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Sir William Shakespeare.

Because he should be a sir, in my opinion at least.

I hope this counts as it is literature, just not books - more plays.

Anyway, I was just wondering what everyone thinks about the works of Shakespeare?

Traditionally, here in the UK at least, theres this kind of "blah" feeling about Shakespeare, and a lot of anger at his works being compulsory in the School curiculum.

Does anyone think hes overrated? Or a genius, but out of our times?

Just thought I'd open up for debate :]

In my opinion, he was the greatest writer of all time. He invented the sit com, he created compelling images of love and jealousy, and he made the audience question life and death, in a time when death was just around the corner. The guy was a genius.

Anyone know Shakespeare invented the word excellent?



( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 13th, 2008 08:22 am (UTC)
I have only really read Hamlet, which i read in my final year of high school, & for school. My class complained mightily-- about Hamlet being whiny, & why was he taking forever to carry out his plan? Overlooking the fact that he had definite reasons to be complaining & that was biding his time, if anything.

While they complained, a friend & i ended up getting a mild Hamlet obsession. By mild i mean that while i was supposed to be painting her in a stairwell we ended up sitting there talking about it while i painted the stairwell.
Sep. 13th, 2008 10:38 am (UTC)
They should be seen rather than read, the first time. They're *plays* and a lot of the things that don't make as much sense when you read them becuase the language has evolved so much in the intervening 400 years make perfect sense when they're said by actors who are totally immersed in the roles.

I think he's a genius and that the stories transcend time. Human nature hasn't changed, and that's what his plays are generally about. I love them, mostly (although A Winter's Tale? What the hell was he thinking?!).

Now I want to go to the theatre again :D

He invented (or, more accurately, is commonly counted as the first person to write down) a lot of words.
Sep. 13th, 2008 12:33 pm (UTC)
Yes. I'm sure Shakespeare never intended people to sit down and read his plays...He wanted you to go see them! Theater is an event, an experience.

I say, read the play, and then go see it. That way, you'll be able to laugh at all the jokes!
Sep. 13th, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC)
Acting in them can also work -- the student putting on the plays even without audience.
Sep. 13th, 2008 12:55 pm (UTC)
Macbeth is one of my favourite plays of all time.

I think it's a shame that language has evolved to a point where it is almost impossible to work out why his comedies are so funny - there are apparently lots of puns in there, but without knowing it, you can't see them.

Romeo and Juliet is touted a lot as a romance, but I find the friendship/love between Romeo and Mercutio far more moving. Romeo and Juliet are immature teenagers, and Romeo is 'in love' with another women at the start of the play. He's in love with the idea of being in love and she wants an escape from her arranged marriage to a much older man. If they'd just been allowed to have a relationship, it wouldn't have lasted.

All in all I prefer the tragedies, then the comedies, then the romances, then the histories.

He's certainly worth studying and watching.
Sep. 13th, 2008 01:27 pm (UTC)
..off topic but I have to give you many kudos for your icon. I simply love it!
Sep. 13th, 2008 12:56 pm (UTC)
Stand Up for Shakespeare
I consider myself to be a Shakespeare fanatic. His works were my unofficial concentration in my undergrad. I had a chance to visit Stratford in the UK this summer and thought this campaign run by the RSC was something I could really get behind if I were a UK citizen.

Sep. 14th, 2008 11:56 am (UTC)
Re: Stand Up for Shakespeare
A slight tangent here, but RSC is nothing short of BRILLIANT. :D
Sep. 13th, 2008 01:15 pm (UTC)
I think he's extremely important and everyone should be exposed to his work. That being said, in high school, I rallied for cutting down the amount of Shakespeare because the curriculum in school required that English classes studied one Shakespeare play every year grades 9 through 12. Because Shakespeare's plays were the only ones we were exposed to, I felt that we were missing out on other playwrights.

Of course, being the stubborn little thing that I am, I simply went to the library and did my own impromptu study.
Sep. 13th, 2008 01:36 pm (UTC)
I'm no Shakespeare expert, and I've never studied him and his plays on their own merit. But that being said, out of what I've been exposed to..."Romeo and Juliet", "Hamlet", "King Lear", "Julius Caeser", and the video of "Othello"...the only one I truly enjoyed was "Julius Caesar" (even though the end felt a little rushed. R&J and Othello have holes big enough to drive a boat through, and "Hamlet" and "King Lear" didn't hold my interest. It was fun to act out "King Lear" in class, though.

Is Shakespeare a literary genius? Yes. Is he my style? No.

Though I do love me summa his sonnets.
Sep. 13th, 2008 03:15 pm (UTC)
Back to the original post - you might be interested to know that Shakespeare did actually spend years campaigning to have his father granted a coat-of-arms, which he subsequently inherited. So it's not the title 'sir' exactly, but it's the next best thing!

Everyone should be exposed to Shakespeare at least once in their education. Regardless of whether he should've become the definitive author of the English language, by now, he is. Everything that has been written in English since his life draws in some way on his works, and everyone needs to read at least one play - probably Hamlet - just to get an idea of how crucial he is to our culture - whether you like him or not.

That said, I personally adore Shakespeare. I could talk about Shakespeare for hours.My favorites are Much Ado, Hamlet, the Henry IV cycle, and Richard III. The histories are usually neglected in schools in favor of the great tragedies or the well-known comedies, but they're some of his most powerful plays - they're absolutely epic, and they have some of the most compelling, stirring war speeches paired with the most beautiful romantic scenes imaginable (Henry & Katherine from Henry V).

As others have already mentioned, the best way to get the feel for him is to see a really good production, but I think you can still appreciate his works by reading them only - approach them as some of the finest poems in our language. Yes, he can be difficult to understand at first, but the more you read, the easier it is to understand him, and the more you learn to appreciate the intricacy and brilliance of the way he plays with words.
Sep. 13th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
I think Shakespeare is awesome. His plays are still relevant. They are definitely easier to enjoy when they are seen rather than read, but they can be good to read too. Especially since so many movie versions leave bits out. I like the updates of some of them. Like Titus Andronicus. Very gory, but well performed in the version I saw. Anthony Hopkins was in it. I love Romeo and Juliet, though parts of it irritate me and I want to yell at them. I hate that in the movie versions they are always cutting Juliet's lines. It's usually her best ones too.

So, yeah, Shakespeare was a genius.
Sep. 13th, 2008 04:57 pm (UTC)
If I could go back in time, I'd do what Edmund Blackadder did: I'd punch Shakespeare in the face. What a clot!
Sep. 13th, 2008 05:35 pm (UTC)
My husband calls me a heathen because I don't like Shakespeare (even through I've read more than he has).

I do admit that he was a genius I just don't really like his plays.
Sep. 13th, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC)
I think he's brilliant, and that Hamlet is truly an amazing read if you know how to break down his works.
Sep. 13th, 2008 06:18 pm (UTC)
I've never been a huge Shakespeare fan as the first piece of his work I was forced to study was Hamlet and my teacher was awful and it was a total drag.
Since then, however, I have studied him under an amazing tutor who really opened me up to the many ways you can look at Shakespeare.
I hold it as a personal failure that I have yet to see any of his plays performed, but better appreciate reading them now thanks to what I've learned.
I like to think of Shakespeare as a total chancer, who enjoyed annoying people, had a wicked sense of humor, was a bit of a tart, but above all was a born entertainer. ^_^
Sep. 13th, 2008 06:22 pm (UTC)
I love Shakespeare... Though I never thought he was the greatest writer of all time, I just wholeheartedly enjoy what he writes... He is very interesting, and his plays are all extremely varied... and without him we wouldn't have a good deal of the modern english language...
Sep. 13th, 2008 07:02 pm (UTC)
I think Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and several others are just overdone in schools- I first saw Much Ado about Nothing as a movie version on TV, and never even knew it existed until then- but if I had I would have loved it! Sure, Romeo and Juliet influenced sooo many retellings and it is a classic story and fantastic...but when people think Shakespeare, thats what they thinks of, those few plays that are complusory and overemphasized. I think people need to realize that Shakespeare did more than that. Heck, he even did sonnets- I've a whole book full of them!

I think his reading is great, but I think we have to go beyond the compulsory reads to the one who, I believe, are more interesting.

Needless to say, I'd call Much Ado my favorite, and I can't pass up a chance to watch this play no matter what!
Sep. 14th, 2008 05:18 pm (UTC)
Well, I don't like the fact that he's compulsory, but at the same time I really do respect his work...the thing is, while he was a very great writer, maybe even the greatest, he wasn't the only playwright ever, which is the way it tends to seem the curriculum people see him.

I think people could appreciate Shakespeare a whole lot more if he wasn't placed on such a pedastal. It doesn't feel acceptable to criticise him, so people either feel bad for not liking his work, or say they hate him just as a reaction to having him always shoved down their throats by the education system. And when people say they think of him as the greatest writer of all time, it sometimes comes across as if they're parroting the standard view to sound acceptable...

I think he could be appreciated more genuinely if we gave more space to his contemporaries and his predecessors and the people who followed him - as it is, Shakespeare is often all people know of pre-19th/20th century drama, which makes it hard to actually appreciate him - it's not fair to call someone "the best" if you don't know what you're calling him better than. Like, the plagiarism thing - we've heard about that in class, but no-one's actually read/seen any of the other guy's work, so how are we meant to compare it?
I love Shakespeare - especially his tragedies - but I do wish that he wasn't the only option to study for that period. If we could study someone else one year, it would actually put Shakespeare in some sort of context, even besides the fact that other playwrights deserve some appreciation too. Shakespeare is a literary giant, but he's not the whole of western literature, which is how it sometimes seems he's seen as. But the UK English Literature curriculum is way overdue for an overhaul right across the board, and it's not Shakespeare's fault the people who set the curriculum are hella narrow-minded.

Especially since he drew on a lot of earlier work to write his plays - I'd love to study some of his source material some time, or other people's interpretations of the same stories (for example, I've read both Chaucer and Shakespeare's versions of Troilus and Cressida, but no other different versions of any of the stories that aren't retellings of Shakespeare)
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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