Is Shakespeare Still Relevant?

Shakespeare was an artist of tremendous talent. He reshaped the theater, and the effects his works had on his contemporaries are well documented and studied in literature classes all over the world. However, some people today doubt the relevance of Shakespeare’s works in modern society. They could not be further from the truth, though, as these masterpieces have become so integral in our culture that few people actually notice that all of them came from Shakespeare.

The contributions that Shakespeare’s works made to the English language and culture are too numerous to count. Some of the things we take for granted, like the phrases “all is well that ends well” and “primrose path”, were coined by this incredible author. There are so many others that it would not be a stretch to say that one way or another, every person who speaks English cites Shakespeare every week. It is a testament of the magnitude his influence has on modern culture when people do not even notice when this happens. Everyone today will understand that being compared to Romeo and Juliet speaks of great love and devotion for one another. The same things can be said for Hamlet as a tragic hero, or Othello as a personification of jealousy.

Shakespeare’s works are just as relevant from a linguistic point of view, as they are from the cultural one. Although some of the grammar structures he used seem archaic today, they were considered extremely progressive at the time and shaped the way the English language evolved over the last four centuries. Shakespeare was also famous for creating many new words. When there was no term that described the situation or feeling the way he liked, he made one up. He did it so often that the effects this had on English vocabulary was truly tremendous. He also reshaped the way tragedies were presented. It was Shakespeare who introduced mixed genres and added some comic relief even to the darkest of plays.

It may be true that Shakespeare’s works today are not appreciated by many, and the number of people who truly enjoy them drops with every passing year. A person must be extremely well-educated in order to read Shakespeare in its original text. The digital world of today is not conductive for encouraging people to spend hours studying his works in silent contemplation to analyze and understand them. However, this does not change the fact that the influence of these literary works has already changed our culture.

Regardless of what anyone claims, the relevance of Shakespeare’s works is indisputable; as they have already affected our minds, values, and the English language.

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