An often over-talked about figure of literature is William Shakespeare. Everyone loves his works, and his allure that is displayed through his words is usually strung beyond comprehension into analytical passages. But besides this, we wonder what exactly draws us to his pieces in the first place.
I have felt that through my reading of his plays and poems that the most grasping quality is his use of diction combined with the conveying of ideas within the tight constraints of iambic pentameter.
An instance of this occurs early in one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, Julius Caesar:
Go, go, good countrymen, and for this fault,
Assemble all the poor men of your sort,
Draw them to Tiber banks, and weep your tears
Into the channel till the lowest stream
Do kiss the most exalted shores of all.
In this quote, Flavius, a Roman, is angry at a crowd of peasants, and tells them to go and cry into the Tiber River until it floods.
Now, he could have just had Flavius say that outright as I have, but instead he draws out the idea, and does so in a beautiful and structured manner. This gives a contrast to works in today’s pop culture, which lacks this kind of sound. This contrast offers a satisfaction to us, as we are able to understand that words and decipher them in our minds, instead of just having it told to us.
Combined with the tight syllabic structure of iambic pentameter, Shakespeare’s passages offer a fluidity that draws us to enjoy his works above other’s.