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 is brilliant. Most people struggle to realise how much of a master of language and story he is until they can honestly say they understand the original text along with a more in-depth knowledge of the English language and how many words and phrases come from Shakespeare's work.

Have a link to a very small list of examples of the words that Shakespeare crafted.

Considering how many modern plots are still based around his stories, he still holds up amazingly well. There has never been a person who has contributed so much to literature as Shakespeare.

Overrated.
Shoot me.
Sure, you can find him amazing if you want, doesn't make him the best author of all time that everybody should watch and love, or else be counted as uneducated and the literature equivalent of CoD players [The group gamers generally scapegoat for anything uneducated, or to do with streamlining and such].
He may be good, but don't expect me to love him. He's boring. He can't hold the attention of most people I know for more than 5 minutes with his works. Other great writers existed in his time, existed since his time, and exist today - and few people worship them as much as some worship Shakespeare.
Personal taste, is all I have to say. Of the few people I know that actually like Shakespeare, most believe he completely transcends personal taste, and is great no matter what you like, and if you don't think you like him, you just don't get it and need to read it again. Seriously, they're like Bioware and the ME3 ending. People like that, who give him the "God of all writing" rating, are the reason I find him overrated. Otherwise, he's just mediocre.

This thread. It's full of English language hipsters D:

Lunncal:

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.

Perhaps it's arrogant to suggest that an opinion based on the one time you got taught it at school (presumably badly) is valid against centuries of intense scholarly study. To say that he is overrated suggests that you know the value of Shakespeare better than all those people that have studied or performed his works to a high level.
I think that it's legitimate to not enjoy Shakespeare. The old fashioned English requires some effort to understand, lots of the cultural references are lost on us etc. However, most people who don't like Shakespeare seem to take "I didn't enjoy it" as some sort of damning critique. Enjoyment isn't the best measure of artistic worth. I enjoyed reading High Fidelity far more than The Trial or, say, some of Shakespeare's works. Do I consider it a great piece of literature? No... it's just an enjoyable one.

I think part of the problem is most people get exposed to him first through reading one or other of the plays at school. When I was at school and we read Othello I don't think any of us 'got it' until the teacher brought in a video of a BBC production with Bob Hoskins as Iago.

Genius move. Shakespeare is often seen as lofty, artsy, 'poncy'... but Bob Hoskins was just a regular bloke as well as being a very good and charismatic actor. And he was in The Long Good Friday, so he was cool.

Then we got it.

Shakespeare was an amazing writer, however the pedestal he's put upon is rather ridiculous.

Were his plays good? Yes.
Do they deserve the almost cult-like following by English teachers and Drama students? No.

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.

Justin Bieber is (according to Google trends) more popular than Jesus and a lot more popular than Shakespeare. Yet I call Justin Bieber overrated. Just because something sells well it doesn't mean it can't be overrated, in fact that's the definition of overrated. When you call people ignorant for considering him overrated then you prove that you're quite ignorant yourself.

OT: Personally I haven't really read much of Shakespeare, but I've seen some plays and well, there have been some good, some brilliant, some bad and some terrible. However it's not really my cup of tea. The thing is that Shakespeare's work can be interpreted in ways to make it stay relevant even now. To be able to accomplish that you have to be pretty good.

Sure he's overrated, but that doesn't mean his stuff isn't good.

Shakespeare is to world culture what Valve is to the Escapist!

In all seriousness i have to say i do like quite a lot of Shakespeare's works, but they are certainly being held a bit too high when we're at the point where you sudenly validate yourself as an intellectual being by quoting him in a single conversation.

I suppose i just enjoy his stories a lot because they feel so well told. He didn't become one of the most famous wordsmiths in history by drooling on a piece of paper.

Joccaren:
Overrated.
Shoot me.
Sure, you can find him amazing if you want, doesn't make him the best author of all time that everybody should watch and love, or else be counted as uneducated and the literature equivalent of CoD players [The group gamers generally scapegoat for anything uneducated, or to do with streamlining and such].
He may be good, but don't expect me to love him. He's boring. He can't hold the attention of most people I know for more than 5 minutes with his works. Other great writers existed in his time, existed since his time, and exist today - and few people worship them as much as some worship Shakespeare.
Personal taste, is all I have to say. Of the few people I know that actually like Shakespeare, most believe he completely transcends personal taste, and is great no matter what you like, and if you don't think you like him, you just don't get it and need to read it again. Seriously, they're like Bioware and the ME3 ending. People like that, who give him the "God of all writing" rating, are the reason I find him overrated. Otherwise, he's just mediocre.

Have you ever seen Shakespeare performed?

I find him boring and i think he uses too many words...

I have literally found interpretive dance more effective at conveying a narrative than any of Shakespeare's work.

Plus, im fairly convinced about the theories of Shakespeare not actually being the one who wrote the works. Not that it really matters anyway.

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'm pretty sure that Shakespeare's status as human history's number 1 bestseller is first and foremost a result of his books having been regularily purchased wholesale by schools, colleges and public libraries for centuries - which, in turn, is a result of them being overrated.

As has been pointed out previously, Shakespeare's work was never intended to be art. He was merely trying to write stuff that the general public would pay money to see on a stage. Murder + mayhem + forbidden love = profit.

Certainly, his work is generally well-written and entertaining, but that's all there is to it. Those who insist on scouring those ancient pages for hidden symbolism and alternative meanings, are simply missing the point. We might as well be making school kids study the Harry Potter series.

His plots aren't great but his skill with the english language is utterly superb. He can use it so masterful and make even the most basic sentence a delight to hear.

He's great because he popularized the English language single handedly! If he hadn't of existed, English would be a reaaalllyyy obscure European language today. In fact, most of England would probably be speaking some dialect of French. And in turn, so would you America.

He created a shit load of plays and poems, and almost all of them are considered masterpieces by his times standard, which is a pretty good achievement.

He invented well over 2 trillion words. True story. I kid, somewhere around the 2000 mark I think, I can't really remember.

Obviously you can't compare him to poets and playwrights today, because they're in totally different leagues. And you need to know, that poems and plays where the fucking biggest deal ever back then. They had no other form of media entertainment, that was it.

In the same way you can't compare Michaelangelo's helicopter drawing with an actual helicopter schematic. But you still know that Michaelangelo was a fucking genius.

Sure he was great during his time but these days his works is a pain in the ass to decipher as an English assignments.

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.

For something to be overrated it would have to be popular and critically acclaimed...
Plus, just because many people like Shakespeare doesn't mean it's actually great. Again, kind of the definition of overrated.

Basically what people are doing is the opposite of what you're saying: they see how incredibly popular Shakespeare's writing is but are arguing that may not be justified.

I'm not sure I agree. While I don't think his works are better than contemporary works, his influence on later works is undeniable and for its time it's quite magnificent. To put it in differently: his achievement is extraordinary, his works aren't (that is, not anymore).

If it weren't for the whole "Victorian English thing" he did I might be inspired to look into more of his works but relative to my modern surroundings and the literature I'm used to it's bland and needlessly roundabout. I understand everything he writes. That isn't hard at all but I just don't care for his writing style.

Edit: I appreciate his works in a historical sense but not the works themselves.

I swear to god if i hear his name again after i finish school, i will rip off the mouth of the person who said it.

(basically i'm saying i don't like him)

He is certainly the most influential writer in the English language but influential doesn't always translate into good(think twilight(no i am not comparing shakespear with twilight just using it as an analogy))but it is beyond my experience to pass judgement on the quality of his works(though I would offer that his characters often seem to me a lot less organic or real than what I expect from modern literature though that is mainly the language style used) so I guess I will go with classic.

NotSoLoneWanderer:
If it weren't for the whole "Victorian English thing" he did I might be inspired to look into more of his works but relative to my modern surroundings and the literature I'm used to it's bland and needlessly roundabout. I understand everything he writes. That isn't hard at all but I just don't care for his writing style.

Edit: I appreciate his works in a historical sense but not the works themselves.

Err the Victoran era was 1832 to 1901, Shakespeare died in 1616. Its Elizabethan English that is used.

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.

Small rather important point, Shakespears's plays were performed at the court of Elizabeth the 1st. The play Richard II was used as part of the Earl of Essex's attempted coup and remained banned for the next 200 years. The modern parallel is more the God Farther or Raging Bull than twilight.

Dude, the guy literally invented the word 'Swagger'.

He's ok, but I absolutley LOATHE the writing style.
I've only read Macbeth and already that has put me off from reading any more of that dribble. I only understood what was going on when we watched a film adaptation of the play in class and by looking up plot details online when revising for an essay paper. Sure enough, the story was OK. Infact it's kind of enjoyable. But the writing made things far too irritating to understand and I have no idea who's done what or where they are before the first murder happens

Chairman Miaow:
Have you ever seen Shakespeare performed?

Yes. Two different versions of Romeo and Juliet on video, and 1 live sitting of MacBeth in the replica of the Globe Theatre in London.

Eh, I would call it overrated.
But he's done so much, and added words, and phrases, so he did do well, and did write good plays, but still, Overrated.

I like him. I like his art. I think Hamlet and Macbeth are my favorite books from that era.

People dislike him because they were force-fed him in school, same reason I hate most of the XIX-XX century Polish literature.

Joccaren:

Chairman Miaow:
Have you ever seen Shakespeare performed?

Yes. Two different versions of Romeo and Juliet on video, and 1 live sitting of MacBeth in the replica of the Globe Theatre in London.

I find Romeo and Juliet to be absolute drivel but love Macbeth. what did you think of it?

Okay, I'm admittedly biased here--I have an actual honest-to-God master's degree in Shakespeare, and I'm working on a PhD. Putting my bias aside, though, Shakespeare is still one of the greatest writers in the English language of all time, not just for his ability to turn a phrase and captivate audiences, but for the influence he's had on the language itself.

Onward!

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

Fun fact: He did, and they haven't in a lot of cases. For instance, Shakespeare borrowed a lot from Sir Thomas North's 1579 translation of Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans for plays like Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra. (There's a speech in the latter play that's lifted almost word-for-word from Plutarch.) Shakespeare's history plays (all the Henries and Richards and so on) take their plots from Raphael Holinshed's 1587 edition of Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The story of Romeo and Juliet is taken from a 1562 poem by Arthur Brooke called The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet...the list goes on.

LHZA:
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 performed. It makes a difference, plus it makes it more interesting to study when you keep that in mind.

Yeah, this, pretty much. Look, I love this stuff, and even I find just reading it from the page kind of dry and boring sometimes, especially when you get into the parts where there are jokes that probably had them rolling on the floor at the Globe, but just don't work after four hundred years. Ideally, Shakespeare is meant to be seen and heard, not read, and being performed by people who know not only what they're saying, but why they're saying it.

Also--and I used to find this heresy until only a few years ago--it's okay to cut down the script to streamline the production a bit, especially if you're removing things like the in-jokes in the later versions of Hamlet that are just sniping at the companies of boy players that were popular at the time. (That's in the First Folio edition, Act II, scene 2, if you're interested.)

Raven's Nest:
Plus, im fairly convinced about the theories of Shakespeare not actually being the one who wrote the works.

You just saw Anonymous, didn't you? All the "theories" about Shakespeare not really writing Shakespeare warp Occam's Razor into a mangled pile of twisted metal, to stretch a metaphor. They depend on, for one thing, keeping actors (who, let's face it, are some of the most gossipy people on the planet) quiet for decades and even on their deathbeds. This is to say nothing of, for instance, Shakespeare's plays continuing to come out for several years after the death of Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford (the most current popular candidate). I could go on.

Finally:

Robert Ewing:
He's great because he popularized the English language single handedly! If he hadn't of existed, English would be a reaaalllyyy obscure European language today. In fact, most of England would probably be speaking some dialect of French. And in turn, so would you America.

I think you might be thinking of Chaucer back in the 14th century--he's the one who really began to popularize English as a literary language. By the time of Shakespeare's career, England was already established as a world power, and English was a robust and well-known language.

Buzz Killington:
Okay, I'm admittedly biased here--I have an actual honest-to-God master's degree in Shakespeare, and I'm working on a PhD. Putting my bias aside, though, Shakespeare is still one of the greatest writers in the English language of all time, not just for his ability to turn a phrase and captivate audiences, but for the influence he's had on the language itself.

Onward!

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

Fun fact: He did, and they haven't in a lot of cases. For instance, Shakespeare borrowed a lot from Sir Thomas North's 1579 translation of Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans for plays like Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra. (There's a speech in the latter play that's lifted almost word-for-word from Plutarch.) Shakespeare's history plays (all the Henries and Richards and so on) take their plots from Raphael Holinshed's 1587 edition of Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The story of Romeo and Juliet is taken from a 1562 poem by Arthur Brooke called The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet...the list goes on.

LHZA:
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 performed. It makes a difference, plus it makes it more interesting to study when you keep that in mind.

Yeah, this, pretty much. Look, I love this stuff, and even I find just reading it from the page kind of dry and boring sometimes, especially when you get into the parts where there are jokes that probably had them rolling on the floor at the Globe, but just don't work after four hundred years. Ideally, Shakespeare is meant to be seen and heard, not read, and being performed by people who know not only what they're saying, but why they're saying it.

Also--and I used to find this heresy until only a few years ago--it's okay to cut down the script to streamline the production a bit, especially if you're removing things like the in-jokes in the later versions of Hamlet that are just sniping at the companies of boy players that were popular at the time. (That's in the First Folio edition, Act II, scene 2, if you're interested.)

Raven's Nest:
Plus, im fairly convinced about the theories of Shakespeare not actually being the one who wrote the works.

You just saw Anonymous, didn't you? All the "theories" about Shakespeare not really writing Shakespeare warp Occam's Razor into a mangled pile of twisted metal, to stretch a metaphor. They depend on, for one thing, keeping actors (who, let's face it, are some of the most gossipy people on the planet) quiet for decades and even on their deathbeds. This is to say nothing of, for instance, Shakespeare's plays continuing to come out for several years after the death of Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford (the most current popular candidate). I could go on.

Finally:

Robert Ewing:
He's great because he popularized the English language single handedly! If he hadn't of existed, English would be a reaaalllyyy obscure European language today. In fact, most of England would probably be speaking some dialect of French. And in turn, so would you America.

I think you might be thinking of Chaucer back in the 14th century--he's the one who really began to popularize English as a literary language. By the time of Shakespeare's career, England was already established as a world power, and English was a robust and well-known language.

Yeah, Chaucer did popularize it in that respect, but English was still seen as the shit language of Europe. It was only a language the poor would speak. It's well known that most upper class English nobles spoke French, or a similar language. Shakespeare made it popular, and a more 'fancy' language I guess you could say.

Buzz Killington:

Raven's Nest:
Plus, im fairly convinced about the theories of Shakespeare not actually being the one who wrote the works.

You just saw Anonymous, didn't you? All the "theories" about Shakespeare not really writing Shakespeare warp Occam's Razor into a mangled pile of twisted metal, to str

etch a metaphor. They depend on, for one thing, keeping actors (who, let's face it, are some of the most gossipy people on the planet) quiet for decades and even on their deathbeds. This is to say nothing of, for instance, Shakespeare's plays continuing to come out for several years after the death of Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford (the most current popular candidate). I could go on.

I know not of this Anonymous film... Just vaguely remember agreeing with a few documentaries and the odd episode of QI that mentions it. Also, its quite possible some of his works were not immediately published and may have been left in storage somehow, which would account for the discrepancies surrounding the earls death.

But I don't really know anything about it so if you have a degree in Shakespeare I'm not going to argue lol.

Studying Shakespeare in school was probably one of my favourite things, it certainly made English bearable.

In fact not for Shakespeare I probably would have failed English because I was terrible at the poetry side of the exam.

So yeah I think Shakespeare is pretty great.

Sucks

I don't understand the language or the meanings behind the stories. Something that confuses my puny little mind sucks.

Clearly the stories are classics. The fact that the stories are still frequently told and referenced show that.

I can see why it's considered classic literature, and that any self-respecting English speaker should at least know about him and his works, but I can't wrap my head around why everybody wants to elevate him on the pedestal of the "best and brightest".
Still isn't as annoying as Catcher in the rye though.

LHZA:
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.

Also it's full of sex jokes. Really. Not even Joking here. I like the guy and his stuff, but yeah the plays are really better if preformed. I admire the guy because he invented 1700 words. Just a freaking genius.

Robert Ewing:
Yeah, Chaucer did popularize it in that respect, but English was still seen as the shit language of Europe. It was only a language the poor would speak. It's well known that most upper class English nobles spoke French, or a similar language.

They did speak French, yes, and it was a prestige language and the language of international diplomacy for centuries afterward, but by no means was English a "shit language" by this point. For instance, English was used extensively in law proceedings, and had been since a decree by Edward III in 1362. (Edward also gave a speech addressing Parliament in English for the first time.)

It was used in the royal court as well, becoming prevalent by the 15th century--there's a text from the London guild of brewers from 1422 in which they adopt English for their official records, citing as one reason "...for that our most excellent lord King Henry the Fifth hath, in his letters missive, and divers affairs touching his own person, more willingly chosen to declare the secrets of his will [in it]". (See Albert Baugh and Thomas Cable's A History of the English Language, 5th edition, pg. 142.)

All this is to say nothing of things like George Puttenham's hugely influential The Arte of English Poesie or the inkhorn controversy. (The controversy was basically people arguing bitterly over introducing new Latinate words into English. Some, like "capacity" and "dismiss", survived. Others, like "eximious" or "fatigate", didn't.)

Edited to add:

Shakomaru:
Also it's full of sex jokes. Really. Not even joking here.

Oh yeah. There's some very dirty stuff between Sampson and Gregory in I.i of Romeo and Juliet, for instance, all about thrusting maids to the wall and taking their maidenheads and such. Then there's the more obscure stuff, which unfortunately requires footnotes. There's a speech in As You Like It where Jaques talks about meeting the fool Touchstone in the forest:

A modern audience is left wondering why Jaques is laughing his ass off for an hour at what Touchstone says. It's slightly funnier if you know that (due to pronunciation shifts over the centuries) "hour" and "whore" used to be pronounced almost alike, and that "tail" was (as so many Elizabethan words were) slang for "penis".

Jaques is laughing to see a fool pretend to be all philosophical and contemplative while he's actually talking about catching STDs from prostitutes and having one's dick rot and fall off.

So, yeah. Remember when I said some jokes don't work after four hundred years? There you go.

albino boo:

NotSoLoneWanderer:
If it weren't for the whole "Victorian English thing" he did I might be inspired to look into more of his works but relative to my modern surroundings and the literature I'm used to it's bland and needlessly roundabout. I understand everything he writes. That isn't hard at all but I just don't care for his writing style.

Edit: I appreciate his works in a historical sense but not the works themselves.

Err the Victoran era was 1832 to 1901, Shakespeare died in 1616. Its Elizabethan English that is used.

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.

Whoops my mistake. Should have said olde English. Broader term.

Small rather important point, Shakespears's plays were performed at the court of Elizabeth the 1st. The play Richard II was used as part of the Earl of Essex's attempted coup and remained banned for the next 200 years. The modern parallel is more the God Farther or Raging Bull than twilight.

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