Trying to analyze, dissect, discover themes and identify literary devices in Shakespeare’s work is something that many students find confusing, whether they are in high school or college, so it is perhaps not surprising that an assignment such as a Shakespeare essay can be confusing for many students and, in some cases, can be more work than writing the average paper. To begin with, the English language has changed drastically since Shakespeare wrote his plays and sonnets in Elizabethan London, and there are many terms used in his work that even the most literate of students struggle with: “hark” is fairly easy to understand, as is “wherefore” but, without looking it up, how many people speaking today’s English would guess that “anon” means “immediately” or that “fain” is another term for “happily”? Shakespeare had a vast command of the English language—as it was, but the average student may find a great deal of it akin to a foreign language.
Being assigned a Shakespeare essay is commonplace; most students will study and consequently write about Shakespeare’s work during their high school and college years and the key to writing a good Shakespeare essay is a thorough understanding of not only the language used in Shakespeare’s work but the climate of Elizabethan England and the cultural and social norms that existed at that time. Writing a Shakespeare essay is a larger task than writing an essay on a contemporary piece; it requires dedication, research and what is essentially detective work when looking at Shakespeare’s life and times. Understanding Shakespeare means understanding the world he lived in and being able to comprehend his work means not only looking at the time and the culture but also who his ideal audience were, what inspired him and what he was reacting to via the medium of his work. Understanding Shakespeare, in essence, means understanding Elizabethan England, which takes a bit of work.
To write a good Shakespeare essay, many students find that a good dictionary is helpful (did you know that Shakespeare contributed nearly 3,000 words to the English language?) and a legitimate scholarly source that can help explain some of the lesser-known words so that the wordplay, innuendos and metaphors he used aren’t lost on the modern reader. Wordplay is common in Elizabethan work and Shakespeare used it extensively; many of (to us) convoluted passages were the height of wit at the time and being able to comprehend them is extremely important when writing about Shakespeare.
The majority of Shakespeare’s work was meant to be performed versus read from a page as we do today so it is also helpful to bear that in mind when trying to decipher plays. The passages of verse will make a great deal more sense when read aloud, as they were intended to be.
Bearing these things in mind and making an effort to understand the material that you’re studying will go a long way towards the production of a successful Shakespeare essay as Shakespeare’s work has stood the test of time for a reason and the themes he explored are as relevant today as they were four hundred years ago. If, however, you are struggling with an assignment, contacting our helpful team of writers is something to consider. As all of our team are highly-educated and are professional academic writers, they can easily help you with your Shakespeare essay so you can get your academic life back on track. If Shakespeare is bewildering or you simply don’t have the time to devote to your essay, one of our team of writers can work with you and get you on your way. We understand that life is stressful and full of pressure for today’s student, which is why we’re here to help.