Exploring The Themes Of Shakespeares Writing

Shakespeare is widely considered to be one of the greatest playwrights in English literature. His works have stood the test of time, captivating audiences for centuries with their timeless themes and characters. From love and betrayal to power and ambition, Shakespeare’s writing covers a wide range of complex human emotions and experiences. In this article, we will explore some of the key themes that Shakespeare expertly weaves throughout his plays, and how they continue to resonate with modern audiences.

Themes in Shakespeare’s Writing

William Shakespeare is considered one of the greatest playwrights in history, and his works continue to be studied, performed, and enjoyed centuries after they were written. His plays and poems cover a wide range of subjects and genres, but there are certain themes that are present throughout his writing. These themes not only reflect the society and culture of Shakespeare’s time, but they also resonate with audiences today.

In this article, we will explore some of the recurring themes in Shakespeare’s writing and how they are relevant to us today.

Love and Relationships

One of Shakespeare’s most prevalent themes is love and relationships. He wrote about all types of love – romantic, familial, and platonic – and explored the complexities and challenges that come with it. In his comedies, love often takes center stage as characters navigate their way through mistaken identities, misunderstandings, and barriers put up by society.

One of the most famous examples of this is “Romeo and Juliet”, where the young lovers must overcome their families’ feuds and societal expectations to be together. This theme of forbidden love is still relevant today, and the play continues to be adapted in various forms.

Other plays that delve into the theme of love and relationships include “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Much Ado About Nothing”, and “Twelfth Night”. Through his writing, Shakespeare reminds us that love is a universal experience that can bring joy, but also cause pain and heartache.

Power and Ambition

Another recurring theme in Shakespeare’s writing is power and ambition. Many of his plays feature characters who are driven by their desire for power, and the consequences it brings. In “Macbeth”, for example, the titular character’s ambition leads him to commit heinous acts in order to become king, but ultimately leads to his downfall.

Shakespeare explores the corrupting nature of power and how it can consume individuals, as seen in “Julius Caesar” and “Richard III”. These plays serve as cautionary tales about the dangers of unchecked ambition and the consequences it can have on oneself and those around them.

Today, this theme is still relevant as we see leaders and individuals in positions of power often fall victim to their own greed and ambition. Shakespeare’s writing serves as a reminder that true power comes from within and not from external sources.

Appearance vs Reality

The theme of appearance versus reality is another prevalent one in Shakespeare’s works. He often creates characters who are not what they seem, and explores the consequences of deception and manipulation. In “Hamlet”, the titular character is constantly questioning the authenticity of those around him and whether their actions match their words.

In “As You Like It”, the theme is more lighthearted as characters disguise themselves for various reasons, leading to comedic misunderstandings. However, in plays like “Othello” and “Measure for Measure”, the consequences of deception are far more serious.

This theme is still relevant today as we live in a world where people often present themselves in a certain way, but may be hiding their true intentions. Shakespeare’s writing reminds us to look beyond appearances and dig deeper to discover the truth.

Mortality and Death

Death is a constant presence in Shakespeare’s plays, whether it be sudden and violent or slow and inevitable. He explores the theme of mortality and how humans grapple with the idea of death. In “Hamlet”, the protagonist is haunted by the ghost of his father, and this sets in motion a chain of events that ultimately leads to multiple deaths.

In “King Lear”, the theme is explored through the titular character’s realization of his own mortality and the realization that his power and wealth cannot protect him from death. Shakespeare’s writing reminds us that death is a natural part of life, and that it is important to make the most of the time we have.

Social Hierarchies

Shakespeare lived during a time when social class and rank were highly valued, and this is reflected in his writing. Many of his plays feature characters who are from different social classes and the conflicts that arise because of it. In “The Merchant of Venice”, for example, the merchant Antonio must borrow money from a Jewish moneylender, Shylock, which leads to tensions between them based on their respective social standings.

In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, the characters find themselves in an enchanted forest where social hierarchies do not matter, and this allows for relationships to form across class boundaries. This theme is relevant in today’s society as well, as issues of class and privilege continue to be prevalent.

What Does Shakespeare Write About?

Shakespeare wrote about a wide range of topics and themes, but the common thread that runs through all of his works is humanity. His writing delves into the complexities of human nature, our desires, flaws, and relationships with each other and our surroundings.

Through his use of language and characterization, Shakespeare creates vivid and relatable characters that touch upon universal themes that are still relevant today. His plays and poems continue to be studied and performed because they offer timeless insights into the human experience.

In Conclusion

Shakespeare’s writing encompasses a diverse range of themes that explore the human experience and society. Love, power, deception, mortality, and social hierarchies are just some of the recurring themes that can be found in his works. Through his writing, Shakespeare reminds us that despite the passage of time, our fundamental desires and fears remain the same.

His plays and poems continue to be studied and enjoyed because they offer timeless lessons and insights into the human condition. Whether you are a student studying his works or simply someone looking to appreciate the beauty and depth of his writing, there is always something to discover in Shakespeare’s works.


In conclusion, Shakespeare’s writing is heavily characterized by themes that resonate with audiences even today. From love and tragedy to power and betrayal, his works continue to captivate readers and evoke a range of emotions. Through his masterful use of language and vivid imagery, he has left a lasting impact on literature and the arts. The themes in Shakespeare’s writing are universal and have stood the test of time, making his plays and poems relevant and relatable to people from all walks of life. It is no wonder that he remains one of the greatest and most influential writers of all time.


  • ameliaburke

    Amelia Burke is a 27yo educational blogger and volunteer and student. She is currently a student at the University of Utah. She is interested in creative writing, writing for the web, and public speaking.



Amelia Burke is a 27yo educational blogger and volunteer and student. She is currently a student at the University of Utah. She is interested in creative writing, writing for the web, and public speaking.

You may also like...