William Shakespeare

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What are William Shakespeare's contributions to English literature?

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William Shakespeare added about 1,700 words to the English language by invention or combination and by borrowing roots from other languages. In his plays, he created highly complex characters with rich interiority and constructed enduring plots that have become touchstones for much of English literature since. He helped to popularize the English sonnet form, which is also known as the Shakespearean sonnet because of his fame and influence.


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Shakespeare has had an enormous influence on English literature. Shakespeare, who was never afraid to innovate, contributed more than 1,700 words to the English language. More importantly, he innovated with character. For example, Hamlet has been called the first modern play because of the intense interiority of its title character. Hamlet is always thinking, and the audience is allowed to hear those thoughts through his many soliloquies. 

Because Shakespeare had a deep understanding of people from all walks of life and created deeply imagined, well-rounded characters, so human they can seem...

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