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The Influence of Shakespeare

The Influence of Shakespeare

William Shakespeare's influence extends from theatre and literature to present-day movies and the English language itself. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer of the English language, and the world's pre-eminent dramatist.

 

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Allison Chen

Allison Chen

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In the morning, Shakespeare flirts once more with Martha...and with the Doctor. He reveals his deduction that the Doctor is not of the Earth and that Martha is from the future. For his "Dark Lady", he produces the sonnet, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" in her honour, but is interrupted when two of his actors burst in, heralding the arrival of the Queen, who wants to see the play from last night.

Article: Wikia
Source: Tardis Data Core, the Doc...
Allison Chen

Allison Chen

61 Knowledge Cards 

An example of how Shakespeare has infiltrated pop culture, this is a great episode from Doctor Who in which the 10th doctor goes back to visit Shakespeare with Martha Jones. They lose track of whether the Doctor is quoting what Shakespeare has already written or feeding him lines that he should write. Meanwhile, the show ends a debate on Shakespeare's sexuality and pronounces Martha as the cause for one of the most famous lines in literary history.

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On March 6, 1890, a New York pharmaceutical manufacturer named Eugene Schiefflin released 60 starlings into Central Park. His plan was to introduce every species of bird mentioned in Shakespeare into the New World. (Shakespeare mentions starlings once, in “Henry IV, Part One”) From those initial 60 birds, the starling population in North America has swollen to over 200 million individual birds. They have spread as far as the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Circle and, besides being a major nuisance for both farmers and city-dwellers, compete with many native species, including bluebirds and Northern Flickers.

Article: Great Shakes
Source: NYPOST.com

John Wilkes Booth was inspired to assassinate Lincoln by his performance, only a few months earlier, in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” The parallels between the theatrical assassination of Julius Caesar and the real assassination of Lincoln are striking. Booth shot Lincoln in a theater, and burst into Latin after killing the President, shouting “Sic Semper Tyrannus” (just as Caesar speaks Latin after being stabbed in a play).

Article: Great Shakes
Source: NYPOST.com

While it's difficult to categorize Shakespearean politics, it's easy to find justification of one’s own prejudices and beliefs in the Shakespeare canon. Many groups and movements have sought to claim him as their own. Shortly after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, the Nazi Party issued a pamphlet entitled Shakespeare – A Germanic Writer. Three years later, during the height of Hitler's rule, there were more performances of Shakespeare’s works in Germany than the rest of the world combined.

Article: The Quick 10: 10 Ways Sha...
Source: Mental Floss

Harold Bloom described Sigmund Freud as “Shakespeare prosified,” and he was right. Shakespeare described every kind of sex in his plays, including the freakiest and the most repressed. Not even the most prudish readers could avoid his works, which include pieces like Sonnet 137 (about masturbation) or the scene in The Winter’s Tale which refers to a sex toy. His unabashed frankness about sexuality made him the one canonical author who dealt openly with sex. Psychotherapy and the sexual revolution in the ’60s both drew heavily from his realistic descriptions of how human desire works.

Article: Great Shakes
Source: NYPOST.com

It is not just new versions of the plays that live on in popular culture. Shakespeare's plays have been translated into every major language in the world. All across the United States, the plays are performed in schools, theaters and festivals.  There are over one hundred Shakespeare festivals and many permanent theaters that perform his works. In Washington, D.C., alone two theaters perform the plays of Shakespeare and other writers of his time.

Article: How Culture Affected Shak...
Source: How Culture Affected Shak...

CHARLES Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Somerset Maugham, Tom Stoppard, John Steinbeck, Aldous Huxley, William Faulkner, Pearl S Buck, Agatha Christie and many other famous writers have used phrases from Shakespeare as titles for their works. Many writers throughout the world have been greatly influenced by the works of Shakespeare, and as a result, they have quoted him, particularly in the titles they have chosen. "I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other men" — Falstaff's comment is a clue to knowing that Shakespeare's wit inspired others to write and the titles derived from his works re-emphasise his greatness over all other writers.

Article: Writers who have been inf...
Source: Writers who have been inf...
Allison Chen

Allison Chen

61 Knowledge Cards 

Many authors have taken Shakespearean phrases as titles for their own work, and while that sounds a lot like plagiarism, Shakespeare has reached a point where it is so widely known that copying it is a notable reference to a deeper meaning.

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Shakespeare invented his share of stock characters, but his truly great characters – particularly his tragic heroes – are unequalled in literature, dwarfing even the sublime creations of the Greek tragedians. Shakespeare’s great characters have remained popular because of their complexity; for example, we can see ourselves as gentle Hamlet, forced against his better nature to seek murderous revenge. For this reason Shakespeare is deeply admired by actors, and many consider playing a Shakespearean character to be the most difficult and most rewarding role possible.

Article: Why is Shakespeare Import...
Source: Why is Shakespeare Import...

According to Macrone in Brush Up Your Shakespeare, the Oxford English Dictionary credits Shakespeare as the first to use these words, among others: "arch-villain," "bedazzle," "cheap" (as in vulgar or flimsy), "dauntless," "embrace" (as a noun), "fashionable," "go-between," "honey-tongued," "inauspicious," "lustrous," "nimble-footed," "outbreak," "pander," "sanctimonious," "time-honored," "unearthly," "vulnerable," and "well-bred."

Article: Thursday, October 28, 201...
Source: Com

"Shakespeare probably doesn't borrow words any more or less frequently than his contemporaries," Hope writes, "but he does seem to be fascinated by … the way meanings can be refreshed and recombined by placing a familiar word in an unfamiliar role."

Article: Thursday, October 28, 201...
Source: Com

From how Romeo and Juliet introduced the concept of adolescence to the 1,700 words Shakespeare coined (including lackluster, fashionable and the name Jessica) to how his plays provided the foundation for Freudian psychology and concepts of healthy sex life, Marche blends light trivia-worthy historical factoids with a deep respect for the legendary writer’s legacy.

Article: Brain Pickings
Source: Brain Pickings
Allison Chen

Allison Chen

61 Knowledge Cards 

This is an entertaining book that describes not only how Shakespeare had a profound impact on literature and theater, but how he's influenced our lives in ways we wouldn't expect. For example, the concept of celebrity, the founding of spiritual movements, the influence of war strategies, etc.

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