Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Speak Up, Shakespeare Haters

For the most part when I talk about Shakespeare, I'm preaching to the choir. Odds are that the people who are coming by this blog are already fans of Shakespeare and all we can ever really hope for is an exchange of ideas / interpretations about the plays.

What I'm curious about, though, is the Shakespeare "haters". Seems like it's really a love/hate thing with the man. I don't find many people that just have no opinion. I'm curious why people don't like him, because I want to see if I can change that. Was it too hard to learn the plays in school? Did you start too early and not have the life experience? Was it all about the language? Couldn't connect with the characters?

I'm honestly curious. I'm hoping somebody drops in and sheds some light. I think you're missing out.

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5 comments:

Anonymous said...

hi, i dont know if i'm really a shakespeare hater but today in class we were discussing 'titus andronicus' and the teacher asked me why i didnt like it and i said 'because its shakespeare' which pretty much sums up my feeling towards him, though i'll tell you why i dont like the texts:
-i find it hard to relate to (i.e. romeo and juliet, its immposible to imagine 2 fifteen yr olds going of and getting married)
-cant stand the language, to me once i've gone and looked up the words, put them in context and thought about the possible puns, the overall meaning is lost.
-Sometimes i find it boring, the plot is so simple and it seems to drag on, probably because of the language.

And thats about all the reasons i can come up with. Though i have to admit he was increadibly talented and when i sit down and analyses the versus they are pure genius.

-alana.

Duane said...

Hi Alana, thanks for writing! I guess if you told your teacher "I don't like it because it's Shakespeare", then you're sure not a Shakespeare lover :).

You're reading Titus Andronicus? Really? Depending on who you ask, that play is either complete trash (Shakespeare's equivalent of something like one of the "Saw" horror/gore movies), or this big political statement that may be deep but is surely far from entertaining. It is certainly not the best example of Shakespeare's genius, given the other plays you might have chosen from.

If you're actually done with Titus I'm not sure how you can say the plot is so simple? That one has actual cannibalism in it! That's not something you see every day, even by today's horror movie standards.

As for not relating to Romeo and Juliet, let me offer a suggestion. They got married so they could sleep together (it was pretty important back then not to do it the other way around). Can you imagine two 15 year olds who are so horny for each other that they find ways to sleep together no matter how many people tell them it's a bad idea? And then they convince themselves that they're in true love and the world will come to an end if they can't be together? Sometimes you have to step back a little bit from the literal interpretation of the words and plot and think about what the people in the story have in common with real people today.

The language is difficult, no two ways around that. The best I can say is that the more you read, the more familiar you'll get and you won't have to stop to look things up so much. You shouldn't feel obligated to understand every word of every sentence. If you've got an idea about what's being said, then good, enough, continue. If you were seeing the play as compared to reading it, you would not be hanging on every last word that someone says, you'd miss half of them - but you'd get the overall idea.


Hope that helped!

Lila said...

i'm not so much of a Shake Sphere fan for it is, what i feel an average story writer, who was in luck at the right time and place to become very famous at his time. his stories are like any other. macbeth for example are described a thrilling story but in my oppnion, although it goes against toay's stereotypes, it's a very plain story. another example, romeo and juliet, plain love and miscommunication. at times, i also feel that he makes a story too complicated than it already is. too many characters, situations at once. although, i feel there's a light language barrier for us to read his words, he is almost like one of thoes soap operas you see on tv. plain ol' drama.

Ren du Braque said...

I google'd shakespeare haters and found your post three years after it was written. Are you still curious about the haters?

I disagree with the need to marry as need for sex analogy. Marriage was simply different then. When you read the notes and discover that you could get married just by swearing an oath while clasping of hands, it made me think how much things have changed. I also disagree with the marriage as the only method to sleep together. I'd like to imagine that the promise meant something, i.e. a holy covenant. But even that is minor compared to the other major themes in the play. It is not about "love" per se. It is about the devouring passions between the Montagues and Capulets--love AND hate. The two mirror each other constantly in the play and Shakespeare always gives us slight variations on this theme: Mercutio and Tybalt. It's about obvious and historical differences and unexpected similarities and affinities.

Lila's comment about being at the right place at the right time is quintessential Shakespeare hatred, which worships anything considered "new and innovative", and which shares a kinship with our celebrity obsessed culture. One is either a fan of Shakespeare or a fan of soap operas. Same thing apparently. Nice equivocation. Another trend is that in today's world everything is superficial. Macbeth is a simple story which does not follow the current stereotype. In fact, she leaves the impression that all entertainment, all life is lived according to stereotypes. This is truly unfortunate, because Shakespeare is at his best when he coaxes us out of these stifling attitudes. On the other hand, Lila is right on target when she says Shakespeare is apparently simple. That's what truly wonderful about Shakespeare. Everything is a topical description, but there's not one word out of place. Once you see the surface the depths of the world come into view. It's amazing.

Titus has some remarkable resonances in our world today: barbarity, horror, and the dehumanizing power of brutality. It also sheds light on the fine line between what is honor, sacrifice and shame and waste; an enemy and loyal friend.

I have read almost every play (one day I'll have to read "The Two Noble Kinsman") and I have never been disappointed with Shakespeare. Never.

I believe I've come across your site before in random searches about Shakespeare. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

He just tries to increase the size of novel through rubbish material with most inappropriate words does not coincide with nowadays words.
relate everything to anything which he finds correct