To read or not to read?

Kiley McCarthy, Staff Writer

About 400 years have gone by since William Shakespeare wrote his last play. Just about everyone has read a Shakespeare play or at least heard of him sometime in school. Maybe it provokes the thought about why we still study his outdated writings? Why do we still read this confusing nonsense?

Its seems old, irrelevant and incomprehensible. But, even though it may seem to be a bore, it may be because students don’t understand what they’re reading or how it’s important. Little do they know that Shakespeare impacts learning and today’s society more than they realize.

In the beginning, I thought that Shakespearean plays were boring and pointless because of the cliche stories and the outdated text. However, after thinking about it for a while, the realization came that the goal of reading these plays is not about giving busy work to students. Instead, maybe the purpose is to find common ground with those reading the play, and to relate one other. Students may have to read more text of this era, but exposing themselves will allow them to understand and enjoy it more.

People unite from across the world through the understanding of one body of text. Shakespeare’s plays have been performed in almost every language, and studied and performed in almost every corner of the world. If you think about it, when you read a Shakespeare play, someone else from across the entire world is reading the exact same script in another language. If that doesn’t amaze you, I don’t know what does. As diverse as people are, these common plays have connected our unique ideas about the story and have created a universal understanding of them.

To embellish the amazement, I once saw a film about how inmates in jail participated in a club where they performed Shakespearean plays. They were all assigned a part that they personally identified with, whether it be the tragic hero, an evil king, or the comedic friend. It surprised me because the inmates were very passionate about getting really in touch their characters, as if they were actually the characters from the play brought to reality. Each one of the inmates felt so connected to each other and got comfortable with being in the foreign territory of their inner Shakespearean character. What I’m trying to get across here is that Shakespeare’s writings and characters unite and encourage  people to find themselves within the plays. Finding that common ground helps society as a whole progress due to self realization and understanding others. Students, learning these skills at a young age will grow up to be more flexible, understanding, and creative individuals.

Furthermore, keeping the past alive helps students learn the importance of morals and ethics (even if they are cliche). The universal truth behind the plays can be interpreted so many different ways, allowing people to gain new perspectives of the same exact play. Also, reading Shakespeare enables the core message of morals and ethics to come through to students in an interesting, thought provoking way. 

Even with the advancements of new communication technology and the new ways to read without actually reading, Shakespeare should always remain in schools. Though the changing world, the things that will always remain the same are Shakespeare’s life and writings, teaching us how to connect to others and how to understand the inner workings of our own minds.