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William Shakespeare


William Shakespeare wrote 38 plays and 154sonnets and is considered one of the greatest of all playwrights. He was not concerned about the publication of his plays, some of them become famous only in the coming centuries thanks to his two friends, John Hemingeand Henry Condell, who, after his death, collected and publishedhis plays into one volume in 1623, known as the First Folio. It included 36 plays, 16 of which had never been printed before.
he was born into a wealthy family in the small town of Stratford-Upon-Avon in Warwickshire. His father was a prosperous trader and at the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway (eight years his senior) and that they had threechildren. The period, from 1585 to 1592, known as'the lost years' in which we know nothing of his movements until he is mentioned in a pamphlet by a London playwright, Robert Greene. This is proof that Shakespeare was certainly in London by 1592 and had begun to establish himself as an actor and playwright.
Shakespeare remained in London for the next 20 years working as an actor but mainlyas a playwright, returning to Stratford occasionally to see his wife and family. His playsbrought him enough wealth and popularity to buy a house and some land in Stratford,where he retired in 1611 and died in 1616.

Sonnet 18

'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day...' This is one of the most famous passages inEnglish literature, together with the soliloquy 'To be or not to be' from Hamlet and'What's in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet'from Romeo and Juliet. There are several reasons which contribute to its popularity:first its simplicity; this sonnet is more direct and straightforward than many of theothers written by Shakespeare. It is also a hymn to Shakespeare's originality. He beginswith the conventional theme of love and the power of poetry. He then elaborates onthese themes making the friendship for his friend immortal, as it remains forever captivated within the sonnet's fourteen lines. Being part of the second group of sonnets that Shakespeare wrote, this sonnet is dedicatedto a young male. The speaker in the sonnet not only celebrates the beauty and perfection of his friend, but he also celebrates the power of poetry and of himself.

'Sonnet 130'

As we stated previously, 'Sonnet 18' was dedicated to a young man. The second sonnet we are going to look at is dedicated to a mysterious 'dark lady'. The lady in 'Sonnet130' was by no means beautiful and Shakespeare does not hide this fact. He actually speaks plainly about her defects. This was in contrast to most poets of the time whowould use the sonnet form to idealise their ladies and their beauty. It became almost a game of prestige among sonneteers to try and demonstrate who had the most beautiful lady. It was a game based on falsity and exaggeration and it was this falsity that Shakespeare attacked in 'Sonnet 130'. For this reason this sonnet can be seen as a satire against hiscontemporaries as he makes a point of writing something true to his heart instead ofcomplying with the conventions of his time. By breaking away from this standard Shakespeare gives his poem more impact, it stands out for its originality. It is a sonnetwhich also poses some interesting questions about why we love a person and also about beauty. Is beauty only something aesthetic? The information Shakespeare gives the reader does not provide a clear image of the lady, only of her defects. She remains justas mysteriously 'dark' by the end of the poem as she was at the beginning.
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