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Shakespeare's Childhood

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Life as a Child in the Renaissance

There have been many classic rag-to-riches stories, and while they may seem

almost clichй, there are so few that are overlooked. For example, many musicians in the

rock era who we know today grew up in lesser homes, and they struggled to earn a dime.

Elton John, as well known and wealthy as he is today, spent the greater part of 10 years

fighting diligently to fill small clubs to make a living off of his wonderful musical talent.

While it may be hard for many people to believe, not all quintessential icons in our day

were bathed from golden faucets in oversized mansions; quite the contrary, rather. The

famous William Shakespeare is a thriving example of this theory; however, there is a

main difference between Shakespeare's fame from the normal rag-to-riches story, and his

eminence is most comparable to Van Gogh. During the time when he was alive, his

literature was not taken seriously. It was merely viewed as a form of writing not meant to

be explored, and much less, praised. Aside from this, he came from an extremely

poverty-stricken family, where most of them died from diseases. Also, the quality of

education in those days was determined by how much money families could lay down to

have their children accepted into pristine schools, which was not possible for the great

William Shakespeare. In Shakespeares' days of inadequate education, he must have had

a very strong ambition to become a world-reknown writer and poet.

As mentioned, Shakespeare's family was plagued with much sickness, and it

spread like wildfire since they were such a large family crammed into a small, musty

English cottage. Third-born William was accompanied by his 6 siblings, Joan, Margaret,

Gilbert, Amney, Richard, and Edmund. According to "In the Days of Shakespeare's

Childhood," most of his siblings lived only into their teen years due to diseases such as

yellow fever and malaria. Because of so many child deaths, the exact number of children

is debatable, because many died before coming out of infanthood. In fact, when William

was born to his parents, John and Mary, he was the first surviving infant. To give an idea

of just how many people were affected by various diseases of the time, as stated by John

F. Andrews, in 1592, there were 15,000 deaths. This number was significant enough to

have the globe theater close down! The home they grew up on was in

Stratford-Upon-Avon on Henley Street, a small village that now houses his home as a

museum and it features much of his praised work. At this time, children of the

renaissance were considered to be young adults, and they were expected to exude the

utmost of proper manners. Shakespeare's work, along with all drama literature, was not

taken seriously at this time. "Drama litereature was severely underpraised at this time,"

as agreed in "Shakespeare's life" . Also, the first attempts at learning Shakespeare's

childhood were made 50 years after his death, which is why there are so many conflicting

pieces of information on his life. Shakespeare's home-life qualifies him perfectly for a

rag-to-riches story.

In addition to his mediocre family and upbringing, Shakespeare's schools were

not of very high quality unless families had enough money to pay for a higher tuition;

thus, a better education. At this time, there were two main schools: grammar schools and

petty schools, grammar schools being far more advanced than lesser petty schools. Top

leve schools



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