'Five reasons why Shakespeare is still relevant
The language is now archaic, 500 years since the plays were first performed in Elizabethan England. Why is the average Singaporean student still studying Shakespeare today?
The Bard has not become obsolete because he wrote about human issues that have remained unchanged over the years.
Here are five reasons why Shakespeare is still well-loved.
1. His plays touch on timeless themes such as love, friendship and vengeance
Who has not heard of one of the most classic love stories of all times, Romeo And Juliet? This story about the star-crossed lovers, doomed to separation by their feuding families, has been adapted countless times for stage, film, musicals and opera.
The 1996 adaptation by Baz Luhrmann, William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet gave the story a modern twist. Of course, the eye candy in the form of Leonardo DiCaprio did not hurt.
2. The characters are fallible and real
The characters in Shakespeare are like you or me, even though they may be kings, queens or noblemen and women.
They are fallible in many ways, like Macbeth, who comes to grief because of ambition, or Hamlet, who struggles with the death of his father.
3. His plays are full of quotable quotes
One common lament of students is that they cannot understand the 'gibberish' of Elizabethan language.
But rather than look upon his words as Greek, try to learn from the master. Impress your teachers and friends by dropping quotes from the Bard in your essay: The quality of mercy is not strain'd, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. (Merchant Of Venice)
4. Repository of commonly used phrases and words today
It is no fluke that Shakespeare is the most quoted author in the Oxford Dictionary.
Some of his phrases are so well known that we have forgotten the man who first said it. Like 'a rose by any other name', or 'parting is such sweet sorrow', or 'the world is my oyster'.
5. Gave voice to the marginalised in society
Shakespeare was quite forward-thinking for his time, especially in an age when women were not even allowed to perform on stage.
His female characters (then played by men) were not sidelined; in fact, many of them had critical roles to play in his dramas.
In Twelfth Night, Viola, while disguised as a man, uses her intelligence to integrate herself into a foreign court and win the affection of Duke Orsino.
And who could forget the infamous Lady Macbeth, the shrewish Katherine or the wise Portia, among so many others?
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