Autobiographical Elements in Shakespeare’s Plays
William Shakespeare (1564- 1616) was a popular poet, playwright, and actor. He was regarded as the national poet of England. Shakespeare is one of the finest writers in the history of English literature. In his ‘Preface to the First Folio’, Ben Jonson claimed that Shakespeare was not of an age, but for all time. Jonson’s prophecy could not be more correct. His fame and public appreciation remains to this date, unparalleled. It is surprising then, how little is known about his life. Shakespeare’s life intrigues a lot of people. His life and identity has been under scrutiny for ages by readers and critics alike. In order to learn more about him and his enigmatic life, many have turned to his plays for clues. For this purpose, the hunt remains on for autobiographical elements in Shakespeare’s works. This essay aims to establish autobiographical elements in a few of Shakespeare’s plays. The basis for this claim will be the hypothesis that Shakespeare used personal experience as inspiration for some of the works he authored.
The essay will first discuss Shakespeare’s life in brief. It will list down the major turning points in his life. The second section will examine the role his early life and education played in influencing his work. Third, it will discuss the influence of the women in the Bard’s life on his plays. Fourth, the essay will discuss Hamlet as an intensely personal play. How the Black Plague and Hamnet’s death affected his work shall be analysed. Lastly, it will be taken into account that Prospero from The Tempest is a reflection of the Bard’s own personality. Through the five sections, it will be established how his personal life was a major influence on his works.
William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, was born in the year 1564 to John and Mary Shakespeare. His exact birth date is yet not certain, although it is common knowledge that he was baptized on April 26, 1564 in Stratford- upon- Avon, Warwickshire, England. He was the oldest surviving child of the couple. He had three younger brothers named Gilbert, Richard, and Edmund. He also had two younger sisters, Anne (who died when she was only seven) and Joan. William’s father was a prosperous business man who dealt with leather and its products.
Due to his father’s popularity as a Stratford citizen, it is believed that William attended the town’s renowned Grammar school. Here, he studied from the ages of seven till about fifteen. His school curriculum revolved majorly around Latin plays and the Latin language. There is no definite mention of him attending university.
In late 1582, William got married to Anne Hathaway, at a young age of 18. When they got married, Anne was 26 years of age and already expecting their first child who would later be named Suzanne. In 1585, the couple was blessed with the twins Judith and Hamnet. Unfortunately, the Black Plague claimed Hamnet at a tender age of eleven. This was supposedly …