5. Why do people still read Shakespeare today?

People study Shakespeare for many reasons:
  1. Illumination of the Human Experience: Shakespeare summarized human emotions better than any other author ever has. These emotions will always be present in society, and by reading Shakespeare, people will always be able to read about these emotions and reflect on them. Shakespeare illuminated the human experience in many ways. People found his works relatable because of the amount of emotion and relatable experiences he included. He included emotions everyone feels like; happiness, sadness, anger, love, friendship, vengeance, want, and many others. His characters were also easy to realate to, especially because of their flaws. Flaws like; selfishness, greed, lust, vengeance and violence only name a few. Shakespeares stories included easily refective situations as well. Some of the situations he created were good and others bad but all people could relate to them. Scenarios like marriage, death, violence, parties, meetings, goodbyes and countless others are all easy to relate to because if you haven't experienced them yourself them chances are that someone you know has or you read about it in the newspaper once. By making his pieces relatable to other people, Shakespeares plays are still appreciated today.
  2. Great Stories: Shakespeare was one of the best authors/playwrites of all time, and many people read Shakespeare because of it
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    William Shakespeare
    s entertainment value. Marchette Chute, an author that re-wrote many of Shakespeares pieces wrote:
    "William Shakespeare was the most remarkable storyteller that the world has ever known. Homer told of adventure and men at war, Sophocles and Tolstoy told of tragedies and of people in trouble. Terence and Mark Twain told cosmic stories, Dickens told melodramatic ones, Plutarch told histories and Hans Christian Andersen told fairy tales. But Shakespeare told every kind of story – comedy, tragedy, history, melodrama, adventure, love stories and fairy tales – and each of them so well that they have become immortal. In all the world of storytelling he has become the greatest name." (Stories from Shakespeare, 11) These kind of great stories drew in audiences of all ages. His talent for writing pieces that appealed to most audiences was remarkable. Shakespeare could write comedies, love stories, tragedies, histories, melodramas and adventures, and fairy tales so well that they are even used in modern society. Several movies, books, and plays are adaptations of Shakespearean plays. Movies like Rent, She's the Man (Twelfth Night), O (Orthello), Save the Last Dance, The Lion King and The Lion King II (Hamlet), West Side Story (Romeo and Juliet), Ten Things I Hate About You are just a few. Even some song lyrics and television shows are based off of Shakespeares plays. Obviously since these movies were based off of Shakespears works, then they were great stories that could realte to other peopls feelings and thoughts and experiences in life.
  3. Compelling Characters: Shakespeare's characters were some of the best in history because of their great complexity. For example, many actors like portraying these characters because they are very difficult parts to portray.Characters were also compelling because their thoughts, feelings, and emotions are relatable to the thoughts and feelings of other people. The characters are really the people who keep the story going. They cause all the events to happen and make the story interesting. Some characters are mysterious and leave you wondering what they are going to do next, others are dramatic or comdedic and keep the atmosphere onstage light. These traits that Shakespeare gave his characters help them to become more relatable and interesting to read about.
  4. Ability to Turn a Phrase: People use quotes that were created by Shakespeare. Although they may not realize it, they still use them. Shakespeare has contributed to many things in society, and by reading his works, we keep these things alive. Shakespeares pieces contributed things like sayings, education, theories, and entertainment to todays society. Sayings like "love at first sight" came from Romeo and Juliet because when Romeo first saw Juliet he uses the term to describe the way he instantly knew he loved her. Couples often use the term to describe how they met. Shakespeare is also a huge part of our education. We spend lots of time during our high school career studying Shakespeares many poems, sonnets, and plays to help us learn poetry and understand literature. He greatly influences our high school experience. Shakespearean theories and entertainment dominate some parts of our society nowadays too. People, especially actors and poetry enthusiasts and teachers often use quotes created by this famous man.

Find out about Quartos. Why have different versions of Shakespeare's plays existed over time?

  • Quarto 1
    Quarto 1
    Shakespeare's plays were originally printed in 1594 (Titus Andronicus) and took the form of a pamphlet. This was called a quarto because of how it was printed. About 21 of his plays were printed in quarto form before 1642. These quartos are important because none of his manuscripts are still in existence. The quartos are the only surviving original printings of Shakespeare. So they are the only things that have the original texts of Shakespeare and show what Shakespeare originally wrote. They are either preserved copies of working or fair drafts or versions remembered by actors who performed in his plays. Shakespeare's plays have changed over time for different reasons. One reason is because the person who revised Shakespeare's writing changed it because he liked a different part of the play and thought it would bring more audience. The other reason could be that the re-writing of it could have been muffled and some words could be translated wrong. Also, a different version could be more exciting to a certain era and a revision of the original play might make the audience more interested.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

How many plays did Shakespeare write? Name some of the most famous ones. What else did he write?

  • Shakespeare wrote many plays throughout his life. He wrote a total of 37 plays. Out of those 37 plays, 17 were comedies, 10 were historical plays, and 10 were tragedies. Many of his plays were made into movies that attributed the plays they were based on by following the plotline and keeping the same characters but changing the setting.
  • Some of Shakespeare's most famous plays are: A Midsummer Night's Dream (Comedy); Hamlet (Tragedy); Julius Caesar (Tragedy); Macbeth (Tragedy); Romeo and Juliet (Tragedy)
  • He also wrote 5 poems called: The Sonnets; A Lover's Complaint; The Rape of Lucrece; Venus and Adonis; and Funeral Elegy by W.S.

Where did Shakespeare get the idea for Romeo and Juliet? What books and films have been based on his Romeo and Juliet?

  • Shakespeare
    arthur_brooke_150_150x180.jpg
    Arthur Brooke
    got the idea of Romeo and Juliet by a poem written by Arthur Brooke around 1563 called “The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet." Many people didn't know about Arthur Brooke and this is who Shakespeare got many of his ideas from. Romeo and Juliet has been
    West Side Story
    West Side Story
    created over 2 centuries ago. Authors have been taking parts of other peoples work or poems making Shakespeare such a good writer for collecting all of this pieces of work or poem to make the famous Romeo and Juliet.
  • Romeo and Juliet has been made into movies, and there have been many different versions of them. Also, Westside Story was based on Romeo and Juliet.


What are some familiar allusions to Shakespeare's language?

  • Shakespeare's language can be found practically everywhere. Television and the radio use quotes from Shakespeare. Also, famous authors have used his quotes as titles for their books. For example, "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley. People use famous quotes like: "I 'll not budge an inch", "We have seen better days", "A dish fit for the gods", and "Greek to me" very frequently. Also, many people including politicians use quotes like "Fair Play", "Foregone Conclusion ", "One Fell Swoop", and "Into Thin Air ". "Into Thin Air" was also the name of a recent movie. Shakespeare's language is found everywhere and everyone uses it, even if they don't realize it.

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