Why do we still read Shakespeare in the 21st century?
William Shakespeare is an unavoidable figure. He is immortal in the minds of his readers. The works of Shakespeare is read till date because of its relevance to our contemporary society. For example, the heroic image of Macbeth is overpowered by over ambition and greed. This is an instance that we can very well relate to ourselves in the current time. A man tends to lose his mind when overpowered by greed. In his "Sonnet 130", he says that his lady love is not as beautiful as the Goddess and nor does she float on the clouds. She is a woman of flesh and blood and walks on the earth. By this, he brings the reality of a woman's presence in front of his contemporary poets (here, Thomas Watson's "Haekatompathia"). The reader too must be capable of feeling and thinking at the same time in order to appreciate the effect of what T.S. Eliot called "a unified sensibility"- that combination of sense perception and reflection at one and the same time.
What is literature?
Literature is the study of a civilisation. We have different periods of literary works, dating back to the Old Age era when literary creations were not written. They were mostly songs of gallant heroes, or the lament of wives, or verses describing a battle which were sung. The primary medium was orally sung songs. We have other eras like the Elizabethan period, Romantic period, and so on. For instance, in the Renaissance period we get to study the different changes that took place in the society as well as in the thinking process of the people. In the beginning of times, it was a taboo for the common people to read the Bible, which was essentially written in Latin. Years later, it was translated to English for the ordinary mass. The literary works of writers like Shakespeare, Jane Austen, etc. show us the then society and also the rigid mindset of the people.
What is the main difference between a prose and a poem?
As Wordswoth said in the Preface to the "Lyrical ballads", poetry is "a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings". The most important and the basic difference between a prose and a poem is the freedom of versification. Although we may say that poetry is an interpretation of life, it is restricted to the points of rhyme, blank verse, couplet, and versification. This, however, is not necessary in a prose piece. A prose writer is free to use as many lines or sentences sans rhythm. This crisis was most prominent during the Elizabethan era of literature.