Guest blog post: Jessica Thompson is a freelance copywriter who in her free time likes not only to describe her impression as to the books read but also to visit museums, go hiking and play tennis with friends.
Despite the fact it’s been four centuries since William Shakespeare’s death, today, there exists countless resources written around the great bard’s work. In fact, there are many companies allowing you to buy essays online on detailing Shakespeare’s works. However, writing is debates, editorials, and essay papers arguing the importance of the literary texts have increased.
Many are seeking to know why is Shakespeare important and why schools still force the kinds of literature into their curricula.
At first impression, it would seem inappropriate to discard from the curricula a literary legacy as powerful, endearing, and transcendent as Shakespeare’s. But in a way, that’s what Dana Dusbiber, a veteran high school teacher in Sacramento, California, where most of the students come from minority and low-income families, thinks of in her strict teaching environment.
For Dusbiber, according to the Washington Post, Shakespeare is simply not relevant. Dusbiber confesses she’s no fan of the great author and wonders why an Englishman who died in 1616 is the only way to teach her students about the human condition and that they are still forced on students.
She believes that for today’s young people who live in a complex world of great racial and cultural diversity, it is better to teach them the reality of that world and its inhabitants through, for example, African, Latin American or Southeast Asian oral traditions or translations of early works of art. She prefers to get away from the Eurocentrism implicit in Shakespearean literature and to teach her students, who are Latino, African-American and Asian, with literature from their roots.
Whilst her approach has interesting aspects, there are those who disagree – and not because they are defenders of academic conservatism. In an article in the New Republic, Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig disagrees that Shakespeare should not be taught, as it would imply discarding ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Othello’ or ‘Hamlet’ from the classroom. She agrees that the world portrayed in Shakespeare’s works is different from the current one, but adds that this is precisely why it is valuable. It thus allows us to understand the past, the way humanity has passed along centuries and the things that subsist as values and universal human refrains.
Why is Shakespeare important?
Today, it’s common that many lovers of literature (especially the most modern ones) pass by, or are reluctant to buy Shakespearean literature, either because they despise the theatrical structure of the writings or because they consider it something of yesterday.
However, it’s true that Shakespeare is impossible for literary students not to read, and as such we should consider the many positives of reading his works. In this article, we look into why Shakespeare is still forced onto literary students of today and why his works can be useful to them.
1. Shakespeare was a genius of language
Needless to say, the dialogues that the Bard committed to paper were richly detailed and sometimes confusing. This is because Shakespeare was a genius of language, and this is one of the benefits modern Shakespeare readers can enjoy from his texts.
The contributions that this man gave to the English language are summarized in about new 1,700 words he created. He also created hundreds of expressions that enriched the English lexicon. Among them, we can highlight: Amazement, Bloody, Lonely, Skim-milk, Swagger, Unaware, Uncomfortable, Undress, Unearthly, Unreal, Suspicious, and a lot more.
2. Shakespeare is one of the best comic and tragedy writers ever!
If Shakespeare is recognized for one thing above all others, it may well be that many of his plays have such tragic endings – Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Othello. Tragedy predominates his literature!
However, despite his tragic storyline abilities, Shakespeare was well able to also create funny, witty, and even romantic stories. It’s curious how he managed to show his more “trolling” side with eloquent dialogues that, although poetic, concealed an offense for the recipient of the lines. For example:
- “You have such a February face, So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness” – Much Ado About Nothing
- “You are no longer from head to foot than from hip to hip. She is spherical, like a globe. I could find out countries in her” – The Comedy of Errors
Summarily, Shakespeare could well make you laugh or cry with his works.
3. Shakespeare is a great source of inspiration
To answer the question ‘why is Shakespeare important’, we should highlight the inspirational benefits his works offer modern students and professional creatives, be it in writing of essays, books, movies or poetry. Whilst it’s likely true that much of Shakespeare’s inspiration came from historical events, myths or legends that this playwright knew, it is noteworthy that the writer gave his own style to the actions and created many other plot twists that are those that today cause inspiration.
Shakespearean literature has well inspired creative projects. Hundreds of writers, directors and even singers give their own style to the Shakespearean classics. Among them, we can find: ‘House of Cards’, the Netflix series inspired by Macbeth.
With the understanding that there should always be room for other literary resources, it is clear that Shakespeare’s body of work, with all the weight of the moment and context in which it was written, is a monument to human creativity that, like others from different eras, and places, deserves to be known, taught, preserved and enjoyed.