There’s nothing wrong with Shakespeare

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Illustration by Lydia Wojack-West

As an English major, I’ve had to deal with many complaints in the classroom every time we stumble upon Shakespeare’s material. Even in a course that focuses specifically on all things Shakespeare, there are still the usual sighs and yawns from four or more students, as if they were forced to take the class.

“Why are we still learning about this?”

“This is so high school.”

“Not again.”

Putting all bias aside, I understand why people feel this way about Shakespeare. I have to admit that it’s not always easy to read his work, whether it be a play or poem. Something about his language usage makes it hard to understand, comprehend, and even look at sometimes.

Perhaps that’s why we’d rather not learn it.

However, maybe the complicated language is one of the reasons why Shakespeare is still being taught in the classroom. It takes a lot of close reading, time, and effort to actually understand his literary pieces: We actually have to go through each word just to make sense of it all. Sadly, this seems pointless to a lot of students.

Why do we still care about a person and his work from over 400 years ago? How does this affect or add to our society today?

Many of us tend to forget that we’re the ones who continue to make him relevant today. We’ve all quoted Shakespeare at least once, whether we know it or not.

For example, you’re quoting Shakespeare if you occasionally or constantly say phrases such as “forever and a day,” “heart of gold,” “seen better days,” or the famous “to be or not to be.”

Another reason focuses on the fact that Shakespeare’s work, especially his plays, consists of themes that many of us still experience today. For instance, most of us encountered a stage in life where we experienced a teenage crisis, just like Hamlet.

We all understand how it feels when we are expected to act a certain way or like a specific gender, just like the characters in The Taming of the Shrew.

The truth is that there is nothing wrong with learning about Shakespeare, even in today’s society: We will always gain something out if it whether it be entertainment or something to relate to.

I don’t think that people necessarily hate Shakespeare. I think people get lazy.

We’re so used to being entertained by television, social media, and video games, that once we actually have to work or put in any effort for entertainment, we complain. However, if we learn to embrace it and accept the challenge, we won’t be wasting our time. The fact that we are able to identify with characters created 400 years ago should be enough to spark some kind of interest in us.

If not, then we should at least appreciate how something so relatable can still be challenging to understand at first.

Sometimes we need to be challenged, even if we’re challenged by something as simple as reading to remind ourselves of why we’re in college in the first place. Anything that challenges us will help shape us into our full potential, and that’s what really matters.

After all, “The world is your oyster.”

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