The theater, despite its partial dependency on court favor, achieved through its material products the script and the performance a relative autonomy in comparison with the central court arts of poetry, prose fiction, and the propagandistic masque.
Although the power of the sonnets goes far beyond their sociocultural roots, Shakespeare nevertheless adopts the culturally inferior role of the petitioner for favor, and there is an undercurrent of social and economic powerlessness in the sonnets, especially when a rival poet seems likely to supplant the poet. What he achieved within this shared framework, however, goes far beyond any other collection of poems in the age.
They are love lyrics, and clearly grow from the social, erotic, and literary contexts of his age. Part of their greatness, however, lies in their power to be read again and again in later ages, and to raise compellingly, even unanswerably, more than merely literary questions.
In his first venture into public poetry, Shakespeare chose to work within the generic constraints of the fashionable Ovidian verse romance. Venus and Adonis appealed to the taste of young aristocrats such as the earl of Southampton to whom it was dedicated. It is a narrative poem in six-line stanzas, mixing classical mythology with surprisingly and incongruously detailed descriptions of country life, designed to illustrate the story of the seduction of the beautiful youth Adonis by the comically desperate aging goddess Venus.
It is relatively static, with too much argument to make it inherently pleasurable reading. The poem was certainly popular at the time, going through ten editions in as many years, possibly because its early readers thought it fashionably sensual.
Again, he combines a current poetical fashion—the complaint—with a number of moral commonplaces, and writes a novelette in verse: The central moral issue—that of honor—at times almost becomes a serious treatment of the psychology of self-revulsion; but the decorative and moralistic conventions of the complaint certainly do not afford Shakespeare the scope of a stage play.
There are some fine local atmospheric effects that, in their declamatory power, occasionally bring the directness and power of the stage into the verse. The Phoenix and the Turtle is an allegorical, highly technical celebration of an ideal love union: It consists of a funeral procession of mourners, a funeral anthem, and a final lament for the dead. It is strangely evocative, dignified, abstract, and solemn.
Readers have fretted, without success, over the exact identifications of its characters. Its power lies in its mysterious, eerie evocation of the mystery of unity in love. The sonnets were first published in , although numbers and had appeared in The Passionate Pilgrim a decade before. Such attempts simply fulfill an understandable anxiety on the part of some readers to see narrative continuity rather than variations and repetition in the sonnets.
They are arguably the greatest collection of love poems in the language, and they provide a crucial test for the adequacy of both the love of poetry and the sense of the fascinating confusion that makes up human love.
Each sonnet is like a little script, with often powerful directions for reading and enactment, with textual meanings that are not given but made anew in every performance, by different readers within their individual and social lives. Sonnets and perhaps 18 are ostensibly concerned with a plea for a young man to marry; but even in this group, which many readers have seen to be the most conventional and unified, there are disruptive suggestions that go far beyond the commonplace context.
What may strike contemporary readers, and not merely after an initial acquaintance with the sonnets, is the apparently unjustified level of idealization voiced by many of the sonnets—an adulatory treatment of noble love that, to a post-Freudian world, might seem archaic, no matter how comforting. In the two hundred years since Petrarch, the sonnet had developed into an instrument of logic and rhetoric. The focus is on emotional richness, on evoking the immediacy of felt experience. Shakespeare uses many deliberately generalized epithets, indeterminate signifiers and floating referents that provoke meaning from their readers rather than providing it.
Each line contains contradictions, echoes, and suggestions that require an extraordinary degree of emotional activity on the part of the reader. The couplets frequently offer a reader indeterminate statements, inevitably breaking down any attempt at a limited formalist reading.
The greatest of the sonnets—60, 64, , as well as many others—have such an extraordinary combination of general, even abstract, words and unspecified emotional power that the reader may take it as the major rhetorical characteristic of the collection. In particular lines, too, these poems achieve amazing power by their lack of logical specificity and emotional open-endedness.
Often a reader is swept on through the poem by a syntactical movement that is modified or contradicted by associations set up by words and phrases. There is usually a syntactical or logical framework in the sonnet, but so powerful are the contradictory, random, and disruptive effects occurring incidentally as the syntax unfolds that to reduce the sonnet to its seemingly replete logical framework is to miss the most amazing effects of these extraordinary poems.
Shakespeare is writing at the end of a very long tradition of using lyric poems to examine the nature of human love, and there is a weight of insight as well as of rhetorical power behind his collection. Nowhere in the Petrarchan tradition are the extremes of erotic revelation offered in such rawness and complexity. Most of the conventional topoi of traditional poetry are the starting points for the sonnets—the unity of lovers , the power of poetry to immortalize the beloved 18, 19, 55 , contests between eye and heart, beauty and virtue 46, , and shadow and substance 53, 98, To do so, however, would be to nullify their extraordinary power of creation, the way they force ejaculations of recognition, horror, or joy from their readers.
Unpredictability and change are at the heart of the sonnets—but it is a continually shifting heart, and one that conceives of human love as definable only in terms of such change and finitude. In Sonnet 60, for example, time is not an impartial or abstract background. Even where it is glanced at as a pattern observable in nature or humanity, it is evoked as a disruptive, disturbing experience that cannot be dealt with as a philosophical problem.
In Sonnet 15, it may be possible to enter into an understandable protest against time destroying its own creations a commonplace enough Renaissance sentiment , and to accede to a sense of helplessness before a malignant force greater than the individual human being. When the sonnet tries, however, by virtue of its formally structured argument, to create a consciousness that seeks to understand and so to control this awareness, the reader encounters lines or individual words that may undermine even the temporary satisfaction of the aesthetic form.
The sonnet does not and need not answer such questions. To attempt criticism of the sonnets is, to an unusual extent, to be challenged to make oneself vulnerable, to undergo a kind of creative therapy, as one goes back and forth from such textual gaps and indeterminacies to the shifting, vulnerable self, making the reader aware of the inadequacy and betrayal of words, as well as of their amazing seductiveness.
It was a critical failure. Deciding there was more of Hugo in the work than Shakespeare, some French critics suggested he should have entitled it, " Myself ". In it he argues for a "vast public literary domain. Literature is the secretion of civilisation, poetry of the ideal. That is why literature is one of the wants of societies.
That is why poetry is a hunger of the soul. That is why poets are the first instructors of the people. That is why Shakespeare must be translated in France. That is why comments must be made on them.
That is why there must be a vast public literary domain. That is why all poets, all philosophers, all thinkers, all the producers of the greatness of the mind must be translated, commented on, published, printed, reprinted, stereotyped, distributed, explained, recited, spread abroad, given to all, given cheaply, given at cost price, given for nothing.
William Shakespeare Critical Essays. William Shakespeare's Poetry. One of William Shakespeare’s great advantages as a writer was that, as a dramatist working in the public theater, he was afforded a degree of autonomy from the cultural dominance of the court, his age’s most powerful institution.
Free Essay: William Shakespeare William Shakespeare was born in Statfordon-Avon, England in April The son of John Shakespeare a Glover and his mother.
William Shakespeare was great English playwright, dramatist and poet who lived during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Shakespeare is considered to be the greatest playwright of all time. No other writer’s plays have been produced so many times or read so widely in so many. William Shakespeare's Life, Words, and the Globe Theater Essay - William Shakespeare's Life, Words, and the Globe Theater William Shakespeare's life is a mystery even if his works have been read by millions of people.
Keywords: william shakespeare essay, shakespeare essay, essay about shakespeare. In his book Will in the World, Stephen Greenblatt describes Shakespeare as “the greatest playwright not of his age alone but of all time”. This echoes the fact that ‘the Bard’ is often considered to be one of England’s greatest authors. William Shakespeare is arguably the most famous writer of the English language, known for both his plays and sonnets. Though much about his life remains open to debate due to incomplete evidence, the following biography consolidates the most widely-accepted facts of Shakespeare's life and career. In.