What kind of man was Shakespeare?What kind of man was William Shakespeare? Was he bookish and quiet? Serious and organised? Or was he wild and passionate, a half-mad poet surfing the crest of...

What kind of man was Shakespeare?

What kind of man was William Shakespeare? Was he bookish and quiet? Serious and organised? Or was he wild and passionate, a half-mad poet surfing the crest of insanity?

Was he a lover? A fighter? Was he a fellow of infinte jest? Or did man delight not him.

Did he get drunk and sing to the moon with his acting friends? Or did he spend hours on his knees in pious prayer?

He has touched all of us. Probably we remember those words which reflect our own personalities, more than reflect the whole man. Who was this medieval scribbler who so easily unpicked our inner secrets?

We all carry our own Shakespeare around in our heads, we have all imagined meeting him and pictured his life and times. What do you think he was like? Not the brief, sketchy historic record, who do you feel was behind the pen that wrote those words that moved your heart?

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the keywords to never let you get fooled about Shakespeare is that he might have been the "anti-poet"- Far from being the starving, drunken, Lord Byron-ish, sullen, dramatic poet, he was a staunch businessman, with his head well placed on finances as well as in the arts. He was wise, and quick and, admirably, a very fast learner.

From the point of view of the modern man, he was indeed the Renaissance Man, with the ability to put his finger on something and make it work, with the ability to dabble on the rivers of arts, philosophy, and the less artistic world of banking and real-estate. He did not die crazy, he did not die broke, he did not die kicked out of society (like plenty other dramatists and artists were in Victorian times, for instance), and instead he died a rich and famous man, whose name has outlived time.

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

He was a very astute and successful businessman, as well. He understood the logistics of staging a drama in his time and worked with the limitations he had to deal with by incorporating them into his plays. No way to show a dagger floating in the air and turning bloody? No problem. Macbeth will simply describe what he sees. Big, violent battle? No problem. A soldier will just run onto the stage and talk about where he has been and what happened. No way to create darkness during the day when he plays were staged? No problem. Actors will carry torches and talk about how dark it is and where the moon happens to be.

Also, Shakespeare understood his audiences and gave them what they enjoyed (and still enjoy, for that matter): ghosts, witches, supernatural events, and lots of blood. He was the hottest ticket in town!

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have no idea what kind of man Shakespeare was.  I am not sure I believe what I do read about him.  However, we can tell from his plays that he had a good sense of humor and was clever with words, and he knew how to weave a good tale.

epollock | Student

He was simply a man ahead of his times, with a keen eye on people's nature and psychology. He probably studied on his own for a while and used his reading ability and creative energy to take what he read, change it, make it his own, and create a fabulous dramatic story or sonnet.

krishna-agrawala | Student

I have not read much about Shakespeare as a person, but judging from the variety and popularity of his plays, which has endured for more than four centuries, I am sure he understood human nature very well - that is somewhat same as saying that he was a psychologist. He definitely possessed a good knowledge of a wide range of subjects, and philosophy mus have been one of those subjects. But it does not appear very probable to me that he was a philosophical by nature and lonely.

Judging from his works, he appears to be a person interested in people and the worldly things. There can be no doubt that, with his knowledge and ability to express things so interestingly, he must have been a very good company to his friends. I see no justification for him to be lonely.

frizzyperm | Student

He was a thinker and a philosopher, a psychologist and a poet. I bet he got pretty lonely sometimes, I don't suppose there were many people he could talk to who could understand him. There is great joy and beauty in his work, but also anger and sadness at human failings. He's one of my closest friends.