Simply stated, students should study Shakespeare’s works in school because of the incredible value within them. In addition to exposing students to a multitude of literary techniques, Shakespeare’s plays challenge the student with difficult language and style, express a profound knowledge of human behaviour and offer insight into the world around us.
William Shakespeare is recognized by much of the world as the greatest of all dramatists. The intricate meanings, extensive vocabulary, and powerful imagery contained within his works demonstrate the phenomenal storytelling ability of the English playwright. “Shakespeare’s use of poetry within his plays to express the deepest levels of human motivation in individual, social and universal situations is considered one of the greatest accomplishments in literary history.” School programs offer students the opportunity to study Shakespeare at length and provoke a greater appreciation of his literary ability. Analyzing his work enables students to recognize, understand and respect the playwright’s true genius.
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Evident in Shakespeare’s plays is the broad use of irony, imagery, rhythm and other literary devices. Through these devices, he establishes atmosphere and character, and intrigue. Exposure to these devices provides students with a broad knowledge of literary style and technique while serving to develop and improve writing skills. Also, because much of the modern literary ideas and writings allude to and can be traced back to Shakespeare, familiarity with his works can only be an advantage to the student.
Shakespeare wrote his plays to appeal to Elizabethan audiences. Much of the text is dated or archaic and is initially unknown to the typical student. Yet upon thorough study, the student will gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of Shakespeare’s words and the English language.
Despite the difficulty that dated text presents, the passions and emotions described by Shakespeare touch the hearts of his readers and audience, students included. Vivid imagery and poetic descriptions are presented effectively and have a great impact on the audience. Readers are provided with the opportunity to step into the lives of his characters; to feel their emotions and understand their motivations, a rewarding experience for the student.
Although Shakespeare’s wrote his plays more than 350 years ago, the relevance of their themes and subjects still exists. The morals and values presented in his works speak to the audience, often offering a new perspective on the world in which they live. Students are affected by powerful and complex characters and are rewarded with profound insights into human nature and behaviour.
I firmly believe that Shakespeare’s works, like no other literature in the high school curriculum, challenge and invigorate the minds of students. Because of the complex characters, difficult vocabulary and style in which he writes, students must elevate their level of learning to grasp a clear understanding of his works. Shakespeare’s plays hold intricate meanings and messages. His works are open to many interpretations and encourage the student to use his or her imagination. Discussing characters, impressions and the issues that a play raise challenge the student, and is often one of the most “rewarding and pleasurable aspects of the study of Shakespeare.”
Clearly, studying Shakespeare’s works is a valuable and rewarding experience. School programs recognize the extraordinary literary genius of his writing and realize the educational potential it offers. Studying Shakespeare in school exposes students to powerful themes, concepts and effective literary devices, an opportunity of which they may have not otherwise taken advantage. Schools, I believe, must provide students with the opportunity to experience the profound insights, perceptions and literary contributions of playwright William Shakespeare.
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