By Bianca Smith • April 23, 2018
Were you forced to study William Shakespeare's plays in school? They can be counted as the classics we study before we're old enough to understand them really. The plays are also positioned as high-class classics, which is untrue. They were written as bawdy entertainment for the masses, and some of the language reflects that. Not that it has stopped us from using words and phrases invented by Shakespeare. Because of him we "wear our heart on our sleeve" and go on a "wild-goose chase" that results in us "not having slept a wink." And there are other phrases with very different meanings if you apply the Shakespearean definitions. It's a little too rude for here, but Harry Potter fans will never think of Ravenclaws the same if they look up what "wit beyond measure is man's greatest pleasure" also means.
As well as influencing our modern language, Shakespeare has influenced modern literature. Aldous Huxley's dystopian classic, Brave New World, takes the title directly from a speech given by Miranda in The Tempest, and there are also story parallels. But there are others too.Fool as "Hilarious, always inventive; this is a book for all, especially uptight English teachers, bardolaters, and ministerial students." King Lear is told from the perspective of Pocket, the fool in King Lear's court. A keen reader's eye will notice "cameos" from other Shakespeare plays. Hamlet, Phillip's father returns as a ghost after being killed Phillip's uncle. Except this is modern times, Phillip is only eleven, and the murder was framed as a car accident. There's still revenge, treachery, and a mission to avenge his father. Hamlet is dark, brooding, feminist and doesn't have a happy ending. The Merchant of Venice uses some problematic stereotypes of Jewish people, so not on the top of most people's rewrite list, but Man Booker prize winner, Howard Jacobson successfully does it. The characters have the same concerns about identity, parenthood, anti-Semitism, and revenge; modern-day updates have Beatrice running off with a football player. Anne Tyler takes a play sometimes described as misogynistic, and puts a headstrong, independent young woman at its center. In this modern-day retelling, it's a Green Card wedding to keep her father's research assistant from being deported. Romeo and Juliet, did you ever give thought to Rosaline? Yeah, she's the one Romeo was smitten with before Juliet came along. When You Were Mine tells the famous love story from heartbroken, outside eyes. series) for the battle for the souls of true lovers everywhere.