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PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 3:45 am 
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Well, some people might think this is really stupid but it worked for me, so I thought i'd post it anyway.

I read Shakespeare in stages. 1st when i was young I read Shakespeare for children, which is in really simple prose with pictures! a travesty i know, but it meant i understood the plot and the characters.

Then in my teens i read Shakespeare in modern english by 2 siblings calles Lamb (I'm not sure about the name, but there must be loads of versions). These were proper book length, just in modern language and then you understand the full complexities of the plot.


And the final step was to read the actual plays. And I found that because i started reading them knowing exactly what was going on already and who all the characters were it was actually quite easy to understand, and i enjoyed them much more cos i didnt have to keep stopping to think about it, the language just flowed beautifully.

So thats my recommendation, skip the first bit (the kiddie books) but read a modern english version first, then the original.

Oh, and no one mentioned Othello! thats one of my favourites, Iago is such a good villain. I would probably agree the best was Hamlet though


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2005 7:55 am 
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I think the best Shakespeare plays to start with, are the comedies. They are a nice introduction into his works, they tend to be easier to understand, lighter and more entertaining for beginners.

One of my fav's is 'Much Ado About Nothing' it is brilliant, so witty and the character's Beatrice and Benedick are fantastic.

What i will also say is, to read Shakespeare and to watch Shakespeare are two VERY different things- Shakespeare obviously didn't intend for his plays to be read but seen, so if you have the chance to see a Shakespeare- take it.
I hope this helps :)

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2005 9:16 am 
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If you see it it nearly all makes sense. Twelth night was brilliant btw. A long time ago now and it was by the Royal Shakespeare Company so I could hardly expect anything less.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2005 7:41 am 
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I would have to agree with 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. in terms of the classical language it's quite easy to follow, the humour is laugh-out-loud, and if you're into theatre/performing, there are a lot of scenes that you can great fun with e.g. when both the guys are fawning all over helena!

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2005 12:10 pm 
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I don't think the language in Shakespeare is too hard to understand. Probably becuase Shakespeare more or less marks the start of English in its current form.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 9:41 am 
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No, its not that bad. i liked Macbeth, but Twelfth Night wasn't too bad i supose (Just finished doing it for GCSE's, though i had to read it myself as our teacher went away).

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 12:35 pm 
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Shakespeare is fantastic. if you read plot overviews beforehand then you shouldn't struggle to grasp whats happeing too much. i love the language :) it flows so brilliantly. i almost like just reading it without bothering to work it out. and studying shakespeare makes it all the more fascinating. i agree with Othello beginning one of the best :)

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 10:46 am 
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The Tempest is also good. So yeah, for me its Macbeth, Twelfth Night and The Tempest.

Btw, what's A Comedy of Errors like? I'm doing it for my A Level in English Lit and i'm curious.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 1:46 pm 
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One thing I find helpful when reading Shakespeare is to make sure that I'm in the mood to sit down and read every word and think about what he's saying. I can read most things almost on autopilot and still know what's going on, but Shakespeare requires thought.

As for plays, one thing you might find helpful is that Shakespeare's plays got more and more complex as he progressed in his career. So you might want to start with something he wrote early on and work your way up.

Also, while reading plot summaries may be useful, don't just read modern english versions and consider yourself done. Very few of Shakespeare's plots were original, it was his language that made his plays great.

Lastly, I have always enjoyed Romeo and Juliet.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 4:37 pm 
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Well first, my favorite play is definately Hamlet. Theres quite a bit to talk about, especially if you were writing a paper. The big question is, "Is Hamlet crazy, or was what happens completely planned out...making him a genious." I think he is a little crazy but definately a smart character in the play. As you like it is another great comedy...probably my favorite. And if you dont like any of these, try Othello. It always seems to be a popular play.

Understanding Shakespeare can be difficult. My suggestion is go to your local library and see if they have the plays on tape. Some libraries have them and these VHS tapes make it much easier to understand. As my English professor has told us many times, it is much easier to understand a play when you watch it.

If you have any more questions, you can ask me, I would love to help. I am an English major at a University in SC so Ive had my fair share of Shakespeare...among many other authors.

~C


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 5:29 am 
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Fish Are Quick wrote:
Macbeth is a nice SATs text (if you can find a good exam board, lol), Romeo and Juliet is wonderfully romantic but too simple Hamlet is simply incredible. In my opinion it's by far Shakespeare's best work, nothing compares with it's character depth and complexity, tight involving plot with such famous and oft quoted lines and it's sheer emotiveness, mystery and intrigue. Is Hamlet really mad? Does he suffer from an oedipus complex? Is Polonious anything more than a "wretched rash intruding fool?" And what of the fair Ophelia? Now there's a relationship. Will Hamlet ever exact revenge?

fish are quick!


Romeo and Juliet is deceptively simple! And partly because of all the sex in it that gets totally played down. Juliet spends half her time on stage flirting or talking about orgasms!

I can see why it would be thought ot be too simple... but there's nothing unsophisticated about the language or how the play works... especially if you compare it with some of Shakespeare's other works... A Comedy of Errors for example.. which has a slightly confusing plot but lacks the maturity of R+J.

Shakespeare does something so brilliant with R+J in his characterisation... each character is never what they seem.. even the Nurse is bawdy! Romeo thinks he knows what love is.. but it is only on an idealised, romantic (hence his name) level.. Juliet is the one concerned with the practicalities (sex etc) of love.

The comedy is excellent... Juliet, the nurse, Romeo and his montague mates... all that stuff about Queen Mab... brilliant.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 5:34 am 
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roxxxie wrote:
Well, some people might think this is really stupid but it worked for me, so I thought i'd post it anyway.

I read Shakespeare in stages. 1st when i was young I read Shakespeare for children, which is in really simple prose with pictures! a travesty i know, but it meant i understood the plot and the characters.

Then in my teens i read Shakespeare in modern english by 2 siblings calles Lamb (I'm not sure about the name, but there must be loads of versions). These were proper book length, just in modern language and then you understand the full complexities of the plot.


And the final step was to read the actual plays. And I found that because i started reading them knowing exactly what was going on already and who all the characters were it was actually quite easy to understand, and i enjoyed them much more cos i didnt have to keep stopping to think about it, the language just flowed beautifully.

So thats my recommendation, skip the first bit (the kiddie books) but read a modern english version first, then the original.

Oh, and no one mentioned Othello! thats one of my favourites, Iago is such a good villain. I would probably agree the best was Hamlet though


That is actually quite a good idea... although coz I'm an English student.. I kinda want to yell that you miss the complexities of plot that way because Shakespeare's use of language is so subtle that it can totally change the interpretation you make of the play!

But like I can't understand physics... I can totally get it that not everyone can do Shakespeare! Maths is as much another language to me as trying to make you own quietus with a bodkin is to my mathematical brother! lol

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 7:56 pm 
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Read Romeo and Juliet but when the fellow with the stammer quoted it almost perfectly in "Shakespeare in Love" it meant something altogether different and took on a new emotion...

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whole misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

When a performance comes together in spite of pre-show problems Geoffrey Rush's character would say, "It's a mystery". Really liked this movie - obviously.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2006 5:52 pm 
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Julius Ceasar

The setting is Roman politics and war, but Shakespeare’s real interest is the question about what kind of man one should be.

Roman Stoicism was much discussed in Shakespeare’s time. Several books had been written about it a few years before JC was written, and it’s obvious Shakespeare read them because he steals ideas from these books to use in JC, sometimes verbatim.

The Stoics believed there was a struggle between man’s intellect and his passions, or appetites. The Stoics believed the intellect should be in full control at all times. The emotions were to be ignored.

Brutus and Ceasar were Stoics. Shakespeare illustrates this by parallel scenes in which Brutus and Ceasar are asked by their wives to confide in them. Both men fail to communicate with their wives, that is, they rejected the emotional in favor of the intellect. But people don’t operate like that. Brutus and Ceasar both lose touch with the common people.

In the first scene in which we see Brutus, we see him say he is at war with himself, that is, he’s trying to get his intellect to overcome his emotions. At this time, even before Cassius’s gang feel him out, he is worried that Ceasar might become a dictator. But Ceasar is his best friend. Brutus decides to put aside his feelings for Ceasar and join the assassination. In Shakespeare’s view, this denial of his human feelings lead Brutus, and Rome, to disaster.
( We don’t know what Rome would have become if Ceasar lived, but we do know his death led to dictatorship, the very thing Brutus wanted to avoid, and to the long series of despicable emperors: Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, etc. and ultimately to the fall of Rome, the end of civilization. )

There are other themes.
Can democracy last? The Elizabethans thought it couldn’t. Apparently Shakespeare agreed because he calls the common people, "You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things." Brutus wanted to preserve the Republic, a political system in which the Senate and laws were paramount. The murder of Ceasar led to dictatorship. Where do you divide the line between loyalty to friend and loyalty to society? Perhaps the answer is only be loyal to friends who are loyal to society. Brutus didn’t give Ceasar a chance to demonstrate his loyalty to society.


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