Is Shakespeare Still Relevant?

Is Shakespeare Still Relevant?

Is Shakespeare Still Relevant?

-By Disha Suresh

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate." Could you imagine wooing your beloved with this evergreen verse? Some would say yes, William Shakespeare's sonnets are still romantic. Others would possibly scratch their heads in disarray. William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon is infamous for his plays and poems. Though he was from the late 16th century, his works are still marveled and taught in educational institutions around the world. This brings in the question, is he still relevant?

It is quite factual that Shakespeare and his contemporaries form the majority of what is the crux of British literature. Firstly, Shakespeare was responsible for a lot of phrases that we use today. He ended up truly changing the nature of the English language. These include “all that glitters is gold”, “catch a cold”, “break the ice” and green-eyed jealousy. Secondly, Shakespeare’s works are extremely quotable. The wordings are iconic and leap off of the tongue very gracefully, be it, “To be or not to be? That is the question” or “Wherefore art thou Romeo”, his lines linger. Thirdly, and most importantly, Shakespeare delves into themes that are evergreen. For example, the play Hamlet revolves around the theme of revenge, which is still extremely relevant right now, Macbeth explores the theme of ambition and how it corrupts and animalizes a human and The Merchant of Venice explores self-interest. His timeless themes settle into modern-day audiences effortlessly as they are engaging. Fourthly, his characters are complex and imperfect.

Shakespeare experiments with what is known as a “hamartia”, that is, a tragic flaw, which causes the downfall of his protagonists. For example, Hamlet’s hamartia is his indecisiveness and Macbeth’s flaw is over-ambition. This added convulsion is worlds away from heroic demigods and religion-fueled Christian men. It is a way of acknowledging the duality and reality of man. Lastly, Shakespeare’s origins and life remain in murky waters. It is debated that his name was barely a pseudonym and that several authors cooperated to adopt this persona. There is also speculation of his appearance as nobody really painted him. 

Conclusively, the Bard is revered around the world. He was a pioneer in literature and few could match up to his work. His versatility and novelty were undisputed and unmatched. His immortality can be described in his own words.

“Not marble nor the gilded monuments

Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme.”