Saturday, April 13, 2013

Uncontrollable Fangirling: William Shakespeare

Ahhhh, it's Saturday afternoon and I have no idea what to blog about it. This is only a problem because I have plenty of draft ideas, but all of them will take too long for me to write about in order to get it published today. I mean, I would love to work on the post I've started about Shakespeare and use all the articles from The Guardian I just came across, or discuss the issues of being both a hipster and a nerd. But if I really dig into those posts, I won't be finishing anything until tomorrow at the earliest. And I refuse to throw off my groove of Wednesday/Saturday publishing. But considering that I plan on writing about Shakespeare next but that will probably stretch on for several billion posts, maybe I should start now.
As you may have gleaned from some of my previous posts, I'm kind of a Shakespeare nerd. It's only getting worse as time goes on through reading more Shakespeare plays, realizing how many people - be they writers, actors, psychologists, etc - he's influenced, and interning in a theater that has a strong appreciation for Shakespeare. Yes indeed; if you're friends with me, you're probably going to hear me blabber on about Shakespeare quite a bit now.

The immediate reaction I tend to get is surprise. Which is... well, surprising. Shakespeare is so well-known and so often quoted, I just kind of figured more people liked him. Apparently not. A lot of students I mention this to say, "But he's so hard to understand." Maybe I've been in school to long but I'd rather read everything Shakespeare has ever written than try to tackle David Hume or Descartes again, thanks. Shakespeare's writing is different than what we're used to, I suppose, but I find it fairly easy to get used to the way he writes. Also, his style allows for some of the best insults I've ever heard, which is certainly a plus.

I also worry, because I am a bit of a hipster and am used to such things, that people will assume I'm saying that just to sound smart or be "fashionable." It's not something I should really be concerned about, but there is a certain elitism sometimes associated with Shakespeare. Which is kind of strange, really, because they're the sort of plays done by all sorts of theater groups, from high schools to world renown organizations. George Dawson has a pretty nice quote on this issue:
This makes me feel generally better about things. Of course, coming from a Cultural Studies background, many in that area of study have problems with Shakespeare less because of his writing but more because of how we think of him today. He's become "over-glorified" in their minds, I suppose you could say, and some don't like how privileged he's become over other authors. I've had good experiences with his writing where one can love and criticize him at the same time and this idea of Shakespeare being infallible isn't something I've ever encountered. However, I can see how those who've only had people being extremely fanatical about Shakespeare in, say, a high school class where it's required to read his work, one could easily end up disliking him.
Overall, what I like most about Shakespeare is his characterization. I feel like I've mentioned before how he was one of the first writers to describe individuals in the way we think of ourselves as individuals today (yay for Renaissance humanism!). Hamlet asking himself, "To be or not to be?" simply wasn't a thought people would have had before this time period. The fact that Shakespeare was on the cutting edge, putting these ideas into writing as they were essentially happening around him, is pretty awesome. Not to mention his focus on human thought is incredibly relevant today and a beautiful blend of psychology, culture, history, science, and language, despite the fact these things in these sorts of study weren't yet how we think of them today. People may not like how privileged Shakespeare is as a genius, but he truly is one. His vocabulary is huge - it well surpasses the average adult, I've been told - and, well, you can't argue that his sentence structure and syntax is pretty unbeatable. Not to mention he made up half of our language.

So yes, I am a Shakespeare fangirl. I don't assume everyone else is, but I love being one. Though I warn you, if you mention Richard III or Iago or Henry V around me, be prepared to have your ear talked off about my extreme appreciation for them. :)


  1. We just read Othello in my Shakespeare class! Iago is one creepy dude. He reminds me of the Joker. Maybe Iago's the inspiration for him??? :P

    1. Could be :D I keep drawing connections between Iago and Loki in my head as I'm reading the play and, given Iago and both supervillains' lack of clear, explainable motivation, I think all three have a lot in common. Also, their hatred for pretty much everyone and their possible enjoyment of just watching the world burn connects them even more. Did I just come up with a topic for my reflection paper in my Shakespeare class? Yes... yes I did :D