Universal Themes of Shakespeare

Today, all over the world, universal themes are still prevalent. Universal themes have been and are still being used in many books and plays. Two subjects that are often described as universal themes are politics and violence.

In the Shakespearean play “Macbeth” the main character, Macbeth, is portrayed as a violent person. Macbeth was an ambitious man whose ambition eventually led to violence. Macbeth, along with another man in the play, was informed that he had the ability, as well as the potential to become king. Macbeth’s ambition led him to become violent; killing the sitting king, as well as anyone who stood in the way of his taking of the throne. A place on the throne was something to which Macbeth was not entitled. Shakespeare, the author of “Macbeth,” disapproved of people disrupting the proper order of society, and held the belief that all people had freewill. Macbeth was a prime example of someone trying to disrupt the proper order of society. He was trying to become king when it was not his place in society to do so. Macbeth was susceptible to the information he received from the witches, whereas the other man was not. When Macbeth resorted to violence in order to attain what he thought he deserved, the other man did not. The other man knew he was not in the proper position in society to become king.

A more recent film that can be related to Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” is “Lord of the Flies.” In the acclaimed film “Lord of the Flies” a group of young boys are involved in a plane crash. The plane ends up in the middle of the woods where the boys come across some hunters. Jack, the leader of the group, convinces the boys to act in a violent manner towards the hunters. Two of the boys, Ralph and Piggy, chose not to act violently towards the hunters despite the many opportunities they were afforded to do so. A common trait among Jack and Macbeth was their tendency to act in a violent manner, while a common trait among Ralph, Piggy, and the other gentleman from “Macbeth” was to choose not to kill despite their many opportunities.

“Julius Caesar” is a literary selection centered around politics.
Shakespeare uses “Julius Caesar” in an attempt to show how a person should react in relation to the state. In “Julius Caesar,” politics led to rebellion and idealism, making evident the power of words. At the time of his death Julius Caesar was king. Brutus, a friend of Caesar, was compelled by idealism, which eventually led him to disaster. The opinions of the people were easily changed based upon what they heard – hence the power of words. The citizens were swayed by Brutus to believe that the killing of Caesar was justifiable. The citizens were once again swayed by Mark Anthony, another friend of Caesar, a loyal friend of Caesar, into believing that Brutus was wrong in even thinking that the murder of Caesar was a justifiable event. “Julius Caesar” is a play in which Shakespeare tries to exhibit his strong feelings of disapproval towards rebellion.

“Animal Farm,” a more recent film was about farm animals and their owner (the farmer). The farmer treated the animals in such a harsh manner that it led the animals to revolt under the leadership of Napoleon. The revolt resulted in a victory for the animals. The animals and the people began to exhibit many common traits. Napoleon convinced the other animals to join him in going against the farmer as Brutus convinced the Romans to go against Caesar in “Julius Caesar.” In both selections, the film “Animal Farm” and the play “Julius Caesar,” the power of words led to rebellion and caused turmoil for all involved.

In conclusion, politics and violence prove to be prevalent themes in the literature of today, as well as the literature of the past. Shakespeare’s writings are remarkable simply because they are as popular today as they were a few hundred years ago. Shakespeare’s writings are a prime example of how some things never change.