Why is Shakespeare such a famous writer?

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coachingcorner's profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Shakespeare is known as a famous writer for several important reasons. Firstly, he had an uncanny ability to take 'human interest' stories from right around the world and make them not appealing to but also accessible to the masses, both ordinary people and royalty. His writings and plays were equally enjoyed by both. He was also very prolific and that increased his audience and readership - the sheer number of his plays, sonnets increased his profile as a writer. His writings were also very varied - he wrote not only tragedies, but comedies as well and some lovely sonnets too. All have stood the test of the time for us to enjoy. This was partly because of his patronage and that of his band of players - his writings may have been recorded partly because of his associations with influential people.

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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There is no doubt that William Shakespeare was prolific in his writings as well as versatile. It didn't seem to affect the quality of his works too much (although some people believe that he had help. ) one example of versatility is the plague - during the outbreaks when people wernt visiting theatres , he turned his hand to writing sonnets!

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

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Shakespeare is famous because he wrote some great stories. People love stories above all else. One of the reasons his plays are so popular is because he wrote about kings and queens, and big lives have room for big tragedies.

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playsthething | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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I can think of three reasons that Shakespeare's works have withstood the test of time.  And all of these reasons are in spite of the fact that many of his plot lines were unoriginal; he drew his stories from history, other literature, etc.  It's what he DID with the stories that make him brilliant.

First, he creates three dimensional, complicated characters. These characters are very human - with positive and negative attributes - and constantly questioning the world around them.  This appeals to any audience (Elizabethan and Modern).

Second, he takes the stories and weaves the plots together in new and captivating ways.  He might take ideas from three different sources and put them together in the episodic structure he used; he then weaves a tale that holds interest throughout.

Third, he writes beautiful poetry.  The craft of his writing is unprecedented.  There are so many quotes of Shakespeare in common use in our society, and some of them, people probably don't even know they're quoting Shakespeare.

All three of these qualities combine to make Shakespeare the great writer we know him as today.  I imagine he'll continue to be revered this way for many years in the future.

Here is a video about why we continue to study Shakespeare:

User Comments

nusratfarah's profile pic

nusratfarah | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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There are various reasons to call Shakespeare great. Why would you call the sky so wide, and call the Everest so high? There is no limit of Shakespeare's talent. he is a genius. He could cross the limit of age, time, gender, country. he could have been the one who was unbiased and impartial to all. And, if you consider him under his poor family background, You will see how the real genius remains hidden, and if chance is got, s/he shows the best when it is time. Shakespeare is successful both as a poet and a playwright. In one word, he is an icon for all the writers all over the world.

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eschepper | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

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(pretty much everything that the others say) Also, he used iambic pentameter regularly in his writings, enough to be recognized by name as a technique in iambic pentameter. (Shakespearean pentameter)

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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William Shakespeare has written some of the best lyrical literary works ever to have been written.  His style and abilities have been unmatched by any other author.  One of the reasons for the success of his plays has been the choices of material.  Shakespeare used drama and comedy in his writings.

Shakespeare’s themes rang as true in his era as they do in modern times.  The proof of this has been in the theatrical reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s plays. They have traveled through time and been able to be applied to the present.  The themes of "Taming of the Shrew" and "Othello" have been made into modern teenage movies that met with a popular audience.  However, the wording was not Shakespeare’s words. 

William Shakespeare wrote for an audience.  He knew the likes and dislikes of mankind and how to draw them into his plays.  He was careful not to over indulge the sexual parts in his plays because he originally had only male actors.  However, with the acceptance of sexuality in modern theatre and male and females being allowed to act, his plays do not have the same restraints as they had in the past.

Shakespeare’s works will continue to move forward just as time does. 


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lolcasey110403 | Student, Grade 7 | (Level 2) eNoter

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He became famous first as a poet and he is known for his plays and sonnets. He is considered the greatest english speaking writerin history. He is englands national poet and had more theatrical works performed than other playwright. He appeals his audience with his characters and his sonnets.