You either love Shakespeare or you don’t.
For someone who was around five hundred years ago, he’s sparked a hell of a lot of debate and, indeed, controversy. The author of at least thirty-eight plays, as well as 158 sonnets and several poems, William Shakespeare has changed the English language like no other, with his wide-ranging vocabulary and dynamic characters.
Whether you couldn’t give a stuff about his works or you think he is the most inspiring writer in history, here are three reasons to love Shakespeare:
1) He has left behind such beautiful stories.
The tales of Shakespeare will be around long after we all have departed this earth, because the depth of each play and the intricacy behind each poem reveal a profound truth to every reader: we write to discover what life really means. His stories of Romeo and Juliet, Rosalind and Orlando and Troilus and Cressida, to name a few, portray the ends to which humans will go for love. The climatic sounds of battle, the clash of swords, and greedy violence all bloody the pages of his writing. The seeds of ambition, the fight for justice, the corruption of a King: no theme is left untouched by the Bard. There will always be a revered place for him in the history of our language, because what he says is universal, appealing to our deepest thoughts and stirring our darkest secrets.
2) His namesake has inspired the creation of astounding literary landmarks.
On my recent travels to Paris last month, I came across possibly the most beautiful bookshop I have ever entered. Facing the majestic facade of Notre Dame, Shakespeare and Company nestled off a bustling French street, housing hundreds upon hundreds of books all waiting to be read.
I volunteered there for an evening, stacking shelves and soaking up the writerly atmosphere. I’m always excited when I come across a bookshop stocking English literature when I’m in a foreign country, because I just cannot resist the purchase of a new novel or a childhood favourite, particularly if they will be a keepsake of my travels. The very fact that Shakespeare is not only a bookshop, but has an upstairs library, just made me adore it even more.
I talked about visiting Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in one of my previous blog posts: the care and utmost precise detail in which the recreation was constructed says it all about the respect that Shakespeare holds over the public today.
I have to say that I have never been so invigorated by any place as I was by seeing those. Perhaps it was the quiet taste of writerly success imbibed in the air, knowing all of the famous literary faces that passed through those doors, but there was something I couldn’t put my finger on about why I loved the Globe and Shakespeare so much. Not knowing the true background of the author and the world having very little information about his life, I guess the aura of mystery that is forever linked with Shakespeare is evident in the stacked bookshelves and varied stage performances that are scattered throughout the world in his name.
3) Every day, someone is inspired by his words.
Pretty much every single person has studied a Shakespeare play at some point in their life, moaned and groaned about having to ream off pages of quotes in their English exam, or tried to specify the exact motivation of a character in an essay. The fundamental point is that, whether or not he has given us grief during our school years, artists all over the world have been constantly influenced by his fantastic works of literature for centuries: playwrights, actors, directors, film-makers, writers, painters, and even those not in creative professions. What a wonderful legacy to leave behind.