman that have captured the spirit of an age and also raise timeless themes such as the individual vs. society and personal guilt and the importance of reputation.

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shewa55 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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there is no parallel in the field of drama to Shakespeare however the one and only person who is  next to Shakespeare is probably Marlowe.whose contribution to English drama is praise able.