I know what you are all thinking. Reading Shakespeare, not good. Movie version, better. 🙂
Bear with me. Reading Shakespeare can be fun, if you only try. Follow my tips and you’ll be able to enjoy Shakespeare. 🙂
1. Get a good version of the book. I have just finished Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. I have his other books waiting to be read. Of course, Shakespeare’s plays are meant to be watched, but it’s nice to read them as well. Get the book with annotations, since some of the words he uses in his plays are no longer in use, or have changed meanings already.
2. Give Shakespeare your full attention. Reading Antony and Cleopatra or some other works by Shakespeare, requires your full, undivided attention. If you can’t, then read something else.
3. You don’t need a degree in Shakespeare to understand him. He wrote his plays for the masses. So whatever play he writes is bound to be something you can relate to, as Shakespeare is a very scarily keen, astute observer of human behavior.
4. Check out how people in Shakespeare’s time used words. You’ve got to hand it to the ancients. They knew how to use words. And you can too!
To threaten someone:
Cleopatra: The gold I give thee will I melt and pour down thy ill-uttering throat.
Cleopatra: Like balls before me, I’ll unhair thy head.
Cleopatra: Thou shalt be whipped with wire and stewed in brine, smarting in ling’ring pickle.
Cleopatra: The gods confound thee!
Enobarbus: Think, and die.
When trying to insult someone, Shakespeare’s characters (from Antony and Cleopatra) can be very useful:
1. She shows a body rather than a life, a statue than a breather.
2. (Your face is) round even to faultiness.
3. Her forehead (is) as low as she would wish it.
If you are the boss and your subordinate wants to give you a message:
1. You (as spoken by Antony): Grates me! The sum!
2. (From Cleopatra): Ram though thy fruitful tidings in mine ears, that long time have been barren.
If somebody asks you out, and you want to turn them down, you can say, as Charmian did in “Antony and Cleopatra”: I had rather heat my liver with drinking.
If you are in a relationship, you can impress your partner with this:
(Revised from Antony and Cleopatra)
1. Eternity was in our lips and eyes, Bliss in our brows’ bent…
2. My full heart remains in use with you.
3. (Instead of simply saying goodbye like a normal person) The world and my great office will sometimes divide me from your boss.
4. (Instead of saying “Please be careful with my heart” like any lovesick idiot) You take from me a great part of myself; use me well in ‘t.
5. (When describing your love) “The April ‘s in her eyes: it is love’s spring.” or “The rose of youth is on (his/her) lips.”
6. Shall I abide in this dull world, which in thy absence is no better than a sty?
6. My heart was to thy rudder tied by th’ strings.
When ordering mead in a pub:
Enorbabus: Cup us til the world go round!
When coming on to a hot guy/girl in a pub: Word me!
Warning: Blogger will not be responsible for results that will arise from the use of the above. 🙂
5. Read a stanza at least twice to get the gist of the stanza. Because Shakespeare, like Goethe, needs to be savoured. And understood. For maximum enjoyment.
6. It helps if you do some research on the characters. Most o Shakespeare’s characters were based on historical ones. Knowing the background helps you understand the story and the context better.
And…!if all else fails, just read the books again. And don’t forget to watch the movies.