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William Shakespeare
Forever and a Day

William Shakespeare
  • All's Well, That Ends Well (by )
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  • Merchant of Venice, The (by )
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  • Macbeth (by )
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  • Comedy of Errors (by )
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  • The Merry Wives of Windsor (by )
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  • A Midsummer Night's Dream (by )
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  • Much Ado about Nothing (by )
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  • Taming of the Shrew, The (by )
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  • The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet (by )
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  • As You Like It (by )
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  • Shakespeare's Sonnets (version 2) (by )
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  • As You Like It (by )
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  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona (by )
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  • King Henry Iv. A Tragedy. In Five Acts (by )
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  • The Tragedy of King Lear (by )
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Is it possible for something or someone to be so ubiquitous that it is near negligible, like the air we breathe? Is it merely a sign of the times to know so many a person by name but not by substance? Are we the era of jack of all trades, but master of none?

One might guess on reflex that William Shakespeare was the origin of the saying, “jack of all trades”. After all, he is basically the pillar of English phrases and idiom innovation. He coined everyday phrases such as crack of doom, devil incarnate, dead as a doornail, good riddance, send him packing, cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war, full circle, love is blind, play fast and loose, along with many, many others. But in fact, the jack of all trades quote was a dig at Shakespeare from Robert Greene’s play Groat’s-Worth of Wit, for Shakespeare had then recently been an actor arrogant enough to dabble in playwriting.

Shakespeare’s so called arrogance paid off.

April is William Shakespeare’s assumed birth month, certified month of baptizing, and absolute month of passing. There is little doubt that the Bard of Avon still holds the place as most influential writer in the English language, and certainly still the most widely produced playwright in the world.

It would be impossible to extinguish Shakespeare’s influence on language, but how much do people directly study him today?

There was a slew of articles back in 2014 that debated whether Shakespeare should be required reading in Common Core English Language Arts standards (this seemed to come on the tails of articles about the decline of the popularity of classic literature). One of the arguments was that although his innovations in language and questions into the human condition are majorly important, he is still at the end of the day, one singular man in a much smaller and specified world than we live in today. It was an argument not so much against Shakespeare as it was for diversifying the canonized education. 

On the other side of the aisle, people draw comparisons to great myths, Greek classics, and texts like the Bible to argue the importance of being familiar with the pillars of our contemporary stories and their universal, timeless themes, as well as studying how things once were. 
Many colleges today no longer require their English majors to take exclusively Shakespearian classes. Some professors and teachers are keen on exposing their kids to Shakespeare whether they like it or not, while others, not fearing he will be forgotten anytime soon, want to focus on any way to create animated and passionate readers. 

Whichever side one takes, it is difficult to envision a world where the great bard is forgotten. I would venture the perhaps naive notion that if you first teach curiosity and passion for reading, then it will put students on the path that will inevitably take them to Shakespeare when they are ready for him. 

For those of us who are ready for that dose of Shakespeare now, World Library has you covered. Macbeth, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeare’s sonnets, and many critical theory and interpretations of his work can be discovered on our site.

by Thad Higa



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