Is Shakespeare the greatest English playwright?

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I would argue he is. Shakespeare's plays have endured hundreds of years, and audiences still pay to see them performed, either in period costumes or with modern settings and interpretations. Despite the enormous difference in the way Shakespeare's use of English sounds compared to modern English, his use of language is so artful, poetic, and powerful that we accept the challenge to make sense of it. Those producing and performing his plays must work to make the language accessible to modern audiences. In addition to the impressive use of language, Shakespeare also created many memorable characters and stories that are still relevant to contemporary culture. His plays are taught in schools and performed by theatre companies (such as the annual Shakespeare in the Park performances in New York every summer, or the many Shakespeare plays performed in Stratford-on-Avon, Shakespeare's hometown). Romeo and Juliet is often called the greatest love story ever written, and was remade into a contemporary musical called West Side Story, and a contemporary film by Baz Luhrmann starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. Hamlet is seen as an outstanding example of a young man struggling with his own depression and ambition. The Merchant of Venice and Othello have much to teach modern audiences about the nature of ethnic and racial prejudice. So much of Shakespeare's work is central to our experience of language and the arts that it is impossible to imagine the worlds of theatre or literature without it.

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