All my life as a writer I have been in awe of Shakespeare’s way with words. All human life is contained therein. His timeless messages and understanding transcends the minutely observed circumstances and daily items of his own age, as they leap out of the page.
For anyone interested in politics the perceptions of Macbeth show just how easy it is for power to corrupt. Loyalty and friendship are replaced by violence and deception in the pursuit of the crown. King Lear reminds us how close to madness court life can bring people, and how a powerful man who gives away his powers lives to regret his folly. As the Fool reminded him, it is not a good idea to get old if you do not also become wise. Hamlet captures the difficulties for a thoughtful Prince to decide what to do where some urge strong forceful revenge whilst others might favour forgiveness and acceptance of the state of the world.
Midsummer Night’s Dream is my favourite of the comedies. The beautifully crafted play within a play never ceases to amuse. The magic verse of Puck and the fairies enchants, as they play with the fickle feelings of mere mortals, getting into bizarre pickles of their own.
On today of all days we think of the histories set in war torn England before the Tudors. These great dramas capture the shifting fortunes of the rival houses of York and Lancaster. They portray perfect martial kingship in Henry V, weak vacillating kingship in Richard II, and calculating kingship in Henry IV. Their hero is England, long suffering England. We know, as Shakespeare knew, that England emerged from her long time of troubles and strife. England of 1600 had claimed many more glories than the England of the wars of the roses could even dream about.
Let us hope the same is true again today. I look forward to England casting off her current European tribulations. Her greatest days surely lie ahead, as Shakespeare knew they did when writing about the fifteenth century.