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What Are the Four Common Themes in Shakespeare’s Writings?

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You often hear this kind of question: ‘What is Macbeth about?’ It’s very hard to answer this question succinctly

If I tell you the story of Macbeth does that answer the question? The fact is that it’s about many things. Some of them are ambition, what it means to be a man, conflict, corruption, transformation, order and disorder, loyalty, appearance and reality, guilt, sin and retribution, good and evil, and many more. It doesn’t matter how many times you read or see the play, every time you do you will find things in it that you didn’t see before. (In fact we’ve had a go at writing up the key macbeth themes here.) The same is true of all Shakespeare’s plays.

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Shakespeare’s tragedies have universal themes depicting human emotions like greed, lust, superstition making them presentable and acceptable in almost all cultures of the world and perhaps, this is what makes film directors across the world adapt his works till date. Shakespeare’s plays were greatly lyrical, having a kind of poetic flair to it. Also a lot of visual imagery and symbolism are evident with Shakespeare’s writings. He wrote most of his plays in a particular verse and made the speech very dramatic and poetic

The basic conceptualization of most of Shakespeare’s tragedies is probably based on Aristotle’s tragedies. While doing ancient Greek theatre in school, I learnt that even the Greek theatre had conventions of a tragedy, with a hero who is flawed, ambitious and thus leads to his downfall making him a tragic protagonist. The line between good and evil is blurred somewhere by Shakespeare’s heroes and at that point the divine hero becomes a mortal man, with capability of innate evil and ambition that creates evil. The play has many themes- deception, greed, appearance, reality, predestination, free will, good, evil and the supernatural being many of them. These themes make the portrayal of the story very interesting and make its film adaptations very effective as well. Also, the play has various other implications of patriotism and contemporary history, which can also be implied to the movies of the different cultures and directors. The setting also is important in the adaptations for making the story effective enough as it adds to the cultural connotations of the movie. For example, the director of every Macbeth adaptation looks at the place, the locale, the castle of Macbeth, the witches’ lair and all other exquisite details.

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The irresponsible character of the King is also seen in his decision to delegate his roles and responsibilities to his irresponsible daughters, who are equally self-centered. Similarly, they do not care about the needs of the public (Edmiston and McKibben 89). In addition, the King has the responsibility of taking care of his youngest daughter. In addition, he has the responsibility of treating his daughters as equals (Woodford 113). However, due to his irresponsible character, he forces Cordelia out of his house and forgets about her. As a parent, one is supposed to take care of his/her children regardless of whether they are loyal or disloyal. However, the King is oblivious of his duties as a parent and a role model to his followers. Just as the King has the responsibility of taking care of his daughter, Cordelia equally owes her father the duty of taking good care of him in his weak mental state (Moore 175). However, she neglects this role. On the other hand, Gloucester has the responsibility of taking care of his wife on top of remaining faithful (Archer, Turley, and Thomas 536). Husbands are expected to remain faithful to their wives. On the contrary, Gloucester’s philandering ways lead to the birth of a love child. This child later on causes problems in the kingdom by trying to rise to power illegitimately

In addition, Gloucester overlooks his responsibilities as a father by expelling one of his sons on grounds of disloyalty and dishonesty (Archer, Turley, and Thomas 521).

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In conclusion, you would think that from all of Shakespeare’s accomplishments and all of the writing he had done, that there would be a big influence in his life but really there is no known influence in his life. I think that the only thing he knew was writing, so he did what he did best and was really good at it. There aren’t many authors from that time that you read from these days but everyone knows Shakespeare and his work. Even though Shakespeare might have not had a big influence in his life, he has influenced a lot of people today in there writing. I know there are people out there that look up to Shakespeare and study his writing so that they can be writers someday

Unfortunately, Shakespeare isn’t alive and we really cannot find out all of this information about him.

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Archer, Jayne, Richard Turley, and Howard Thomas. “The Autumn King: Remembering the Land in King Lear.” Shakespeare Quarterly 63.4 (2012): 518-543. Print.

Edmiston, Brian, and Amy McKibben. “Shakespeare, rehearsal approaches, and dramatic inquiry: Literacy education for life.” English in Education 45.1 (2011): 86-101. Print.

Woodford, Donna. Understanding King Lear: A student casebook to issues, sources, and historical documents. Santa Barbara: Greenwood Publishing, 2004. Print.

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