William Faulkner's Use of Shakespeare Essay

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William Faulkner's Use of Shakespeare Throughout his career William Faulkner acknowledged the influence of many writers upon his work--Twain, Dreiser, Anderson, Keats, Dickens, Conrad, Balzac, Bergson, and Cervantes, to name only a few--but the one writer that he consistently mentioned as a constant and continuing influence was William Shakespeare. Though Faulkner’s claim as a fledgling writer in 1921 that “[he] could write a play like Hamlet if [he] wanted to” (FAB 330) may be dismissed as an act of youthful posturing, the statement serves to indicate that from the beginning Shakespeare was the standard by which Faulkner would judge his own creativity. In later years Faulkner frequently acknowledged Shakespeare as a major…show more content…
Both started out as poets but shortly turned to other narrative forms, Faulkner to fiction and Shakespeare to drama. Both had extramarital affairs that were reflected in some of their writings. Each wrote both tragedies and comedies, and in each case their final work was a comedy, Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Faulkner’s The Reivers. A number of dominant themes and emphases are common to both writers, including the imaginative use of historical materials, the incorporation of both tragic and comic views of life, and the paradoxical tension between fate (in Faulkner’s case, determinism) and free will. Moreover, both writers exhibit a fascination for experimental form and language, flouting conventional rules to create new narrative structures and delighting in neologisms, puns, and other forms of word play. Finally, both writers were acutely interested in the paradoxical relationship of life and art. It would be impossible, of course, in the short time that I have to consider all of the possible Shakespearean influences upon Faulkner, so I will cite only three representative examples. These may be grouped according to the following categories: (1) specific Faulkner allusions to Shakespeare's plays and characters; (2) a common interest in historical analogues; and (3) an emphasis on the theme of the immortality of art. ALLUSIONS Allusions, or cross references, by one author to the works of another provide irrefutable evidence of a

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