I am finding as I post more and more thoughts on Shakespeare, and as a rule in general, people are very skeptical when it comes to reading or talking about Shakespeare. This, in truth, is a shame, and I find myself scratching my head and wondering if I am just bashing my head against a wall in wanting people to stretch into his plays and words. What am I missing? Or is it that people are doing themselves an injustice in reading the first ‘thou’ or ‘whence’, shaking their head in intimidation and shutting the book?
Curiouser and curiouser, I find.
I started doing some research on what people of Shakespeare’s generation thought about him, and while I do acknowledge that his generation already used (to a certain extent) his wordage and they were familiar with the Elizabethan stage, I started wondering about the ordinary person; or what about later generations who read his plays? What did they think?
Here is what I came across in Craig’s editorial: “A powerful impulse came to the study and appreciation of Shakespeare with the generation who lived during the epoch of the French Revolution. A new Shakespeare criticism was part of that revival of art and letters which we ordinarily call the Romantic Movement. The thinkers of that day were interested in a wider variety of ideas about life than were the pseudo-classicists. They found in Shakespeare such a marvelously significant and consistent picture of life that they came to think of him as endowed with the insight of a seer and the power of a poet, as greater and more significant than life itself. Each of his plays became a microcosm capable of yielding to the student, if he came with love and admiration in his heart, finer truth than science could yield. Science, they argued, bounds itself by fact; poetry has no such limits, but is a mode of revelation of the philosophy of life, presenting in concrete and constructive form what life means and what life might be. Shakespeare, the poet, was thus metamorphosed into a philosopher and teacher so that his works became a hunting ground where one might find the greatest thoughts about existence.”
Wow! What a boost into immortality for this small town actor and writer from Stratford-upon-Avon!!
But what about today? Where is this thinking on Shakespeare in the ordinary modern world of today? Will a movie need to be made, will a game for the new gaming system need to be created, will an app for our cell phones have to be developed to reach the millions of modern tech seekers in this generation for Shakespeare to find a voice in this world of microchip and internet flood? Will his ancient words and his creation of the 17th-century human even make a ripple in this ocean?
My hopeful heart says yes, that somehow his plays still matter and his works will continue to be a hunting ground where one might find the greatest thoughts about existence. Craig continues later saying, “Human nature remains the same from age to age,” so we must continue to see Shakespeare, the poet, as that philosopher and teacher for this modern generation for when we read his plays, we see ourselves. We are Hamlet in his cowardice, in his pain; We are Iago in our jealousy and hate; We are Juliet in our teenage rebelliousness and first love; We are Prince Harry in his stirring ambition and victory, and on and on and on…
These are my thoughts for today about the man, the genius and the poet. I would love to hear your thoughts on how his works influence you or how one might encourage this modern generation to delve into his words…. please comment below!
Thanks for reading!
D. K. Marley