William Shakespeare has become known, the world over for his poetry and the passion he has portrayed within his plays. Yet the earliest plays were written in a style much associated with the times of the day.
He was known to use metaphors (a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action that it does not literally apply to in order to imply a resemblance) and rhetorical phrases (the art of using speech or writing to influence using groups of words). However, this did not always work well with the plot of the story or the characters within the story.
So he created his innovative style, one which he was associated with, which was based loosely on the style of the day. He produced a form, where the words flowed off the tongue with ease, whilst keeping the plot intact.
In a sense, we would have to say, he re-wrote parts of the English language, by increasing its vocabulary, to work with his plays.
William Shakespeare’s life and works as we see it, has four distinctive periods, covering plays in three genres: Histories – Tragedies – Comedies, relating to him as a man.
Period One … Up to 1595.
During this period we would see the youthful man and young love move into imagination, and plays associated and written within this period included; The Comedy of Errors, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet and Richard III.
Period Two … 1595-1601.
During this period, he would show more dramatic art within his works, with more appreciation for the character interlinked with sadness, which included the works of; The Merchant of Venice, Henry IV, Henry V and As You Like it.
Period Three … 1601-1608.
This period showed us little of the man, the writer in the true sense, for his life was changing, for his father died in 1601. The Earl of Essex was executed by Queen Elizabeth I on a charge of treason, even Shakespeare feared for his life.
Period Four … 1608-1613.
After the sadness of the last period William Shakespeare showed new vitality in his work, new strength in the works of Othello and Macbeth. In 1608 his mother died, and he remembered her kindness and love towards him.
The greatest works he wrote during this period would have to be; The Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest.
William Shakespeare will always be remembered for his plays, yet he was responsible for the writing of numerous poems and 154 sonnets.
In 1593 and 1594, all theatres remained closed, because of the plague, and it was during this time he wrote two narrative poems for the Earl of Southampton; Henry Wriothesley. “Venus and Adonis” and “The Rape of Lucrece,” both became popular and were reprinted many times during his lifetime.
It is believed the majority of his sonnets were written during his lifetime, and mainly for private readership, dedicated to one’s he loved. They fall into two groups, one aimed at lust, marriage and that of a dark lady, and the other is love for a young man.
Could it be that the dark lady, could be one, Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton, whom he had intended to marry, but once Anne Hathaway announced she was pregnant, he was forced into marriage.
As for the young man, could it be “William Hughes” as put forward in writings of Oscar Wilde; “The Portrait of Mr.W.H.” published in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine in July 1889. It is a short story referring to a conversation, about William Shakespeare’s love for a young actor, and his sonnets.