To Be or Not To Be: Is Shakespeare Very Hard?September 01, 2017
Studying William Shakespeare's plays is a rite of passage for students, and this experience won't be memorable (or stressful) without the dost's and thou's. The native of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire has 38 plays to his credit, which were adapted countless times. If you've seen a stage production of a Shakespeare play, then you might have wondered if the actors really knew what they were saying. Nicholas Hytner, who adapted “The Madness of King George” to the big screen, had been directing the Shakespeare's play for years. He admitted that he would still struggle to understand the words.
Hollywood studios found a way to simplify his seemingly indecipherable scrawls: Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, and boy and girl against the world. It would be a time-and-tested formula for a comedy, which never failed to captivate moviegoers. (Gil Junger's “10 Things I Hate About You” is a modernization of “The Taming of the Shrew”.) On the other hand, Shakespeare would have intended to make his language more challenging to readers. For instance, Macbeth's moral dilemma and the consequences that he must live (after he committed an ignoble deed) could have affected his mindset and behavior. This would provide a good excuse for the (difficult) language. It wouldn't matter to the younger generation, as “Games of Thrones” might pass as a modern update of “Macbeth”.
If you're a BA English student, then you must study Shakespeare in great depth. It can be rewarding, as it will enlighten you about the history of the English language. Furthermore, this post can provide hints on how to write your assignment (on a particular Shakespeare play). You can do better by thinking of an essay topic. Make it three.
3 Essay Topics on Shakespeare to Write About
Is it better to translate Shakespeare's plays into modern English?The organizers of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival made a bold decision two years ago. They hired 36 playwrights to translate all of Shakespeare's plays into modern English. It set a precedent. (University of Utah was one of those institutions that thought it was a sensible thing to do.) Some find it a disturbing phenomenon, as the Bard's message could get lost in the translation. Then again, some students might take longer to comprehend a play. This is a tough call, as you must choose between convenience and the challenging task of higher learning. Time is not on your side, but you can make sacrifice if you're thinking of an outstanding paper. Think it over (and then make a stand).
Is the Elizabethan vocabulary get in the way of appreciating the Bard's works?John Madden's “Shakespeare in Love” showed Queen Elizabeth I presiding over a vigorous culture that transformed London into the cultural center of the modern world. (It would define as most parts of Western Europe.) The rediscovery of Renaissance influenced the likes of Thomas Wyatt, whose poems highlighted notable achievements in literature. In other words, Queen Elizabeth's reign was one of the splendid ages of English literature. This wouldn't make your work cut out, as you not only need a dictionary to understand Elizabethan vocabulary. It's not hard to make a guess, though. Are you drawn to the violent passion of some characters? If you don't, then you aren't interested in the play at all. Are you intrigued by the complexity of the stories? If you do, then literature may be your true calling. Keep in mind that comprehension doesn't refer to a modern equivalent of an archaic statement. It's rather the (universal) meaning.
Does the adaptation enhance or detract your appreciation?Shakespeare's plays have a single message, which “Throne of Blood” would suggest to audience. It was Akira Kurosawa's adaptation of “Macbeth”, as the medieval samurai setting seemed identical to the inhospitable highlands of Scotland. It won't work for all classics, though. (“Clueless” was “Emma” set in Beverly Hills. The irony was lost in the trendy clothes and flashy accessories. It didn't help that the video of “Fancy” was inspired by Amy Heckerling's comedy.) The Bard didn't have a crystal ball, not even a lucid moment after spending some time in the bar. Love is a universal theme, no doubt about it. The same thing could be said of sibling rivalry. Darker themes like patricide might push buttons depending on the reader's background. If it enhances your appreciation, then discuss what aspect of the Bard's play that could cross boundaries. It might not take you longer than you think.
Take note of the following
Claims about the difficulty of understanding Shakespeare's plays go way back to the Bard's lifetime. Ben Jonson, his greatest rival, complained about the bombastic speeches of “Macbeth”. Christopher Marlowe, whom some believed to be THE writer behind the plays, could provide an interesting study. (Marlowe's works may turn out to be incomprehensible.) And let's take note of Madden's reference to the Anti-Stratfordian group. (If you're still in the dark, then these individuals believe that the author of the plays was a playwright from Stratford-upon-Avon. It won't be the Bard, though.) This should spice up your paper (if you can find an angle on this one).
In this digital age, translating Shakespeare's plays into modern English could be a waste of time and money. Aside from countless adaptations, students might be tempted to go online for help. (Cliff Notes would be a click away.) It won't make you a purist (if you agree with it), but there must be a deeper reason behind it. Appeal won't be an issue, as many big-screen adaptations cater to younger viewers. How about a long, forgotten period? Do a research on it.
You can invite your course mates for a group study, where you learn about ways of coping with the difficult vocabulary. It should provide another insight to your paper, but make sure you don't have the exact sentiment.
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