Shakespeare And Human Nature: The Art Of Depiction

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Before dwelling deep into the details of of Shakespeare and human nature, it is pertinent to look into the background of how Shakespeare became the depicter of human nature.

Shakespeare is regarded as English literature’s most well-known poet, play writer, and actor. His literary works help readers understand human nature in our day-to-day existence thanks to his philosophical concepts. Shakespeare is an author from the Elizabethan era. Optimism, truth, pragmatism, directness, morals, didacticism, and a blending of tragic and comedic elements may all be found in his writings.

He has established appeal and unique qualities of his own to draw readers in. Shakespeare can be understood because he is the culmination of Renaissance humanism’s philosophical ideas.  He was an artist who proudly upheld the ideals of intellectual freedom and had a profound grasp of mankind as well as an amazing capacity for self-expression.

What is human nature?

Human nature refers to the distinctive characteristics that people tend to have, obviously, independently of the influence of lifestyle. These characteristics include ways of thinking, feeling, and looking. Human nature is the psychological and social traits that distinguish humankind, especially when compared to other living creatures.

Shakespeare and Human Nature: The depiction

William Shakespeare probably did not receive the same level of extensive humanistic education as others of better social and economic standing than his own family received, but his education was unquestionably based on Renaissance humanist principles. Shakespeare frequently embodies distinctly humanistic values in his plays, primarily in Hamlet and Julius Caesar, and these ideals have their roots in Renaissance humanism.

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Shakespeare had a thorough understanding of human psychology and how it operated. Aware, subconscious, and unconscious ideas are the three types of human thought. Shakespeare explored naturally to show such a range of human thoughts in his play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Shakespeare and human nature with reference to his Poetry

Shakespeare was a genius at examining the many facets of human nature, whether it was via the beauty of his poems, the humor of his doomed heroes, or the murky and tangled realms of love, betrayal, and conflict. The key to Shakespeare’s literary genius, its endurance, and its relevance across nations and time is without a doubt the investigation of human strengths and failings. In Sonnet 15, idea of the celestial effect on the development of humanity is mentioned:

That this huge stage presented naught but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheered and checked even by the self-same sky”

This idea of astrological significance is connected to the idea of fate and how little control individuals have over their future. This also gives people a justification for their occasionally appalling behavior.

Shakespeare uses the concept of motivation in Sonnet 13 to imply the durability of his written words:

So should that beauty which you hold in lease
Find no determination: then you were
Yourself again after your self’s decease,
When your sweet issue your sweet form should bear.
Who lets so fair a house fall to decay

It conveys the idea that human nature is an enduring beast that never ends and may never change. He explains the exposure of human nature to impending failure, slow witness, and low determination.

Shakespeare and human nature with reference to his plays

Shakespeare’s play depicts the character’s interpersonal relationships. Oedipus complex and Electra complex are not uncommon characteristics of human courtship, according to psychoanalysis.

He portrayed specific relationships in works like “King Lear.” Shakespeare frequently employed fools and clowns in his plays. Sarcasm and laughter are awoken by these fools. Shakespeare employs clowns and fools, who are now less valued by society, to challenge the monarchy and occasionally foretell the future in tragedies. In plays like “King Lear,” clowns or idiots promote a moral awareness of right and wrong, although they are typically disregarded for their amusement.

He also examined the political aspect of human nature, a topic that political scientists have studied for the past two millennia. His topics were particularly concerned with political power – its sources, uses, expressions, theatrical displays, ambiguities, and subversions. Shakespeare’s plays frequently feature political intrigue, particularly when it comes to his royal characters.

Characterization of Human Nature

Shakespeare tries to emphasize the extremes of human emotions. He explores the potential of human emotions and displays the powers of nature’s extremes. He showed the violent behavior of humans resulted from strong emotions, which have the power to reveal people’s values and their excessive propensity to act in certain ways when their emotions are aroused. Finally, the evolution of the ego became one of the central themes in Shakespeare’s writing. The self is split into the inner and outward selves.  

Realistic portrayal

Shakespeare’s characterization provides a realistic and believable view of human nature. Shakespeare does not portray people as having both magnificent greatness and unmatched wickedness. The characters in his plays aren’t heroes; rather, they’re just regular people who behave and think as the reader might under similar circumstances.


Shakespeare’s plays are characterized by the universality of his portrayal as being full of realism and domestic knowledge. A philosophy of lifestyles that is both first-rate and cost-effective in real-world lifestyles can be developed from them. Dramatists frequently overemphasize the importance of the theme of love, regularly squander potential, and misrepresent life.

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Shakespeare is aware that “Love is most effective one of many passions” and that it doesn’t have a particularly positive effect on the overall quality of life. Literature should now be appreciated through the use of one’s imagination rather than through literal experience.

The Self

Shakespeare developed a strong interest in issues relating to the self. He questioned who was able to distinguish her personality from external circumstances. All of Shakespeare’s plays are permeated with self-reflection questions: “How enduring is the problem we call character? What kind of a thing is it for someone to find his own man or woman? Are God, nature, or neither as a gift the source of man or woman? How robust is it? Is it a social construct or a metaphysical essence?”

Shakespeare tried to illustrate how a mind can become fractured via conflict with itself, that not everything is within one’s reasonable control, and that self-information isn’t always dependable by exhibiting the muddled mind on stage.


Shakespeare, at least in part, invented human nature as we know it today. His words and characters have had such a profound impact on society and are so deeply ingrained that we cannot help but be influenced by his work. We are all descended from Shakespeare to some extent. And if he is right and we are undoubtedly theatrical beings, then his theatrical structures must emerge as the foundation of the theatrical selves we strive to be in day-to-day life.

Shakespeare’s extraordinary genius must be seen in his deference to nature. He allowed reality to impose itself on his vision rather than forcing his imagination and prescience on reality. He gave us advice on how the arena seems based on its attitude. And the arena didn’t seem to be on an equal footing once more.

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