Now, I know that a lot of you guys are hardcore literature lovers, and thus would be fundamentally incapable of comprehending why and how people could ever dislike the works of William Shakespeare. I know; frankly, I am right there among you.
But recently, I read about a study that revealed that only a small percentage of teenagers like/enjoy/appreciate Shakespeare’s works. To me, this is sad and disappointing, but I have also discovered it to be a hard, distinct truth of reality. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that students are forced to study his works in school and thus the requirement of doing so makes it unfavorable; maybe it has something to do with laziness, and not having the capability or attention span to dissect his extravagant use of language; or maybe because of all the modern, contemporary ways of passing leisure time, reading to comprehend the works of the Bard is an activity viewed upon as trivial, inconsequential, and pointless.
I wholeheartedly believe this to be untrue. For one, Shakespeare is an unprecedented phenomenon; no one since has been able to harness the English language as brilliantly as he did. We all know that his plays are world-renowned, but the real question is: Why should we choose to read Hamlet when we can SparkNote the play in candid, easy-to-understand, modern-style English in only a few precious seconds?
Michael Mack, an Associate English Professor from the Catholic University of America once compared reading Shakespeare to listening to music. As a self-proclaimed professional music listener, I declare this statement to be surprisingly accurate. The first time we hear a song we notice things like beat, repetition, genre, and whether or not we’d be able to dance to it. It is not until we have listened to the song many times that we begin to recognize the singer/songwriter’s message and start to discover the lyrics’ true meaning.
If you have never tried to read anything written by Will Shakespeare, I encourage you to pick up Romeo and Juliet (a story most everyone pretty much already knows) and read it in its original, non-abridged version. See if you like it. I hope you do. If you don’t, then I digress. I remain the type of person who (re)reads Shakespeare on the weekends for fun.
For those of you who have tried and not been able to navigate the Shakespearean language (no one blames you, trust me) there are also versions of the plays called “Shakespeare Made Easy” which includes the original and a modernized version of the text, along with explanatory footnotes that can be very useful, especially if you are reading for school. These are great reading tools and I encourage you to utilize them.
My advice: Defy society. Read Shakespeare in public.
-Danielle K., 8th grade