Is Shakespeare Still Relevant?

As I type this title, English teachers all over the world prepare to defend one of the legends of the literature world. Shakespeare’s work might’ve been great 400 years ago, but does it still matter today?

The answer, my friends, is yes.

I enjoy reading Shakespeare as little as any high schooler, but I cannot deny the effect his work has had on literature and pop culture as a whole, and language in particular.

Romeo and Juliet, one of the most popular plays of all time, has inspired many, many movies and books. West Side Story, Gnomeo and Juliet, and others all play on the star-crossed lovers trope made popular by Shakespeare.

The themes used in Shakespeare plays are universal. He worked with themes like love, power, war, and family, themes that everyone can relate to. In addition, the themes are interpreted differently by everyone. No two people will interpret a Shakespeare play in the same way.

Shakespeare invented over 3000 words, some of which we still use today. Ordinary words, like ‘bedroom’ and ‘uncomfortable’ are words whose creation is attributed to William Shakespeare himself.

pexels-photo-18953225 of Uranus’s 27 moons are named after some of Shakespeare’s characters:

Titania, Oberon, and Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ariel, Miranda, Caliban, Sycorax, Prospero, Setebos, Stephano, Trinculo, Francisco, and Ferdinand from The Tempest. Cordelia from King Lear and Ophelia from Hamlet. Bianca from The Taming of the Shrew, Cressida from Troilus and Cressida, and Desdemona from Othello. Juliet and Mab from Romeo and Juliet. Portia from The Merchant of Venice and Rosalind from As You Like It. Margaret from Much Ado About Nothing, Perdita from The Winter’s Tale, and Cupid from Timon of Athens.

The one thing I do have a problem with, though, are the characters. A lot of the females are weak and submissive and a lot of the males are power-hungry and controlling. These are not characters I want to be reading about, nor would I want my children to.

Regardless of my personal opinion of Shakespeare and his work, an undeniable fact is that he has had a major ongoing impact on today’s world. Maybe we can all learn something from him.

Effort and School Projects

I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist, but I like things done correctly. When I do things, I like to do them right, and I’ll sometimes spend hours on simple tasks just to do them as well as I can.

As a result, I can turn in projects that I spent hours on. They’re neat and well organized and extremely creative. But nobody grades you on how pretty your work is, just on whether all the information you need to know is shown in your project.

Admittedly, this is a fault of the education system, the system that seeks to drain us of all individuality and creativity.

I’ve found that it is easier to do a simple Powerpoint presentation that takes me 20 minutes and contains all the information the teacher asks for than to go all out on a project that ends up being completely stunning.

In the end, whether I do a 20-minute Powerpoint or a 3D model of a cell, I can only get a certain grade, and I’ll only get this grade if I have all the information the teacher asks for.

Creativity in school work is not valued. When I was a kid, teachers would award one or two marks for creativity, but this gradually slowed to a stop.

photo-1452860606245-08befc0ff44bThe saddest thing is that it’s fun for me to do school projects where I get to do something out of the box that nobody would expect. I love thinking up new ways to approach a problem and display my results.

But it’s just not worth the extra effort. I could spend that time studying for a test I absolutely need to pass or spending time with my family.

If I were guaranteed recognition and rewards for my work, I’d gladly put in the effort. Every project would be like my life’s work. But I don’t and so it’s not.