‘It is not the stars that hold our destiny but ourselves.’   From Julius Caesar.

English the Language of Story-tellers         

It is almost four hundred years since the world’s greatest writer William Shakespeare died.  I cannot think of a rival to his crown; the breadth and depth of his talent is unique.

Shakespeare was born in Stratford upon Avon to a family of moderate means and educated only from seven to fourteen in a free grammar school.  He did, of course, exist in a particular historical context that we can only assume nurtured him.   It is probably no coincidence that England was reigned by one of its most able and tolerant monarchs, Elizabeth the first, during most of his life.   There came a point later on when puritans banned all theatre.

Elisabeth I procession

Elisabeth I procession

There is some hint at self-censorship, however, even in Shakespeare’s plays.  For instance, he avoids any inference, Tudors were not legitimate rulers in Richard the Third where Richard is portrayed as a murderous, undeserving heir to the throne.  And yet, oddly, the audience is left partially sympathetic to him, there is a pathos in the character.  I believe that Shakespeare meant it this way.

People who do wrong are rightly punished but you understand them and often you pity them sometimes.  Conversely, even the heroes can behave cruelly, like the Duke in the Merchant of Venice.  All of human nature is shown forth to relish or . . . 

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