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Is Shakespeare overrated?

by Jennifer Muirhead (follow)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma ~ Eartha Kitt.
Poetry (16)      Drama (7)      Shakespeare (6)      Plays (4)     

The man himself.

Some people, like Guardian columnist Peter Beech, dislike Shakespeare and put his popularity down to indoctrination by the literary establishment. Others love his poetry and plays and feel that their themes still have relevance today.

Which camp are you in? Do you enjoy the works of Shakespeare or do you think they are overrated? And what do you think of modern adaptations by Baz Luhrmann, Joss Whedon and the like?

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I think it depends entirely on why you're reading it. I think schools have ruined it for kids by forcing it upon them and telling them how marvellous it is so kids only read it because they're forced to. From an adult perspective, it's fascinating to read it though!
I think that's a really good point. As great as it is, forcing it upon kids in the interests of a 'classical' education-who may not be ready for it is a sure way to create a certain amount of backlash. I think we have to recognize that the language is becoming increasingly distanced from our modern English and unless there's a really good teacher to help translate, often means that the jokes fall flat and the witty banter becomes impenetrable to a young, modern reader.

That said, I don't think he's overrated and that there is an amazing depth and range to his works, and a wit that I cannot help but be in awe of.
Shakespeare is most definitely not overrated!
Apart from the timeless wonder of his poetry and the themes that run through his work, you also need to look at his plays in the context of the time in which they were written. Then they appear even more astonishing!
And that's not even mentioning all the contributions he made to the English language, people quote him every day without realising it....
Modern adaptations are good or bad, depending on the adaptation! If they are well done then I like them, particularly if they are used as an introduction to the real thing :)
Shakespeare was one of the finest writers of his times and his stories were so unique as he used the most fresh ideas then. If people are still using his themes to make plays, films and scripts, he certainly deserves the respect. It is a different matter that one may not relate to his writing style and use of obsolete words.
Although I find Shakespeare's language too challenging to really enjoy reading or watching, I do actually love his plots. I do not think Shakespeare is overrated, and while he is not easily accessible, I think it probably is the greatest writer there has ever been. The precision of his words is so clever, and masterfully done. I don't think anyone could quite match it. Shakespeare has also contributed so much to the English language, having coined hundreds of words in use today.
Provided Shakespeare WAS the actual writer of the Plays, no, I don't think he's overrated.

What a huge canon of fabulous works, in every way, has been left to us!
His works run the gamut of human emotions, & then some!
Never found it difficult to study, as I loved the set plays at School.
Have continued reading them, & more, especially seeing the Plays acted on stage, by our own fantastic Bell Shakespeare Company!

Do NOT enjoy 'modern' interpretations whatsoever! They're just SO wrong in every which-way!
I've enjoyed the plays a winters tale the tempest and the merchant of Venice in versions translated into modern English. I could make neither heads nor tails of a midsummer nights dream either in the live performance I went to see or indeed in the modern English translation I read . I also like the odd quote in the original old English [which I often refer to as Greek]. But basically Shakespeare to me is just by and large ponderous incomprehensible overrated trash and dickens isn't much better either but I do enjoy film versions of his work as they cut down on the long-windedness and stick to the point .My favourite writer is dr suess for his classic book how the Grinch stole Christmas .my favourite line from the book is .
and he puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore then he thought of something he hadn't before maybe Christmas he thought doesn't come from a store maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.

that line like the rest of the book is sheer literary genius . far more memorable than anything Shakespeare ever wrote and far more entertaining.to sum it up Shakespeare is basically excuse the expression 'much ado about nothing,.

Michael. Yorkshire
Shakespeare is definitely overrated by far. I found beautiful verses in Venus and Adonis. And I liked a couple of his sonnets or so – a couple from 154. I hated reading Macbeth in high school. I couldn’t get into any of his plays. There is no great story telling and while he has a first rate poetic talent so do many others, and some of which have yet accomplished much more than him in poetry. The worst part is the fact that Shakespeare’s writing is mostly depressing, with bad endings (pointless tragedies).

Another point: I recently asked someone if she knew who Edmund Spenser was. The person never heard of him, and yet has heard of Shakespeare, of course. Why? When Edmund Spenser has accomplished great poetry beyond Shakespeare. In fact, in history, Edmund Spenser, if anyone, should rather be considered the greatest English Poet, and certainly not Shakespeare. I read also that Spenser is considered the greatest Elizabethan poet, which thus leaves out Shakespeare. How does this figure if Shakespeare is considered the greatest English poet also???? LOL Shakespeare doesn’t even come close to Spenser.

Richard Paulson
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