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1

Romeo and Juliet is not a cautionary tale about young love

Most people often view Romeo and Juliet as a story with the message “listen to your parents.” I think the complete opposite it true. There’s a lot of evidence that suggests the story was meant to be more of a warning to parents, and to the audience, about the negative effects of arranged marriage. I think that Shakespeare was in fact a supporter of companionate marriage. Reading Romeo and Juliet from this perspective gets us away from the mindset that high school teachers force upon us. It’s not just a tale of warning in the form of a love story about two dumb teenagers, it’s a story that takes on the old (depending on culture and geography) practice of arranged marriage (and the patriarchy!). Somebody should explore this further; change someone’s mind about Shakespeare, particularly Romeo and Juliet.

  • I like this take. I always feel it's a little wrong to solely blame "dumb teenagers." If their parents and families didn't irrationally hold onto a violent grudge (with a reason they cannot remember), the bloodshed and need for secrecy would have never happened, and Juliet's father is especially abusive when she doesn't want to do what he says by marrying Paris. It takes several deaths for their families to come to their senses and resolve the dispute. – Emily Deibler 7 months ago
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  • Very interesting. It's worth exploring M. Scott Peck's distinction between the commitment of "love" and the feeling of "falling in love." – proflong 7 months ago
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Has Shakespeare Shaped Contemporary Language? If So, How?

Shakespeare created so many words still used in English and he used language to build meanings behind words and sentences in a way that was revolutionary at its time. How did his manipulation of the English language shape modern speech, vocabulary or language norms? The focus would not be on the content of his plays, but how he used language within the plays.

  • Shakespeare has had a greater impact on the English language than most people are aware of. First of all, many of our modern idioms are derivative from Shakespeare's plays. For example, if you ever said there's a method to your madness, you were in fact quoting Hamlet,or if you've ever referred to jealousy as a "green-eyed monster" than you have quoted Othello, or perhaps your name is Jessica, your nomenclature is one of Shakespearian creation! Other sayings include, "in a pickle", "the mind's eye, "rhyme or reason", "woe is me" and many more. In addition to his common phrases that have withstood the sands of time, Shakespeare's heavy use of literary devices such as metaphor, alliteration, simile and personification have been incredibly influential to writers for the past 450 years. Shakespeare is the most iconic writer of all time and he is in no way overrated, he may even be underrated. Shakespeare is a catalyst for much of American language and culture and without him our language would perhaps be more dull not to mention The Lion King would never have been created, thus my childhood would have be deprived. – sastephens 4 years ago
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  • Shakespeare has had a greater impact on the English language than most people are aware of. First of all, many of our modern idioms are derivative from Shakespeare's plays. For example, if you ever said there's a method to your madness, you were in fact quoting Hamlet,or if you've ever referred to jealousy as a "green-eyed monster" than you have quoted Othello, or perhaps your name is Jessica, your nomenclature is one of Shakespearian creation! Other sayings include, "in a pickle", "the mind's eye, "rhyme or reason", "woe is me" and many more. In addition to his common phrases that have withstood the sands of time, Shakespeare's heavy use of literary devices such as metaphor, alliteration, simile and personification have been incredibly influential to writers for the past 450 years. Shakespeare is the most iconic writer of all time and he is in no way overrated, he may even be underrated. Shakespeare is a catalyst for much of American language and culture and without him our language would perhaps be more dull not to mention The Lion King would never have been created, thus my childhood would have be deprived. – sastephens 4 years ago
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14

Who Influenced Shakespeare?

Usually we talk about who Shakespeare influenced, but never the other way around. I recently learned that the story of Romeo and Juliet was borrowed from the old Greco-Roman myth of Pyramus and Thisbe, the tragic tale of two star-crossed lovers (likewise a rather shallow depiction of romance). Who and what else influenced Shakespeare, the greatest writer of the English language?

  • i really like this topic! it will be interesting to see what pops up (shakespeare being my favorite playwright) I like that you leave it to the writer to choose the plays instead of being tightknit on certain ones so they can do some research as well – scole 4 years ago
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  • I think this will make a great topic to approach. Since there was no actual law of copyrights, there are numerous and familiar literature pieces that have borrowed from ancient stories. – Arazoo Ferozan 4 years ago
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  • As You Like It's influence is incredibly interesting, for anyone who decides to tackle this beast of a topic. – chandlerwp 4 years ago
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  • It's actually not true that we never talk about who influenced Shakespeare. By reading his plays and poems we can see clear influences from Homer, Plato, Virgil, Ovid (who was his source for the Pyramus and Thisbe legend), Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Chaucer, Plutarch, Holinshed, Montaigne (particularly from the 1603 translation by John Florio), Spenser, Marlowe, and countless others. His works also illustrate that he had an extensive knowledge of a wide array of non-literary subjects, including (but not limited to) medicine, law, court politics, geography, sailing, witchcraft, falconry, and fencing, which surely necessitated a lot of reading. In the appendix to her book Sweet Swan of Avon, american scholar Robin P. Williams (no relation to the late comic) compiled a list of nearly every literary source which the poet must have read - as evidenced by references to them in some capacity throughout his body of work, thereby not counting anything that he may have read for pleasure without making any allusions to - and it wound up being eight times more than the total traceable sources of Ben Jonson, who is considered by many to be the second smartest playwright of the age. – ProtoCanon 4 years ago
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  • Many of the plays were not original ideas, but rather based on several source materials. Troilus and Cressida is a great example for instance as an Italian writer expanded of of Homer and the story got rewritten a couple of times--even by Chaucer!--before the Shakespeare even wrote his version. Focusing on a couple plays might help narrow the focus – ckmwriter 4 years ago
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  • Another thing to consider is that many of Shakespeare's plays were "work shopped" in the Globe Theater. He would write the greater chunk of the script, pulling from Classic sources, but he would revise them with both cast a crew. Also, as ProtoCanon mentioned earlier, many of his plays were directly influenced by classics and to put it lightly, many of them could be considered adaptations or "fan ficitons" (to put it bluntly). I think a better question would be, although greatly influential and a master of language in his own right, how much of Shakespeare's material was directly his own? Considering the work shopping, the borrowing from other sources, etc. how much did Shakespeare actually create? Perhaps this needs to be better worded (I'm struggling myself to plot this question out correctly) but I still think these things should be considered when writing for this topic. – Mela 4 years ago
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Shakespeare in Films

Select a few of Shakespeare plays that have been adapted in films and analyse them. What can film techniques bring to the plays? How does it change our relationships to characters? The story? Are there elements that can only be efficient on stage? What do actors who do both (David Tennant, Kenneth Branagh, Ian McKellen etc…) say about the difference between performing Shakespeare on stage and in front of a camera?

  • Wow, there's a lot here to talk about! I love this topic and am excited to see it. Paring this down into specifics would be easier to write about. For example, Branagh is probably the most prolific in bringing Shakespeare to film, so it might be interesting to choose just one of his film adaptations and write at length about what it brings to (or detracts from) the play. Most directors these days set Shakespeare in different time periods; how does Branagh's version of Hamlet, for example, set a tone that may be different from a displaced staged version? – Katheryn 4 years ago
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  • A very interesting concept and will make a great article. There are certainly many things you propose to be discussed here. I think first of all the title should reflect that you are trying to do a comparison or discuss both Film and on stage plays. In addition, it will be beneficial to narrow down the discussion to a degree as it might result in a very long article that would not have coherency and a good flow. Compare and contrast topics are very interesting read and fun to do, but if there are too many elements, the article becomes difficult to follow. – Arazoo Ferozan 4 years ago
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  • BBC's Hollow Crown trilogy would be a good adaptation to explore (even though it's a mini-series) as many of the actors in it also did stage work. The recent Macbeth (2015) film would interesting as well given how pared down it was--mostly striking visuals and score, but very little of the play's actual lines. A question, maybe, of conveying atmosphere and tone vs. faithfully sticking to the original. – Tiffany 4 years ago
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  • As others have noted, there is a lot to explore/discuss here. There are numerous adaptations of Shakespeare's plays that can lend important insight to your piece - especially if you're thinking about it in a global context. How do adaptations outside of the English language come closer to or further from the original? How do certain cultural or community specific values (i.e. arranged marriages in certain cultures) impact an adaptation's depiction or love, duty, remorse, etc. Maqbool (2004) is an awesome example of some of these questions and issues. If you're thinking of expanding to a more global context that is a great place to start! – GemMarr 4 years ago
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  • This is a very broad topic, maybe stick to one popular and well adapted Shakespeare play. Also keep in mind the historical context of live action plays: they were supposed to engage the audience to get involved, for example the well known fact that audiences used to throw tomatoes at actors. But the audience could also contribute real time opinions and feelings to a play, even help improvise lines. Audience participation is something film adaptations lack. I'm not sure if you have studied more modern plays, like Beckett or Susan Lori-Parks, but the trend of post modern plays is to implicate the audience and make us feel culpable. I know this might be going off track, but it would be an interesting research. Good luck! – Rayna 4 years ago
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What type of film adaptations ensure that William Shakespeare's works will continue to resonate with future film viewers?

Analyze the different types of film adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. Which type will ensure that audiences will continue to connect with his plays, written 400 years ago? Some films like Olivier’s portrayal of Hamlet are essentially filmed plays. Others, such as last year’s Macbeth (with Michael Fassbinder) are dramatized faithful renditions while 1996’s Romeo and Juliet (by Baz Luhrmann) modernizes the setting and employs popular young ‘movie stars’ (Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes).

  • Interesting topic. I think to some degree, all forms of adaptations have been successful, because there is audience for all. It also depends on the promotion and market of the genre. I myself love the original Romeo and Juliet adaptation but the modernized version starring Leonardo DiCaprio give it a new twist and a new fan base, Leo's fans. He has a large fan base, thus making his movies, anything they maybe attractive. But let us not forget that those who have to read the original plays or not familiar with the form of English spoken, still had trouble relating to the movie. – Nilab Ferozan 4 years ago
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  • Shakespeare's history plays will continue to resonate with the struggles for power. – Jeffery Moser 4 years ago
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Ten ways in which Shakespeare influenced literature

In the 400th anniversary of his death, how has Shakespeare’s works influenced literature and why is it still held in high regard today.

  • This is a very broad topic. I would recommend you slave off adaptations, even loose, in order to see purer influences. Are you looking more at themes (e.g. star-crossed, separated lovers) or traditions (e.g. cross-dressing confusion)? – IndiLeigh 4 years ago
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  • I agree with IndiLeigh. I'd narrow it down or you'll be writing for another 400 years! – J.P. Shiel 4 years ago
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Published

The Obscure Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth – these plays could be considered the "Holy Trinity" for Shakespeare in academia; these plays seem to be the ones that are introduced to students most often and at the earliest ages (with an occasional Othello or King Lear thrown into the mix).

Why are these three plays seemingly the most prevalent in English classes? Some of the more "obscure" Shakespeare plays are, arguably, just as good for both reading and teaching as the aforementioned ones. Consider Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, Coriolanus, or the history plays (Richard/Henry) and how they would fare as a student’s first exposure to Shakespeare, as opposed to Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth.

  • Although I would argue that Midsummer Nights Dream is up there as well as the most-often-done comedy. I think it would be interesting to ask how looking at more obscure plays would introduce new/different/more interesting aspects of Shakespeare. – Francesca Turauskis 5 years ago
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  • I'm not against first exposure to the "classic" Shakespeare choices that you mention, but I do agree that exposure to a comedic Shakespearean play would be more interesting and entertaining for newbies. I'll always love a good Hamlet in the traditional style or a basic Macbeth (ala Judy Densch as Lady Macbeth--all actors and set in full black, very sparse set, etc.) in which the language and beauty of the story can shine through without distraction. But they are heavy and violent, and some of the comedies are so irreverent and funny that they might help younger audiences appreciate the Bard more readily. This is a very interesting topic to me; I'd like to see how people explore the ideas. – TheatreLife24 5 years ago
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  • Never thought of Twelfth Night and Much Ado About Nothing as 'obscure' - I studied both of them before touching Macbeth. Obscurity for Shakespeare ought to be more of a question of going against type, or looking at his early material. – JekoJeko 4 years ago
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  • A lot of it has to do with the verse. Romeo and Juliet and Midsummer Night's Dream are usually the first Shakespearean plays to which middle/high school students are introduced (I disagree that Hamlet and Macbeth are the first). These plays also are written in much simpler iambic pentameter than his later works; as he developed as a playwright, the complexity of his verse increased. Plots also got more complex and convoluted; R&J and Midsummer are very easy to read and understand; additionally, the protagonists in these two plays are closer in age to teens, as opposed to Hamlet or Much Ado About Nothing (men and women in their late 20s/early 30s), and so are their love triangles and juvenile understanding of love. – Katheryn 4 years ago
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1

Personal Responsibility versus Social Responsibility in King Lear

Analysis of King Lear that focuses on Lear’s downfall and what is the morally correct course of action. In other words, do the characters of King Lear owe Lear help out of his situation or is he personally responsible for pulling himself out of the problem? In what ways must people take control of their own lives and destiny? In what ways do the people in the society owe fellow human beings help out of unjust and/or dangerous situations?

  • I'm assuming this is in regards to Cordelia's banishment - it should be noted that Lear is older and mentally fragile. It is also common in Shakespearean tragedy to have an event where it inevitably ends without resolution if not more suffering, meaning that taking responsibility or being assisted will come to the same or similar conclsion. Speaking about character responsibility seems hard to do when the character in question is unstable. There might be a better way to rephrase this question so that it is more fitting but Lear is basically unable to take responsibility of his life, actions, or destiny. – Connor 5 years ago
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  • I am speaking more about the Fool and Kent, both of these characters know Lear is losing his sanity and both know that he is leading himself to his own destruction. They both say that Cordelia's banishment is the best thing to happen to her, but they both stay by Lear's side until the end or their death. It is the idea that they are responsible for Lear rather than Lear responsible for himself. – courtlynn 5 years ago
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  • So are you asking why Kent and the Fool remain by Lear's side and why do they feel entitled to help him even though he is no longer king, especially Kent being banished for giving his opinion on Cordelia? The responsibility predicament seems more complex in that the situation is unique and has to be addressed as such I think. Maybe be a bit more concise in the topic? Not to mention this could be expanded beyond Lear if not specified to characters such as Edgar/Poor Tom who do not have a sense of control over their situations. – Connor 5 years ago
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Shakespeare's Famous Founding Fools

Shakespeare’s stage clowns stand apart from his other characters by the way they break down barriers, provide comic relief, and guide the audience through the many layers of complexity that are characteristic of all of his plays. Shakespeare’s progress towards self-discovery by way of disguise and foolery is achieved through the invention of these comic characters. The creation of these fools symbolizes one of Shakespeare’s many contributions to literary tradition. More importantly, these Fools are the critics inside his plays and without their truthful presence Shakespeare’s works would be transformed for the worse. With his famous founding fools, Shakespeare reveals faults in judgment and values and never fails to shed light on the socio-cultural Renaissance atmosphere. So, the question up for discussion is what would Shakespeare’s works be without his famous founding fools?

  • Without Feste in 12th night, who would match Olivia's wit? I love Feste as amiable challenger-- his jokes aren't crude and sharp like Lear's Fool-- but instead push the word-play and language further. – haleesue 5 years ago
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Is Shakespeare Becoming Dated?

The beloved 90s rom-com "10 Things I Hate About You" rips off of the play "The Taming of the Shrew" in an updated way that caters to a female audience. In the Shakespearean play, Kat is deprived of food and sleep for many days as a method of "taming" her. What may have been suitable treatment of a wife during the Renaissance Period is reflected as Stockholm Syndrome now. This would make an interesting article, looking at Shakespeare’s famous stories and how Hollywood is taking steps to modernize them.

  • An interesting example, that through modernizing also heavily dated itself: Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet (1996). I personally love this film but it feels like a 90s film. – Celeste Reeb 5 years ago
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  • The easy answer is yes, Shakespeare is dated. It's just so dated that we don't even recognize the dated aspects of it. The reason we can notice that a 90s movie is a 90s movie is because we've seen enough 90s movies to recognize the common tropes of the time. With Shakespeare, though, we have very little to compare it to. The vast majority of us are not familiar with much, if any writing contemporary with Shakespeare. Shakespeare uses a lot of jokes, tropes, and such that seems clever and original to us, because we've never seen them used before. Imagine if there was only one 90s movie that most people had seen. People would probably see it as artistically unique and special, even though it's just another 90s movie. Not to belittle Shakespeare, just a thought to keep in mind. – OddballGentleman 5 years ago
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  • Technically speaking, William Shakespeare's works can't ever be truly "dated" since he invented so many words/phrases we still use ("cold-blooded" and "off with his head" etc.) besides the aforementioned story themes and hidden word puns. And of course, plays such as Othello touch upon issues like racism which further help to keep Shakespeare current today. With the more problematic plays like "The Taming of the Shrew, as mentioned in the topic, maybe they could be modernized in an ironic way, highlight how offensive the sexism and abuse are now to contrast their dated origins of the 1500s. – dsoumilas 5 years ago
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  • Interesting topic, though a few points you should consider is that Shakespeare is still popular and still being played because most of his pieces contain subject matters that are still relevant today: love (and what it does to a person), hate (and how one deals with it), revenge (Is revenge justifiable? And at what point? What is it that makes someone feel like they have to get back at someone to feel at ease?), death (What is death? What does death mean to a living, breathing human, and what is it that makes death so frightening?) , etc, etc.I think for this subject, you'd need to dig very deeply and cover different countries with different cultures that still preform and love Shakespeare, and what factor connects it all in the end. What is it that makes actors want to preform such dated theatre? Why is it, that even though we all have different backgrounds, speak different languages, and come from different countries, Shakespeare still manages to amaze us all?And as a last thing, it's really important to consider the differences between modern Shakespeare performances and original preformed plays. Because that is the one thing that will probably make the difference in your article. – AyakaHoshina 5 years ago
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  • Every performance/adaptation of Shakespeare that you see today is being interpreted from a modern perspective and we will take the bits of it we recognise and change the bits we don't. The most fabulous version of Taming of the Shrew I saw was by a company called Propeller - an all male theatre company (like the original context) that turned Shrew into a tragedy with Kate a broken women at the end, saying her speeches out of fear. If we look at versions such as Luhrmann's (best Shakespeare on film ever, btw) or, indeed The Lion King (kind of based on Hamlet) it is placed in a heightened world where the plot makes sense, (gang war, the animal kingdom...) but Shakespeare, like fairytales, will never be dated whilst we can still recognise aspects of it in the modern world (like misogyny, racism, the overwhelming need for love at all costs...) – Francesca Turauskis 5 years ago
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