William Shakespeare is an unforgettable literary figure and it is not exaggeration if we say that literature is nothing without him. All the writing of Shakespeare deal with love, life and death and these universal themes get beautiful touch by him. His tragedies reflect that he had extraordinary knowledge of human psychology. Therefore, his characters have become memorable in the field of literature. Shakespeare has explored poetry and tragedy but it is tragedy that brought fame for him. Even his tragedies are poetically crafted. Poetry is inseparable from his writing.
He has given immortal lines. “To be or not to be” is oft quoted line from Hamlet that is reflected in a modern man who is caught in the same idea of perplexity. Shakespeare has been influenced by the Roman tragic dramatist Seneca and by the medieval ‘mystery’ tragedies. Shakespeare holds the foremost position in the world’s literature. His works and genius includes all the world of men and nature. The study of human nature in his work is nothing but exploring a new country and the study of man in his works is just like visiting a great city.
His works shows that good always overcomes evil in the long term. Shakespeare’s tragedies are “universal” that is why his popularity still remains same as his time. He appeals to emotions and thoughts that are part of eternal human nature. Some of his popular and famous tragedies are – Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra etc. Shakespeare’s tragic tragedy Hamlet is an excellent example, perhaps the best in English literature, of a work that has universal appeal. The tragedy and situation in the tragedy Hamlet has been commented on as ‘universal.
Audiences of many different cultures can enjoy Hamlet even though it is set in an alien culture to them. The reasons for this are that many people can relate to the tragedy, they feel that they are living though a profound experience, even if nothing in the plot of Hamlet has ever happened to them. The experience of Hamlet is not restricted to the plot and its characters. A large factor in this universal acceptance is that the main character, Hamlet, around whom the entire tragedy revolves, is realist and ‘universal’ himself.
In this Hamlet is merely a reflection of aspects found in all men, he is a symbol for how any man would act given the situation. If he reacts the way you would react, that makes him a very easy to relate to and sympathetic character. This does not mean that Hamlet reflects the common man and his action, or Rosencrantz and Guildenstern would be more probable ‘universal men. ’ Hamlet reflects what the common man wishes and feels he could do if he were given the chance. Hamlet is ‘superhuman’ in this sense.
He is able to find the strength to act though his tragic situation without giving in to easier ways and temptations along the way. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are more common man than universal, for though they have loyalty to Hamlet as they have been his friends for many years. Hamlet is therefore a symbol of the ‘universal man. ’ He does not reflect the common man’s actions and deeds, but what the common man could possible do if given the chance. He represents the inner strengths of humanity, the virtues that they are capable of achieving.
Yet he still remains truly human, making mistakes and being unable to escape the greater cycles and powers that exist. Hamlet may not reflect every man that exists; he reflects a part within them that exists. Hamlet is not the common man, but this is not due to his sovereignty, education, manners or upbringing. It is due to his ability to access his inner strength and do the right thing, even when the odds are against him. Hamlet’s popularity lies in its universal appeal. It puts before us the most important human problem: thought vs. action.
Shakespeare’s tragedies deal with aspects of the human condition this is what makes his tragedies have Universal appeal. The human condition contains issues and emotions that appear in everyday life, for example love and power are both elements of the human condition. As Shakespeare’s tragedies deal with this they not only have a timeless quality, as emotions do not change over centuries even though other issues might, but also appeal to everybody. Romeo and Juliet deals with many aspects of the human condition, including deceit, fate, conflict and most importantly, its universal appeal ;love.
Love is the condition that most people have felt themselves and so helps them empathize with the characters. There are all kinds of love, including love between friends; love between family and the love two unrelated people can feel for each other. Due to this nearly everybody in the world has experienced love in some shape or form. The fate against the freewill theme in Romeo and Juliet. Although he hints that everything is meant to be, when watching it, we could believe that everything is their own choice.
For example, Juliet chooses to marry Romeo who belongs to another class of society, their families become enemy of their love, and both choose to kill themselves. This love story quite related to our class conscious society. Here; the reader room to interpret things their own way is the most important factor of Shakespeare’s Universal Appeal and popularity. The greatest master of Tragedy is Shakespeare, and in Tragedy he has reached his greatest height of popularity through the universal appeal of his writing.
Hamlet, King Lear, Othello and Macbeth are among his finest productions, and they represent the noblest pitch of English genius. Of these, Hamlet is perhaps most popular at the time of its production, and it has held its interest and provoked discussion as perhaps no other tragedy of any time or country has done. This is in part due to the splendor of its poetry, the absorbing nature of the plot, and the vividness of the drawing of characters that marvelously combine individuality with a universal and typical quality that makes them appeal to people of all kinds and races.
But much also is due to the delineation of the hero, the subtlety of whose character and the complexity of whose motives constitute a perpetual challenge to our capacity for solving mysteries. In Othello Shakespeare’s development of Desdemona, Othello, Brabantio, Roderigo and Iago in the first several scenes of the play is so carefully done, so exquisitely executed, that these characters seem to come to life. They are very realistic. Here, an obsessive Othello lover kills his beloved because of suspicion. The main protagonist Othello represents the black African people.
King Lear owes its appeal less to its tendency to rouse curiosity than to its power to awe us with an overwhelming spectacle of the suffering which folly and evil can cause and which human nature can sustain. In spite of, or perhaps because of, its intricacy of motive and superabundance of incident, it is the most overwhelming of all in its effect on our emotions. Compared with it, Macbeth is a simple tragedy, but nowhere does one find a more masterly portrayal of the moral disaster that falls upon the man who, seeing the light chooses the darkness.
For hundreds of years, the theatres of the world have resounded with the applause of audiences for the tragedies of Shakespeare. His words have remained popular because of their universal themes and appealing characters. But despite this popularity, the legacy of Shakespeare’s language can be observed not just in how frequently his tragedies are quoted but also in everyday language and conversation; even without realizing it we have absorbed many of his sayings into modern English which we now take for granted.
From Lady Macbeth saying “what’s done is done” in Macbeth to Juliet parting from Romeo in “such sweet sorrow” in Romeo and Juliet, these phrases have become part of our vocabulary so that often their use is unconscious. Shakespeare also used proverbs which may have been popular at the time and which have been handed down to us through the medium of his tragedies, including phrases like “to the manner born”, “To be or not to be” and “brevity is the soul of wit”, both of which can be found in Hamlet.
Through his skillful characterizations, Shakespeare offers readers deep insight into human nature. Looking deeper at his words, the themes Shakespeare wrote about can teach readers a great deal about morals and the world around them. To a large extent, these are the reasons Shakespeare’s works have had a continuing appeal. His deep characters teach people many things whilst also remaining entertaining. This artistic value also adds to the themes to increase audience’s enjoyment of the tragedies.
The timeless and universal nature of the themes help audiences feel that the tragedy has taught them something. This continuing appeal of Shakespeare’s works can be attributed to the many benefits that his works also offer students. Shakespeare points out universal truths in his tragedies. This universal appeal is the key of his everlasting popularity. His words transcend race and culture, as shown by their translation into every language on earth and by their worldwide popularity for four centuries.
While Shakespeare’s tragedies appear to reveal the hearts and minds of human beings “for all time”, this is because they have done so for as long as our current historical epoch has lasted. Each period thinks its insights and ideals are universal to all periods. Shakespeare has applied much longer than most, ever since the first flowering of the capitalist era out of the decay of feudalism. They have held significance for us through the ups and downs of capitalism over hundreds of years, even as the social system was seriously challenged by others in the 20th century.
However, we read his words and we take his meanings differently now from how his original audiences did in the first flush of the new era. And eventually, as social systems evolve and the people within them change, his words will come to mean less to us. His works may remain classics in the same way that the epic poetry of Homer and the tragedies of Sophocles are considered classics now. But they will not always strike us to the heart. They will not always haunt our culture’s thinking, as they do now, just as The Iliad and Oedipus Rex are only sporadically interesting to us today.
Work cited list: Abrams, M. H. , ed. “William Shakespeare. ” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 6th ed. New York: W. W. Norton and Co. , 1996. Print. Crystal, David. Think on My Words: Exploring Shakespeare’s Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press . 2008. Print. Shakespeare, William, Macbeth. New York: Penguin Books,1996. Print. Shakespeare, William, King Lear. New York: Penguin Books,1987. Print. “Hamlet – its Universality. ” 123HelpMe. com. 08 Jun 2013 . “Universality of Romeo and Juliet. “123HelpMe. com. 08 Jun 2013 .