Most people think about Shakespeare and can’t help think of posh, quaint British accents and really ugly pants. But few people stop and recognize the relevance that Shakespeare’s work has today. Quite frankly, not only does reading Shakespeare make you look very intelligent, but it helps you understand where many slang terms come from. So, to understand a bit more of the language we have today and feel good about yourself, dust off your old English and enjoy a comedy or too.
To start, some of the phrases we hear on a daily basis are actually from Shakespeare. Such as:
- Fair play (“The Tempest”): A phrase frequently used in sports to say what is and isn’t legal.
- All that glitters isn’t gold (“Merchant of Venice”): Sometimes things that seem good … aren’t.
- Wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve (“Othello”): To be honest and open about one’s emotions.
- Break the ice (“The Taming of the Shrew”): Doing something to introduce one’s self to a new person.
- Too much of a good thing (“As You Like It”): Everything in moderation is something your mother probably told you, and it’s true. For example, too much water, you could drown. RIP.
- In a pickle (“The Tempest”): That troublesome situation your grandmother often warned you about… something usually hard to get out of.
If you have ever felt the need to pick up a good book and sit by the fire, picking that perfect book can often be challenging. When you want to be a little pretentious, but not too much so that people notice, Shakespeare is for you. Shakespeare is prestigious while still being an enjoyable read. There is humor, drama and tragedy keeping the reader on their toes. Movies have been made with actors who are familiar to us, such as Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Patrick Stewart, Dame Maggie Smith, James Earl Jones, Leonardo DiCaprio, and many others. It is so great to be able to watch movies that these actors are in and having read where these movies come from.
Another thing about Shakespeare that can be looked over quite often is how funny he is. In one scene from “Julius Caesar” Act 3, Scene 3, Caesar was just murdered by some conspirators and many citizens are furious and violent. One of these conspirators is named Cinna, and about at this moment, some upset people run into Cinna the poet … a very different man. So, Cinna the poet is casually walking along until he is confronted by the angry mob. The mob asks his name and, upon hearing it’s Cinna, works themselves in a frenzy with intent to kill him. The poor poet explains the fact that he is not the man who killed Shakespeare, but the mob is so angry and violent, all they want is blood. Basically, even though it is completely the wrong person, the angry plebeians killed a guy named Cinna, because they were wrong, didn’t want to admit that, and then said they had to kill him for his bad poetry (which they have never read). Overall, it is a fun critique of how lack of education can end quite disastrously.
Things that are clique often come from Shakespeare. His works are classic and often quoted, leaving the stories well-known. What he wrote, through clique now, was a new and inventive idea at his time. For those sweet and heart-warming phrases and actions that make some people melt, thank Shakespeare.
What stops people from reading works that influence our daily life so much? If you want to gain a certain level of intelligence, humor and understanding, I could not encourage you more to take some time to pick up Shakespeare and get reading.