Why Are We Still so Fascinated with Shakespeare?

Almost everyone has heard the name “William Shakespeare” at least once in their life. Either they had to read or act out one of his plays in high school, are studying him in a college course, seen his play in theatre, or watched a video based on one of his works. There are so many movies that are influenced by his plays. Two of them are “The Lion King”, “10 Things I Hate About You”. Many shows mention his name. So here is the lingering question: why are we still so intrigued by him, a man who died almost four hundred years ago?

I believe that in order to truly understand why William Shakespeare is still very much remembered, why so many movies are based off of his work, and why we still quote him to this day, another question must be answered first. That question would be: why would anyone in history be remembered for centuries after their death? Either they did something incredibly heroic, incredibly evil, or they changed the world in an immense way. Christopher Columbus died over five centuries ago, but we remember him because he discovered America.

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Adolf Hitler is remembered because he was the definition of evil, but he somehow got into the heads of so many Germans and was able to take over the country in a very short time. In Shakespeare’s case, I think it is safe to say that he has had a huge influence in pop culture, and that is why he is remembered so greatly. He wrote thirty-seven plays and one hundred fifty-four sonnets. He was an incredible poet with an extensive vocabulary of 25,000 words. Although the average person only has a 4000 word vocabulary, his imagery coined a lot of words and phrases that are still used today.

Another reason that he is remembered is because many people, such as Helen Keller, Mark Twain, and Charlie Chaplin, do not think he even existed. The mystery of that also makes people curious about him. He was a huge influence on the entertainment business because he was good at capturing what many human experiences are like. From love to laughter, and sadness to death, he captured everyone’s heart by pulling them into the story, and by enabling them to relate to it on so many different levels.

He also captures what it is like to be an “other”. During the time when he was alive, an “other” was a person that was not of the “norm”. This was a person who was a race other than Caucasian, a person of a religion other than what the royal family wanted, a person who wanted a same sex partner, a woman, or a person of a lower social class. All of these issues were taboo during this time, but Shakespeare had not problem putting these issues into his plays.

Many of these issues are still present today, and that is why so many people still read and watch the plays that he wrote. Many people can still relate, even after almost four hundred years. People in the entertainment business realize that, and that is why so many movies story lines are based off of his plays. This is why so many television shows and movies mention him, such as “The Cosby Show”, “Days of Our Lives”, “Family Ties”, “Shakespeare In Love”, and “The Pianist”.

In conclusion, even though Shakespeare died almost four hundred years ago, he is still very much alive in our world today. Whether it is when someone quotes one of his lines from a play, makes a movie based off of one of his works, or hears him being talked about on television, he is still remembered by many people. He had an extensive vocabulary, and was very good at capturing the human experience. For all of these reasons, William Shakespeare still intrigues the world almost four hundred years later.

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