Shakespeare
sucks
4% (18)
4% (18)
overrated
26.5% (118)
26.5% (118)
classic
45.6% (203)
45.6% (203)
amazing
23.6% (105)
23.6% (105)
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Poll: Is shakespeare great?

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Shakespeare stories are reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally old and I was wondering if anyone here actually held him in high regard or anything.
Was he pioneer of new fiction or was he just lucky at being first, but most importantly why is he so great that I learned of him in english classes in high school when there are many great modern works and pieces made since then that may be better than his.
so

I don't like his stuff and don't really understand why he is considered so great.

I can see why he's so lauded, although I'm personally not a huge fan of the old-timey style.

Funny thing. Back in his day Shakespeare's works were considered as artless pap to be enjoyed by the uneducated masses, similar to how a lot of people regard Twilight or reality TV in modern times.

Most of his stories have been done better, since, but for modern culture he /was/ the source of most of the stories we tell.

Shakespeare no doubt took his ideas from pervious works, but they have been lost to the ages for the most part.

I would say that he is a good writer, better than good, but that this blind pedestal that every English teacher ever attempts to put him on as the undisputed best and brightest writer of the bunch doesn't sit well with me.

I voted overrated, because even if he is good, he is overrated to hell and back by people.

Really good writer, funny and compelling stuff once you get used to the language and invented a crap load of cool words. Yes is he was/is great. Though some people's fanaticism for him does run quite high.

A lot of what made Shakespeare popular was that he not only wrote the plays, but organized the stage productions. You'll notice that he includes the bare minimum instructions to the actors. Bassanio walks in. Bassanio walks out. Banquo is killed. Nothing else is there, so we really don't know how his plays were performed.

Which is one of the great things about his scripts. The lack of directions allows for the plays to be extremely malleable in their presentation. How many different versions of Hamlet or Macbeth have been made, and how different are each of them? The sheer diversity of interpretations allows old stories to be retold and made fresh by putting a new spin on things. And in the end, a strong presentation is better than an average script.

Oh he was good. Perhaps he doesn't stand out quite as well today as he did in the past, but he was good and once you get a handle on the language, the plays are genuinely entertaining.

I can't say I'm a fan of his though - I generally don't like plays, instead preferring non-fiction and history books. I recognize the fact that he was an incredibly accomplished writer, and that the literary world has benefited from his works. There's a reason why so many cultures and nations have translated Shakespeare into their native tongue. Hell, China regularly puts on Shakespeare's plays, as does India. He's famous the world over.

But even I think some of the fanaticism and adulation that surrounds Shakespeare to be at little creepy at times. He was a good writer, but some are determined to enshrine him as "BEST. WRITER. EVER." Who the "best" writer is, is an entirely subjective thing - personally, I think "The Origin of Species" is better than Hamlet. I think Brave New World is better than MacBeth. That doesn't mean I didn't like Hamlet or MacBeth, but I have found literature I enjoy more than those two plays.

To some people, Shakespeare is the greatest writer who ever lived, and I think it's nice that they get such enjoyment out of his works. But I'm not in that camp. I get more enjoyment and enlightenment out of other texts. That doesn't mean it's wrong to enjoy Shakespeare, oh no, but it also means that it's not "wrong" to not "get" Shakespeare. Plenty of people don't "get" Shakespeare or like it, or can relate to it.

As one gets older, the appreciation for things like Shakespeare grows. Most Shakespeare fans are almost certainly older than 35, although it is entirely possible to enjoy Shakespeare at almost any age (above 10), as my sister proves. She read all of his plays by the time she was 13, and still read them to this day, and still loves them. But in general, young people don't and can't relate to Shakespeare, and there's nothing wrong with that. Plenty of older people can't either.

I appreciate Shakespeare's plays, but I'd rather read a good history book.

The idea that his themes are still relevant today have helped his stories survive through time. Though others have surely done this too... I guess he was just the best.

Zhukov:
I can see why he's so lauded, although I'm personally not a huge fan of the old-timey style.

Funny thing. Back in his day Shakespeare's works were considered as artless pap to be enjoyed by the uneducated masses, similar to how a lot of people regard Twilight or reality TV in modern times.

Funny how now Shakespeare's work is seen to be a penchant of the more intellectual.

His writing is very clever but most of his plots and characters fucking suck. So the answer is somewhere in the middle. His work isn't without merit but he is hardly "the shit".

Hmm, I'd say Shakespeare wrote pretty banal stories but he wrote them very well, if that makes sense. The fact that you can determine what ending it will have by what genre it is (tradgedy; main characters die in the end, comedy; main characters marry in the end) and that if the tradgedy is named after a character(s), then that's the name of the character that kicks the bucket doesn't make for the most enthralling tales and the characters aren't particularly idiosyncratic or well rounded. But the manner in which he writes is very eloquent and evocative, that ensares and ensconces you, elevating a pretty pedestrian tale into something ensorcelling. Definately overrated, but then again, anything that's widely held up as the zenith of an entire medium is bound not live up to expectations.

If you can understand the language, it's really good writing. A lot of movies have been influenced by him.
Though I was an English and performing arts student so I guess I had to like him...

I've seen Othello x2 (Once with Lenny Henry, and the other a modernised version).
Midsummer Nights Dream with an Indian cast and countless other times because my school used to do it every year...
Romeo and Juliet
Hamlet
Taming Of The Shrew

They were all with school though. If there was something else on that looked good, I would rather watch that.

over rated in general but having said that, some of his stuff is still really anazing

I'm a fan of the man, and have read through quite a few of his works. He was the Quentin Tarantino of his times (though with a broader range). Seriously, his works pulled heavily and reflected upon the passion plays and Greek theater he grew up on (while for Tarantino it's 70's pulp and blaxploitation) while still being a reflection upon contemporary culture. There is also a great deal of appreciation amongst both for the power of their mediums (eg. one of the underlying concepts of Hamlet is the power theater held over society and one of the underlying concepts of Inglorious Basterds is the power of cinema). Shakespeare's most popular plays were also often ridiculously violent and filled with sharp, witty character driven dialogue.

And I love the look on the faces of Shakespeare's older and more traditional fans when I compare him to Tarantino. Fuckin' hilarious.

I am a huge fan of his works, he is easily the single most important writer to ever write in the English language. He is nearly single-handedly responsible for the language we speak today. His dialogues are clever and memorable, and often hilarious too.

deadman91:
He was the Quentin Tarantino of his times

Pretty much this :P

deadman91:
He was the Quentin Tarantino of his times (though with a broader range).

Haha, that's a really good analogy.

And, incidentally, is IMO makes a case for Shakespeare's writing talent - his plays still work despite the fact that the vast majority of the people who see them (myself included) have no experience with the genres he's playing with.

The sheer arrogance of this board continues to amaze. Its relentless. Shakespeare is the best selling author of all time. Its estimated that over 500 billion of his works have been sold; works that influence every piece of fiction in our culture to this day. Not just plays and books, but games, movies, television, EVERYTHING.

But eh, let's ignore all that and declare him "overrated".

Unbelievable. Absolutely epic.

I LOVE Shakespeare. I agree that 'The Greatest Writer Ever' is a silly title to give to someone but for his works to have endured this long, and to have influenced so much, including the English language itself, is a huge achievement. Even his lesser known plays are interesting and well-written. My favourite ever scene from a play/tv show/film is from Richard III when the protagonist (who is also the villain) manages to persuade the widow of a man he's just murdered to marry him. It's an insanely witty but scary scene, where you can see the true depths people will go to in order to gain a bit of power. Scarier still is how relevant a lot of his stuff still is.

I also love the fact that his works can be read on so many levels. For example, his sonnets are held up as some of the most romantic, beautiful poetry ever written and are quoted endlessly in romance novels, romcoms etc. but the majority of them (the first 120) are actually written about a man in drag. If you read them back it's really obvious, and once you know it's really funny to see people in films quoting sonnets to prove their love, when actually all they're doing is repeating a really old joke about a bloke in a dress.

That said, schools tend to do a spectacularly crappy job of teaching his plays. I don't know many people who would say they like Shakespeare, just because trying to read The Merchant of Venice aged 15 is like torture. You'd think that a writer who includes a ridiculous amount of sex, violence, incest, murder, insanity and sticking two fingers up at your parents would be pretty popular with teenagers. Thankfully our teacher was amazing, and once acted out the entire plot of Macbeth through interpretive dance - funniest thing I've ever seen in a classroom and guaranteed to give you fond memories of the Bard.

The guy knew how to write for his audience, it was funny, witty, dramatic, intelligent, varied, and most incredibly of all he wrote pretty much all of it in iambic pentameter. That's got to get pretty difficult after a while... The guy was incredible, whether you enjoy his work or not.

As anyone, from almost anywhere who Shakespeare was, and they'd be able to tell you at least something. He must have been doing something right.
Not many other people have had their own QI episode!

iv'e enjoyed a lot of his work, also its really good to Call people out when they say 'Romeo and Juliet is such a feel good Love story'

The problem with Shakespeare is how he's taught in school. He's taught as dry pieces of literature and are read as such, and you have to remember most of his work was meant to be preformed. It makes a difference, plus it makes it more interesting to study when you keep that in mind.

His plots might not always be the most intricate in comparison to other things (though they're still pretty good), but his characters are often unforgettable, and his poetry is unrivaled, still today. Many years ago I thought I might be able to do better. Many years later I have realised I'll never even come close.

"I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams."

Perhaps when you get older and can appreciate what he's actually doing with his juxtaposition of words and imagery you will be in awe of what the English language is capable of. People write 15,000 word essays on just a few lines of his work. The works are so dense and layered with meaning within their context. And not just anyone - University professors among others. Do you really still think he's overrated?

I'll advise you as you as Kent advised Lear - "See better."

Fluoxetine:

But eh, let's ignore all that and declare him "overrated".

"To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life..."

I think the main reasons people don't appreciate Shakespeare is because they don't see how out there his ideas, metaphors and writing was for the time period, personally I think he was amazing.

Only ever read Shakespeare for grade 10 English. Even then I was barely paying attention because we didn't have to write about it, we just had to reenact a scene for our assessment. My friends and I used it as an excuse to whale on each other with foam swords in front of the class, while we started saying a bunch of lines from the play to justify it.

We got an A.

Fluoxetine:
The sheer arrogance of this board continues to amaze. Its relentless. Shakespeare is the best selling author of all time. Its estimated that over 500 billion of his works have been sold; works that influence every piece of fiction in our culture to this day. Not just plays and books, but games, movies, television, EVERYTHING.

But eh, let's ignore all that and declare him "overrated".

Unbelievable. Absolutely epic.

I don't get it, in what way is not liking Shakespeare as much as others "arrogant"? I don't think anyone here is trying to say they could write better than him, so where's the issue?

OT: I quite liked Richard the third and Macbeth, but I'm generally not into plays as a medium, so I'm not exactly a great fan or anything. There's plenty of things I enjoy a lot more then Shakespeare.

OmniscientOstrich:
Hmm, I'd say Shakespeare wrote pretty banal stories but he wrote them very well, if that makes sense. The fact that you can determine what ending it will have by what genre it is (tradgedy; main characters die in the end, comedy; main characters marry in the end) and that if the tradgedy is named after a character(s), then that's the name of the character that kicks the bucket doesn't make for the most enthralling tales and the characters aren't particularly idiosyncratic or well rounded. But the manner in which he writes is very eloquent and evocative, that ensares and ensconces you, elevating a pretty pedestrian tale into something ensorcelling. Definately overrated, but then again, anything that's widely held up as the zenith of an entire medium is bound not live up to expectations.

This is why Shakespeare is so well respected as a writer. The audiences did know what was going to happen as far as the ending. It was how plays were written. Watching a play wasn't about knowing the ending but in how the play took you there.

Yes Shakespeare had a pop aspect to his work. The commoners like his dirty jokes and all of the violence. If you study his plays you realize that he also deals with more intellectual themes. Both nobility and commoners would watch his plays at the same time so the plays had to be entertaining to both classes. It takes talent to appeal to two very different types of people with the same work.

Add in the fact that Shakespeare was successful with many plays makes him one of the best English writers of all time. Shakespeare has a very high quality to his works and he wrote an obscene amount for the time period. The amount and quality of his writings hasn't been matched since.

That is why Shakespeare is what he is to English classes. The problem to really appreciating him is that you have to know a good amount about what life was like in that time period, be able to read that style of writing, understand what was expected of a play in that time, and be able to see how he is still having a strong influence on us today. It takes time and effort to understand and appreciate him.

Shakespeare is not the best writer of his time, nor was he the most original. I think that Marlowe had the best writing and Johnson was the most original.

He is remembered not because of how he was from his time, but because how the 19th century romantics saw him. They chose Shakespeare to heap praises on and the rest of us followed.

He is considered timeless because every generation is allowed to come up with a new reason to like him. Hamlet used to be about trust, then it became about politics, psychosis, and now it about Hamlet being a homosexual.

He was a great writer, but nowadays the Bardolatry is overwhelming - he is an over-rated figure in our society, if only because there are so many other writers who are fantastic and are never widely heard of, even from Shakespeare's period. Jonson, Webster, Marlowe all wrote absolutely terrific stuff ... are they even half as known as Shakespeare?

floppylobster:
His plots might not always be the most intricate in comparison to other things (though they're still pretty good), but his characters are often unforgettable, and his poetry is unrivaled, still today. Many years ago I thought I might be able to do better. Many years later I have realised I'll never even come close.

"I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams."

Perhaps when you get older and can appreciate what he's actually doing with his juxtaposition of words and imagery you will be in awe of what the English language is capable of. People write 15,000 word essays on just a few lines of his work. The works are so dense and layered with meaning within their context. And not just anyone - University professors among others. Do you really still think he's overrated?

I'll advise you as you as Kent advised Lear - "See better."

Yea. I'm going to give the arrogant English teacher response to people that don't like him:

If you don't like Shakespeare, you just haven't studied him enough.

I'll also say that if you take the test of time to be a good measure of artistic worth, then its pretty difficult to deny that Shakespeare comes out on top. His works are still the most performed and have been adapted into everything from Disney cartoons to Japanese Noh theatre.

Hollyday:
I LOVE Shakespeare. I agree that 'The Greatest Writer Ever' is a silly title to give to someone but for his works to have endured this long, and to have influenced so much, including the English language itself, is a huge achievement. Even his lesser known plays are interesting and well-written. My favourite ever scene from a play/tv show/film is from Richard III when the protagonist (who is also the villain) manages to persuade the widow of a man he's just murdered to marry him. It's an insanely witty but scary scene, where you can see the true depths people will go to in order to gain a bit of power. Scarier still is how relevant a lot of his stuff still is.

I also love the fact that his works can be read on so many levels. For example, his sonnets are held up as some of the most romantic, beautiful poetry ever written and are quoted endlessly in romance novels, romcoms etc. but the majority of them (the first 120) are actually written about a man in drag. If you read them back it's really obvious, and once you know it's really funny to see people in films quoting sonnets to prove their love, when actually all they're doing is repeating a really old joke about a bloke in a dress.

That said, schools tend to do a spectacularly crappy job of teaching his plays. I don't know many people who would say they like Shakespeare, just because trying to read The Merchant of Venice aged 15 is like torture. You'd think that a writer who includes a ridiculous amount of sex, violence, incest, murder, insanity and sticking two fingers up at your parents would be pretty popular with teenagers. Thankfully our teacher was amazing, and once acted out the entire plot of Macbeth through interpretive dance - funniest thing I've ever seen in a classroom and guaranteed to give you fond memories of the Bard.

The presentation is absolutely imperative.

I never read the Merchant of Venice in school, oh no, we did Romeo and Juliet. To death. However, I actually just saw a presentation of the Merchant, and I thought it was brilliant, very funny. A lot of that, however, had to do with the actors. I'm sure if my only experience of the tale had been back in high school, a series of uninterested student readers stumbling over it, I would have been bored to tears.

I would classify Shakespere as overrated.
Severely.

Eh. Never really read his stuff. Saw the modern version of Romeo and Juliet with Leonard Diwhatshisface and hated it, so I've not got the best impression of him.

He isn't that old.

Now... The Odyssey... THAT is old.

I personally think that Shakespeare is brilliant, I like a lot of his works and each year my mother, aunt, nan and I go to see a Shakespeare play performed outside during the summer.

Not to mention the effect he had on the English language and literature as a whole.

Would I call him a bad writer? Absolutely not.

I just think that poetry is a bland and terrible art form in general, so I'm a little biased when it comes to that.

Though strangely, I actually understood Shakespeare better than most people in my class when we were learning about him, and was able to throw up some interesting debates. You're probably all thinking "So what?", but you need to understand that I didn't really excel at much during school.

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