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Shakespeare's Plays

When one sets out to discuss William Shakespeare and his work it can appear to be an extremely daunting task.  He is, after all, the most studied dramatist in the English language.  It is doubtful that any one would even venture a good argument against it.  The playwright was known for his comedies, his histories, and even his sonnets. But, he is arguably most noted for his tragedies.  It is interesting to note some possibilities on why this seems to be the case.  Shakespeare's PlaysCertainly, he was a man that was comfortable with the Aristotelian principles of tragedy, however, there were many before and many after him that held steadfast to many of these rules that had been drawn upon from the Greek theatre.  One can’t even say that it is because he led a tragic life.  It’s hard to tell what kind of life exactly that Shakespeare led.  So little is known about his actual personal life. 

However, it is within those walls that this essay will attempt to dig and thereby come up with two possible conditions of his life that influenced his tragedy.  One has already been implied- he seemed to be an extremely private man.  If one were to take a close look at his tragedies one would discover that each of the tragically flawed characters in the plays were not only going through an ordeal that was very public (such as the hunt for the crown in Macbeth), but also that these characters’ demons are very private.  The second element that seems to be taken for a given in Shakespeare’s life is that he was a devoted family man.  One can look in his tragedies and see the dark nightmares that begin to work within a story.  For instance, one can see Shakespeare’s unequalled imagination working as he dreams up Othello’s paranoia about his wife Desdemona.  Certainly, his close and trusting relationship to his wife Ann was near and dear to him. 

This dark fantasy, a la the likes of Stephen King (but fortunately much better written) offers one a glimpse of perhaps Shakespeare’s greatest fears written on paper, the fear of trust for one’s partner.  Overall, it is difficult to discern exactly how Shakespeare’s life influences his tragedy, but this term paper will draw certain parallels as well as take a look at some of his technique used within those tragedies.

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