How Shakespeare’s Work Influenced the Development of the Literary Genre

William Shakespeare, aka the Bard of Avon, is one of the greatest names in English literature. He gained unparalleled fame for his contributions towards English poetry, drama, and stage acting. The appreciation and praise that Shakespeare has received for his work haven’t faded away with time. What was just a mere collection of repertory dramas back in his day, is now performed widely across the globe.

Shakespeare has contributed a lot to the English literary genre through his plays. Here are some of Shakespeare’s greatest contributions to the development of English literature!

  1. Evergreen Storylines

When compared with his counterparts, Shakespeare’s plays have one very distinctive quality. Their themes are as befitting in today’s societies as they in the 16th and 17th centuries. His work, like King John, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, and Macbeth, rule the study of English literature.

Most playwrights of the previous centuries have only narrated stories of their own era. On the other hand, Shakespeare’s influence on the English literature has transcended all boundaries of time with their timeless plots. Shakespeare’s plays and poetry have been studied and staged differently by various readers and literati as well.

  1. Literary Examples

Another one of Shakespeare’s contributions is that his work is an excellent treasury of classic literature. His work is often used as case studies for present-day literature students. For instance, his play Hamlet has a concrete storyline, a classic setting, and powerful dialogues. Such legendary pieces of Shakespearean literature serve as an inspiration for literature students.

Many undergraduates choose to write an essay about Hamlet for their thesis. In some other universities, an essay on Hamlet is considered to be a great achievement for the student who writes it. There are plenty of Hamlet essay examples on the internet and in libraries. However, each great Hamlet essay has a unique writing style and perspective. Such is the beauty of William Shakespeare’s impact! His work can be studied from varying perspectives and carries multiple messages for readers in different eras.

  1. Flawless Description of the English Culture

When you read Shakespeare’s work, it holds a deeper interpretation of the historic English culture and values. England considers Shakespeare as the national poet and dramatist because his writings exclusively depict English national sentiments. His work is a prime example of the lifestyles, enmities, values, and interests of traditional Englishmen. Most of his famous plays minutely assess traditional politics and social dealings as well.

  1. Literary Flair

Another reason why Shakespeare is important for the development of the literary genre is that his writing is pretty eloquent. Shakespeare was a gifted writer who knew how to blend his ideas and words with a touch of extravagance. Whatever scene he was writing, his grace and choice of words never faltered.

This is why is writing is so widely appreciated. He isn’t a mediocre writer. Moreover, Shakespeare doesn’t write in a way that’s too difficult for ordinary people to understand. His use of words and phrases is pretty straightforward and complements the stories he tells.

  1. Paints With Words

Shakespearean writing is also a famous asset of the English literary genre because it teaches writers how to paint with words. He describes all scenes in a rather natural way that doesn’t sound too far from reality. Shakespeare’s characters, both protagonists and antagonists, have specific characteristics that build up their life stories.

The element of tragedy in Shakespeare’s plays is also well connected to the entire plot. Betrayal and character flaws are the two ways in which Shakespeare kills his main characters without going too overboard. He focuses on all details without wasting too many words in describing them.

Shakespeare also uses soliloquies to define his character and the plot of his work. His understanding of human nature, its greatness and weakness allow him to express himself explicitly through his characters.

  1. Inventing Words and Quotes

One of Shakespeare’s most significant literary contributions is that he added valuable words and phrases to the English language. He had to command over seven different languages and often combined their vocabulary to form new words for English literature.

He had a vocabulary of nearly 24,000 words and used it in his work in a way that enriched the English dictionary. This includes Jacobean age words such as thou and doth and contemporary vocab such as manager, lackluster, and lonely. In total, he added nearly 1,700 words to the English vocabulary. To this day, we use many of his inventions without even realizing it.

Moreover, Shakespeare’s quotes from his plays are also a rich possession of the English literary genre. Here are some of his most famous ones:

”If music be the food of love, play on.”

  • Twelfth Night.

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

“All that glitters is not gold.”

  • Merchant of Venice.


In this manner, he standardized the English language and literature during his lifetime. It’s safe to say that to this day, no other writer has made as much an impact as Shakespeare has.

  1. Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Besides his contributions to English prose, Shakespeare has also made his name in English poetry. Just like all other Shakespeare’s work, his sonnets are also centered around the idea of the frail yet powerful human nature.

Love, lust, power, sympathy, hate, rage, and change are some of his most popular themes. He uses his literary power to captivate the reader and encourage dialogue over his ideas. The underlying theme in most of his sonnets is the difference between human ideals and realities.


There’s no denying of Shakespeare’s literary prowess. He’s just as admirable in his writing ad he was four centuries earlier. His writings have always continued to influence authors, novelists, playwrights, and poets of every era.

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