WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE – HIS LIFE AND GENIUS
William Shakespeare is regarded the world over as one of the greatest literary figures. He was an elusive figure and not much is known about his life, though his works speak for themselves in so many ways, and to a variety of people and in a variety of ways, from the erudite to the common man.
His appeal was clearly universal, maybe, because his themes and especially his characters were universal. You will find all the strengths and weaknesses of Shakespearean characters in most men.
He had a way with words, dialogues and presentation that was not just artistically beautiful but also dramatic and deeply entertaining and providing an unforgettable experience. He was very successful in his time. Even today, his plays are performed the world over, in multiple languages and with great success.
He was born in 1564 and died in 1616 AD. He wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets. He took to producing plays and that very practical need, maybe, gave his writings that edge of drama and powerful presentation.
What was his specific genius?
He had an x- ray vision into people, the kind of people we meet each day. In that sense, he had a deep grasp of psychological motivations especially flaws. The flaws could be made tragic or comic and he did both with great talent and genius.
He mixed the life of these characters, with philosophy and statements about life too. But he was not primarily a philosopher but a great story teller.
He knew HOW to tell a story, how to create emotion and sympathy in the reader and audience.
It was not just plot twists, but the motivation of each character that he presented and also made use of, to tell a story dramatically.
His dialogues were superb expressions of what happens inside the soul of people, even in evil characters.
That gave a melodramatic sense of life to the play, to the characters and the fates of the characters. He had a genius to SEE And SHOW drama in the emotions and the psychology and the soul of the common human. Nothing escaped his merciless observation and he brought out the exact elements needed to give a dramatic effect, with twists and turns, expression and real emotions in each character.
He brought out all the things that are usually muted and buried in the souls of people.
So, the audience or reader identifies with the characters starkly, deeply and is obviously touched and that is a strange kind of mirror.
Shakespeare gives that to any kind of reader. You can COME OUT in your mind and play your part while watching.
As he himself stated, we are all players and we all play our parts and exit one day.
So, he presented irony too along with emotion, an ability to satirize and even exaggerate without becoming base and cheap.
That great artist always knew where his sympathy lay. He never crossed a line of truth, almost letting the characters speak, feel, dramatize, fail, succeed, laugh and cry.
He was like a GOD who did not write but let the play, play itself out. He had no real judgments to make, and his plays do not really inspire, or elevate. He was, as we stated earlier, not a philosopher, showing only men as they are, not as they could or even should be.
That was the genius of Shakespeare. Within that kind of framework, he did a superlative and matchless job.
In the next sections, we will bring out that specific genius more concretely with a deep example, and give you the taste of how one can experience Shakespeare and how it can dramatically enhance your life by universalizing the souls of people around you. The reader finds great moments of truth on the conscious and experiential level about fates of men. In usual life, that is not seen or made conscious.