Let’s start with the basics, what is an anachronism? An anachronism is a chronological inconsistency in a historical or fictional work, where a thing or idea appears in a time period in which it could not have existed. In Shakespeare’s plays, anachronisms are a common feature, with some of them being deliberate and serving specific purposes, while others might simply be mistakes.
One of the most famous examples of anachronisms in Shakespeare’s work is the usage of firearms in Julius Caesar. The play is set in ancient Rome, but references to guns and handguns can be found throughout the text. This anachronism serves to highlight the characters’ power and military might, as well as the overall atmosphere of violence and political unrest in the play.
Another example of anachronisms in Shakespeare’s work can be seen in his play Antony and Cleopatra, which is set in ancient Egypt but features references to modern conveniences such as chairs and sofas. These anachronisms serve to emphasize the luxury and comfort of Cleopatra’s court, as well as her love of all things exotic and luxurious.
Anachronisms in Shakespeare’s plays are not limited to specific props or objects, but also appear in the language and dialogue. For example, in Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare uses language and expressions that would have been common in his own time, but not in the historical setting of the play. These anachronisms serve to make the language of the play more accessible to a contemporary audience and help to convey the play’s themes and messages.
In conclusion, anachronisms in Shakespeare’s plays serve a variety of purposes, from highlighting the characters and their surroundings to making the language and themes of the play more accessible to a contemporary audience. Whether deliberate or accidental, these anachronisms have become an integral part of Shakespeare’s works, and have helped to make them the timeless classics that they are today.