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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Sixcess:
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.

I prefer the Kenneth Brannagh adaptation myself. Iago breaking the fourth wall and being such an awesome slimeball was epic.

Being the first?
He basically stole all his stories from classic mythology, so no, he's not that great.

NotSoLoneWanderer:

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.

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

Not your day. Old English is an early form of English used by the Anglo-Saxons and remained in use till about 1200. Shakespeare was born in 1564. The form English used by Shakespeare is either Elizabethan (1558-1603) or early modern (1476-1714).

He's prolific, I'll grant him that. People say he invented a shit tonne of words. I find this unlikely, imagine if you went to a play and half the words were made up and left unexplained. It's much more likely they were in common use conversationally however due to him being so prolific it's likely he was just the first record of them.

I think Shakespear is a bit over rated but I like several of his plays, and I really wish we had modern authors willing to create their own language rules like he did.

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.

Let's not forget about the impressive list of words and phrases that he invented which helped to shape the modern language. ( http://www.cracked.com/article_15859_10-words-phrases-you-wont-believe-shakespeare-invented.html )

I haven't read a lot of Shakespeare, but to deny his contributions to literature and even everyday language as "overrated" just makes you sound like a bit of a troglodyte.

It is all a matter of opinion really, some people don't like cheese and Marmite I certainly do.

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

A number of his plays are actually direct re-tellings/translations of older works that we still have! The Rape of Lucrece is a re-telling of Ovid's Fasti, Antony and Cleopatra includes passages copied word for word from Plutarch's version of the story, and there are estimates that over 4000 (out of a total 6000) lines of the three parts of Henry VI are lifted from other authors' works (and then stitched together like a patchwork quilt).

This was all standard practice at the time he was writing. Plays (and popular poems like The Rape of Lucrece) weren't really seen as "proper literature". They were pulp for the masses, like today's Hollywood blockbusters. And (also like today's Hollywood blockbusters) they took good material from wherever they could find it, especially from classical literature.

Interestingly, no one has found any probable older source for A Midsummer Night's Dream, which means it could well be a completely original story by Shakespeare himself.

Daveman:
He's prolific, I'll grant him that. People say he invented a shit tonne of words. I find this unlikely, imagine if you went to a play and half the words were made up and left unexplained. It's much more likely they were in common use conversationally however due to him being so prolific it's likely he was just the first record of them.

Actually, most of the words and phrases he "invented" were combinations/extensions of existing words, so they would have been easy for people to work out (especially in context).

The word "lonely" (first recorded in his plays) is only making an adjective out of the existing word "lone" (in the same way I might invent the opposite word "togetherly"). "Eyeballs" is similarly easy to decipher (both "eye" and "balls" were existing words) as is "hot-blooded".

He was particularly fond of adding "un-" to the start of an existing word to create its opposite. Undress, unhappy, unhelpful, unchanging, unclaimed, uncomfortable, unreal, unlicensed, unmusical, ungoverned and uneducated are all his. He also came up with things like unbosom, unfool and unpremeditated, which didn't catch on.

Shakespeare might not have invented every word that first appears in his works, but he was certainly very flexible with language!

Can't say that i enjoyed reading his work, and now that i'm done with school i will never touch it again. The fact taht i had to read his work in a form of awkward Lithuanian translation made f*ck knows when didn't help.

Overrated because it's old, like so many other things in this crazy world.

I thought this was already established.

Yep, bow down you ghetto muppet creatures.

I personally find him to be of of my favorite writers. He is difficult to read in English, but I enjoyed his work greatly.

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.

Just think. In 500 years, students could be studying the profound influence of our generation's greatest filmmaker:

Michael Bay

kasperbbs:

Overrated because it's old, like so many other things in this crazy world.

Yes, and that's why we see comparable praise for all of his contemporaries.

Oh, right, we don't.

Captcha: Lost Love. Fitting.

Zhukov:

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.

They weren't considered "artless pap"--they were popular entertainment, yes, but popular with the aristocracy as much as anyone else.

I've enjoyed most of the Shakespeare I've read or seen. The man sure had a way with a memorable turn of phrase. Everything he wrote wasn't timeless literature, sure, but he was so prolific that he dominated his period.

I think literature classes tend to focus on him too much, for instance, in high school, we went through Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, AND Hamlet, but never did a single play by, say, Ibsen.

lord.jeff:
I think Shakespear is a bit over rated but I like several of his plays, and I really wish we had modern authors willing to create their own language rules like he did.

So you've never heard of, say, James Joyce? Haven't read Anathem by Neal Stephenson? (That book was chock-full of neologisms, to the point where sections could be nearly unreadable.) Heck, some fantasy authors positively revel in making up new words for no particular reason, and they often intentionally use skewed grammatical construction.

Personally, I find this almost universally to be trite and gimmicky. If you actually have something to say, you don't need to fake it by pretending to be avant garde.

He's no slouch when it comes to writing, loved Macbeth but hated Romeo and Juliet, I honestly thought that was a boring love story that had the protagonist's dying pathetically.

MetalMagpie:

Daveman:
He's prolific, I'll grant him that. People say he invented a shit tonne of words. I find this unlikely, imagine if you went to a play and half the words were made up and left unexplained. It's much more likely they were in common use conversationally however due to him being so prolific it's likely he was just the first record of them.

Actually, most of the words and phrases he "invented" were combinations/extensions of existing words, so they would have been easy for people to work out (especially in context).

The word "lonely" (first recorded in his plays) is only making an adjective out of the existing word "lone" (in the same way I might invent the opposite word "togetherly"). "Eyeballs" is similarly easy to decipher (both "eye" and "balls" were existing words) as is "hot-blooded".

He was particularly fond of adding "un-" to the start of an existing word to create its opposite. Undress, unhappy, unhelpful, unchanging, unclaimed, uncomfortable, unreal, unlicensed, unmusical, ungoverned and uneducated are all his. He also came up with things like unbosom, unfool and unpremeditated, which didn't catch on.

Shakespeare might not have invented every word that first appears in his works, but he was certainly very flexible with language!

Another being, I believe, assassination (I think) though assassin was around well before his time. I was going to add to the comment that words don't tend to be invented, but instead evolve, like adding extensions etc but I cut it out because I thought it sounded a bit pretentious.

I dispute being able to invent words as actually being talented. I mean he'd clearly suck at Scrabble. ;)

Also, why invent the word eyeball? Surely it means the same as eye anyway?

Daveman:
I dispute being able to invent words as actually being talented. I mean he'd clearly suck at Scrabble. ;)

As someone who also sucks at Scrabble, I have a lot of sympathy. ;)

Daveman:
Also, why invent the word eyeball? Surely it means the same as eye anyway?

I actually quite like that one. It draws attention to the anatomical nature of the eye. "I pulled out his eye" doesn't sound as graphic as "I pulled out his eyeball".

The English language thrives on almost-synonyms. We can "start" a meeting or we can "commence" it. They mean the same thing, just with a different flavour. (For what it's worth, "start" is from Old English and "commence" is a loan word from French.) It's what - in my opinion - makes English such a great language for creative writing.

Shakespeare was, in my opinion, a fantastic writer, who's works are very important to literature to this day. I don't think anyone's the best writer ever, as that is subjective and there have been many contemporary writers who are great as well, but his works are still important enough that they should be studied in and outside of school. His works are timeless: their themes permeate the human experience, not just his time period. This allows his works to remain relevant for a great amount of time.

As for "pioneer of fiction", there were many other important historical fictional works, such as Beowulf, but Shakespeare is far easier to understand to the modern reader than those. While he wasn't the first great writer, he is one of the first to have great influence for a massive amount of time.

I could take or leave him. Romeo and Juliet did absolutely nothing for me, but I really liked Julius Caesar. The Al Pacino adaptation of the Merchant of Venice was really good. Hamlet.... meh. I feel it lends credence to the conspiracy theory that multiple people may have written Shakespeare's stuff rather than just the one guy and they were accredited to him for one reason or another, but that's just me. Maybe I'm just fickle when it comes to old ass plays written in ye olde English.

CODE-D:
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

What, you mean aside from the fact that he and Henry Chaucer practically invented 'modern' English as we know it? No no no reason at all to include him in an English lesson.

The most amazing thing about Shakespeare is that he's work is timeless. I have seen or heard no less than six versions of Macbeth. One was done by Akira Kurosawa - Throne of Blood. Only one of them was actually depicted during the time and place that Macbeth was set - Roman Polanski's version - all of them are brilliant.

bauke67:
Being the first?
He basically stole all his stories from classic mythology, so no, he's not that great.

Just like everybody else.

OT- The man deserves massive amounts of respect. He drew from so many sources despite not having an educational system to go to to get his information, he invented a significant fraction of our dictionary in a way that makes sense, he had a magnificent style, he was incredibly entertaining, he touched on incredibly deep themes and wrote a piece of existential literature centuries before existential literature existed, and he did all of this in iambic pentameter. He deserves all the respect he is given.

CODE-D:
Shakespeare stories are reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally old and I was wondering if anyone here actually held him in high regard or anything.

Oh yes and on another note. Don't regard old as bad or overrated. Yes history has shown us that shit often floats to the top. But eventually shit floats away. What remains is enduring.

The Night Angel:
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.

This by far. Even if you don't like his stories, you can't deny the importance of his work. How could you possibly call someone overrated when they are responsible for shaping a large part of our culture?

MetalMagpie:

Daveman:
Also, why invent the word eyeball? Surely it means the same as eye anyway?

I actually quite like that one. It draws attention to the anatomical nature of the eye. "I pulled out his eye" doesn't sound as graphic as "I pulled out his eyeball".

The English language thrives on almost-synonyms. We can "start" a meeting or we can "commence" it. They mean the same thing, just with a different flavour. (For what it's worth, "start" is from Old English and "commence" is a loan word from French.) It's what - in my opinion - makes English such a great language for creative writing.

I get that we have synonyms, but they're generally from different peoples, as we have such an insane mix of cultures in the UK we got a load of surplus words. But eyeball just seems gratuitous in my opinion when he clearly already had the word eye which in every single instance of it's use is identical in meaning.

My favourite example of synonyms is "soon" and "now". You may thinking at this stage that they clearly mean different things but that's what makes it brilliant. "Soon" is the anglo-saxon word for "now", or it's the other way around, I'm not certain, but the point is they once meant the same thing which was "immediately". However, effectively due to exaggeration of people saying "I'll do that soon" and then not doing it immediately, it came to mean "in a short while". So it went from having two exact synonyms to them having quite different meaning.

Yopaz:

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

That you find any merit in this comparison at all showcases the exact reason why I phrased my initial comments as I did.

I think a man that did so much for the English language has to be classified as one of the great writers in history, and I also think it's a damn shame that so many English classes have to teach him with such an air of reverence that he comes off like the stuffiest of stuffy old white poets. You would never even know he had a sense of humor if all the exposure you ever had to Shakespeare were some high school English reading assignments.

CODE-D:
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 just finished reading Romeo & Juliet for English Honors and Im sure in its own right in its own time it stood as a classic but media from today really just washes material that old down into a mediocre piece.

I mean, isnt that the point of advancement? To advance?

Well... lately it seems that isn't the case.

Shakespeare is amazing, his plays are masterful as will still be as important to the human condition in 500 years as they are now and how they were in his days.

Bearing in mind that he's responsible for essentially half (if that little) of the entirety of the modern English language, I'd say he's pretty badass.

Was he the best writer ever? No. But he was one of the best ones. Was he a good storyteller? Yes. The plays are often taught by people who don't understand the plays well themselves, and are over-analyzed in the process which makes them boring. He was also an observer of human nature, and his plays are often very insightful even if we don't like what he's saying.

Another thing that makes him popular with teachers is the fact that he is one of the most well known personages in history but we know next to nothing about him. We have the plays but only the very minimum information about the man himself.

Oh, and as soon as people learn some of the Elizabethan slang they suddenly find it's far more funny and groan inducing than they originally thought.

He's not my favorite classic writer, but damn, he certainly was a good one.
Then again, I've only read A Midsummer Night's Dream, and while I have Macbeth, I have a few other books to read before I can get to it.
I hold him in high regards as a heavily influential figure in the fields of art and literature, but personally, I prefer Dante Alighieri when it comes to REALLY classical writers.
Also, say what you want about his writings, but that man had some serious swagger.
image
Why hello, ladies.

albino boo:

NotSoLoneWanderer:

albino boo:

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

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

Not your day. Old English is an early form of English used by the Anglo-Saxons and remained in use till about 1200. Shakespeare was born in 1564. The form English used by Shakespeare is either Elizabethan (1558-1603) or early modern (1476-1714).

Not my day indeed :(.

Fluoxetine:

Yopaz:

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

That you find any merit in this comparison at all showcases the exact reason why I phrased my initial comments as I did.

Your argument: Shakespeare's work has had a lot of success, thus it can't be overrated.
My argument: just because something has a lot of success it doesn't mean that it can't be overrated.

Note that I never said Shakespeare was overrated so I didn't insult him in any way. I was simply saying that popularity is not a good measure for overrated or not. Now rather than dismiss my statement off-hand can you actually put some thought into why I am wrong or am I simply wrong because I use examples that are intended for the common mainstream audience and not the intellectuals. Cause you know, Shakespeare was writing for that kind of audience.

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