“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players” -As You Like It, Act II Scene VII.
William Shakespeare has to be one of my most favorite playwrights ever! When I was fourteen, I read one of Shakespeare’s works for the very first time – The Taming of the Shrew. I LOVED it! Not only was the story comical, but the way it was written was so amazing and rich with lessons and meanings. If you haven’t read any of his works or heard of him at all, I definitely recommend it. Thankfully, most people have heard of William Shakespeare. I think one of the reasons why some people don’t like Shakespeare is because of the complexity of his plots and the difference in the way that English was spoken back then. However, when it comes to me, that is exactly why I love Shakespeare. I not only love his works because of the complexity of his plots and the difference in the English, but also the deeper meanings behind his stories. They cause me to think deeply, pay attention, and contemplate their meanings.
Why do people think that William Shakespeare’s plots are complex? Well, in many of his plays there are multiple story lines going on at once. Take Much Ado About Nothing, for example. One side of the story is about the characters Don John and Borachio trying to deceive Claudio into believing that his fiance is cheating on him. The other part of the story is about the other characters trying to make Beatrice and Benedick, two people who like to use their wit against each other, fall in love. If you don’t pay attention to the different stories inside of Shakespeare’s plays, it can become confusing and hard to understand. When something becomes confusing and hard to understand, it’s easy to give up on it and not try to comprehend it.
It is possible that many people don’t like Shakespeare because his works are written in an older English. In this way, it makes his plays even harder to understand along with his complex plots. Words that we understand today were spoken differently back in Shakespeare’s time. For example, ‘you’ was ‘thou’, and ‘have’ was ‘hath’. When it comes to sentence structure, some words were placed in different spots from where we have them now. With a sentence such as, ‘The girl is now seventeen’, Shakespeare would probably have written it as, ‘Now is the girl seventeen’. Many, many years have passed since Shakespeare, and we have grown accustomed to the shift in the structure and form of our English language. Because of this, reading something that is even slightly different from what we normally read can be challenging. We have to switch our mind around in order to understand it, and that’s not easy to do.
Despite the fact that Shakespeare’s works are confusing when it comes to his plots and the use of his older English, I would encourage you – if you don’t like Shakespeare for these reasons – to try reading them again. His works are so rich with life lessons. Hamlet displays the harms of procrastination. Macbeth shows us that power corrupts, and that we don’t have control over our lives. Julius Caesar teaches us the consequences of being arrogant. Every single one of his plays has something from which we can benefit. Yes, the plots are complex. Yes, the wording and sentence structure is different. With that being said, I encourage you to overcome the challenges of reading and understanding Shakespeare. I am confident that once you bring yourself to understand his words, you’ll love it, and it will benefit you in the long run.
I can’t wait to write to you guys again. So long for now!
-S. E. Bussard