Why People “Hate” Shakespeare

A few months before my book, The Bard and the Bible, was published, I told a good friend how great it was, and she wrinkled her nose and said, “I hate Shakespeare.”



As we talked further, I found out why. Since then, I’ve thought a little (always an exhausting exercise for me), and have come up with the following short list of the most common reasons I discover for why people “hate” (or sometimes just don’t understand) Shakespeare:

  1. They first encountered Shakespeare’s plays in writing, rather than on stage (NOTE: Shakespeare’s plays were not written to be read but to be seen and heard–live, on stage).
  2. They were required to read Shakespeare’s plays in a school setting, and found them boring (like school in general).
  3. They were exposed to Shakespeare by someone (often a sixth-grade language arts teacher or high school English Lit. teacher) with few acting skills and possibly few teaching skills.
  4. They were embarrassed by having to read aloud from Shakespeare, regardless of their reading skill.
  5. They found the language too difficult to read and had insufficient help in understanding it.
  6. They don’t like reading or literature in general.
  7. The play or plays they have seen were poorly acted.
  8. They never encountered the funny bits of Shakespeare.
  9. They have been turned off by Shakespeare fans who preen and posture about their own cleverness or sophistication.
  10. Poetry, period pieces, and other characteristics of Shakespeare are simply not to their liking.

So what do you think? How did I do? Would you disagree with some of those? Add to my list? I’d love to know why you or someone you know “hates” Shakespeare.

(photo illustration by Derek Kimball, via everystockphoto.com)


About writerhoss

I am a writer from southwestern Ohio, and a frequent speaker at churches, conferences, and retreats. My books include The Bard and the Bible (A Shakespeare Devotional).
This entry was posted in Bard, Plays and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Why People “Hate” Shakespeare

  1. I agree with your points. The major ones are being forced to read it in school without any assistance to understand it. I acquired my fondness for Shakespeare when I played Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in junior high. 🙂


  2. agdicken says:

    I fell in love with Shakespeare as a High School Freshman in the Theatre arts, and participated in Shakespearean plays throughout high school. I wholeheartedly agree that Shakespeare is much better spoken than read, as far as initial exposure to it. I just loved speaking the words on stage, the lyrical language, and the beautiful imagery he uses. I can’t sit down with his works without speaking it–so much is missed if it’s not heard. 🙂


    • writerhoss says:

      Absolutely! I wish more people understood that. In fact, did you know that in Shakespeare’s time people didn’t typically say they were going to “see” a play; they would say they were going to “hear” a play?


  3. BK Jackson says:

    The “being forced to read it in school” is a HUGE factor–not just for Shakespeare but for any book considered a classic. I have always loved to read and excelled in language arts in school–but to this day I find the so-called great literature repugnant at worst, boring at the least, because instead of schools letting me explore literature on my own, they shoved their choices down my throat. I will occasionally read a ‘classic’ now in adulthood and I am invariably underwhelmed and find the book was not worth the hype that had been built up around it over the decades. They are often good but not great.


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