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:
- 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).
- They were required to read Shakespeare’s plays in a school setting, and found them boring (like school in general).
- 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.
- They were embarrassed by having to read aloud from Shakespeare, regardless of their reading skill.
- They found the language too difficult to read and had insufficient help in understanding it.
- They don’t like reading or literature in general.
- The play or plays they have seen were poorly acted.
- They never encountered the funny bits of Shakespeare.
- They have been turned off by Shakespeare fans who preen and posture about their own cleverness or sophistication.
- 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)