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Fridge / William Shakespeare

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Fridge Brilliance

  • To the people loathed William Shakespeare up until college, there's the assumption that he was a terrible writer for using such complicated, incomprehensible language and that the plots themselves were incredibly slow and boring and padded. Eventually, until learrning that due to changing times and the effects on language, Early Modern English is not Modern English, and the playwright wouldn't have sounded incomprehensible to his own audience but clever, and with some help from footnotes and such, there's this ability to actually appreciate his wordplay and Double Entendres and clever use of language. Once understanding them, there's the realization that the actors who are seen performing the plays (or heard reading them...) weren't acting but reciting, so upon read them while picturing normal voices and acting instead, and it was able to fully appreciate the stories and characters — try to imagine what's going on in Prince Hamlet's head, cringe at each new atrocity in Titus Andronicus, and cheer when Macbeth was finally killed. Is there An Aesop to be learned here? Shakespeare is NOT for kids!
    • There's a similar change in attitude when ableing to understand more of his jokes (the lewd ones became especially clear with age and reinforces your point.). And there are friends who've said that Shakespeare was only really good at writing tragedy!
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  • Early on, there's the initial assumption that Shakespeare's work was simply overrated — good, but not worthy of the "best of all time" status its given. Getting more exposure to a wider selection of his work, especially stuff like Othello and Lear, convinced me that he truly wrote exceptionally dense, rich and layered fiction.
  • A large barrier to appreciating Shakespeare is how it's so rarely acted and most often performed as if it were some completely different form of stagecraft, an attitude that plants it on a lofty pedestal and as a result does it a complete disservice. Now if you see an actor who can drop the pretensions to hold the heart of their character, they can take what's essentially a surreal speaking style and make it feel believable and natural. This is the kind of treatment elitist critics absolutely despise, while holding Shakespeare so sacred that only canned recitation can do it any justice. Compare Kevin Kline and Mel Gibson's performances as Hamlet, and then compare their treatment in reviews. Anyhow, my moment of Fridge Brilliance revelation to Shakespeare came when trying to adapt the premise of King Lear to a futuristic western, and started cross-referencing Magnificent Bastards throughout his other works.
  • Another fridge is more on how Shakespeare is taught more than anything else. There's this liking of Shakespeare fairly well and was a little surprised to find most of the others HATE it when reading Romeo and Juliet in English. Then a realization years later that it was because the very first experience with Shakespeare was in middle school when doing a Shakespeare unit in my theatre class. Not only did it gets a glimpse of Shakespeare in theatre but the first activity was to make Shakespearean style insults at each other. First by starting out doing something FUN to get the heads out of being terrified of Shakespeare before going into it deeper. It really makes sense. Part of the reason that it's thought of as stuffy and boring nowadays is that the teachers are probably required to teach it and that's how they were taught to teach it. It's always treated as a literary classic and not as the play it should be. It's hard getting used to the language anyway, top that off with the heavy content (because the ones studied are almost ALWAYS dramas), trying to listen to someone stumbling through lines because they don't know how to act (understandable but it makes it SO much harder to listen to), the "bow before the might of Shakespeare for he is much greater than anybody EVER" vibe, and the presumption that it is extremely boring. Say start with a light comedy that's just simply entertaining to get used to the language before getting into all the deep stuff. Unfortunately, there's no way there'd be enough time for that in a school setting.
    • Some school systems actually did exactly that. We did one Shakespeare a year starting in 7th grade (...yeah), but we worked our way up the difficulty scale, starting with A Midsummer Night's Dream, which is easily the most accessible, then Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Hamlet, and Othello in that order. The teachers weren't always great, but the language and feel of the plays were never problems after reading them for so long.
  • Some find his plots severely overrated and predictable, and kept wondering why people would look up to him as an example of any variety of things, until realizing that this is exactly the reason why his plots seem so over-done by now, because he was held as an example and emulated time and again, until his plots are almost on the same level of cultural osmosis as a fairy tale would be.