Seriously, its hilarious how people deny the fact that Shakespeare is very hard to understand for a lot of people, while speaking normal English themselves.
What the hell is "normal" English? There are hundreds dialects and variations across the world.
If it was so easy or normal, why aren't you writing like him?
For the same reason I'm not composing concertos like Mozart or painting cathedrals like Michelangelo.
Because NO ONE talks or write likes that anymore
No one talked like that 400 years ago either. It's poetry. And any iambic poem written in 2014 looks just like that.
I'm just getting beat up by Shakespeare snobs. I get it, you like your ancient plays. Good for you, I wish you nothing but happiness while enjoying your ancient plays.
No one is beating you up. We're simply trying to open you up to one of the most important aspects--gifts, really--of our culture. There's just so much to get out of it, not only from a language standpoint, but in the way it hones readers' ability to think critically and expanded. You see, no one is supposed
to understand it. Get the gist of the plot, sure. But that's not hard to do, even with a fast read. And of course, meant to be performed, and the plot is so much more clearer in a performance.
As far as fully digesting it, it's not meant to be easy. People literally devote their entire lives to it. But even spending a half hour a night reading and re-reading a few pages (going over the lines that give you the most difficulty) and spending five minutes thinking about what you read and letting the imagery marinade long enough to draw your own conclusions will be so beneficial to your life. At the very, very least it will help you see the films, show, comics you love in a new light and open you up to different ideas and interpolations, either your own or ones you read here and other boards.
And, at the risk of getting too personal, reading Shakespeare aloud quietly to yourself can do wonders, like nothing else in the English language, for your verbal confidence such that you may feel better at you next interview.
To this point, I think students learn so much more and get more that well be beneficial to them in life than they do, say, calculus. So much so, that it pains me that R&J is really only mandatory Shakespeare left in schools--those that are lucky enough to have any at all.
what's the point of reading a story whose language is so obtuse that you have to interpret what the words on the page even mean?
And this is where you lose me. Elizabeth-era Chaucerian English just isn't that different from modern English. I mean, in that entire Ophelia passage you posted, was there a single word you've never seen before? The definitions really haven't changed. (The spellings may have.) Certainly, there are a few words here and there with distinctively different meanings, but any word is properly annotated in any copy of any play/sonnet written in the last 150 years.
Is it a little obtuse? A little. Figurative? Of course. It's poetry! But most of our modern parlance is figurative--and the figures most commonly derived from Shakespeare!
Lastly, I think forging an appreciation for Shakespeare can only help with one's appreciation for Star Trek
. While, it's hard to deny Shakespeare's influence on all of modern story telling, I don't think there's a single popular franchise that's more engrained in a Shakespearean mindset than Trek. I mean the guy is everywhere
. Even getting past the obvious like the two "main" captains are big fans, the story ideas, themes and concepts are all Shakespearesque. But more than that the actors and their dialog--not just specific lines, but the overall cadence--is so much like Shakespeare. And I mean all
the actors, not just Shatner and Stewart.