It would be an understatement to say that William Shakespeare left his mark on the world. He has left an impression on our theatre, our writings, and even the way we speak. The writer has influenced a number of famous authors and his reach doesn’t show signs of stopping anytime soon. In fact, we can even see his influence on aspiring authors today.
William Shakespeare is truly a titan when it comes to literature, theatre, and culture. He has gone beyond simply being a muse for aspiring writers and stepped into the realm of helping to conceive many of the basic grammar rules that writers employ today. You can even see his influence when you are looking for a paper writing service.
In this article, we are going to take a look at how Shakespeare’s influence is still alive and well today even after 400 years.
Shakespeare Is More Than An Assignment
Before we get into the lasting influences of Shakespeare, it is important to consider who reads Shakespeare.
To think that Shakespeare’s works are reserved for bored high school and college students is a glaring misconception. Today, Shakespeare is one of the world’s all-time best selling authors with over 4 billion copies of his work sold since their creation.
This means that there are many out there who enjoy Shakespeare leisurely. This expands the reach of the author beyond what it would be because this means that there are aspiring authors out there absorbing the influence of his lesser known works rather than just rereading Romeo and Juliet for the 15th time.
Use of Language
Any writer today can tell you the importance of painting a scene in words. The significance of figurative language is not lost on today’s author.
Shakespeare did more than just use language to his advantage. When he came to a point when he couldn’t figure out what to say, he created language to fit the scene. While today’s writers may not be adding to the English language, they are definitely using words that Shakespeare crafted for us all those years ago. Some of these words are listed below as an example.
Standardization of Grammar
There is more to what Shakespeare offered the English language than just coining new words. He also coined many of the grammar rules that writers today use. This is partially because the English language wasn’t standardized until the publication of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language in 1755 – nearly 139 years after Shakespeare’s death!
An example of a grammar rule that Shakespeare helped to invent was the use of prefixes to change the meaning of words. For example, adding the prefix “un-” to the word “comfortable” to create the opposite word: uncomfortable. This example can be found for the first time spoken by Capulet in Romeo and Juliet;
“Despised, distressed, hated, martyr’d, kill’d! Uncomfortable time, why camest thou now to murder, murder our solemnity?” (Act 4, Scene 5)
While Shakespeare’s plays may be the first thing that comes to mind for many people, he is also the author of 154 sonnets and created a lasting effect on poetry. Namely, he coined the use of a technique called “blank verse”.
Blank verse is a verse that doesn’t rhyme that uses iambic pentameter. Iambic pentameter is a line that lasts 5, literary metrical feet. It follows a pattern of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.
While this is crucial to Shakespeare’s sonnets, it is also present in his plays. A simple Google search of the terms “iambic pentameter” or “blank verse” almost automatically bring up Shakespeare’s examples, including the following;
“Two households, both alike in dignity.” (“Romeo and Juliet”)
“If music be the food of love, play on.” (“Twelfth Night”)
Metaphors in Writing
Another piece of language that Shakespeare imposes on his readers is the use of metaphors. This was especially crucial since he wrote plays, giving him only dialogue to describe the scene to readers when these plays weren’t being performed. Looking back on his work, the reader can derive colorful dialogue that inspires current writers to go beyond characters just simply stating what they mean but instead using a character’s words as a way to design a scene.
A good example of Shakespeare using colorful metaphors to create a scene in dialogue lies in his play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
“My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou remember’st
Since once I sat upon a promontory,
And heard a mermaid, on a dolphin’s back,
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
That the rude sea grew civil at her song;
And certain stars shot madly from their sphere,
To hear the sea-maid’s music.”
(Act 2, Scene 1)
If there is one writer that aspiring writers look to for the inspiration of greatness, it is William Shakespeare.