Shakespeare as a universal poet
Literature definitely has a universal appeal. It is universal, therefore, read and accepted by every person living anywhere around the globe.Religions, customs, social issues cannot interfere in literature if it is written on the basis of human nature. Although, to some extent culture and society is mingled in literature but the purpose of a poet, said Aristotle, is to imitate life. Every poet, by his talent, experience, knowledge and observation imitate different things of life. For the sake of clarity let us have an example; Thomas Hardy sees nature as enemy of humans, whereas William Wordsworth praises its beauty;it does not mean that Thomas Hardy is a superior and Wordsworth an inferior poet or the vice versa. Both have different point of view with respect to life. The purpose of this example is to illustrate that every writer has a universal purpose and that is to depict life in form of words.
Like every writer, William Shakespeare also imitates life but his thinking is vast. Nevertheless, he is also universal. Although the technology has been advanced and with the passage of time, a lot of changes have been made in every filed of life but so far as the human nature is concerned, it has not been changed so far. Shakespeare, in his poems, has depicted human nature and we know that it is common. It is the only reason that the work of Shakespeare has been translated and read over the world. If, today, we are studying Shakespeare, then the reason behind it is that he is universal. It does not matter; what is your religion, custom, culture, language, Shakespeare will appeal you because of its universality. Ben Jonson was very much right when he, in one of his poem, said about William Shakespeare”:-
“He was not of an age but for all time!”
If Shakespeare is common, then there are a lot of elements in his poetry, which are responsible. As mentioned earlier; he has discussed human nature in his plays; there may be change in suppression and repression in human emotions but they are same till today. The common themes of Shakespeare’s poetry are based on human sentiments, which are lust, greed, jealousy, hatred, separation, love, morality death etc. Whether lust has been devastated today?Whether jealousy does not exist in humans nowadays?Whether greed has been overpowered?Whether love, morality and hatred have been finished? If not, then Shakespeare is still alive because he has discussed all these things in his poetry. We know that literature must have social, cultural and religious elements in it but it is not with the case of Shakespeare. He has knowledge about human nature and psyche though it was not the branch of science in those days.
Shakespeare’s sonnets cover themes such as the passage of time, love, beauty and mortality. His prominent poems are also noticeable, which are evident that they appeal every person, living in any corner of the world, even today. For example, in one of his poem titled “The Rape of Lucrece” he has portrayed the lust of a person. The poem is about the innocent lady Lucrece, who has been raped because his husband has discussed her with his friends, while calling her beautiful and chaste. The theme is universal. Time has passed but the beauty of this poem is intact as its dogma is common. Similarly another poem of William Shakespeare, which is remarkable and whose mentioning is worthwhile is “The Phoenix and Turtle”, in which the theme of death has been conferred by the writer. Likewise, in another poem titled “Venus and Adonis”, love and separation has been crafted by the poet. The poem is about love of a human and goddess. Natural pastoral life has also been depicted by the poet. Venus was the goddess of love, whereas Adonis was a hunter. Venus fell in love with Adonis, subsequently lost him, and eventually returned to the world of gods. The themes of love, lust and separation has been schematized by the poet, which is common and universal. Not only these poems but also the sonnets of this writers as well as plays have common themes, which increase their universality.
Shakespeare was not the poet of a single age nor he was the poet of England but he was a gift of God for every person, every nation and every religion. Most of the work of Shakespeare is secular. He hardly touched religion written poetry for the sake of poetry. Neither he discussed any social issue nor did he prefer any religion. He was a man of letter, who knew how to convince and paint human nature in form of words. If he was the poet of one age and for only a nation, then he should not have been called a poet but a historical figure and we knew we could not do that, as it was not justified. It is also another difference between history and literature that literature appeals everyone because it elaborates everyone’s emotions, whereas history discusses only events.
In short, only Elizabethan period was not the age of Shakespeare but it is also the age of Shakespeare as his plays are being adopted even today by the film industry. It is not only a cause that he is best; therefore, he is being translated by the world but because he is universal. Elaboration of human heart, spirit, feelings and nature are the main ingredients, which are noticeable for the universality of Shakespeare. His work is true even today. In fact, true literature has universal appeal. If it has no universal appeal, Greece literature should not be read and discussed today.Indeed, the common question, which has been severely asked by the students of literature, is about Shakespeare. Meaning thereby, he is well known to everyone because his is collective. Nonetheless, there is no time limit for the expiry of Shakespeare’s poetry because he spoke the truth, which is acknowledged and accepted by the world till today. Hence, these are the chief elements, which makes him a universal poet.