April 23rd, 1564, Saint George’s day…and supposedly William Shakespeare’s birthday. The actual date is unknown, although he was baptised on April 26th, but I do find this date fitting, first because it’s also the date of his death in 1616 and secondly, I like to think that Spring welcomed the Bard in a chorus of blooming flowers and song.
I am still in the initial stages of reading Shakespeare’s plays. Unfortunately I grew up with this preconception that his works are extremely difficult to read, understand, and relate to. As a result, I studied Romeo and Juliet in secondary school with this distorted blindfold over my mind, hindering me from actually enjoying the play and appreciating it as a whole. Fast-forward a couple of years, when I decided to give the Bard another chance, and the play that I chose to read was A Midsummer Night’s Dream, because I figured it best to start with a comedy. And I’m so thankful that I did because I enjoyed it immensely. It was entertaining, exquisite and a fantastical dream. Yes, I did require a guide with definitions and a summary of each scene. And yes, I did get stuck on certain phrases and incomprehensible words but in the end I truly appreciated why Shakespeare’s works are important in the history of literature.
What will I read next? I guess my next tentative step will lead me to Much Ado About Nothing. I bought the Folger Shakespeare Library edition and from my brief glance at the pages, it seems quite helpful and accessible to people like me who have no experience whatsoever with his works.
In honour of Shakespeare’s birthday, I would like to share with you an interesting article about the origin of some of Shakespeare’s female characters: How Shakespeare’s Leading Ladies Got Their Names. This wonderful visual below has been sent to me by one of the creators to share it with you and I think it’s truly beautiful and intriguing.
What I particularly like about Shakespeare is his choice of names for his characters and how these names have become embedded in our history so that wherever you look, you will most likely meet with someone named for a tragic heroine or a queen of fairies! Like I said, I’ve only read two of his plays but I still am familiar with many other of his character names despite not having read about them. I particularly like the names Ophelia, Katherina and Isabella. This article has definitely reminded me how much I should pick up another of his plays, because his works are all teaming with such interesting detail.
What is your favourite Shakespeare play? x