Sunday, 18 December 2011

Misconceptions about Shakespeare plays

One of the disadvantages of Shakespeare's position as national bard is that many more people are familiar with his plays than have actually read them with anything approaching close attention or enjoyment. In particular the compulsory assessment of 14-year-olds in England on their knowledge and understanding of (selected snippets of) at least one Shakespeare play has tended to produce some convenient "answers" to plays, that are often never really closely examined.

As an avowed Shakespeare lover I wish that more people would fully engage with the complexity, subtlety and beauty of his writing, rather than treat his plays as problems that require a quick and convenient answer. The next few posts will therefore present some possibly contentious views about some of the common statements made about Shakespeare plays. If they provoke anyone to go back and reread the texts for themselves (if only to prove me wrong) then I will be happy.

Hamlet's weakness is his conscience- it is that which prevents his taking revenge
Romeo and Juliet is the greatest love story ever told
Lady Macbeth is the source of evil in the play- without her Macbeth would remain a noble, loyal soldier
Antony and Cleopatra is the (other) greatest love story ever told

No comments:

Post a Comment