08/07/2017

William Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616, leaving behind a legacy that enriched our universal culture. Even today, four hundred years after his passing away, he is still considered one of the most brilliant minds in literary history, and his works are subjects of study across the world.

How one author can maintain his freshness over the course of several centuries is difficult to claim, but historians and experts have a few reasons why Shakespeare is still loved nowadays.

The literary leap

The “Bard of Avon,” as he was fondly called reimagined new styles of dramatization and increased the level of depth for dramatic characters. Shakespeare is credited for dragging literature and theater out of the Middle Ages and into a new era of storytelling, anticipating centuries of evolution. In fact, literary experts believe that without Shakespeare's innovational spirit, it would have taken at least half of millennia for literature to reach its contemporary status.

Shakespeare’s revamp of English language

William Shakespeare has invented many of the words we use today. Common sayings like addiction, eyeball, mimic, outbreak and worthless are among the 1700 words that Shakespeare is credited to have created.

His literary flux was based on changing the nature of well-established nouns into verbs and vice-versa. Shakespeare has also added suffixes and prefixes to words to come up with new adverbs and adjectives. The 17th-century grammar purists were not happy with his modifications of the English language, but today we can only regret he did not add more to the already rich vocabulary.

The archetype of true love

One of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, “Romeo and Juliet” has become the paradigm of the ideal romance. Before the Bard of Avon, most love stories would end with the classical, "and then they lived happily ever after" epilog, which was typical to fairy tales, but unrealistic to say the least.

Shakespeare believed that the perfect love and the ultimate tragedy go hand in hand, and you cannot have one without the other. For the perfect romance to exist, one or both protagonists had to encounter global opposition and untimely death, similar to the fates of the two famous teenagers.

Nowadays, "Romeo and Juliet" still serves as inspiration for literary works, movies, songs and other artistic representations. The play still gives sold-out representations, and its symbolism is studied in universities and schools worldwide.

The reinterpretation of human psychology

Before Shakespeare, most authors avoided treating their characters as multi-layered personalities who acted differently depending on their psychological nature. William Shakespeare got rid of the "God controls your mind and heart" convention and breathed life into his characters.

The people we meet in Shakespeare's works go through serious life impasses and struggle with moral issues. Characters like Hamlet and Macbeth have to solve painful, almost mind-numbing puzzles of righteousness, and figures like Othello and Julius Caesar fall victims to their human instinct of trusting the ones blindly around them. These deep analyses of the human mind have helped the evolution of other sciences like psychology, psychiatry, and philosophy we know them today.