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Shakespeare: Unique Traits and Elizabethan Influences for the Audience

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J. Gonzales

Professor S. Hileman


8 May 2011


Unique Traits and Elizabethan Influences for the Audience

Looking back in time, what has influenced modern art today has been the most prominent person in the Elizabethan era who was not royalty--William Shakespeare. In the Elizabethan era, Shakespeare pushes boundaries in his own unique style of presentation, how he addresses his audience, and how he incorporates his own environment which follows the regime under Queen Elizabeth. Shakespeare emphasizes the importance of the five senses in his plays, also giving room for originality.

Shakespeare creates his own identity in his plays, but keeps what was the current attitude in real life and channels certain parts of his era into his work. Some of his most important elements of his plays were his dialogue, costume, and imagery--all influenced by Elizabethan structure. Still, Shakespeare was a true dramatist, painting visuals that to this day could not be replicated, only duplicated, and maintaining the respect for his individuality and incomparable ideas.

Shakespeare is best known for his plays, and indeed for the intense attitude his work depicts for his audience. According to J. Dover Wilson and T.C Worsley, among many other scholars, "Shakespeare's creative genius... likes those of any great dramatist, are generally dramatic" (pg. 90). Shakespeare's plays were designed to not only be recognized as beautiful words, but to be acted in a way which connects his dialogue. Shakespeare thrived on body language to relay his message. For instance, when travelers arrived for departed, rather than adding the clutter of luggage, he marks them by the appearance of staggering porters (Sprague ch. 1 pg. 29). Shakespeare writes each general action that occurs in each scene, but his "lines need action to clarify their meaning" in order to make them self-evident" (Sprague ch. 1pg. 22). Shakespeare creates his characters through their dialogue, but an image for the audience is better created with action, though it is not clarified in his lines what exactly he asks of his actors. According to Sprague, "Shakespeare's plays require action but Shakespeare does not give particular direction to the actors, leaving room for originality each time" (ch. 1 pg. 28). It is this originality that can be most appreciated of Shakespeare's plays contrary to other play writers--action speaks louder than words.

Shakespeare is obviously the influence of many plays that followed him, even in their different generations and ideals, each play writer's work can trace back in some way to Shakespeare. This is, of course, because Shakespeare designed his plays with a lenient hand, not laying any strict outline which allowed his plays to be adaptable. Styan can agree that "there is nothing in Shakespeare's plays... that could not be readily fitted to any conditions" (ch. 1 pg. 8). Even in his era, an "Elizabethan play could pass in theatre imposing the minimum of physical limitations," which certainly helped Shakespeare to be recreatable (Styan ch. 1 pg. 7). Shakespeare's plays were often moved from his Globe theater to several other places with little planning, thus giving more evidence that Shakespeare's work had to be adaptable. In saying this, even today "the variety of playing conditions in theatres during the course of the present century suggests an adequate comparison for such growth" (Styan ch. 1 pg. 7). Shakespeare's ability to give his plays on a variety of stages is considered by some scholars to be an art. Stage production and design together "pursued a course of modesty and sobriety" (Sprague ch. 7 pg. 117). "Shakespeare can be adapted to contemporary conditions of time and temper without sacrifice of artistry," which is definitely a relief to those who wish to act his work at its best (Sprague ch. 7 pg. 112). For many who appreciate Shakespeare's work, in its classical form and with modern perks, credit is not lost as "invention never minimizes the master in whos service he works" (Sprague ch. 7 pg. 123)

Arthur Colby Sprague and J.C Trewin said it best when they described Shakespeare in



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