by Kathleen McGunagle
At a 2008 Freshman Convocation for the Catholic University of America, English professor Michael Mack delivered an address entitled: “Why Read Shakespeare?”: A Real Question and the Search for a Good Answer.” In his thoughtful address, Professor Mack emphasizes Shakespeare’s relevance to basic human existence.
“[Shakespeare] is for anyone who is interested in navigating the real world,” Mack asserts. “By getting to know Shakespeare, you have a tremendous opportunity for getting to know yourself.”
Other blogs, articles, and columns (including one shy thread on Yahoo! Answers) cite Shakespeare’s use of complex characters, brilliant lyric, intriguing plots, and the plays’ historicity. Lars Nilsen, in Badass Digest, even goes so far as to say: “You should read Shakespeare because he tells a better story than any other author, any filmmaker, anyone at all, because he tells your story.”
But at the end of the day, why should you pick up that dusty copy of Much Ado About Nothing? Why soldier through the life-and-death pondering of Hamlet? What do a pair of star-crossed lovers have anything to do with the 21st century with its i-phones and i-schedules and i-don’t-have-time-for-xyz’s?
Everything. Professor Mack is right: Shakespeare teaches you about the world, particularly the one that will be opening up for you very soon. College. And I don’t just mean in English 101.
[Continue reading to learn about HOW Shakespeare teaches you about the world]