The man behind the mask: William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare, it’s a name that’s uttered fairly frequently, especially within the walls of a Literature classroom. Many of us have in fact studied his writings for years. We’ve grown to analyse and understand his texts. We’ve called him a literary genius, daring, inventive, poetic, perhaps even revolutionary! But how well do we actually know William Shakespeare?

While it can be rather difficult trying to envisage someone who died in 1616, it can be amusing conceptualising what they may have been like. Every individual imagines differently just like they dream, some dream in colour and others in black and white. The point here is, everyone’s idea of Shakespeare will vary, but that’s the beauty of the human mind and its ability imagine. As Shakespeare himself said, “And as imagination bodies forth the form of things unknown, the poet’s pen turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing, a local habitation, and a name.”

I believe Shakespeare would’ve been the type of man who stood out no matter where he went. His intelligence, eccentricity, and ability to be daring (as demonstrated in his writings), would be something that people tended to gravitate towards. However, I believe behind the intelligence and confidence, there was a sense of uniqueness which would’ve contributed to making his writings so exceptional and at times a little out of the ordinary. It was a uniqueness that I believe often accompanies highly intelligent people. It makes you stare at them in awe and appreciate what a wonderfully curious mind they possess. It’s almost as if their mind is a mystery, like the thoughts they create, are ones you could never have possibly conjured up yourself. It’s that sense of being different that I think would’ve attracted people to Shakespeare.

I also imagine Shakespeare to be quite a savvy businessman. He understood the logistics of drama and what his audience wanted (and still wants), which helped to make him very successful. What I like about Shakespeare too, is that he did not die broke, crazy or an alcoholic. He died with an air of class about him. He died a wealthy and famous man “whose name has outlived time”.

If Shakespeare were alive today, I would love to ask him what inspired so many of his writings? What jealous “green-eyed monster” inspired the character of Iago? What type of love had he endured to construct that of ‘Romeo and Juliet? And don’t even get me started on Titania and Bottom…

What drove Shakespeare to concoct such extraordinary and time-defying work is a question that for now and perhaps always, will remain unanswered. Instead of pondering the unsolvable, we shall sit back and instead, continue to appreciate the literary magic of William Shakespeare.




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