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Is Shakespeare's writing universal and timeless? Show more Show less
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Ben Jonson described Shakespeare as being "for all time" - that is, his works resonate with all time periods and peoples. His body of work spans poetry and plays, many of which are the most praised, quoted and performed still today. Is the work of Shakespeare truly this universal and timeless?

Yes, Shakespeare is universal and timeless. Show more Show less

The depth and beauty of Shakespeare's writings helps them to resonate today and into the future.
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He explored, rather than argued about, themes.

Shakespeare's work explores themes and rarely offers answers. His ability to richly convey a variety of viewpoints in his characters makes him far more universal than didactic authors.

The Argument

One needs only spend a few minutes in an academic database looking up Shakespeare criticism to realize the diverse range of themes Shakespeare addressed, and the complexity of the conclusions that thousands of critics have been able to draw from how he treated them. Often within a single work, Shakespeare offers an astounding number of explorations on a single theme. For example, King Lear shows numerous views of distorted families. There are the ungrateful daughters of Lear, the bastard child Edmund, and more. The entire work ends in tragedy, so how can we discern who acted best? What form of family could have stopped the tragedy? That we will never know for sure shows Shakespeare's genius. Shakespeare's interest and capability in investigating all the complexities of life places him as a universal author. His work reflects the reality of life.

Counter arguments

Proponents

Premises

[P1] Artworks should reflect life. [P2] Life is uncertain. [P3] Shakespeare's works are uncertain.

Rejecting the premises

References

This page was last edited on Thursday, 9 Apr 2020 at 02:47 UTC

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