William Shakespeare was a British playwright and poet born in Stratford-Upon-Avon in 1564. He is thought to have written 38 plays and 154 sonnets, although there is some disagreement over whether all Shakespeare’s plays are correctly attributed and whether he was in fact more than one person. Some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays include Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He had a singular impact on the development of English language and literature, and is considered by many to be the greatest writer who ever lived. Indeed, Foster suggests that Shakespeare has had the biggest impact on Western literature of any single author, a claim that is widely agreed upon within the academic community. In Chapter 5, Foster argues that Shakespeare’s work is so deeply embedded within our culture that readers may well have already encountered a Shakespearean reference today.
The timeline below shows where the character William Shakespeare appears in How to Read Literature Like a Professor. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampires
...convey a message or teach living characters a lesson—this is true of the ghosts in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1605) and Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843). Doppelgangers, on the other hand, emphasize the... (full context)
Chapter 4: Now, Where Have I Seen Her Before?
...can be difficult to untangle. Angela Carter’s novel Wise Children (1992) portrays a family of Shakespearean actors whose lives imitate, parallel, and at times pervert narratives from Shakespeare’s plays. Carter anticipates... (full context)
Chapter 5: When in Doubt, It’s from Shakespeare…
Chapter 6: …Or the Bible
Chapter 7: Hanseldee and Greteldum
Chapter 8: It’s Greek to Me
Chapter 10: Never Stand Next to the Hero
Interlude: Does He Mean That?
...received extensive education in the classics and the work of poets such as Dante and Shakespeare. Furthermore, writers tend to be “aggressive readers” whose love of literature means they are familiar... (full context)
Chapter 20: …So Does Season
Chapter 24: Don’t Read with Your Eyes