Understanding of Tragedy Given Through Comedy

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In Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor Chapter 6, 9, 11-14, an earlier thought of mine was verbalized in the quote: “For a lot of us, that  particular show was either our first encounter with the Bard or our first intimation that he could actually be fun, since in public school, you may recall, they only teach his tragedies” (Foster 38).  How many times had I thought to myself how unpleasant Shakespeare was?  Up till 12th grade I had stubbornly maintained a dislike of Shakespeare.  I think this was mainly because of the fact that we had only read tragedies in school.  Hamlet, Macbeth, all they managed to do was depress me.  Then my senior year, I took a semester class in Shakespeare.  My perspective of Shakespeare was radically changed by that class.  We read the comedies, “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Twelfth Night”.  We read the “Merchant of Venice”, part of “King Lear”, “Richard III”, and  “Othello”.  I saw a complete other side of Shakespeare.  Foster makes a good point that Shakespeare can be fun.  Once I had read some of the comedies, and I had more of an open mind, I was able to enjoy his other plays more too.    


Maddie Gillespie said:

I had a similar experience as yours. It seems that most schools focus on his tragedies, perhaps in a better attempt to bring out his grandness, his ability to envision great scenes and awe others. Maybe they just think that typically mopey teenagers will better relate to his tragedies. I've no idea. However, you only have to read another of his more light-hearted works to realize that his life wasn't all doom and gloom. There are two sides to every coin, unless you never look at the flip side.

Ally Hall said:

I hated Shakespeare all throughout high school and even now, I'm still not his biggest fan. I just never understood what was so special about his tragedies, but during my senior year, in addition to Hamlet, we got to read "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and that I actually understood, and more importantly to me, I actually enjoyed. Maybe I just need something not so dreary to be able to enjoy Shakespeare.

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