Wednesday, 23 April 2014

William Shakespeare Four Hundred and Fifty Years On


The man who told us to wear our hearts on our sleeves was born four hundred and fifty years ago on Saturday, I like many others are amazed by the fact his legacy is still going.

Most teenagers gladly say good riddance (he came up with that too!) to Shakespeare once they leave secondary school and their days of analysing his every word are over. I am not one of those teenagers. I'm more of a Shakespeare fan when I'm not reading so deeply into it, I find that with whatever you study. Studying something teaches you how to hate it.

My favourite Shakespeare play is an exception to the rule that you will hate what you study. I studied Much Ado About Nothing six years ago and it still remains my favourite play of Shakespeare's. I think it is my favourite play because it contains one of my top ten characters of all time: Beatrice. Beatrice is a head-strong, she's sarcastic and sharp tongued but beneath it all she has a heart of gold that has just been damaged a little bit along the way. We watch her initially rip Benedick to pieces at every interaction to then agreeing to marry him. In my eyes we see a changed woman who learns to let go and love.

I identify with Beatrice for different reasons throughout the play, I see a lot of myself in the character which fills me with hope for the future given her happily ever after. On a partially related note, I told my friends if I had a daughter I would like to call her Beatrice. Partially because I love the character and think she has lots of good qualities hidden away inside of her. I would like my children, if I have any, to be as determined as she is. I also met a woman named Beatrice who was absolutely amazing and said some beautiful things to me.

My second favourite bit of Shakespeare seems a bit predictable on the surface, I love Jaques monologue in Act Two Scene Seven of As You Like It:

"All the world's a stage, 
And all the men and women merely players; 
They have their exits and their entrances, 
And one man in his time plays many parts...
...Last scene of all, 
That ends this strange eventful history, 
Is second childishness and mere oblivion, 
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

This was the first thing I read and thought 'I want that on me', I have thought of so many since that if I get all of these tattoos I will be much like a library. I am a believer of the fact that it's our experiences both good and bad that make us who we are today, we enter the world as a blank canvas. However, before discovering As You Like It I had never thought of it over the span of an entire life: we all take to life's stage with no script, we go through many a change but ultimately we all exit the same side. Without everything. Just as Jaques said. 

Shakespeare has left a legacy all these years after his death and I have no doubt in the fact it will continue. People will always make adaptations of his work, take inspiration from his work and use the phrases first coined by the man himself. 

Read some Shakespeare, I dare you. Use it how you like. 

The world is your oyster. 

Hannah x


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