Shakespeare is not always synonymous with ‘this is the best thing that has happened to me in all of literature’. I mean, for me it is, but I know that you are probably reading this and thinking but what about everything else that has ever been written ever? And you may have a point.
But let me put forth five reasons why we should all try Shakespeare!
5. I mean, he’s a pretty important part of literature. We should all have at least some experience of watching Shakespeare (and yes, I said watch. I don’t count being bashed with Shakespeare at school as experiencing Shakespeare, as exam boards have a tendency to suck all the life out of the plays despite how wonderful your teachers are.)
4. There are a lot of laughs. And laughter = endorphins = good mood! Whether it’s pranks, jokes, mistaken identity, or two characters full-on snarking at each other, Shakespeare’s plays are full of laughs. And who doesn’t need a pick-me-up from time to time?
3. It’s like a history lesson but with more feelings. Hello, Hollow Crown. While some of Shakespeare’s plays may buy in to propaganda at the time (I’m looking at you, Richard III), they are generally accurate as to what happened – and they’re about periods of our history that don’t really seem to be studied any more. As a bit of medieval enthusiast from time to time, this is what really appealed to me about the Hollow Crown – so if that takes your fancy, it would be a great way to experience the Bard!
2. The characters have experiences that we can identify with as a modern audience. Whether it’s first love in Romeo and Juliet or the struggle for identity in Hamlet, Shakespeare has characters whose life experiences we can all see ourselves reflected in. And while you may not go and fight thousands of French soldiers ala Henry V, finding the courage to face a daunting challenge certainly is a universal experience. This is why we read! And it’s no different just because it’s a play written 400+ years ago.
1. Most of all, Shakespeare covers all the emotions. If you love reading books that tear your heart out then Shakespeare is definitely for you. Whether that is watching Hamlet dealing with his grief at his father’s death, or Edgar nursing his blinded father in King Lear, or Richard II’s speech as he resigns the crown to Bolingbroke, Shakespeare knows how to play with our heartstrings. And it doesn’t always have to be sad – what about Rosalind in As You Like It, in love with Orlando and becoming his friend and confidante without being able to tell him how she feels? Beatrice in Much Ado, closing herself off to love because of being spurned in the past? Shakespeare offers us the emotions of the human experience – and that, above all, is why you should try some Shakespeare.
If you aren’t sure where to begin with Shakespeare, keep an eye on here and on my twitter as I continue discovering Shakespeare in 2018.
I’m starting the year by discovering more about a play I previously knew very little about and I can’t wait to see what I will discover! I’ll be letting you all know which play in my next blog post… 🙂