probably isn’t a student who has finished their school career without having to
pick up one of William Shakespeare’s works, and there are many good reason why
this is so. I believe that Shakespeare’s plays are timeless classics that
should be included in every high school English curriculum, as these nearly
500-year-old stories have been preserved for centuries, translated into dozens
of different languages and are still relevant today.
plays give us a look at what our world used to be like and maybe also help us
understand today’s world a bit better.
We can learn a lot about the life of people in England
during the Elizabethan era, as Shakespeare liked to incorporate political
issues of his times into his writings. For example, in Act 1 Scene 2 Line 40 of
A Midsummer Night’s Dream “Nay, faith, let not me play a woman; I have a beard
coming”, Flute complains about having to play a women’s role in the play the
workmen are preparing. This sheds light on the issue that there used to be a
rule that prohibited women from acting, and how troublesome that was for
actors, as men had to dress up for the female characters.
Shakespeare also included preexisting characters from
Greek mythologies into his plays, such as the couples Theseus and Hippolyta and
Oberon and Titania. By giving them the same traits and characteristics as the
original figures, one can learn more about Greek mythology, and people could
also relate to the characters faster if they already know them.
Additionally, many topics he discussed are timeless
and still relevant to this day, such as love, loss, bravery and humor. As a
result, while the plays aren’t set in our time, we can still make the
connection from his time to ours.
These three points highlight how Shakespeare’s plays
can improve a student’s historical knowledge.
reading these plays, we can expand our vocabulary and improve our reading
Shakespeare used a very rich vocabulary. “Manager”,
“mimic” and “rival” out of A Midsummer Night’s Dream are just a few of 1700
words invented by Shakespeare, many of which we use on a day to day basis. He
transformed nouns into adjectives and connected words to make new ones so that
he could convey his message in a very descriptive manner.
On the other hand, he also used many Early Modern English
words and expressions which aren’t in use anymore today. Because of this, we
should learn to not look up every unfamiliar word, but try to interpret and
guess 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 and
think about the deeper meaning behind the metaphors and similes he used, such
as in Act 1 Scene 1 Line “To you your father should be as a god, … To whom
you are but as a form in wax”, where Theseus compares Hermia’s father to a god
and tells Hermia how easily her father can influence and determine her life as
if she were just a puppet.
Acquiring a bigger vocabulary and learning to interpret
texts are very good skills that can useful to a student, also later in life.
Shakespeare’s plays can help bring out the creative and artistic side of
Instead of being limited to just the written form of a
story, 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 the
possibility to explore different art forms, and in each art form the story is
seen from another perspective.
But it is not necessary to leave the classroom to
experience this diversity of art forms. With plays, students can benefit from
acting out scenes from the play themselves. This also helps with learning how
to interpret texts, as you need to decide what tone of voice and which gestures
the characters should use, and this can make a big difference in how the story
To make his stories more appealing to a wider
audience, Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted to modern day settings. We as
students should be encouraged to renew these adaptations through time to
preserve Shakespeare’s writing.
Adding diversity to the classroom in form of acting
and watching movies and plays can help pupils stay motivated.
Even though most
students would not voluntarily read a Shakespeare play, the experience of doing
so is one not to be missed due to the rich language, the historical insight and
the creative benefits of exposure to different art forms. And as there are
around 40 plays written by William Shakespeare’s, there is something that suits
nearly every high school student’s reading level and interests.