Shakespeare's Plays A Reflection Of His Changing Attitude Towards Life.

1161 words - 5 pages

Apart from various discussions on Shakespeare, for example the debate about the order in which he wrote his plays and their dating, there is still a lot to be found out about the question of a change in attitude as it is reflected in his plays. As one can see there was a certain degree of reluctance on his behalf to have the texts of his plays published. A reason for this may be found in his attitude to his dramatic works. It is very doubtful whether he saw them as 'literature' at all, as texts to be read and studied. Rather, he seems to have been exclusively interested in his plays as the scripts for theatrical production, as pieces for the stage, to be performed for an audience. As it stands various attempts have been made to relate the differences between the periods to Shakespeare's own changing attitude towards life over the years.Some have seen his turning away from the joyous comedies of his second period and his passing on to the more austere themes of the great tragedies and the problem plays as having their cause in some private worries which induced in him a mood of gloom and misanthropy. Others have interpreted the tragic mood in the plays after 1600 as the result of Shakespeare's infection with the spirit of a new disillusioned and pessimistic age. Others again have attributed his shift to tragedy and later to tragicomedy to changes in popular demand and in dramatic fashion.Working as he did for a popular audience, Shakespeare was doubtless inclined to meet new demands. But this cannot have been a major cause, because the plays under discussion, especially the great tragedies, contain so much that is clearly not dictated by the dramatic fashion of the day and cannot be explained by establishing a simple cause-and-effect relationship between audience expectation and dramatic execution. Nor is it likely that private or public worries were responsible for the obvious changes in thematic interest between the different periods.In play after play Shakespeare shows his powers of representing human passions and his unrivalled skill in character-drawing. He brings before us an enormous number of types of human being, from the highest to the lowest and from the best to the worst. His interest is however never centred in any one type, nor does he ever show where his sympathies lie or that any of the feelings depicted are his own. It is precisely this impersonal element in his plays, this keeping his dramatic work free from his own interests and emotions, this remaining above and beyond the problems dealt with in his plays, that lends great force to the view that Shakespeare did not regard his dramas as vehicles for the expression of private emotion or public sentiment.It is hard to say with confidence what the ultimate reason or reasons were that led to the breaks in Shakespeare's work. The most likely explanation is still that he had artistic reasons for turning to new challenges and to new fields of work. He must have had more interest in the...

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