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Thread: Why do we read Shakespeare?

  1. #1
    Student Scarlet72's Avatar
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    Why do we read Shakespeare?

    I'm a student from Scotland, I love reading books and I love watching movies and playing games.
    Currently in class we are reading Othello, one of William Shakespeare's great tragedies. My teacher was telling us that for higher [a qualification] english, she believes that things like the movie Psycho and similar films - which other classes were studying - should not be taught as she did not consider them literature. She didn't say this in so many words, but the implication was certainly there.
    The thought then struck me...
    Why are we reading shakespeare? Why is he considered literature, and not other more modern writers considered shakespeare?
    Why is it that you can go out and buy a collection of shakespeare's dramas to read? I would never imagine someone sitting down to read their new copy of the script of E.T or Star Wars; so why do people read shakespeare - instead of watching his plays as they were intended to be seen?

    I want to hear your opinions on the matter, should we be reading scripts as if they were novels? Or should we be leaving them on the stages and film set where they belong?
    All that is gold does not glitter,
    Not all those who wander are lost:
    The old that is strong does not wither,
    Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    I'll be interested to see replies, as I've often said here that Shakespeare wrote to be acted not read.

    However it is poetry and reading the text allows us to appreciate aspects which we would miss just listening to it.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    Registered User Lemonade's Avatar
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    I think it has to do with the fact that it can be read as stories, most scripts are boring as f*ck to read, trust me. Shakespeare's 'scripts' are very readable and even enjoyable. And he also wrote lots of poetry not meant to be acted, so the line between them is vague.
    “Fairy tales don't tell children that dragons exist; children already know that dragons exist.
    Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.”

    G.K. Chesterton

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    Translator Mohammad Ahmad's Avatar
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    It is not over all a silly question it is rather a good question; reading a Shakespeare teaching us a dated period of a well-known poetry.
    His print yet is not forgotten as others pillar characters all over the world.
    We need his sympathetic melody; in one word, I wish called him the father of poetry since the school he created still moderating and still glimmering crossing all the generations passed and yet.
    --
    Julius Kaiser play
    CASSIUS
    And why should Caesar be a tyrant then?
    Poor man! I know he would not be a wolf
    But that he sees the Romans are but sheep.
    He were no lion were not Romans hinds


    From this short segment, I made a visual sense because everywhere there are the dictatorships and puritans
    My country is the Home of Honour And
    Without honour I haven't Home
    MMA

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    Well, how are Psycho and other movies used? As movies, watching it? Then, well, they are not really literature. Are you reading their script? Well, then they are literature, just not that good.

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    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    It occurred to me that I have never read a movie script. Searching it looks like they are available: http://www.imsdb.com/ These should be most useful for people who would like to write scripts, not for people who want to watch movies.

    I agree with the OP. I think students should be watching Shakespeare's plays, not reading them. In the good old days, like when I was in high school, there were no easy ways to watch these plays. Today that technological problem has been solved. A student today should be able to get a better exposure to Shakespeare by watching videos of his plays or hearing his poetry read than by reading them. If one thinks about it, the point should be to personally enjoy these works of art, not log how many texts one has consumed.
    Le cœur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connaît point. --Pascal

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    All are at the crossroads qimissung's Avatar
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    They understand them better wen they can watch the movie. To study the play (in high school at any rate) you only need to study and analyze select passages of his luminous poetry-I got that advice from an AP teacher-then watch the movie. And discuss and write, etc.
    "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its' own reason for existing." ~ Albert Einstein
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    I do not know about the scripts in the link, but many scripts can bring camera/cinematography guiidelines which break the dialogue, making the reading less pleasant. Also, movies have a strong visual element, while plays dont, so the play text is a better reading. This adding, Shakespeare scripts had very few scene or acting cues, so you go after the dialogues, which you can easily read as you read a poem, because, well, he just wrote verses. But it is only him, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Chekhov, Racine, Ariano Suassuna, Seneca, Marlowe, Schiller, Euripedes and a few others wrote great plays which I loved to read and I do not think I have watched even 10% of those plays.

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    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    Another simple reason may be that any of Shakespeare's scripts can be had and read freely anywhere, anytime. Finding and watching a performance takes more effort (and usually money). Plus, the scripts can come with explanatory notes and essays.
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    in fairness, it's not just Shakespeare that that question might be asked about. I can recall reading the crucible and death of a salesman for instance. I suspect all of us have had plays as assigned readings.

    I would add this too---reading engages the mind in a way that viewing does not. though I do agree in general, if you're going to make me read Shakespeare, then let's also go to a production or at least watch one on video too.

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    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    It's not just Shakespeare. Using texts in general has changed.

    For example, when I was young, if I wanted to find out what that constellation was in the sky, I would have to read a sky atlas. It required some skill to read that text, a skill I never mastered. What do I do today? I open the Google Sky Map app on my phone, point it to the star-planet-whatever in question and it has been identified. I finally know where those planets are.

    Speaking of maps, does anyone remember that maps in general were contained in texts called an "atlas"? Even a bus schedule required a textual reading skill that I was never good at. But today? Plug in the address and even if you are walking, someone will tell you to how to get there and when to make that turn, which bus to take, when it will arrive next. Who reads maps anymore?

    Are we better off today without these texts? Well, I get lost less often.
    Le cœur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connaît point. --Pascal

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    somewhere else Helga's Avatar
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    Shakespeare is a part of the literature canon and I think it's important when you study literature at any level to read works thought of as canon, that being said I think there are many modern plays we should (and do) read. When I was in my first year at university we read a few new(ish) plays, Sarah Kane for example and Tom Stoppard. I enjoy reading plays almost as much as watching them performed and in my school we always get the script to read even though we will see the performance.

    I think it is wrong when any teacher acts like something is less worthy of being read or valued as good literature, I remember one class we read the first book of the Druid Chronicles and some students found it terrible to be forced to read it as part of a literature course but the teacher just said 'I read all kinds of books'. This was easy to read and in parts funny and a very good study of imagination (and the problems of using wikipedia), maybe not part of the canon but not all books need to be, or could be.

    Back to Shakespeare, when I saw Macbeth performed Lady Macbeth's speech about a suckling infant didn't strike me as hard as it did when I read it and my imagination was flowing. Sometimes it is better to read and get all the information, you might miss out on a thing or two in a performance.
    I hope death is joyful, and I hope I'll never return -Frida Khalo

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  13. #13
    Eiseabhal
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    I read maps. Place names tell stories. Good maps have more info than apps. WS wrote his sonnets to be read and his scripts to be acted but despite what was said about technology there are lots of people in the first world who have never seen a play by WS - even if they took part in a reading of a play in school. And as for the third world well ... you need to have literacy to read.

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    Well, Yes/No reads maps, he just uses another support: digital, but it is reading. Unrelated to watching a play where you do not read at all.

  15. #15
    confidentially pleased cacian's Avatar
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    maybe it is because it is the one lengthy book that literally goes on about tragedy being the center of literary achievement
    Last edited by cacian; 02-17-2016 at 07:16 PM.
    it may never try
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