An author (playwright) sees reflection of one’s own experiences and surroundings while creating the characters. One cannot sweep it under the carpet and why should one? Authenticity about a character comes out of direct experience plus fertile imagination. This quote of Shakespeare is perfectly applicable to him. In Twelfth Night he writes, “Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them". (Act II, Scene V). William Shakespeare born in 1564 into a middle-class family, whose father was a glove maker in Stratford-upon-Avon, a small market-town, achieved greatness. That greatness is matchless and the world has not produced another playwright of his name and fame! The multifarious characters one sees in his more than 37 plays reflect the tragedy, comedy and history of the era (1564-1616) to which he belonged.
Shakespeare had deep understanding of human nature, social, economic and cultural conditions of his time. His characters come from many walks of life and he uses their language in his creative style. He had deep, intuitive knowledge of music, military science, politics, and hunting etc. His characters are as big as kings and generals, and as low as pick-pockets, drunkards and hired killers. He excelled dealing with philosophical topics. His characters spoke straight from the heart, as per their level of progression in the society.
Elizabethan England and Shakespeare’s era are synonymous. What was the era like? There are many shades of opinions as for the living conditions prevailing then. Pritchard writes, “One would portray ‘merry England.’….Another would present a typical third-world developing country, with gross disparities of wealth, with the powerful few plundering the Commonwealth, the numerous poor with low-life expectancy, traditional cultural patterns crumbling under the