If you’ve been following pop culture for some time, chances are you must have heard the quote, “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.” And you’re probably wondering why he’s so famous. I mean, it must be impossible that the son of a middle-class glover, a man from a small town north-west of London, with just a regular school education, could produce work that is popular even 400 years later.
He was a clever man and knew his times very well. He could fairly calculate exactly what words to put into his writings so that the people would like it. For example, it has been pointed out that the famous description of Cleopatra in her royal barge is taken almost word-by-word from a translation of Plutarch’s ‘Life of Mark Antony’. While this passage was well-known in Shakespeare’s time (and it might be difficult to charge him for plagiarism). Shakespeare was probably the only one to use it so effectively.
Shakespeare’s characters were very close to the people’s hearts. While some inspired from famous historical characters, others were fictional. He carefully framed the fictional characters, making it possible to believe that they might have, indeed, existed in those days. They were real people, with real dreams, real troubles, real emotions and real flaws. It was no wonder that the audience could connect to his plays so much.
All of Shakespeare works deal with universal emotions. It is plausible that the times might change, the people might grow, the society might change and our beliefs might change. But our basic human emotions will always be with us. His plays almost adapted to suit any situation existing centuries later. When we read his works today, we do not feel as if he is portraying an alien situation. We can imagine a thousand modern scenarios that are similar to the ones presented.
Well, education or not, Shakespeare was certainly a genius who had a story for anyone and everyone, across genders, races, situations, countries and even time.