Oh, Shakespeare! One of the most dreaded units of the English 9-12 curriculums, stressing out teenagers nationwide with the Early English language.
After reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream freshman year, the point of Shakespeare has been made. He wrote plays about love stories, tragedies and even a few ‘comedies’ that made new additions to the English language. Having to read one play every year of high school is just a little excessive.
There are not any storylines used in these plays that we haven’t all become familiar with already. As legendary as the classic Romeo and Juliet may be, there are tons of star-crossed-lover stories being created even today, so why is reading a version from the 1500s so necessary? When instead of reading the long and wordy works of Shakespeare, there are many other stories high school students could be reading such as Eleanor and Park or The Mortal Instruments in class for a nice change of language.
Reading tough literary works like Shakespeare tends to lead students to the constant use of SparkNotes. A summarization website frowned upon by some English teachers. The site conveniently features a ‘No Fear Shakespeare’ section, translating his plays line by line.
Krystie Lee Yandoli, a writer for BuzzFeed Books, wrote an article titled, “Why I Hate Shakespeare” on the day of Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. “All I learned was that Early Modern English hurt my brain and I couldn’t seem to wrap my head around it. The first time I had to read Shakespeare then turned into the first time I discovered SparkNotes, after frantically searching the web for Hamlet summaries and explanations. I didn’t rely on SparkNotes because I wanted to cheat my way through it; I simply wanted to understand what was going on in words and terms that were tangible to me,” Yandoli said.
For years and years, students are taught that Shakespeare is one of the greatest playwrights of all time and the stress of understanding his writings is heavily emphasized by teachers.
In the same article, Yandoli also shares her hidden opinion of the famous author, “I’ve carried this secret insecurity around with me for as long as I’ve been reading Shakespeare because I fear the judgment and ridicule of others, but why should I have to force myself to read something that’s supposed to be enjoyable? Despite the long road to get here, I’ve come to terms with my unpopular opinion. I no longer fear the judgment of others, and I unapologetically proclaim that to me, Shakespeare is highly overrated.”
For students interested in Shakespeare, they can wait until college to take classes on him, which is required for most English majors anyway, however, struggling and uninterested students shouldn’t be forced into the topic for four straight years.
Megan Rosen, Staff Writer
Sophomore Megan Rosen is a staff writer for the 2015-2016 Colonel. She is on the volleyball team.