How To Read Shakespeare

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Hello everyone! 

I thought I would write something a little different this time. Recently I have been on a big classic literature kick, with one of my favourite writers by far being William Shakespeare. Now I'm sure the majority of you will have studied, or will be planning on studying his various works. As most of his work is aimed to be seen rather than read, he is admittedly not the easiest to read from a book. So I thought I would give you a few quick tips on how I like to making reading the Great Bard's writing easier :-) 

1. Pick an easy one to ease you in! This one seems a bit of a no brainer, but with so many pieces to choose from it's not as straightforward as it might seem. Personally, I find tragedies quite heavy and hard to get into, so they aren't really my first choice. My favourites by far are The Sonnets and A Midsummer Night's Dream. I think these two works are quite short and easy to read. The Sonnets can be split into manageable chunks and are so beautifully written that any reader will be held spellbound. A Midsummer Night's Dream is delicate, magical and such a wonderful satire. These factors make them ideal candidates to help you get used to the writing style and old fashioned turn of phrase! 

2. Get in the right mind set. Reading verse or plays can be made so much more difficult if you're feeling tired or disconnected. I find that I really have to concentrate to enjoy Shakespeare to the full. Keeping track of the various plot twists and characters is tricky, so make sure you're equipped with tea and sweet treats! 

3. Annotate! Never be afraid to annotate your books, obviously don't do this if it's a library book or lent by a friend, I doubt they'll thank you for it :-) However, if you own the book and find it easier to absorb things if you write them down, then why not make little notes. Or if you don't want to write in your beautiful book, why not crack out the colour coordinated stationary and make little notes and stick page tabs all over your copy! I particularly recommend this for the historical texts, like King Henry IV for example. 

4. Break it up. Marathoning books is the perfect way to get bogged down and push yourself into a reading slump. If I am finding a plot hard to follow, then I will watch an adaptation of it. Sometimes I do this in chunks as I read the play, it just helps me to understand the direction of the story and distinguish between the different character's voices. That and taking regular breaks to absorb the twists and turns was invaluable in helping me survive studying Macbeth! 

5. Enjoy it :-) The Bard's words were written to entertain and the fact that they are still well loved all over the world is testimony to their quality. That being said, not all of it will be your cup of tea. Don't be scared to say "yup I don't like that genre or style". Read what you enjoy and take the time to appreciate it.

I hope you found these little tips helpful and please do let me know yours in the comments below :-) 


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