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What's So Special About Shakespeare?

Shakespeare is regarded, in our time, as one of the greatest playwrights and writers the world has seen. Back in his day, he was just an average guy shoveling out plays to make a nice nickel. Why is it that we see him in this glorious light? What moved him from an average playwright in his time to one of the most well-known authors in our time? According to Washington Irving in his article, "The Mutability of Literature," The narrator of Irving’s story states that "it is owing to [Shakespeare] that the literature of his period has experienced a duration beyond the ordinary term of English Literature." Shakespeare has "rooted [himself] in the unchanging principles of human nature." But what is it about Shakespeare that inoculated his work to the mutability of English literature? Why do we consider him so special?

  • True, but if you want to get technical, Elizabeth I could've picked any playwright for that position. There's also the matter of rumors that Shakespeare stole plots/ideas from Christopher Marlowe. He had more pressure to contend with than most people might think, which circles back to the question of how he was able to become who he did. I might approach the topic from this angle, though: what is so special about Shakespeare's writing, and THEREFORE, Shakespeare himself? You would think anybody, for instance, could write a Romeo and Juliet story (and many have). Same for Hamlet, Othello, and so on. What made his versions special/the best? – Stephanie M. 5 years ago
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  • "Back in his day, he was just an average guy shoveling out plays to make a nice nickel...What moved him from an average playwright in his time to one of the most well-known authors in our time?" This statement and the question the follows are untrue and based on a false premise. From https://www.reference.com/art-literature/did-shakespeare-become-famous-1154403f0d4c4a42: "Within two years of writing his first play, "Henry VI, Part One," which put him on London's theatrical map, Williams Shakespeare was so famous that established playwright Robert Greene referred to him as an "upstart crow" in a critique of his work." – Richard Marcil 5 years ago
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  • Perhaps putting a different spin on this topic would be helpful. Shakespeare was a well known playwright during this time, and there is a lot of literature out there already discussing what has made his work (and language) so enduring. (Like the other comments above mention) there is also a lot of writings on how he may have taken ideas from other writers, or how he actually didn't write anything himself (although that conspiracy theory has been largely debunked by scholars). – mazzamura 5 years ago
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