William Shakespeare was born to John and Mary Shakespeare in April 23, 1564, in Stratford England. Much of his life is not known, but he is well known from his works of literature and arts. All that can be deduced from the records over the course of 20 years is that, he wrote plays that censure the complete range of human emotions and conflict. William Shakespeare’s works of literature live for over four hundred years. He created many poems and plays (Paul 55). The most well-known plays of particular interest are “Macbeth” as well as “Romeo and Juliet”. This essay reveals to the students and scholars on what inspired the writer to write these two plays. It also portrays how these two plays relate to Shakespeare’s personal life. Some people would imagine that he used his own experiences to build his stories, but as there is no evidence at all, it remains to be mare speculations. The writing of the two plays by Shakespeare was greatly influenced by the works of other writers and religious, political and social factors of those times and, to some extent, they related to his personal life.
Scholars and students always ask a question: what have influenced Shakespeare to write this play. Actually, he did it as an assignment or a project during his course of academic pursuit. Many theories have been proposed by students, scholars, and even vivid readers, but they all revolve around common reasons and assumptions. As the question still remains unanswered to many, there are some common reasons that bare evidence concerning the issue (Paul 55).
The name Macbeth is derived from the name of a popular Scottish monarch who was greatly loved by his followers. The story is about life of a military general named Macbeth. Macbeth received good news that he would become a king during the course of his life. He was a very good man at heart and a confidant to the king that he used to serve. Macbeth became impatient of his time for kingship. The more he waited to be the king, the more he became corrupted. Macbeth shared the witches’ prophecy with his wife, who also became greedy and impatient like her husband. Both of them plot to assassinate the king so that they can take the throne. This plan succeeded and the king died. Consequently, Macbeth was the most appropriate to inherit the throne, because he was the man closest to the king and a confidant to him (Paul 55).
Guilt haunted Macbeth until he became extremely out of mind. This is because he acquired the throne out of inhumane and evil act of killing. He, therefore, became paranoid and felt insecure of his noble task. He ensured that anyone who showed some signs of abnormality was killed. Just as the saying goes, that a person reaps what he sows, Macbeth’s wife died mysteriously. His end came at the hand of the old archenemies that he never thought would get him (Paul 55).
The reasons for writing this story can be viewed from different angles. Mostly, when a person is doing something and he gets someone to offer a helping hand, he always feels encouraged and willing to do more. He would, therefore, be zealous so that he continues to enjoy support. This is a kind of mentality that Shakespeare had. He knew that King James 1 of England was a loyal supporter of his works, and he even funded him at various intervals. In the same note, Shakespeare was quite familiar with one of the king’s monastery called Banquo. Macbeth was not only depicted as Banquo`s friend, but he also gave a very factual story of him in the play. According to the witches’ prophecy, Banquo’s will was later found in the lineage of kings. The will depicted that King James 1 was a descendant of Banquo. One had to read the facts about Macbeth to become familiar with the elements of the play (Shakespeare 159).
Shakespeare knew very well the likes and dislikes of King James, and as a result, he went ahead to do what the king liked. As the history unfolds, King James 1 was intrigued and fascinated by warlock, magic, witchcraft and other related activities. In order to win the king’s favor, Shakespeare included them in the scripts of Macbeth. This is evident right from the beginning as the audience is introduced to the discussion, which constitutes a key role throughout the play (Shakespeare 155).
It was a common practice for Shakespeare to visit theatres to watch plays. The plays featured entertainment for the new monarchs of Queen Elizabeth and King James. He watched plays of Scottish and England origin. It was from these works of art that Shakespeare got interest in Raphael Holinshed’s history of Scotland, on material and tragedy. Shakespeare found cases of violence that existed in the 11th century. These events included genocide and slaughter cases subjected to armies and innocent families. There was assassination of kings, ambush of nobles, and brutal execution of rebels. He, therefore, opted to write the play ‘Macbeth’ to show the king that it was indeed true that witches provided advice to Scotland traitors. This implies that by writing ‘Macbeth’, Shakespeare was appealing to new interests in London brought by King James (Mowat and Werstine 9).
The Biblical story of genesis was a major inspiration to Shakespeare’s writing of Macbeth. In the story of Adam and Eve, the serpent told her that after eating from the tree of life, they would become like God. Macbeth’s sin was a result of his craving for kingship. The letter that Lady Macbeth received from her husband greatly enticed her, because it indicated that she would become a queen. Moreover, Adam’s sin is the source of all the sufferings and evil happening in the world. Similarly, Macbeth’s regicide is the beginning of Scotland’s misery. The most recognizable fact is that it was the woman who cheated man into sin. This shows that Shakespeare was influenced by the biblical myths of creation in writing his play (Mowat and Werstine 9).
Another thing that influenced him to write Macbeth was the event of the gun powder plot. However, it depended on the time when one believes that the play was written to relate to this event. A man named Guy Faulks had a gang. They planned to kill the king and overthrow the government to give leadership to a person of their favor. This is exactly what Macbeth did in the play. It can be said that Shakespeare opted to write the play because of the religious issues revolving around that time. He wanted to pass across the message that, it is God who chooses kings not men (Paul 55).
‘Romeo and Juliet’ is another fascinating play of all times. It is a tragic drama of ill-fated young lovers Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet (Stacy and Gerald 120). Many readers remember it for the famous balcony scene. The two young teenagers deeply fell in love, but their families were never in terms with each other. The two families have been bitter enemies for a long time. The couple decided to exchange vows with the help of Friar Laurence, who agreed to arrange their marriage and to put an end for a long standing feud between the two families. They seized the opportunity, and finally, got married secretly. They made every effort to conceal what they had already done. Their lives ended in tragedy as everyone including Romeo, Juliet, Tybalt, Mercutio, and Paris died. Major themes that ran down the play addressed the issue of consequences of immature and blind passion. They also focus on the consequences of hatred and prejudice (Shakespeare 20).
Shakespeare’s genesis with tragedy is one factor that influenced his writing of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Apparently, Shakespeare got influence from the ideologies of free will. He was also interested in the knowledge of fate and its effect on people’s lives. As a matter of fact, Shakespeare wrote his works as a result of this fascination, which centered on the conflict between what man wants, and what fate has for him. A good illustration that exemplifies this phenomenon was the play entitled ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (Hephaestus 50).
Shakespeare’s writing of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was influenced by the works of Arthur Brooke, an English poet. The poem ‘Tragical History of Romeo and Juliet’ became a major inspiration to Shakespeare’s writing of his play, which occurred many years after the poem was written. According to the poem, Romeo and Juliet was a couple of two real young teens who lived so many years ago before Shakespeare was born. Initially, the poetic verse of Brooke was meant to be a comedy, but when Shakespeare revised it, he decided to write it as a tragedy (Hephaestus 44).
Religion and individualism in Shakespeare’s time influenced his writing of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. No one can dismiss this play as a mere fable. In doing that, it would lead to overlook of important religious events and instances that happened in his time. It is known that, Shakespeare’s father was a catholic, and he lived during the time of severe religious stratification in both the community and the family ties. As a result of the queen’s tolerance of vagueness in the area, people were confused and became tense over religion. ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a play which is based on conflict. If the family relationships are considered as the representations of the wider social body, themes that are depicted in the play become evident. The conflicting Protestants and the Catholics were brought together by the Church of England. However, this union was not welcome by the Protestant youths. The same actions of the protestant youths are what he condemned in the play. Shakespeare was a loyal subject and supporter of the queen’s church. His liking for the church and the dislike of the actions by the youths is what he depicts in the play (Stacy and Gerald 120).
The personal life of Shakespeare related very much to the play, ‘Romeo and Juliet’. According to the historical review, Shakespeare was married to Anne Hathaway. However, he was not happy with his wed-lock union with that lady. At the time of their wedding, he was 26 and his wife was 18 years old. It is found that the marriage started on well and happily, but their love faded gradually. Though they were husband and wife, they were like two strangers living in the same house. The flame of passion and romance between the two had been lost long ago (Hephaestus 44). This opinion shows that, Shakespeare wanted to warn the young and the maturing lovers about their love. He shows that there are always dark sides of good things. By this he meant, that love is not all about butterflies and rainbows, but rather that there are mountains and valleys in achieving complete love and companionship (Hephaestus 44).
The events that happened in 1605, which involved his family, illustrated how Shakespeare’s play, ‘Macbeth’ related to his life. During the conflicts between the Protestants and the Catholics, the traitors of the realm had very deep connections with Shakespeare, and his family. Shakespeare’s father, John Shakespeare who was a catholic convert had friendly relationship with William Catesby, the father of head conspirator, Robert Catesby. John Shakespeare and William Catesby shared writings that had relations on how Protestants would be obliterated once and for all. Shakespeare had the fears that he would be the next victim to be taken and tormented in the tower. The killing happened a mile away from their home, and they were spared. Shakespeare escaped the killings despite that many people perished in the carnage. He wrote ‘Macbeth’ in praise and commemoration of King James 1(Mowat and Werstine 9).
In conclusion, Shakespeare’s decision to write the plays was not a sudden occurrence, but an integrated thought of instance. It is an occurrence that was triggered by his own life, the life of other people and the world around him. ‘Macbeth’, being a tragedy play, is a clear indication of the religious and political manipulation in Shakespeare’s world that had a big influence in his writing. ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a tragic play about love between teens. The two plays had much correlation on Shakespeare’s life. It is clear that some of the things he wrote were a clear reflection of his own personality and his social life.