Whenever I feel down, frustrated, or intellectually stagnant, I turn to Shakespeare. His plays and characters fascinate me, as do his words. I won’t pretend to be a Shakespeare scholar. A lot of what I read or see (in live performances or film adaptations) would go over my head without having read online synopses or dually reading the modern translations via the No Fear Shakespeare series, but I think that’s what draws me to it. I love words, and I love how differently they can be interpreted by stressing different words or even different syllables, or by using different tones and emotions in one’s voice.
Reading Shakespeare, or better yet, watching one of his plays performed, requires me to focus on something outside myself while giving me the opportunity to analyze and internalize what I’m experiencing. I have seen myself in Hamlet’s undecided anguish, in Coriolanus’ self righteous, unyielding pride, and in Cordelia’s insistence on pragmatism when others want their ego stroked, and in dozens of other ways shown through as many other characters.
Participating in Shakespeare makes me feel smarter than I am and gives me a chance to experience a magnified version of life from the safety of my couch…no real life poisons, betrayals, or mistaken identities needed!