So, if you are like me, you were forced to read Shakespeare in high school. Not that there is anything wrong with that; I am a big fan of The Bard, but so many people find his work hard to approach because of the language. Once you get past the poetry to the meat of the story, you realize that most of his stories are the root of every story that has been told since. Have a revenge story? Hamlet. Have a story about power leading to corruption? I give you Julius Caesar or Macbeth. Want to tell a story about crazy, self-destructive teenagers? Romeo and Juliet. The first romantic comedy? A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Shakespeare is so at the root of our culture that to not have at least a passing familiarity with is work is a crime against civilized society.
So here I have a few resources to tie into Shakespeare. The first is from Cliff’s Notes, whose products (for better or worse) have helped countless people approach Shakespeare’s works. They have produced a series of short films that sum up the works very nicely with a big helping of much needed humor.
For those of you on the other end of the spectrum, who think that the greatest writer in the English language is deserving of more respect and analysis: Wolfram Alpha, the fact-engine and source of limitless statistical data, has included the works of Shakespeare in its databases, and now gives such information as the average sentence length in Hamlet being 80.08 characters, or that Hermia speaks 1818 words to Lysander’s 1399.
Finally, here’s a collection of Shakespeare resources from Weekly Reader. Don’t miss the Macbeth rap.