Shakespeare on the Human Condition in "Richard III" and "Macbeth"
Kenyon, David M.
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It is my belief that literature would be no more than worthless paper and ink if it did not tell us something about ourselves, where we've been, where we are, or where we are going. The study of literature is the study of the human condition and those who have experienced it. Literature is an expression of life itself, full of sound and fury, but unlike Macbeth's thoughts on life, it signifies everything. The drama, especially, is as surely Shakespeare saw it; a laboratory wherein we look at ourselves. Unlike recorded history, the drama as well as the whole of literature presents the passion, the agony and laughter of man, as he explores himself. While words communicate ideas, the way in which these words are brought together into an art form, the aesthetic value of literature, allows them to transcend the rational mind and settle in the heart. Thus, literature does not only present an author's thoughts on the human condition, but also how he feels it giving the reader the whole experience. It is also my belief that the union of thought and feeling is found in one of its purest forms in Shakespeare. To say that Shakespeare was not a philosopher is not to know him, for his philosophy is woven into his plays with the thickest thread. To say he did not feel his experience as we see it in his plays is to have no heart for his poetry, and his characters express the pain and joy of the human experience with an intensity rarely seen on the written page or the state. In each play we can hear the voice of the poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard through the ages and very possibly until the end of time. It is the purpose of the following discussion to attempt to catch at least a whisper of this voice.