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What was Shakespeare’s opinion?

Shakespeare is at first frustrating, initially because he is hard to understand, but later on, when one begins to understand the language and plot, he becomes frustrating because one never quite knows where he stands on things.  As I struggled to figure out the answers contained in some of this plays, I gradually came to realize that these plays are all about teasing out the dividing line between the good or admirable and the bad or shameful.  The dividing line is drawn along so many aspects of a particular question of life, and this leads to a very nuanced view of the human experience.  Where does contemplation become an excuse for or cause of inaction?  At what point does professed love become falsehood?  Where does confidence dissolve into self doubt or become corrupted into arrogance?  In Hamlet contemplation is obviously a good thing, when one compare Laertes’ reaction to his plight with Hamlet’s.  But it becomes a bad thing when Hamlet overthinks his predicament and allows the king to live once he has all the proof he needs.  Living the good life is all about towing the narrow line.  Shakespeare is good, and so universally revered though the ages, because he tries to tease out a rough idea of this line though stories and characters and language.  It is the universal, timeless question.  People who give us easy, ready answers are popular but not lasting.

Excuses

Liz and I performed the following skit in class recently:

Amanda: Did you research that subject we were going to talk about today?

Liz: Oh no; I meant to do that! But anyway I had no wifi the last few days.

Amanda: Why didn’t you call me?

Liz: I meant to. But my phone broke. And Aidan got his wisdom teeth out so I’ve been busy.

Amanda: I didn’t prepare any lecture. I wasn’t feeling well yesterday. and I’ve had a really busy schedule the last week. Tom surprised me with a movie last night. Did you do that other thing?

Liz: I haven’t read email for the last couple days. Can you pull up the lecture you were going to do a few weeks ago on your phone?

Amanda: I wrote it, but I forgot to save it so I don’t have it. Sorry, I keep forgetting to save my documents.

Etc…

What’s so great about Shakespeare?

When I read Shakespeare in high school, I felt… completely lost.  I actually skipped school one day; not to get out of doing what I was supposed to do, but to get some work done!  I figured if I could just stay home for a day I would finally have the time to figure it out.  Did I?  Well, yes and no.  Yes, in the sense that I figured out the plot, looked up enough of the words that I could understand some of the meaning, and remembered enough that I could pass a test.  But No, in the sense that I never did figure out why we were reading Shakespeare. I didn’t understand why on earth we were reading something that was so hard to follow.  Why couldn’t it just be translated into modern English?  I now have a modern translation in fact.  Why not just assign that instead?

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