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Shakespeare's Writing: Influences and Inspirations
Transcript of Shakespeare's Writing: Influences and Inspirations
Although there is no record of Shakespeare being enrolled in a school as a child, it is very likely that he did attend. At a school in the Elizabethan era, the days were about 11 hours long. Mostly boys were educated, and they studied Latin from a young age. As students got older, they began to study poetry and prose. This thorough education greatly influenced, and may have even inspired, Shakespeare's writing.
William Shakespeare was born near the end of the renaissance. This was a point after medieval times, where people were educated, and literacy rates increased drastically. Ancient texts from Greece and Rome were studied, including plays, poems, etc. Shakespeare's works reflect the creativity and style of these other societies' texts.
Religion in the Elizabethan era played a big role in people's lives. Attendance to the Church of England was mandatory. Although there are reports of Shakespeare's father and sister not attending, there is no evidence suggesting Shakespeare ever missed a service. Spending most of his life going to church, religion influenced Shakespeare's writing, and references to it appear in a variety of his works.
William Shakespeare was one of eight children. His father, John, was a farmer and an artisan of many trades, but he was heavily in debt. This prevented Shakespeare from becoming an apprentice to his father, which ultimately led Shakespeare to literature. After Shakespeare's childhood, he married Anne Hathaway, who bore him three children. Susanna was the oldest. Twins, Judith and Hamnet, were two years younger. Hamnet died at 11, inspiring Shakespeare to write Hamlet, one of his most famous works.
During Shakespeare's time, many political conflicts occurred. This political conflict influenced and inspired Shakespeare to write many plays on different historical events. These historical plays mirrored the political issues of the time and were intended to get the audience members to view these issues from a different perspective.
By 1592, Shakespeare started working as an actor. Since he began spending a lot of time in London, which was a melting pot for many different cultures, he began writing about the diverse cultures and personalities that he encountered. Many of his earliest works show his knowledge of foreign countries and European affairs.
Witchcraft became a topic of concern in Elizabethan England, and resulted a lot of new literature. For example, new books like "Discovery of Witchcraft" by Reginald Scot and "Daemonologie" by King James I greatly influenced Shakespeare's version of history and were some of his sources for when he wrote Macbeth.
Another famous playwrite in the late 1500's was Robert Armin. Armin and Shakespeare likely met eachother because of their fame, and Armin became Shakespeare's lead comic actor. Armin changed how Shakespeare portrayed fools and jesters in his plays like "King Lear" and "As You Like It." Also, many of Armin's characters were incorporated into Shakespeare's plays.
Shakespeare was inspired by many other pieces of literature. For example, the poems of Geoffrey Chaucer are sources in many of Shakespeare's plays. Also, "Parallel Lives" by the Greek philosopher Plutarch is a primary source in many of Shakespeare's plays such as "Anthony and Cleopatra", "Julius Caesar", "Coriolanus", and "Timon of Athens."
When Shakespeare became famous, he also gained a lot of friends and hung out with fellow playwrites. Two of his main friends were John Heminges and Henry Condell. After Shakespeare died, these two friends published "The First Folio." This was a book that contained 36 of Shakespeare's plays so that his plays would live on for future generations.