Why we still read Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s most famous works, including Othello, The Merchant of Venice and The Taming of the Shrew, can be found in the media center.

Clara Sloan

Shakespeare’s most famous works, including Othello, The Merchant of Venice and The Taming of the Shrew, can be found in the media center.

Clara Sloan, Web Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






From Romeo and Juliet to Macbeth, the works of Shakespeare are considered some of the most expertly written and beautifully poetic in the history of literature. In addition to the quality of his work, Shakespeare is revered for his ability to portray themes of human experience in a timeless way that has continued to be relevant long after his death.

Though he has been undeniably significant in popular culture for centuries, students often find themselves wondering if it really is necessary to read his works. Why should we be forced to read plays by someone who lived 400 years ago who writes in barely recognizable English and whose plays are painfully predictable? Well, because we owe it to him.

For one, if you’ve ever said ‘in a pickle,’ ‘wild goose chase,’ ‘to wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve,’ ‘break the ice’ or ‘tongue-tied,’ you’ve cited Shakespeare. If for no other reason, students today should study Shakespeare simply to appreciate how much of our daily conversation we owe to his wordsmithery. His turns of phrase were unconventional and ingenious, and today they’ve entered fully into the English language. We’re so steeped in Shakespeare that we’re not even aware of it anymore. He was a dexterous crafter of the English language, and his metaphors have made each of us all the richer as readers and writers.

Shakespearean influence and references also continue to pop up in modern-day entertainment. For instance, The Lion King’s plot is loosely based on that of Hamlet, 10 Things I Hate About You is based on The Taming of the Shrew and Game of Thrones emulates Macbeth through Queen Cersei’s similarities to Lady Macbeth. Without Shakespeare, we would lose some of our most beloved movies and shows.

While trying to decipher old English language at eight in the morning may not be the most appealing for students, it is important that we pay homage to Shakespeare by continuing to read his works. His plays and poems still matter to us because his plots still resonate, his characters still leave their mark and his language still moves. No other writer can boast that their work is as integral to a culture 400 years later than Shakespeare.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email