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Why are we taught, Shakespeare?

Article by Nita Karkashadze

Every year GZAAT students are taught one of the famous poems written by Shakespeare. Starting with Romeo and Juliet in the Freshman year, continuing with Julius Caesar in the sophomore year, Macbeth in Junior year, and finishing up with Hamlet during Senior year. Why are we taught Shakespeare every year? What is the cultural significance of his plays? An article written by Global Student Network dictates that the complex characters, “rich and dense language,” and universal themes are the main reasons why schools globally put Shakespeare’s plays in English lit syllabus. I partly agree with this statement, but I still believe there is much more to his literature than just “complex words.”

Along with being fictional, Shakespeare's tragedies somewhat accurately describe cultural traditions, religious aspects, and social norms of the Elizabethan era. Strong female leading characters like Cordelia in King Lear, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, and Even Juliet from Romeo and Juliet. All these iconic female characters went against the socially acceptable roles for women at the time.

Shakespeare also usually set his plays in different countries to indirectly criticize the leaders of his own country, and get away with it. Though most of us are already tired of trying to understand what this man is trying to say with his fancy phrases and wording, his works contribute significantly to the standardization of grammar, spelling, and vocabulary. He also never limited himself from only enriching his audience with one culture/religion like most of the authors of his time did. He did not cling to only using the Christian context. He mixed it with mentions of witches, Roman Gods, Ancient Greek gods, many historical sites like Golgotha… etc. His plays were very diverse, making them both entertaining, educating, and action-packed for his audience. We should not forget that even nowadays, most of the “tropes” and storylines in modern tv-shows and movies derive from the main themes of his plays. Story arc’s like “star-crossed lovers,” “love triangles,” and “forbidden love” all set their roots from Shakespeare's iconic plays. To conclude, even if we complain most of the time while reading Shakespeare's poems because of his intricate use of words, we should never forget the cultural significance it brought to us. We might have never had rom-coms, a favorite genre to some, if not for Shakespeare.

Interview with Lela Samniashvili:

I asked Lela Samniashvili, the teacher of English literature in Guivy Zaldastanishvili American Academy the same question, why are we taught Shakespeare in high school? Her response somewhat correlated with mine:” Nita, we read Shakespeare's work every year of high school due to the universal and timeless themes, rich language, the perfect mixture of tragedy and comedy, and the highest literary value of these writings. Shakespeare is a perfect example of how time does not devaluate true literature. His plays and sonnets are very rich in terms of language explorations as well as of deep philosophical contemplations on life given through different types of characters and plot development.”

To conclude, Shakespeare’s literature is timeless and has stayed relevant for so many centuries, by using beautiful literary devices, and creating strong and complex characters along with a comedic side to it, Shakespeare creates masterpieces taught all over the world in most high schools.

Edited By Beqa Ramishvili

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