What Shakespeare’s Audiences Liked?

The laws of the drama are sometimes laid down by the audiences.

The drama’s laws, the drama’s patrons give.

For we Thai live to please must please to live.

Much of the art of Shakespeare is concession to the public taste. Shakespeare was popular; he was practical. And therefore he brought some of the elements in his dramas only to satisfy the taste of the groundlings. Success on the public stage was the foremost aim of the dramatist. It was necessary therefore to leap the audience spell-bound. This he could have never done without writing according to the prevailing fashions and beliefs.

The Shakespearean audience liked romance, adventure and the sea-fairing life. In most of the dramas Shakespeare shows ships tossing up and down the angry ocean. We come across period of the surging seas in Twelfth Night, The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest.

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People were crude and unrefined. Shakespeare has given a vivid description of the Elizabethan citizens in Julius Caesar. They are foolish, fickle and dirty. They wanted a benevolent tyrant who could provide them bread, holiday and theatre-shows. They went to the theatre to see either a good laugh or bloodshed and violence. In his comedies and even in tragedies Shakespeare brought fools. to entertain the audience with their wisdom, wit and pun. The grave-digger · Hamlet, the porter in Macbeth and the clown in Othello are his concessions to the public taste. Raleigh points out, “The citizens delighted in exhibitions of juggling, tumbling, fencing, and wrestling and these also were provided by the drama. Shakespeare is profuse in his concessions to the athletic interest. The wrestling match in As You Like It, the rapier duels in Romeo and Juliet and in Hamlet, the sword fight in Macbeth-these were real display of skill by-practiced combatants.” The audience wanted blood and Shakespeare makes the last scene of his tragedies almost a burial ground.



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