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So I was ranting about Shakespeare the other day, and I realized that while I'm not a big fan of his plays, it's mainly because I can't understand them. :D

But even so, I just don't see how he's the greatest there ever was and think we should be exposed to more playwrights. The sonnets I've read by him are just easier to discuss and to enjoy. What do you think of old Willie? Like him? Hate him? Want to build another monument in his honor for CAS?

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I used to hate him, and a friend used to call him because of his intense dislike towards him. I didn't see any reason why his plays were such a success either. However I do like his plays post IB, and I think that Hamlet is a work of art, so is Macbeth. The ideas were pretty well developed for his time, and are still valid today. Greed and lust exist in the same way now as they did when he wrote his plays.

It's not that hard to understand!

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I tried to read Macbeth. I couldn't understand literally 40% of it. 2 out of 5 words!

I agree with what you said about the themes, and I'm just being a little close-minded because I can't really understand what he's saying, but I feel like there are so many plays I'll never read on my own that I could have been exposed to through school. Perhaps uni?

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Well :P I think I've said this before, but in my opinion Shakespeare was an excellent poet and an alright playwright. I'm still not sure why we have to study his plays and not his poetry, being honest.

I actually found Macbeth one of the easiest ones to understand (of those Shakespeare plays I have read, by no means have I read all of them!)- some of them are making such constant odd references to things that they're much more confusing, for me at least! His plays are supposedly the cornerstone of a lot of modern literature, with new and unusual ideas, such as a play within a play, or an audience to an audience to a play and so on. I also can't think of a suitably equivalent playwright to set him against. All things said, when you understand it, his writing is actually quite clever, and he must've written some of the most plays on the broadest themes of any other playwright living. Other playwrights have been nowhere near as successful or prolific (I mean we could all study somebody else famous, like Tennessee Williams for instance, but he writes about the same few themes the whole time and hasn't written anywhere near as many plays).

So, all in all I could care less for Shakespeare than I do now - but I think that unless we study him, there aren't too many people like him to act as a substitute. He did have a massive impact on the english language, and the chap is owed quite a lot in that respect. If I could have got CAS hours for building him a monument, I think I would. Then again if I could get CAS hours for building -anybody- a monument, I think I would have done it :D

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I think if you were to build anyone a monument you would probably had got CAS hours :P

I think the reason we just have to study Shakespeare is as Alice said, he did have quite an impact on the English language.

I find it odd that for IB, the Shakespeare plays studied usually just revolve around Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, and Romeo and Juliet. I hardly hear anyone study any of the others.

Seeing as my teacher was a drama-orientated, we had to pleasure of doing 2 Shakespeare, both tragedies, which IMO was one too many. Honestly one Shakespearean tragedy was about all I could handle. So I enjoyed Macbeth but didn't particularly care for Othello even if the movie version was slightly more interesting.

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What I'm grateful for is that my teacher explained the context with the kings and the Scottish thing and etc. Which I don't really remember anymore. Oops. But if I hadn't known, then I would have understood even less. All works should be studied in context. I'm not saying that they shouldn't. I just started thinking then that if I wanted to read this Macbeth on my own time, I wouldn't have had a clue. I haven't studied British history directly at all since grade 7 [so five years ago], and even then it wasn't exactly thorough.

I do have to concede that I didn't realize how many words he's invented, and the fact that he's the first of whatever makes him a huge figurehead. I still can't grasp why I haven't been asked to read any other play in school. Since grade 9, the English [literature] classes have a quota: one Shakespeare play a year. Many in grade 8 read A Midsummer Night's Dream, 9th: Romeo and Juliet. 10th: Caesar 11th: Macbeth. 12th: Merchant of Venice. But that's more of a state education thing. *Sigh.

Edit: typo

Edited by sweetnsimple786

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What I'm grateful for is that my teacher explained the context with the kings and the Scottish thing and etc. Which I don't really remember anymore. Oops. But if I hadn't known, then I would have understood even less. All works should be studied in context. I'm not saying that they shouldn't. I just started thinking then that if I wanted to read this Macbeth on my own time, I wouldn't have had a clue. I haven't studied British history directly at all since grade 7 [so five years ago], and even then it wasn't exactly thorough.

I do have to concede that I didn't realize how many words he's invented, and the fact that he's the first of whatever makes him a huge figurehead. I still can't grasp why I haven't been asked to read any other play in school. Since grade 9, the English [literature] classes have a quota: one Shakespeare play a year. Many in grade 8 read A Midsummer Night's Dream, 9th: Romeo and Juliet. 10th: Caesar 11th: Macbeth. 12th: Merchant of Venice. But that's more of a state education thing. *Sigh.

Edit: typo

We did Macbeth without context - I can't imagine it being hugely essential as it is a bit of an independent story. Provided you know what the position of a King and a General are, you're more or less covered. I mean, I have absolutely no clue of Scottish history in terms of clans and whatnot, and I don't think you need to. It's been ages since I read it, but it hadn't occurred to me as something you'd want background for - the same with all of Shakespeare's plays I guess. Provided you have some sort of language glossary, it's all accessible.

Aaand I think you can join most of the english-speaking world with that one :| We did the Merchant of Venice, Taming of the Shrew (we did this for IB, so maybe it's an exception :P), Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Twelfth Night. I actually found the IB mildly liberating in that we did finally get to do more than just Shakespeare, I have to agree with you there! Most of the other plays I'd studied previously I did in Drama/Classics rather than English lessons - we must've only studied two plays which weren't Shakespeare otherwise!

We also did a Shakespeare project and trips to the Globe theatre and Stratford-upon-Avon. Serious Shakespeare love :D

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The trips sound cool. No school, enough said. :D

For Macbeth, I was referring to the fact that Shakespeare was writing the play for the king at the time [i forgot which one :P] and so you were to keep in mind that Shakespeare was kinda sucking up to his patron. Also, the thing with the mirrors at the end represented the continuation of progeny, and the good guy [friend of Macbeth] who got killed [forgot again. But we only read this book 10 days before summer vacation.] was an ancestor of the king's, so his portrayal was in a positive light for that reason.

No Fear Shakespeare saved my butt.

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I do have to concede that I didn't realize how many words he's invented, and the fact that he's the first of whatever makes him a huge figurehead. I still can't grasp why I haven't been asked to read any other play in school. Since grade 9, the English [literature] classes have a quota: one Shakespeare play a year. Many in grade 8 read A Midsummer Night's Dream, 9th: Romeo and Juliet. 10th: Caesar 11th: Macbeth. 12th: Merchant of Venice. But that's more of a state education thing. *Sigh.

Edit: typo

We have done a lot of Shakespeare too, most of which The Taming of the Shrew (hated) Gr10: Romeo and Juliet, Midsummer Night's Dream Gr11: Hamlet

Gr12: King Lear

I like how Shakespeare's play are so well thought out. Each character is important and has significance. You need to pay attention to every detail in order to get the most out of it, and each time you read it, you catch something new.

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Funny, in my whole school career I only ever did Romeo and Juliet before IB. My 8th grade teacher read Midsummer Night (more like a rewrite in prose form) to us but we didn't study it. We glossed through R&J and then revisited it in IGCSE (btw I don't like the Leo movie version of R&J). Other than that, it was on Macbeth and Othello in IB.

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We have just started Hamlet as our first group 2 text this week. In previous years i've done Macbeth, Merchant of Venice, and a midsummer night's dream multiple times. It's just a big headache for me and I tend to zone out when reading it. Usually I can get the general gist but i don't really enjoy it, especially Hamlet which at the moment seems exceedingly long to me. I guess i'll persevere, I think Shakespeare is something you appreciate more once you finish reading it.

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Ehh can't say I was analyzing the movie or anything, but I think I appreciated the very thing you found ridiculous. :)

Maybe it's just because I was it while studying Romeo and Juliet and after watching the old version so I was still comparing the two.

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I like Shakespeare - I find that reading the plays is a bit dull but I love watching them (though the modernizations aren't always that great *hem hem, Romeo+Juliet... yuck*) but it's much easier to understand them in theater - for example Hamlet was really hard for me to understand till I watched it. Though I have to now contradict myself because I had no trouble understanding Twelfth Night when I read it - perhaps because it's a comedy? I loved it though, a lot more than Hamlet. :D

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As a pre-IB student, I enjoy Shakespeare. I'm not sure how I'll feel about him in my AP English Lit class next year, but I enjoy his contradictions and his universal messages. I'm currently reading Hamlet and I love Hamlet's conflicting characteristics. Last year we began reading Shakespeare with A Midsummer Night's Dream (my personal favorite) and I took the time to read Romeo and Juliet for pleasure. Although I agree with you on the fact that his plays don't seem as spectacular as the Western world makes them, it's nice to at least read them.

Edited by Courtface

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Okay so I read Merchant of Venice, and it's so much better than anything else I've read. It's even made my top ten works of literature of all time. I can see and I appreciate Shakespeare's brilliance. [Just to clarify, I still think we should be exposed to others] I guess my thoughts now are if plays are meant for being seen and acted, then why do some people only read & analyze them? Also, every time Shakespeare's play is reenacted, it's an adaptation. It's not purely his because the actors and producers are putting something else in. No matter how much effort they put into "staying true" to Shakespeare, they're adding a bit of themselves into the acting and directing. I'm not saying that's bad. I think the flexibility is amazing. But I'm just saying we're seeing an adaptation no matter what we're viewing. A play set in Renaissance Italy or in post WWII Italy or a movie in either era.

Edited by sweetnsimple786

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