Shakespeare is hard. Kids don’t understand him. Adults don’t understand him. For a guy credited with being the father of modern English, the reason he is disliked is rather ironic: “I can’t understand Macbeth”.
Shakespeare is old, and if someone wanted to argue that he’s the grandfather of the English we speak now, not the father, the argument would be sound. It does not make Shakespeare any less great. It does not mean that he loses his place as one of the greatest writers or artists ever produced by humanity.
Shakespeare is at the least among the best (at the very very least). That alone means the more intellectually inclined should have some interest. The problem is in how people think they should read Shakespeare. In my view Shakespeare should be read in a completely different fashion than most other fiction is read today. For one, it’s a play, so it’s meant to be performed. Read as literature, more important are the monologues and dialogues individually, and the words Shakespeare chooses.
In all truth Shakespeare, as far as plot goes, isn’t anything special. He basically stole every general idea, much like Disney just rewrites old fairy tales with singing lobsters, instead of that, he just rewrites old literature with a vivid ‘poetic prose’. It’s star crossed lovers and murderers falling deeper and deeper into darkness. What makes his work a thing of beauty is how his characters get to be star crossed and dark.
This is why it’s better to be either told the gist of the story before hand or to watch some kind of film rendition of the play in question, of which there are no shortage, get an understanding of what is happening in the general plot out of the way, so we can get right to what makes Shakespeare so great and so beautiful.
The way he writes those words! If only we all spoke in such poetry…