“To be or not to be: that is the question” – HAMLET, Act III Scene I
Sorry Hamlet, you’re wrong! That is not the question. It’s this: to read Shakespeare or not to read Shakespeare?
Studying the IB (with English being a compulsory subject), it means that there is quite an eclectic mix of people in my english class: those that love, hate, are bored or confused by English literature. Similarly, there are those that also love, hate, are bored or confused by Shakespeare. I am in the first category for both (incase you can’t tell from my previous blogs), but many in my class don’t like Shakespeare. In fact, my teacher often proudly announces that she prefers Christopher Marlowe.
I haven’t read any of Marlowe’s work, but I do know about a few pieces – I watched the live TV broadcast of The Jew of Malta at the Globe, and I have seen a modern interpretation of Dr Faustus. What I do know though is that he was writing at the same time as Shakespeare (many say he was a great influence on Shakespeare), he was a very good playwright, and he suffered an untimely and mysterious death. With this in mind, I don’t really understand how someone can like one without liking the other?
Nevertheless, I do know is that Shakespeare’s writing shines – it is just beautiful. His use of rhythm, poetic language, comedic scenes, innuendos, word-play – gah! Then, of course, there is his stage-craft: disguise, deception and plays within plays all feature greatly in his plays. What I love most is his stage directions, particularly how rare they are. It means, as an actor, you have to look deeper into the dialogue to understand.
I know that I will continue to read, and see, even more of Shakespeare than I already have. So, to answer my question: we should definitely read Shakespeare. Always.
I didn’t expect this post to be this long, but I have quite a few strong opinions on this subject and just had to share them!