William Shakespeare was alive during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. Throughout Queen Elizabeth I's reign, Shakespeare wrote plays that were happy, optimistic and confident to complement the Elizabethan mood, while throughout King James I's reign, Shakespeare wrote plays that were dark and cynical, showcasing the Jacobean period's insecurities.Continue Reading
During Queen Elizabeth I's reign, Shakespeare wrote "A Midsummer Night's Dream" whereas "Macbeth" and "Hamlet" were written during the King James I's reign. Shakespeare wrote "Macbeth" a year after the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.
While Shakespeare is often considered the greatest dramatist of all time and is often referred to as the English national poet, little is known about his own life. He was born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon and died in 1616. In 1594, he became a member of the Lord Chamberlain's Men company, which was a company of theatrical players. He then went on to write plays during the next 20 years that dealt with the complex range of human emotion.
Shakespeare's plays used blank verse, rhyming verse and prose. Blank verse, or unrhymed iambic pentameter, was his favorite form of writing. His first plays included "Romeo and Juliet," "Richard II," "Henry VI" (parts 1, 2 and 3 only) and "Henry V." He then stepped away from historical plays and published "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Merchant of Venice," "Much Ado About Nothing," "As You Like It" and "Twelfth Night."Learn more about Modern Europe