William Shakespeare Questions and Answers

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Why is Shakespeare considered to be the greatest writer in English literature?

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Shakespeare's greatest contribution to literature would probably be the variety of material that he produced during his lifetime. He wrote histories, such as Julius Caesar. He wrote love stories, most famously Romeo and Juliet. He also wrote comedies such as The Taming of the Shrew. His poetry is often quoted as well as lines from his plays.  He single-handedly invented new words for the English language such as "assassination." His characters are quite believable and have been analyzed by critics ever since the plays were first produced. Shakespeare wrote at a time when plays were quite popular in England and he gave the viewing public what they wanted, whether they were the rich with good views or groundlings who could not afford good seats. Even in today's entertainment industry it is hard to create something that appeals to such a large group of people. Shakespeare's work is timeless and has been adapted to stage, screen, and even radio.

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jdperry4 | Student

Shakespeare is considered the greatest writer in English literature for a number of reasons. Primarily, he wrote an incredible amount of works with great variety. Not only did Shakespeare write timeless plays, but he also produces sonnets and poems galore. Shakespeare contributed three genres of plays-- comedies, histories, and tragedies. He is known to have produced over 30 plays and over 150 sonnets.

He was a man of status in his own time. He produced many plays specifically for the pleasure of the royal family. His works defined the literature of the time and were written in a way in which the constructs of time applied solely to his era. Shakespeare was such a brilliant writer he invented nearly 2000 new words used in modern English. His characters were not only believable but relatable. Stories last in the minds of the reader when they have something in common with the characters. Shakespeare was destined to become one of the most memorable writers of all time from the composition of his first play.

The timing, quantity, and quality of Shakespeare were revolutionary. Combine these factors with his status, the popularity of his time, and a royal audience and the pages of history unfold. Although many writers create masterpieces that withstand the test of time, Shakespeare created a great number of masterpieces that were timeless. His works inspired a myriad of new works from artists across the globe in all eras since his writing. It is not a single factor that molded Shakespeare into the greatest literary artist of all time, but a compilation of all these factors and many others that yielded the greatest literary artist to ever live.

enotes | Student

Shakespeare's reputation as the greatest English-language writer stems from at least five dimensions of his collective work. The first of these is the sheer scope of his achievement. Over some thirty-eight plays, Shakespeare addressed virtually every aspect of human experience. His plays include comedies, tragedies, histories, romances, and problem plays: it is difficult to think of a dramatic situation, a human dilemma, or a major theme that his works do not touch upon. That being so, although he wrote for a specific audience of a particular historical era, Shakespeare's works are timeless. In fact, many of his works have been updated to our own time. Depth is a third facet of the Shakespeare canon. His works recognize the complexity of our experience and often yield contradictory interpretations of their meaning. Working in the meter of natural or conversational English, his plays were and remain accessible. Granted, Shakespeare texts do include some words and phrases that require definition. Nevertheless, with the aid of a few explanatory footnotes, they can be easily understood. Lastly, creative innovation is a hallmark of Shakespeare's writing. Although he utilized dramatic, poetic, fictional, and historical sources and models, the Bard of Avon invariably put his own stamp upon these materials. Several of his works were experimental when they were first staged.