Ahhh, Shakespeare…
Over the course of the semester, I have to say I learned much about this the father of much modern literature. And it’s interesting, because I didn’t learn about what I thought the class would focus on (not that this is a bad thing). In all honesty, I enrolled to fill major requirements and I’m very pleased I did. It ended up being critical to how I think about the structure of writing.

Being someone who enjoys dramatic writing much more than standard prose, Shakespeare’s kind of like my equivalent to the Beatles: you don’t have to love them, but you have to acknowledge their importance and critical role they played in the development. Shakespeare tends to confuse my in a “line-for-line” kind of author (that is, his dialogue), but kills it in the overall picture. Having said this, it’s interesting to draw out some of the similarities that Shakespeare tends to favor. For instance: names.

Will kind of liked to use the same idea when naming characters. Make ALL of the names confusingly similar and somehow speak about the character and their traits. For instance, Bottom. And Cassius. I feel as though there’s been a Cassius in all the plays, and while this isn’t actually true, Shakespeare really likes using similar names. A quick skim through shows that while they’re all “technically” different, they’re still pretty similar.

Shakespeare was a big fan of format. He found what worked and stuck with it. Each of his plays follow a similar outline. They started with some big event that would get blown out of proportion and then developed from there. The Tempest, Midsummer’s Night Dream, Othello, the all start with a pretty similar idea and then characters would deepen the plot through their actions. But what’s amazing is his ability to take something so much the same and make it new and fresh everytime. No one ever thinks “Gee, Twelfth Night’s just way too much like MacBeth.” No, Shakespeare manages to twist the reader far enough into the plot that they’ll overlook the similarities and enjoy it.

Finally, the deaths. This is where I really think Shakespeare could have improved. He needs to find new ways to kill people. He was creative, but seriously, poison’s only gonna be cool twice. Stabbing, knifing, sword fights, all great and good, but not far out of the box. He needed to find a different more ingenious way to exterminate characters. The possibilities are endless. Explore them.

But Shakespeare was a very impressive author, through and through. He’s respectable even if you don’t like him. The man just had a knack for creating an unusual twist of tales and found a fool-proof way to entertain an audience. And his plays exemplify this ability. His importance to both theater and literature are overwhelming and its tough to not appreciate this.


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