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Shakespeare and His Use of Imagery In His Writing

Updated on February 16, 2013

It is noteworthy to discover that when one critiques a piece of drama such as the productions of Shakespeare, that a piece of criticism can be as equally positive in nature as it can be negative. If a person wants to completely evaluate one of Shakespeare's plays, that person should know there are considerations involved to arrive at an opinion that can be backed by some of the ingredients involved in developing an evidentiary conclusion.

It is one thing to offer a simplistic notion of an interpretation of one of Shakespeare's comedies versus one of his tragedies, and it is quite another thing to fully unleash a valid and well thought out criticism. An interesting note about Shakespeare is the fact that with who he was, alone, gives rise to so much speculation. Running parallel with that speulation, then, would be the desire to want to interpret one or more of his plays because then one might hope to come closer to bringing closures on the speculation with a clue. At the end of the day, however, all that seems to be discovered is just more speculation. The speculation and controversy nevertheless make good conversation.

Make a hobby out of reading all of Shakespeare's plays out loud to arrive at an interpretation of his works and once able to recognize the use of imagery, sometimes the very same example of imagery is seen in another play. As the reader becomes more acquainted with his method, it becomes a little easier to offer an interpretation.

Imagery

In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare used light as one of his images to reflect the undying love between his two main characters. This light could be represented in many forms, e.g., the sun, the moon, the stars, fire in a field, lightning, etc. The contrast of these things could be viewed as bad with no light whatsoever such as the dark of a night, a cloudy sky, a gloomy day with gray skies, and so on.

"Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,

Take him and cut him out in little stars,

And he will make the face of heaven so fine,

That all the world will be in love with night,

And pay no worship to the garish sun."

Romeo and Julietwas like a shooting star in and of itself because the events of the play moved rapidly along. Shakespeare gave to the reader the sensation of all the good and hope and joy that was to be stirred with two young lovers with his imagery use of light. A reader could highlight this play left and right with pen in hand with his usefulness of this form of imagery. The play ended as quickly as it began which does seem to resemble only too sadly for some readers, a fire being put out.

Hamlet has to be one of Shakespeare's finest achievements. In this play, too, imagery is used to incite a reader's imagination. A good example is when it is being described how Hamlet's father was poisoned fro the ghost of Hamlet's father to Hamlet. A vivid account of how Hamlet's father has been poisoned as well as the effects of the poison is experienced by Hamlet as he hears what occurred. The "poisoning," however, did not end there.

Shakespeare will continue to be praised for his use of imagery within the confines of language that some will never take the time to make ana attmept to understand. Sometimes the understanding arives instantly while at other times, it takes a moment or two. Whether or not there is mutuality in what can be agree upon with other aspects of his plays, let alone who he was, it can be agreed that he knew how to utilize language to arouse the vivid sense of awareness. The simplest example would be his use of light versus dark. When this is realized and examined in other plays by Shakespeare's hand, then other forms of imagery texts can be scrutinized for a similar effect.

It is easier to define a form of imagery as opposed to proposig an interpretation of a whole play, let alone the players, without incessant debating. It provides remarkable conversation, but it removes readers from the beauty of the language, in part, as well.

Reading a Play vs. Viewing a Play

Part of the difficulty in seeing a play on stage versus reading it on paper is that if a person wants to study the imagery used in a play such as Hamlet, the reader can go back and have a reread to draw a vivid conclusion. When hearing the same words on a stage, the viewer does not have time to ponder its meaning unless already fully acquinted with the writings of Shakespeare because the spoken line has already come and gone. Either way, there are advantages involved in regard to other understandings of the written words.

In Marchette Chute's An Introduction to Shakespeare, he states "An Elizabethan playwright had conquered the world, and no one would have been more startled by the achievement than Shakespeare's own contempories. They had thought of him as a popular local playwright, and they had never dreamed each succeeding generation would see its own image in his great art and believe that he wrote for them alone."

If you love Shakespeare, you feel any reader should appreciate his rare talent. On the other hand, if someone can understand the use of imagery and its obvious interpretations in his plays, that the necessary terms that are also said to be required in making any final evaluation and/or criticism should follow with less dificulty and more reading enjoyment.

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