William Shakespeare Part II: His Plays
William Shakespeare was part owner of the world renown Globe Theater in London and the blockbuster actor and playwright of England’s Elizabethan era. And his language was so beautiful, and he had such an adept command of the English language that he went down in history as a great and is known simply as The Bard today. He wrote about 37 plays in all that crisscrossed all the major genres and forms of play writing. Shakespeare wrote great tragedies such as Hamlet and tragic romantic plays such as Romeo and Juliet, and he pretty much covered the whole gamut of human behavior and motivation by writing about motives such as revenge, envy, and love, and he often portrayed the worst of human condition of insanity since such strong motivations can drive one insane. He also wrote such famous comedies as The Taming of the Shrew and a host of history plays such as Henry IV, a kind of a coming of age story for a party-animal English prince and his drunken sidekick, Falstaff whom he eventually rejects once he becomes a full blown king.
One writing technique that was rather unique to Shakespeare was the “play within the play” which was expertly employed by Shakespeare in the Taming of the Shrew in which the preamble of the play in which a slick nobleman tricks a drunken commoner that he is really royalty in disguise and stages a play for him about the taming of a woman with a wild temper. The major plot or “the play within the play” involves a man by the name of Petruchio and his quest to find a rich wife. And unfortunately for him his lady love, Katharina is an aggressive and ill-tempered woman in her own right so Petruchio employs the clever strategy of verbally abusing the officiating priest at his wedding and the hired help to subdue his new bride. The audiences of the day went wild over the humor in this play, however, the underlying motivation here was a bit more serious, greed. The man married Katharina strictly for her money!
There is some speculation about where Shakespeare got his inspiration from for his numerous plays, but in my own undergraduate studies I stumbled upon a short story written during the earlier middle ages in the Spanish language with a similar plot in which a man abuses animals to subdue his ill tempered bride. So perhaps it was the legendary tales of the era of Lords and Ladies that was the source of much of his seminal inspiration for Shakespeare, but he himself was such a rich and diverse writer that he should indeed be a seminal influence of all of us who write today, and I for one would take the class again today