3 Reasons to Study Shakespeare by English Literature Student Jeff Mohlman
“Here comes Jeff Mohlman, the Shakespeare dude!” That’s how my friends often welcome me whenever I’d walk into a room. I’m proud to say that I am a fan; well, actually, more than a fan. I adore the guy. I live and breathe his words. I often quote phrases and passages to friends to describe or define a situation, moment or emotion. That’s how I got to be teased as the “Shakespeare dude.”
We all had Shakespeare in our reading list back in high school, but I’m pretty sure most of us have forgotten about it. I encourage you to start reading Shakespeare again, whether you’re a successful professional now in your 40’s or you’re fresh out of college who dreads facing the real world. There’s a gamut of lessons to be learned from Shakespeare’s works.
I hope the reasons for studying Shakespeare that I will share below will inspire you to pick up your old copy of Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet.
1. All-around storyteller
Jeff Mohlman: Writers, playwrights and dramatists often specialize in one area only: tragedy, comedy, adventures, fables, and fairy tales. Shakespeare deals with them all. His works encompass all genres, from horror and tragedy in Hamlet and Macbeth to forlorn love in Romeo and Juliet, fantasy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and comedy in As You Like It.
2. He touches on human emotions
Jeff Mohlman: What makes Shakespeare’s works timeless is the theme that always revolves around strong human emotions, and the juxtaposition of opposites: good vs. evil, love vs. despair, hate vs. forgiveness, revenge vs. peace, and so on. These themes are as true today as they were back then.
Jeff Mohlman: If you were to devour his works, you would discover that the stories he tells still happen today. They may have different characters and settings, but the theme is always universal. The characters may be depicted differently now but the traits, the fears, heartaches, desires, aspirations, and hopes are all the same. He entertains and teaches at the same time.
3. He’s influenced you more than you think
Jeff Mohlman: Some of Shakespeare’s best works inspired a lot of phrases that are injected or mentioned in modern conversations, essays, and even songs. For example, “fool’s paradise” came from Romeo and Juliet. Nurse talking to Romeo mentions it: “But first let me tell you, if ye should lead her into a fool’s paradise…”
Another one that is always used to signify jealousy is “the green-eyed monster,” which originates from Othello. Iago to Othello: “Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.”.
Piqued your interest? Grab a copy of Othello and start reading! Look for more familiar phrases and share them here!