William Shakespeare: one of the most well-known authors in history. A bit like opera; not everyone will love his works, but those who do not love his works will nonetheless have an appreciation for the artistic skill and beauty they contain. .
This paper will serve as a critical examination of Shakespeare as a person, as a writer and as an artist. In the past four hundred years, his works have been interpreted in many different art forms. This paper will also serve as a critical comparison of some of the various interpretations. .
Very little is known and documented about Shakespeare the man. In fact, there is great controversy regarding his authorship of the works for which he is credited. No original manuscripts of his works exist today. Most of what is known about Shakespeare comes from church and legal documents. It is believed that his hand writing appeared in some of his colleagues" works, but there is no documentation to serve as proof.
Shakespeare lived and worked during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It would be impossible to critically analyze any of his works without first examining that time period in England's history. .
Setting the scene for the second half, the first half of the sixteenth century in England was wrought with religious turmoil, economic strife and political unrest. Henry VIII's reign was filled with religious and political scandal including his divorce and beheading of wife Anne Boleyn and his many attempts to produce a male heir to the throne. While the upper and middle class enjoyed relatively prosperous lifestyles, the peasant class suffered greatly during this time. With the enlightenment of the Renaissance came a desire for many to reevaluate their spiritual foundations and beliefs, thus producing the reformation or the movement from Catholicism to a more pure form of Christianity, known as Protestantism. .
By the year of Shakespeare's birth, 1564, Henry VIII had been succeeded by his daughter, Elizabeth I.