Shakespeare's universal language and 450th birthday

William Shakespeare was an English poet who is called “Bard of Avon”, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s prominent dramatist. All the information we have about him are based on the church records of his baptism, marriage certificates, tax bills, starring lists of plays which he played, his will and the similar documents. 450 years of his birth is being celebrated across the world, but we do not know the exact date of Shakespeare’s birth, the information we know: He was baptized April 26th, 1564 and died on April 23rd, 1616.

As the historian writer Stephen Greenblatt who has been doing research for long years on Shakespeare said, “How is a young man who from a small provincial town, talented but without money and powerful familiar, non-educated can be the world’s greatest writer and prominent dramatist? Besides, the century that he lived had dramatic events of the reign of Elizabeth; stunning and glamorous events with ceremonies, cruelty and fraught with danger…”

Strong rhetoric

Shakespeare’s plays have the subjects that are told before him but owing to his distinctive aesthetic language, he much more powerfully told man’s deepest fear, love, ambition and passion. Despite the criticism from time to time because of his language; when it is analyzed, it is understood that he created a unique language and speaking style for each character and also he has a very strong rhetoric. His wordplays, puns, syntax and the words he invented in the Early Modern English period formed his rhetoric.

Although he was actually a romantic, some signs in his works that can be associated with many different literary movements; his literary fullness sonnets and some parts of his plays which give simple and rational answers to the fundamental questions of philosophy…

“thus conscience does make cowards of us all; and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought; and enterprises of great pith and moment, with this regard, their currents turn awry, and lose the name of action.” (Hamlet)

Of course to read every author on his mother language is preferred but with this strong rhetoric, in each play that translated into all major languages; with his different syntax; “the Shakespearean style” can surely be felt.

“But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer, And night doth nightly make grief’s length seem stronger.” (Sonnet 28)

You may meet any of Shakespeare’s characters in real life and you can think somebody as a Shakespeare character easily because the character portrayals he made are stronger than (nearly) any novel’s. Most people know the character or lines of the character without knowing the play; this explains well why Shakespeare had strong background and philosophy behind the characters.

“To be, or not to be, that is the question”(Hamlet)

This must be the most famous line in world literature.

He is said that “the poet who could tell every emotion of humankind” and I think, he deserves it. All these explain why Shakespeare is a universal, much loved and inspirational writer across the world and still Shakespeare’s birthday is celebrating and will be celebrated over the world on theatres, schools, galleries, libraries…

450th birthday

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is on worldwide Hamlet tour and this tour will last until April 2016. (You can check out the tour programme on <a></a>) In Turkey, State Theatres organized a “Shakespeare Plays Week” on last week of January and brought “Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello, Twelfth Night, The Tempest” plays together with the audience. Kenterler staged the game “Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet” which mentions two major female characters of Shakespeare’s. In France, “Shakespeare 450” conference was held and in New York, Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets were published online while various 154 actors were reading. Many countries published the new editions of Shakespeare’s plays, comic book versions and the criticism books written on Shakespeare and I would like to recommend some books; Enquête sur Hamlet by Pierre Bayard, How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt, Introducing Shakespeare by George Bagshawe Harrison.

Finally, even there are serious doubts about Shakespeare’s birth, life and his identity; each play he wrote about four centuries ago is played around the world classical, populist and avant-garde adaptations. What a pleasant irony is this!

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