He needs no introduction; the world’s eminent dramatist, English poet and greatest writer of all times. Yes… we are talking about ‘William Shakespeare’. Learn in this article about his important works and their impact on literature.
I was truly honored to have got a chance to watch a performance of the Shakespearean classic, Macbeth, by the Royal Shakespeare Company in London. I cannot stop talking about the experience, it made my hair stand on end. Reading his work no doubt is valuable and you’re sure to be impressed with the quality of his flow in language but, to see it live on the stage was an amazing experience all together. It took a couple of hours to actually register the whole experience. Awed by the whole experience and as a tribute to the legend here is an article that includes important works of Shakespeare and their impact on literature.
Sir William Shakespeare is undoubtedly the world’s greatest poet and dramatist. He influenced the writers of every generation and still continues to do so. The ability to summarize the range of emotions through his writing is eloquent and this perhaps is the reason for his popularity. He mastered the art of narrating a story in a way that one could easily relate to and in fact the characters, themes and situations still ring true in the modern times. His stories included everything – comedy, melodrama, adventure, romance, sex, scandal, violence, betrayal and even fairy tales. Even the lightest of his plays included all the elements mentioned above. His imagination knew no bounds and he made sure his every audience lived or connected to the same. Every character invented by him had a distinct element which made them immortal. It is amazing how he shaped his every character exactly understanding the psyche of human, even before the science of psychology was developed.
Instead of saying The Bard’s command over the language was immense, it would only be right if I say he enriched the English language to a greater extent. He is credited with introducing more than thousands words into the language, such has been the impact of his works on literature. He created words by changing nouns into verbs, verbs into adjectives, adding prefixes and coining words that are wholly original, which have become common expressions of communication today. Shakespeare’s words keep people of all kinds and from all places bonded together. If I say “star-crossed lovers” in context to something, a person reading it in any other part of the world knows what I mean. His work gives something that is in common to all and allows us to share a common culture in spite of belonging to different countries and traditions. The cultural impact due to his work still continues, centuries after he has gone.
Shakespeare gave us the greatest love stories of all times. He understood the heart of humans and had an ability to paint landscapes and compelling characters that has been an enduring symbol of romanticism. His love sonnets are still and forever will be great inspirations for young lovers. “Sonnet 18- Shall I compare thee to a summers day?” is one of the best I ever read. The sonnets have the ability to paint a thousand images in your mind’s eyes. They’re so intensely personal that you would instantly connect to it. Reading these sonnets truly offers the universal treatment of love in the English language.
Apart from the 154 sonnets dealing with themes such as loneliness, mortality, beauty, love and tragedy, some of the most important works of William Shakespeare include his world renowned plays. Given below is a list of the same, in the order they were written. The plays have been classified into three genres (tragedy, comedy and historical), with the mention of the main characters in each of them.
Works of William Shakespeare
|Name of the Play||Year||Genre||Principal Characters||Famous Quotes|
|Henry VI (Part I)||1592||Historical||Henry, Talbot||“Delays have dangerous ends”|
|Henry VI (Part II)||1593||Historical||Henry, Margaret||“Small things make base men proud”|
|Henry VI (Part III)||1594||Historical||Henry, Margaret||“Having nothing, nothing can he lose”|
|Titus Andronicus||1594||Tragedy||Titus, Aaron||“These words are razors to my wounded heart”|
|The Taming of the Shrew||1594||Comedy||Petruchio, Katherine||“I’ll not budge an inch”|
|The Comedy of Errors||1594||Comedy||Antipholus, Dromio||“For slander lives upon succession,
For ever housed where it gets possession”
|Love’s Labor’s Lost||1595||Comedy||Ferdin, Berowne||“Sweet hearts, we shall be rich ere we depart”|
|The Two Gentlemen of Verona||1595||Comedy||Valentine, Proteus||“Who is Sylvia?”|
|Romeo and Juliet||1595||Tragedy||Romeo, Juliet||“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”|
|A Midsummer Night’s Dream||1596||Comedy||Oberon, Titania||“The course of true love never did run smooth”|
|King John||1597||Historical||John, Arthur||“With taper-light To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish”|
|The Merchant of Venice||1597||Comedy||Antonio, Shylock||“If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”|
|Henry IV Part 1||1598||Historical||Henry, Hal, Hotspur||“He will give the devil his due”|
|Henry IV Part 2||1598||Historical||Henry, Falstaff, Hal||“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”|
|Much Ado About Nothing||1599||Comedy||Beatrice, Benedick||“Everyone can master a grief but he that has it”|
|Henry V||1599||Historical||Henry, Pistol||“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more / Or close the wall up with our English dead!”|
|Richard II||1600||Historical||Richard, Clarence||“The ripest fruit first falls”|
|As You Like It||1600||Comedy||Rosalind, Orlando||“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts”|
|Richard III||1601||Historical||Anne, Henry||“Now is the winter of our discontent”|
|Julius Caesar||1601||Tragedy||Brutus, Antony||“Friends, Romans, countrymen lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him”|
|Hamlet, Prince of Denmarkk||1601||Tragedy||Hamlet, Ophelia||“To be, or not to be: that is the question”|
|The Merry Wives of Windsor||1601||Comedy||Falstaff, Ford||“This is the short and the long of it”|
|Trolius and Cressida||1602||Comedy||Trolius, Cressida||“The common curse of mankind, – folly and ignorance”|
|Twelfth Night||1602||Comedy||Orsino, Viola, Olivia||“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them”|
|All’s Well that Ends Well||1603||Comedy||Bertram, Helena||“Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie, which we ascribe to Heaven”|
|Measure for Measure||1604||Comedy||Vincentio, Angelo||“The miserable have no other medicine but only hope”|
|Othello||1605||Tragedy||Othello, Iago, Desdemona||“I will wear my heart upon my sleeve for daws to peck at”|
|King Lear||1606||Tragedy||Lear, Cordelia, Regan, Gloucester, Goneril||“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!”|
|Anthony and Cleopatra||1607||Tragedy||Anthony, Cleopatra||“There’s beggary in the love that can be reckon’d”|
|Coriolanus||1608||Tragedy||Coriolanus, Volumnia||“Nature teaches beasts to know their friends”|
|Timon of Athens||1608||Tragedy||Timon, Apemantus||“We have seen better days”|
|Pericles, Prince of Tyre||1609||Comedy||Pericles, Marina||“See where she comes apparelled like the spring”|
|The Tempest||1611||Comedy||Prospero, Miranda||“We are such stuff as dreams are made on …”|
|Macbeth||1612||Tragedy||Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Banquo||“Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”|
|Cymbeline||1612||Comedy||Imogen, Lachimo||“I have not slept one wink”|
|The Winter’s Tale||1612||Comedy||Leonates, Perdita||“You pay a great deal too dear for what’s given freely”|
|Henry VIII||1613||Tragedy||Henry, Catherine||“Press not a falling man too far!”|
I am truly awed by his personality and people who have read Shakespeare’s work or seen it will know what I am talking about. He truly was great in act as he was in thoughts. Let us say not in grief, he is no more, because, All that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity… where Shakespeare in all ways is and will continue to inspire and remain immortal in our hearts. A grand salute to the depth of life He lived.