What is the Genius of Shakespeare?
The genius of Shakespeare is that his writings still resonate today as strongly if not stronger than during his own lifetime. Shakespeare and his many plays have basic themes of bravery, love and political intrigue. All of these themes highlight the plots of all of our entertainment today. The universal appeal is not based solely on his themes but in pop culture references we are consistently bombarded with. Even SpongeBob had a Romeo and Juliet inspired cartoon, that is universal appeal.
Schools across America fuel the Shakespeare machine by incorporating his plays into the curriculum for every student in America. I have read four of his plays at BHS. Between pop culture references, entertainment and academia everybody knows the stories of Romeo and Juliet and most people even know a couple of lines from the balcony scene or from the Hamlet “to be or not to be” soliloquy.
Shakespeare wrote about the hot button issues of his day incorporating humor and the supernatural. People in the US have the exact same desires for their entertainment dollar. They want political intrigue, love, betrayal, honor with a touch of comedy and the supernatural. Entertainment has not gotten much more sophisticated than it was 200 years ago. We still cheer at the good guys who wear white hats and boo at the bad guys who wear black hats, just like in Shakespeare's time.
Although the verbiage is complex his themes are incredibly basic and everyone can follow them at different levels. Once a student reads and re- reads lines 50 times because they are so difficult to follow a better understanding of the plays nuances can be understood. For the casual reader who simply skims through it the general theme of love hate and betrayal it becomes so clear his plays work at every level. The timelessness of his message and the relatable themes are why Shakespeare is such a genius in his own time and in ours.