Shakespeare for the Modern World

The writings of Shakespeare are often suffered through by students in literature classes, and this suffering is generally paired with one inescapable lesson: William Shakespeare is the most exalted poet to have written in English. Ever.

Shakespeare is credited with creating (either through the addition of prefixes or suffixes or through plain old inventiveness) about 1700 words that linger in today’s lexicon, including the following: addiction, blushing, eyeball, lonely, obscene, swagger, and my personal favorite, madcap. To have invented one or two or even ten words that remain in common use hundreds of years after your death would be a pretty impressive feat, but to come up with well over a thousand? Well, that’s just (to use one of Shakespeare’s words) zany.

Be that as it may, literature students still suffer. Shakespeare’s writing (along with other things, like the translation of the King James Bible) may have ushered in modern English, but to today’s readers, it doesn’t seem very, well, modern. Take, for example, this passage:

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Macbeth 5:5

It all sounds very nice (it’s my favorite passage from Shakespeare, to be honest) and it inspired the title of one of Faulkner’s novels, but so what, exactly?

Shakespeare wrote about death, love, lust, sex, betrayal, murder, cross-dressing, and yes, there was that one bit about the fairy falling in love with the man who had been turned into an ass, but is this writing something we can still truly connect with? Or is the antiquated nature of the words an impediment?

Language is something that is forever in a state of flux. Would Shakespeare be more relevant today (outside of academia and the film career of Kenneth Branagh, where his relevance will never cease) if his writing were updated into an English closer to what we speak today? Outside of the rare interlinear or side-by-side translation, why do you think this hasn’t happened on a widespread basis? Would it be wrong?

Think about your own writing for a minute. If it were to survive and be read for hundreds of years (and you were to know about it somehow), would it be okay with you if those words you labored over were rewritten so audiences of the day would be better able to get it? What’s more important, being able to understand everything (without having to consult a dictionary) or the sanctity of the writing as written?

(Thanks to Billectric for inspiring this question.)

34 Responses

  1. Modern English, Not for
    Modern English, Not for Shakespeare

    In regards to Shakespeare being translated into modern English, when I was in high school, one of my English teachers did just that. I hated it. It took so much away from the piece that I detested it, loathed it even. One of the attractions, at least for me, of Shakespeare is the language he uses. It adds so much to the stories, creates an ambience, an atmosphere.

    To the second question, I would undoubtedly be extremely pissed if someone had the gall to change my words.

  2. No WayChange the language and
    No Way

    Change the language and it ceases to be The Bard. It is that simple, a no brainer.

    Suffered through the bard in school? Not at Los Altos High in California in the late 60’s, we had a blast reading Willie Shakes in class aloud, everybody getting a turn at the fun, of course those brownies the girls brought from cooking class added to the merry making.

  3. To be or not to be (the
    To be or not to be (the same)

    is that the question?

    Shakespeare should not be altered, ever!

    I have a difficulty with new spins on Shakespeare, where the producer/director messes with the original phrasing of the master’s words. It doesn’t sound right to me.

    Like many students, I had to paraphrase his writing when I was a kid. That was OK, helped me learn to find his meaning… but nothing I phrased ever had the musical tonation that the original had.

    When reading Shakespeare, it takes me a few pages to get into the rhythm when reading… but once there I don’t want to rethink in my own words… I know what he is saying. I love the way he says it.

    The same is true of performances of his work. Modern versions that use his phrasing are OK… (well some of them) but don’t mess with his words. It takes me a bit of listening… and once my brain starts working right, I am lost in the words and happy to be so. I won’t watch a performance that is “based” on a work of Shakespeare. It is a waste of my good time.

    The King James Bible is awesome and reads beautifully, but the orginal language was not English. So when I read the old English, I am already reading a “paraphrase”. Modern translations of the Bible are different, but ones that go back to the original languages, are sometimes better than the KJV. (My favorite is the Message Bible.)

    And my writing, well, what the heck. I can’t get people to read my blog. I don’t expect after I’ve been dead a few years for my words to magically become fantastical… so this question doesn’t quite apply to me. I don’t actually grieve over the right word in the right sentence as some do… I just try to get what I’m thinking about across. But you know what… I think I would rather it be left alone. After all, with all its flaws, it is mine, right!

  4. What Does ‘Taboo’ Mean?Hi
    What Does ‘Taboo’ Mean?

    Hi all,

    I’m an eighteen-year-old college freshman. Last year, as a senior in high school, someone actually asked me that question when I was presenting a large section of Allen Ginsberg’s fabled, “Howl,” to my Lit/Comp. Honors class. Now, people are smarter than that at college. I attend Western Michigan University, and am surprised to see how many people still read in this world for fun, and leisure. In high school, I could count the people who read on one hand, amongst 1,200 students. In Kalamazoo, I’ve loved seeing how many people participate in poetry readings throughout the city. There are a wide variety of ages that get involved.

    I don’t think Shakespeare should be modified to suit the modern generations. In the colloquialisms of the everyday cell phone world, we’re forgetting. I fear that because we’re staying so connected to one another, we’ve actually grown impersonal, and our minute use of the language furthers this. Add this to the factor of social acceptance among people, and it becomes scary.

    How many times have you overheard a conversation and the f-word, gay, you know, yeah, and like, become just about every other word resonating in the air?

    We are such a spoiled nation of individuals. We have a wealth of resources at our fingertips. We are so fortunate. I fear for an age where technology answers to every whim and task of ours. Now, excuse my winter depression, the world is not as woesome as a Celine novel… but what happens when people no longer communicate with depth, with clarity? Could the bourgeoisie ever take advantage of our ill means of communication? Think about the news…think about how many people were left in the dark about the actions of the current administration. Think about the biased reporting of Fox News. Granted, I don’t think the world will become Orwellian…but there are those similarities.

    I don’t think Shakespeare should be changed, but I also don’t encourage everyone to go out and confuse the massses with a Finnegan’s Wake, either. I think literature should be daring. I don’t think it should be stripped down more than Hemingway (which a lot of modern literature is). We should continue to dream, and think up the absurd. Not all life has to be routine. Not everything is boring. I think that literature is a safe form of escapism. A safe form of voyeurism. And also a way to come together to express new ideas. Words are beautiful. They sound beautiful as well as concoct a multitude of images.

    Education should be reformed. Shakespeare should be fun. Reading should be fun. It’s a great way to set aside a few moments from our fast paced world, to do a little bit of self-exploration. It is important to explore characters in books to better understand our own identity, our own nature. Kids should be shown the paths for lifelong enjoyment in literature. I re-read Macbeth this last semester, and thought it most wonderfully satirical and melodramatic. But sadly, it doesn’t have the same effect on the culture as reality TV — which is so far away from reality, that the meaning of the word tacked to its application is paradoxical (Conrad would think it a ‘whited sepulchre’).

    It’s time to turn the television off once in a while…

    Sorry for the rambling folks. I’ve began to theorize because of this question. I’ll see what it develops into.


  5. Perchance to DreamTo me, the
    Perchance to Dream

    To me, the quote used in the above example (“tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow”) is one of the easier Shakespeare passages to understand. I’ve read some of Will’s lines where I didn’t know what he was talking about. Some of the Transcendentalists are no piece of cake to follow, either.

    It’s all a matter of degree. Almost from the time I started reading, I’ve needed commentary (we just don’t think of it as commentary). If it was a concept I didn’t understand, I could ask my parents to explain. If it was a word, they usually made me look it up.

    Some of you know I like to mix “pop” with “classics” and one movie I think really rocks is Romeo & Juliet with DiCaprio & Danes. They didn’t update the language – they updated the setting – to magnificent effect. My son was studying Shakespeare in school and we understood what was going on in this film. One of my favorite scenes is the old codger with the shotgun! The drug man. You know that great character actor, always in movies, M. Emmet Walsh – he knocks me out as the “apothecary” who supplies poison to Romeo, coming to his alleyway door with disheveled hair, gun in hand, reluctant to get involved, gruff voice intoning,

    “Such mortal drugs I have, but
    Verona’s law
    Is death to any he that utters them!”

    But Romeo insists,

    “Let me have
    A dram of poison, such soon-
    speeding gear
    As will disperse itself through all
    the veins
    That the life-weary taker may fall dead.”

    The old man needs the money, so he sells Romeo the poison, saying,

    “My poverty, but not my will consents.”

    He gives Romeo the poison and says,

    “Drink it off and if you had the
    strength of twenty men it would
    dispatch you straight!”

    I love it.

    Well, I got the idea for this topic from writer Mathan Whatley, who gave me permission to quote him here. He said,

    “No English writer is more worshiped than Shakespeare. Indeed this has reached the point of religion; it is considered sacrilegious to translate Shakespeare into modern English. So we are forced to dig his meaning through layers of historic change to the language, a far cry from the enlightening search for meaning in layers of poetical allusion a poet desires. I mean that besides reading him as a poet we are forced to dig like archeologists, first translating his words to modern English and then, already exhausted with the effort, try to grasp his original meanings.
    I hear French readers don’t have it so hard. Shakespeare is available in modern French for any who care to read it.
    Is this not religion? An original thought has been calcified into a fossil.”

    Whether you agree with Mr. Whatley or not, it’s really something to think about. I remember studying the Bible when I was much younger and being told, on one hand, the Bible was translated into modern language so that even the common people can have access to it, but on the other hand, many of the passages cannot be truly understood without a knowledge of the historical, sociological, and allegorical contexts in which they were written. So, who knows?

    As for the question, would it be okay if my words were someday rewritten so audiences would be better able to get it? My answer is:

    To deem these digital inscriptions wherein I labor,
    Conceived in synapses and born onto virtual sheets,
    Sufficiently noteworthy
    To future corporal vessels, keepers of the flame
    To shape into sentience for the sentient
    Humble my gratitude resolve…

    As to the probability of such occasion,
    Or to purchase such speculative a commodity,
    I would scarcely bid the value of a rodent’s posterior.

  6. Ramble on Evan, ramble on
    Ramble on Evan, ramble on it’s good for the soul to expound and might I say you sound like you’re standing on solid ground.

  7. I like what you are saying
    I like what you are saying here. Just to add another thought: It finally occurred to me what it means, or should mean, to be a good Shakespearian actor. It should be an actor who expresses the words so as to help the audience understand the meaning. An actor who interprets the meaning of the words in his head and then speaks them, as odd and archaic as they might otherwise sound, with life.

  8. When I was in tenth grade,
    When I was in tenth grade, some of my friends and I did a project that involved us rewriting and performing a scene from Much Ado About Nothing, and we did everything in fifteen-year-old slang. It was pretty fun, as far as projects for school go, but somehow, phrases like “she is totally going to freak out” don’t really work as well as the original language.

  9. Just to throw this question
    Just to throw this question out here — if Shakespeare had written in another language, like, oh, Italian, for instance, and our only way of encountering him (outside of learning to read Italian) was through translations, would his work not be his work anymore?

  10. Good point about needing to
    Good point about needing to get into the rhythm of the words to understand, but being able to follow it once you’re in that rhythm. I think that’s true for a lot of older writing, not just Shakespeare. One thing that helps is reading aloud. It’s amazing how much clearer everything becomes when you’re speaking the words instead of just following them on the page.

  11. Some interesting points you
    Some interesting points you make here, and the reply that popped into my head may not actually be completely related, but that’s often the way it is with me. Anyway, yes, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary at all to overhear someone saying something like “that’s like, totally fucking gay, you know?” which is not a brilliant sentence by any standard of brilliance to which I would aspire. But (and this is the point I want to make which may only be marginally related to what you said), the beautiful thing about language is that it lives, changes, grows, shrinks. When it comes to stringing words together, nothing is ever truly timeless, because time is what shifts the words. Even so, no matter how archaic some piece of writing may become, its own archaic nature is something that is important about it — existing as a point on a map of a constantly changing landscape.

    And now that I’ve gotten all of that out of the way, I thought I’d say hi, and it’s always nice to see another Michigan person around these parts.

  12. I get what you’re saying, but
    I get what you’re saying, but I also think that an excellent annotated version of Shakespeare solves a lot of the problem (I recommend Norton, except maybe not the complete works, since that book weighs about ten pounds, and is, quite literally, a pain to carry around). I don’t know. I guess from my perspective, I love having to dig a little bit more than usual to understand something. Unearthing a meaning from layers of linguistic shift is kind of a fun game, actually. But then, I’ve always been a little weird.

  13. I like the idea of an
    I like the idea of an anotated book. I like it a lot! That would be helpful with more than a few writers. Let me add that I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you, I’m just being maddeningly neutral. But in all serioulsness, Jamelah, when I read your idea about anotated editions, it was like a light came on in my mind.

  14. Go Shake Your EarsThis is my
    Go Shake Your Ears

    This is my favorite Shakespearean insult. It refers to the image of a donkey head and thus being an ass. The word “ears” sounded much like “arse” so the joke is more pointed. And the extra touch is that Shakespeare added part of his own name. Now you can only get the meaning and this is a silly example if you know a fair amount about Elizabethan language and culture. Each work of art, no matter how much it transcends its time, is embedded in its culture. And if we read, sometimes it is to get out of our own culture and into someone else’s. It has the effect of challenging us in every way, in silly ways such as insults and puns and in more profound ways.

    As a former professor who taught and studied Shakespeare, I wanted to put that view out there. However, I am also a poet and my view also includes the belief that works that trandscend their immediate time are worth reading in any form, including a comic book. And I doubt that Shakespeare, a man who spelled his own name 75 ways, would think that his words were so santicified. Transcend, translate, transform.

  15. obscene blushing eyeball
    obscene blushing eyeball addiction


    what was the question, again?
    something about language?

    Today’s English Lesson:

    “I go. You know I go,
    because you go too.
    We are going, soon–
    no rush.”

    (The students arrayed before me,
    Chinese, Brazilian, Korean,
    blank stares of discomprehension–
    poets make the worst teachers at
    this level– the student desires
    to be given a rule, preferably
    something simple, a broad generalization–)


    Question: “Should we simplify/
    modernize classical language
    so as to make it more relevant
    for today’s public?”

    Answer: “We must learn to speak as many languages as there are speakers, if poetry is to again take root and thrive.”

    Quarrel: “But Shakespeare is so
    hard to understand!”

    Judgement: “Try reading Chinese,
    then– if Shakespeare is difficult for you, spend the next ten years
    of your life becoming literate in Mandarin, study the Daoist canon,
    and then give the Swan of Avon another try.”

    Protest: “But Mandarin doesn’t
    even have an alphabet! It’s impossible to learn!”

    Resolution: “Then study painting,
    which dispenses with the alphabet

    “But I am clumsy, and hate the
    smell of paint!”

    “Then take-up hunting, or find
    work as a butcher.”

    “But the sight of blood makes
    me sick!”

    “Pluck-out your eyes, then–
    and learn to play the harp,
    and sing.”

    “But I’m tone-deaf!”

    “So howl at the moon.”

  16. A Phenomenonof his times, he
    A Phenomenon

    of his times, he was and is: like all great writers, scientists
    (and all great … were psychopaths, too: there are analyses proving that —
    and Shakespeare’s context of lust and ordered fun made him maybe
    the least contorted of them all, timeless). The times (unlike ours) enabling him to create all those words, language was waiting. Right man, place, time.

    On the other hand, there’s not just one Shakespeare, never was: in the original
    Roundhouse You had only male actors, and a different interaction of ordered pieces, rewards, audience, politics, cultural aspects — nevertheless,
    there are timeless statements for us primates… and presentations differ: there are wonderful open-air presentations of Shakespeare in Bad Gandersheim, in front of a huge church, crows gathering theatrically on it during the play, adding to the realness of the fairy falling in love with the ass, the night lying down all around, birds, lights, sensuality — there are aggressive modern
    interpretations projecting the themes into modern life, or propelling the juices of human motivations, scaling, skinning down to the everlasting or
    society-convoluted backbone: it depends on our eyes and minds whether we perceive it as a valid Shakespeare interpretation. Like making a film from a novel. Necessary, unavoidable and valid for all relevant work. (Same with The Bible and modern versions, and well-utilized versions/translations for early kings.) And change/modification (in reception) is always already made by the change of times,
    development of society, status and condition of the spectator, the interactional context.

    But with Shakespeare, the material is always great, touching the center, can’t be spoiled. So let times and different colors do their work, but the original should be preserved and accessible, too, forever. For correlation, for the original voice, understanding of the modulation, of all modulations we do. And for silent contemplation, the 1:1-interaction. (And class and proof.)

    But it’s amazing how near and touching just Shakespeare’s old metaphors (even with asses and fairies) are, just because they are so entangled in/with the variables that move all our difficult lives underneath:
    death, love, lust, sex, betrayal, society’s schemes and demands… and the patterns of expression, identity, language: see Kerouac about Shakespeare in Good Blonde and others:

    “one:…he wrote costume poetry for the state — there’s your fortune…”

    “two: .. the singing of ‘mellifluous and honey-tongued Shakespeare’ …rhythmic sound… Joyce over 300 years later attempted to become ‘Shakespeare in a Dream’ and succeeded .. pure raving.. ”

    “But Joyce was never able to combine drama with such poetry,and treacherous plots with sighs like hat, and cries, and be, amongst all writers of all time, Divinest Thaumaturgist, Forever.”. DTO., but Kerouac was a child of his times, too, his education and learned hopes.

  17. Seeing Thru the Thees &
    Seeing Thru the Thees & Thous

    Shakespeare. What a guy. His writing has stood the test of time — today, his plays are still being performed on both sides of the pond, and sometimes at theater festivals or in parks. Many films seem to have been adapted from his stories. And yet he has not been alive for most of his fame.
    I always wonder about that, why some people get “chosen” to outlast other writers throughout time. Perhaps it has to do with their writing not getting ruined by some nautrally disaster. Or maybe they best covered a subject that many people or a particular subculture could relate to. I think Shakespeare’s stories reach to a wide audience. But yet, at the same time, if you read his stories in Ye Olde English, it is like reading a foreign language.

    I have read his stories translated to an easier way in jr. high (and we still had to use Cliffs Notes) and in the old way in high school (which was more cool, but we still sneaked by our Cliffs Notes). I prefer reading it the old way. So what if it takes more to figure out? It sounds cool and even though I remember us students sitting through the novels or films of these stories half the time saying, “huh?” Through it we could still see the passion and humor. And seeing his plays performed in the old way is best, too. Especially in the native tongue. Hard to explain.

    I don’t know though, sometimes they make modern versions of his plays and everyone chuckles to themselves at how clever they were to substitute old slang for new, but I think if Shakes were alive today, he’d be a bit pissed. Or whatever the word in his time was, for “pissed”.

    Meanwhile, as for my writing, I think I would want it to stay the same. Heck, if some people are telling me today, “I don’t understand your (or some of your) writing,” then I guess it wouldn’t matter much later if it was still read in the style it had begun with.

  18. Let’s take for instance Akira
    Let’s take for instance Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood. Jamelah, it’s definitely Macbeth in Japanese transported to feudel Japan and I love it. So if it were interpreted creatively, yes it could be great, but if on the other hand it is just souped up so a modern audiece can understand the language, that’s bull.

  19. I agree that it is fun to do,
    I agree that it is fun to do, and for a school project, well, you could do a lot worse. But I think that it would be a travesty if people find that Shakespeare is irrelevant unless he is in modern English, or that understanding is indeed more important that the actual words.

    Hell, if understanding is what you seek, you might as well eliminate the majority of poetry.

  20. You have a good point. If
    You have a good point. If some people don’t understand what we are writing now, why change it? You got me thinking: Writing is more than just telling a story like a newspaper reprter – who, what, when, where – it’s the way things are phrased, etc. So thinking of it like that, no, we shouldn’t change Shakespears’s words any more than we would change Hemingway, Kerouac, or Hunter S. Thompson.

  21. Thanks for the quote and the
    Thanks for the quote and the explanation. That’s great! Funny, too. I believe you would agree that there are both good and bad translations of a work. That would be the important part – if one is going to translate something they should somehow retain the author’s wit and style.

  22. Matter of degree, eh? This
    Matter of degree, eh? This reminds me that if there were no friction at all, we would slide right through life into oblivion with nothing to gauge our journey. Good thought.

  23. Thank you all!Jamelah–You’re
    Thank you all!

    Jamelah–You’re right. I understand the realism in the dialogue of the everyday you are referring to. That’s very true. I also enjoy the Proustian metaphysical aspect of the word you gave. You made very good points, and they added nicely.

    I worry about brevity, someday…But you all are right: it doesn’t matter how we say things, it’s that our audience understands and connects with what we’re communiticating.

    Being only 18, I’ve got a while to find my voice. I want to communicate to the masses, but I also want to enjoy the reverie that the poetics of words provides. I love looking at a sentence like a phrase in music–words intone so many things into a reader. I love how they sound.

    That’s what I worry most about my writing. How does the piece flow? Logic and reasoning only goes so far, before you have to yield unto the absurd and just dream. –Specifically why I like Kerouac, and the stream-of-consciousness writers.

  24. my irrelative response to all
    my irrelative response to all this is a tidbit by thomas chatterton:

    “The sun was glemeing in the midde of daie,
    Deadde still the aire, and eke the welken blue,
    When from the sea arist in drear arraie
    A hepe of cloudes of sable sullen hue,
    The which full fast unto the woodlande drewe,
    Hiltring attenes the sunnis fetive face,
    And the blacke tempeste swolne and gatherd up apace.”

    and to continue i offer a note on the verysame page, from the editor thereof i assume: First published in 1777. This was one of the “Rowley Poems,” declared by Chatterton to have been written by a priest of the late fifteenth century, Thomas Rowley, Chatterton seems to have composed his poetry in the language of his own time; then to have substituted, where he conveniently could, antiquated words, and disguised the whole by a quaint spelling which he supposed resembled that of the fifteenth century. His chief sources for this process were Speght’s edition of Chaucer, Bailey’s Universal Etymological Dictionary, and Kersey’s Dictionarium Anglo-Britannicum. Skeat, in his edition of Chatterton, says: “Chatterton has … employed no old words whatever but such as are contained in Kersey or Speght; the only exceptions to this rule occurring in the case of a few words which he modifed or invented.” This next and the following notes in quotation marks are Chatterton’s: “Thomas Rowley, the author, was born at Norton Malreward in Somersetshire, educated at the Convent of St. Kenna at Keynesham, and died at Westbury in Gloucestershire.”

  25. I just wanted to say I think
    I just wanted to say I think this is a great topic.
    I sometimes have difficulty reading beyond the surface myself, though I am ashamed to admit it.
    I remember reading God Bless the Beasts and Children in eigth grade. After we were finished the teacher asked what we thought J.C. (the main character) stood for. We were clueless, it was just initials to us, or at least me anyway. When she revealed that it stood for Jesus Christ, I was astounded. All this time I thought it was just about a group of boys in camp. I really need to read that book again, now that I know.
    I learned somewhere that Moby Dick represented manifest destiny, and I thought the story was just about a man and a whale.
    These all happened when I was younger, maybe I have better vision now. I hope so.

  26. Elaine, that’s funny that you
    Elaine, that’s funny that you mention “J.C.” in “Bless the Beasts and Children” because I remember a similar experience in around 9th or 10th grade when we were reading “Lord of the Flies”. The teacher explained that Simon was a Christ symbol, and for some reason that concept just blew my mind. I started wanting to put Christ symbols into all my stories, not because they meant anything, but just because it seemed like such a neat innovation, like wanting to put James Brown or Led Zeppelin samples into a hiphop track or faces of friends or family members into a painting. I just wanted to do it because I could.

    It’s funny that a basic concept like symbolism, which now seems so obvious, can be this exciting to a kid. This is definitely one of the reasons it is important to good, challenging literature to kids, and not just the easily-digestible stuff.

    BTW I also read “Bless the Beasts and Children” as a kid but I haven’t heard much about it since. Something about a summer camp filled with weird outcast kids who set a a herd of captive buffaloes free, right? That book (I think it was also a movie) seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth.

  27. a blinded luthercooks
    a blinded luther
    cooks breakfast
    over a smithy’s fire
    in tune to the pounding bellows
    his harp trills attendant stacatto.

  28. Hi Brooklyn. I just ordered
    Hi Brooklyn. I just ordered a used copy of “Bless the Beasts and Children” on Amazon for forty cents plus shipping. I can’t wait to rediscover the meaning.

  29. responseI believe that

    I believe that Shakespeare’s writings are very creative. I, personally do not think it’s wrong to take another person’s writing and change it so that peple can understand as long as you give credit to the person who you took the words from. It is most important that a person understands the language. I believe that it is most important if a person understands everything.

  30. Leave Shakespeare Alone!I
    Leave Shakespeare Alone!

    I agree that people have difficulties understanding Shakespeare’s writing, but it really is not a good idea to translate his work into today’s spoken English, and use this translation as part of English literature. Yes, we can translate the Modern language to help us understand what he is conveying. We must keep the original language as it is, so that others in the future will have the opportunity to see where English derived from (ex: Shakespeare). If we did keep the translation as an original text, we would be giving a “head start” to the new learners. Shakespeare is a challenge for all students. What’s the point of learning Shakespeare if his writings were to be translated into simpler English? His work would simply become uninteresting and there will be nothing to tackle with.

    Thanks, minnie-B

  31. UnderstandingIt is true that

    It is true that Shakespeare’s writings or plays do get students that are studying it very confused. Maybe because of the wide variety of words he uses and having to look down at the bottom of the page everytime to know what one word means. In which case I, myself find it is quite irritating at times.

    In other ways Shakespeare does interest me that he can put fiction too such heights that it makes you feel hate, love, anger, sadness, happiness, and more. Also, historical plays that he wrote such as king Lire or Macbeth gives you the same feelings.

    To that question where it said “if his writing were updated into an English closer to what we speak today?”. In my personal opinion if they did that it would loose all its meaning, it wouldn’t have its significance in structure, language and plot. For instance if they didn’t have a rhymes would it be all the more enjoyable to read?

    “What’s more important, being able to understand everything (without having to consult a dictionary) or the sanctity of the writing as written?” I would rather understand everything without using a dictionary because with a wide lexis you can talk in a manner that can get yourself a job, can help you perform infront of a crowd or debate something with someone.

    Understanding Shakespeare without looking at the bottom of the page Is still what I would like the most do you agree?

  32. Shakespearean language should
    Shakespearean language should not and cannot be translated into modern language. He plays with the words so well that it is almost quite impossible to translate it. When people try to translate his plays, some of the meaning is lost and therefore it may not be understood correctly. Moreover, his plays are structurally balanced. For example: When there is a tensed moment, he shifts the reader to a comic tense so that they can “relax” for a while before going on to find out what will happen. Therefore, I think that Shakespeare should not be translated.

  33. I agree with your comment. I
    I agree with your comment. I believe Shakespeare’s writing should not be changed into Modern English, for reasons that the romantic, trademark sound that Shakespeare is famous for would be lost. If his work were changed into Modern English, what would he be noted for? His name would have no significance, no affect, in literature, therefore, there would be no reason for him to be studied in English classes all over the world, if he had no specialty. The beauty of Shakespeare’s work is that nobody understands it right away, ergo, when people research and deconstruct his endeavors, they will understand it all the more, which will make it easier for them to understand his other works.

    I too, would also be angry if somebody had modified my work. Hence the word “my”.

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