Shakespeare Slays

William Shakespeare is a name that instills fear among high schoolers around the world. He’s known for the exuberant style with which he writes his exquisite plays. Despite the elegance that surrounds him, he is oftentimes regarded with contempt and vitriol. They complain about his old English and peerless vocabulary, saying “It’s too hard” or “It doesn’t make sense.” This viewpoint ignores the fact that one is usually provided with a modern translation on the left side of the page. 

The one thing that always astounds me about Shakespeare is the effect he has on modern pop culture. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who is not acquainted with his quintessential romance, Romeo and Juliet, or someone unfamiliar with Hamlet’s iconic quote “To be or not to be”. Whether or not you have read one of his plays, it is more likely than not that you are in some kind of way familiar with at least a fraction of his work. 

Shakespeare has also pioneered many tropes, such as the forbidden love as seen in Romeo and Juliet. Even today, this theme is evident in countless pieces of modern media. Think: West Side Story, Gnomeo and Juliet, and beyond. And if you haven’t already seen these direct adaptations of Romeo and Juliet, you’ve probably seen a show or movie loosely based on the star-crossed lovers trope popularized by Romeo and Juliet.

Beyond the star-crossed lovers trope, Shakespeare also brought to the forefront the art of the soliloquy as seen most popularly in The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. One of the best parts of any Shakespearean play be it a tragedy or a comedy is the climax. In The Merchant of Venice, we see the anti-semitic merchant/protagonist Antonio come face to face with Shylock and his rage, and in Hamlet we see him take out his built-up rage and frustration on the man behind the curtain who he believes to be his uncle/step-father Claudius. 

Another interesting thing about Shakespeare is the uniqueness of all his plays, despite writing 30+ plays no one treads the exact same ground as another. Though he uses a wide range of settings and genres, he has a style that is distinctly Shakespeare. Whether you’re reading about the ambitions of the emperor of Rome, Julius Caesar, or witnessing the chaos caused by the two sets of twins in The Comedy of Errors, there’s something for everyone; you just have to be willing to get a headache to experience it. 

Shakespeare has also inspired many songs by a little-known songbird: Jason Kelce’s brother’s girlfriend. Ever heard the song “Love Story”, bozo?! It’s literally Romeo and Juliet. But I bet you knew that already. Did you know that the song “Willow” is a reference to Shakespeare? I bet you didn’t. I can’t tell you why it is because I’m not willing to pay for a subscription to the, but I’m sure it’s a great reference. 

Man, I love Shakespeare. I’ll be reading his plays tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…

2 thoughts on “Shakespeare Slays

  1. Nice article, Owen! I agree. The more Shakespeare you read, the more references you’ll notice in modern culture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *