Shakespeare and dogma

I spoke recently with a friend about Shakespeare, and I realized how far my view of him had changed. In some ways, I still feel the same: I don’t care for the language. It seems somehow overstuffed, inorganic, and too deliberately full of ambiguities; maybe even too full of life, or overstimulated. I don’t know that I would be too interested in defending this point: but it’s the way I feel. Maybe call it taste and leave me to it. So much is constant.

But then I also didn’t get the characters. I couldn’t understand how they changed, what pressures were on them. It was all over my head. But now somehow they’ve exploded into life for me. It’s a little like learning how to open a pop-up book right, so the shapes all stand out in their proper relation. I just didn’t see the depth that was there before, the several simultaneous motions of the unfolding.

I don’t know how to characterize what the difference is. I remember pretending to like him, and I remember feeling that I couldn’t quite get a purchase on him. I felt the plays to be flat without knowing quite what I was missing. It’s funny: I’ve become more dogmatic, in my views on human nature and political realities; or I’ve gotten more of a hold on these things, I’m more opinionated: so I can read him better in these areas. I can understand the pressures on his characters, how they change and how they interact.

One Reply to “Shakespeare and dogma”

  1. Yeah, I know exactly how you feel :). I can vividly remember walking through Romeo and Juliet in high school and caring only that I did well enough to get a good grade but not well enough that I’d be mocked by my classmates. And then I remember reading Hamlet over and over again in college because I “got” it on a whole fundamentally different level.

    And I’ve never looked back :).

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