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Opinion | Do not weigh Reddit law school forums too heavily this upcoming application cycle
Opinion | Do not weigh Reddit law school forums too heavily this upcoming application cycle
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 18, 2024

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Opinion | Do not weigh Reddit law school forums too heavily this upcoming application cycle
Opinion | Do not weigh Reddit law school forums too heavily this upcoming application cycle
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 18, 2024

Opinion | You don’t hate Shakespeare, you were just taught it wrong

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Fikayomi Olagbami | Staff Illustrator

When you hear the name “Shakespeare,” how do you react? Do you suddenly recoil? Reminiscing those pubertal days of your eighth grade honors English class, where Mrs. Whoever has just called on you to stand and read aloud to the class phrases like, “When he himself might his quietus make / With a bare bodkin?” Or perhaps you begin to subconsciously recite a deeply moving soliloquy you once had to memorize for a high school drama club? Where every year they produce another adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” and the two seniors who are cast as the star-crossed lovers inevitably fall into a messy and problematic show-mance themselves?

I was at a used bookstore in Interlochen, Michigan last week. My feet lead me straight to the Classics and Shakespeare section, as they always do in these types of scenarios. As my eyes drifted over the spines of books, new and old, I heard footsteps quickly shuffling past me to the next aisle over. Then I heard these words spat from one of their mouths, “I just hate Shakespeare.” The two people continued towards the front of the store. I’ve heard this phrase more times than the amount of plays William Shakespeare has written. A question burned inside of me. I wanted to ask the person, “Why?”

Shakespeare is not meant to be read as literature. Audiences should witness his plays on a theatrical stage. These performances should utilize costumes, sets and props — just like William and his fellow players did. You do not hate Shakespeare, you were just forcibly introduced to it by necessary consumption in educational settings. Your teachers set you up to fail by assigning at home readings, where the words are lost to the void of your mind. You misplace the raw emotion that performance shares to an audience. It is almost offensive to theatricality and drama and its core. 

To absolutely hate something — to loathe and shrink in disgust from it — it is vital that you fully understand and appreciate it first. Most people are introduced to Willy through mandatory school curriculums. Teachers and students analyze it from both a literary and dramatic standpoint. In today’s classrooms, it is not uncommon for hours upon hours to be spent trying to decipher the Old English and Elizabethan language written by The Bard. While this may aid students in their ability to grasp its contents, it largely differs from the original language. When you translate speech, you essentially strip it from its authenticity. You lose the stylistic and heightened language that drama embodies.

Shakespeare also gained his stardom for his incredible talent. I will not pretend that he is perfect — in fact, he is far from it — but his writings are still valuable and relevant today. We’ve seen television adaptations, new musicals and many more artistic forms of media sprout from the seedlings of dramatic entertainment that Shakespeare has given us. This is how you can set “The Taming of the Shrew” in Seattle in the late 1990s and call it “10 Things I Hate About You” starring Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles. This adaptation is simple for us to recognize because we know the language, and we can relate to the setting.

Shakespeare’s writings also span several different genres including histories, comedies and tragedies. What we have available to us is a play for every emotion that may satisfy your taste for entertainment with an endless number of themes in each genre. Love, loss, family, power, truth, religion, sex, fantasy — the list is infinite. Surely, if you could dedicate yourself to finding that one story that pulls you in, your judgment of the playwright would be greatly changed. Then again, maybe you have read every single work by The Bard of Avon and can rightfully say you hate him, then that’s okay too — let’s talk about it. 

There needs to be a grounded basis for appreciating Shakespeare. It is not easy — I will not deny that — but I think most people in the world say they hate it just because they never tried to dedicate themselves to learning it. If you have since graduated from stinky, slimy high school and are looking for some new reading material, I encourage you to try our dear friend William Shakespeare again. Go find your local theater troupe presenting a production of “Twelfth Night.’” Have a movie night with “Romeo + Juliet” starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Or if you’re feeling ambitious, find a monologue from one of his plays, and recite it yourself. Try to understand the words you speak and how it makes you feel. Attempt to grasp the story on your own terms, your own goals and your own pleasure.

I leave you with a quote from “King Lear” — “Nothing will come of nothing.” So go give William Shakespeare another try. Absorb it. Understand it. Witness it. Then tell me how you feel. I dare you.

Abby Dobry writes about the arts. Write to her at [email protected] 

About the Contributor
Abigail Dobry
Abigail Dobry, Senior Staff Columnist
Abby Dobry is a senior studying nonfiction English writing and theater arts as a double major. She is also achieving a certificate in medieval and renaissance studies. Abby hails from Maryland and her passions include anything relating to theater, reading and obviously writing. Her life goals for future writing include a play, a novel and a memoir. Reach out to her at