Jun 23, 2013

Shakespeare's greatest appeal

The works of William Shakespeare enjoy virtually universal popularity, his plays translated and performed around the world. The reasons for his reputation as the greatest writer of the English language are many, including the poetic beauty of his imagery and the narrative drive and complex themes he employs. But for most readers and playgoers, Shakespeare's greatest appeal is found in his creation of memorable characters and the many roles actors long to play -haunted, brooding Hamlet; madly jealous Othello, old, deluded Lear; violently ambitious Macbeth and his murderous wife, Lady Macbeth; the fascinating evildoers, Iago and Shylock, one ingenious, the other sympathetic; lovesick Romeo and Juliet; clever Portia; spunky Rosalind; conscience-stricken Brutus. These characters jump off the page and emerge on the stage as real people in as many interpretations of motive as there are actors who play the roles. Beyond the stage, the characters become us, or we become them. Indeed, Shakespeare's many unforgettable characters are the mirrors the playwright holds up to human nature so we can truly see ourselves. (The New York Times ‘Smarter by Sunday – 52 Weekends of Essential Knowledge for the Curious Mind’)