The Way to do Shakespeare

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…


4 Responses to “The Way to do Shakespeare”

  1. 1 Aamba August 3, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Shakespeare is not difficult to understand if you start when you are young. I got a book of sonnets when I was eight and by the time I was in middle school I understood the plays just fine. I enjoyed showing off to my english teachers, too! Kids don’t know it is supposed to be difficult, so start them off with it young and it’s not hard at all. I guess it is like a foreign language in that way.

  2. 2 Christopher Sarda August 4, 2010 at 3:10 am

    I disagree. To many words have fallen out of usage, and while I love the sonnets, there’s no way an 8 year old could understand everything that is meant in them.

  3. 3 Aaron April 3, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Shakespeare sucks to read. And it should. He wrote plays and would be pissed to know that kids were being forced to read his plays like some sort of novel. Shakespeare is to be watched. Nobody misses anything when they watch Macbeth on stage or in a good film. Reading Shakespeare is like studying the specs of a Lamborghini instead of getting in the car and driving it.

    • 4 Christopher Sarda April 3, 2011 at 7:26 pm

      I’m inclined to agree and disagree with you. Shakespeare is most definitely meant for the stage, but that rhyming and meter is so beautiful, there are passages that I sometimes want to read over and over again, and I’m only a casual Shakepeare reader, but it’s great for reading in my opinion.

      With that said, it was meant for the stage you’re absolutely right, and with good actors it is always beautiful. The problem with the stage is that it’s not just you and him, it is the actors and the director and stage manager and the sets ect.

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It should be noted that these are Polish words known.

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