Thereprobably isn’t a student who has finished their school career without having topick up one of William Shakespeare’s works, and there are many good reason whythis is so.
I believe that Shakespeare’s plays are timeless classics thatshould be included in every high school English curriculum, as these nearly500-year-old stories have been preserved for centuries, translated into dozensof different languages and are still relevant today. Firstly, Shakespeare’splays give us a look at what our world used to be like and maybe also help usunderstand today’s world a bit better. We can learn a lot about the life of people in Englandduring the Elizabethan era, as Shakespeare liked to incorporate politicalissues of his times into his writings. For example, in Act 1 Scene 2 Line 40 ofA Midsummer Night’s Dream “Nay, faith, let not me play a woman; I have a beardcoming”, Flute complains about having to play a women’s role in the play theworkmen are preparing. This sheds light on the issue that there used to be arule that prohibited women from acting, and how troublesome that was foractors, as men had to dress up for the female characters.Shakespeare also included preexisting characters fromGreek mythologies into his plays, such as the couples Theseus and Hippolyta andOberon and Titania. By giving them the same traits and characteristics as theoriginal figures, one can learn more about Greek mythology, and people couldalso relate to the characters faster if they already know them.
Additionally, many topics he discussed are timelessand still relevant to this day, such as love, loss, bravery and humor. As aresult, while the plays aren’t set in our time, we can still make theconnection from his time to ours.These three points highlight how Shakespeare’s playscan improve a student’s historical knowledge. Furthermore, throughreading these plays, we can expand our vocabulary and improve our readingabilities.Shakespeare used a very rich vocabulary. “Manager”,”mimic” and “rival” out of A Midsummer Night’s Dream are just a few of 1700words invented by Shakespeare, many of which we use on a day to day basis.
Hetransformed nouns into adjectives and connected words to make new ones so thathe could convey his message in a very descriptive manner.On the other hand, he also used many Early Modern Englishwords and expressions which aren’t in use anymore today. Because of this, weshould learn to not look up every unfamiliar word, but try to interpret andguess the meaning of some words from the context of the play.Shakespeare’s writing style isn’t always straightforward,and the meaning isn’t always clear at first. We must think outside the box andthink about the deeper meaning behind the metaphors and similes he used, suchas in Act 1 Scene 1 Line “To you your father should be as a god, … To whomyou are but as a form in wax”, where Theseus compares Hermia’s father to a godand tells Hermia how easily her father can influence and determine her life asif she were just a puppet.Acquiring a bigger vocabulary and learning to interprettexts are very good skills that can useful to a student, also later in life. Lastly,Shakespeare’s plays can help bring out the creative and artistic side ofstudents.
Instead of being limited to just the written form of astory, many of Shakespeare’s most famous works can also be enjoyed as a movie,ballet, and most importantly as a play in the theatre. This gives us pupils thepossibility to explore different art forms, and in each art form the story isseen from another perspective.But it is not necessary to leave the classroom toexperience this diversity of art forms. With plays, students can benefit fromacting out scenes from the play themselves. This also helps with learning howto interpret texts, as you need to decide what tone of voice and which gesturesthe characters should use, and this can make a big difference in how the storyis perceived.
To make his stories more appealing to a wideraudience, Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted to modern day settings. We asstudents should be encouraged to renew these adaptations through time topreserve Shakespeare’s writing.Adding diversity to the classroom in form of actingand watching movies and plays can help pupils stay motivated. Even though moststudents would not voluntarily read a Shakespeare play, the experience of doingso is one not to be missed due to the rich language, the historical insight andthe creative benefits of exposure to different art forms. And as there arearound 40 plays written by William Shakespeare’s, there is something that suitsnearly every high school student’s reading level and interests.