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Friday, April 22, 2016

Shakespeare has Literally Died

While the world celebrates 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death (and April 23rd as his Birthday), some of our students don't even know who he was, let alone the literary contribution made by this literary don. 
In Bhutan, on the way to revamp the middle and higher secondary Bhutanese English curriculum, Shakespearean plays were weeded out from the literature garden some years ago from now, despite the assorted public response it suffered.    
The Bard’s plays, as far as I learned, were substituted with the series of contemporary literature on the grounds that it failed to impart all 4 skills of language viz. listening, speaking, reading and writing. Because it imparted only and more of listening skills, the students in consequence were unarguably transformed to a mechanical copyists of the notes prescribed by the teachers. The same notes were rote memorized and regurgitated for the assessments and semester exams. Also, for the reasons that it was strongly rooted to a mythical milieu and the plots it projected were intertwined predominantly with an unfamiliar ethos and difficult dictum, the plays written by the Bard of Avon were observed to be obsolescent and immaterial.  
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But for those of us who loosely caught up with the Shakespearean plays as a part of English literature during our secondary education can not only recall but even live the story itself. As some linguists put in, the Bard’s play were a rich amalgam of plots depicting almost all genres of tragedy, comedy or fiction - an engendered literary quality found in those contemporary writings.   
The learners of those times who studied Shakespeare often end up drawing a story using those pervasive characters, themes, world views or a plot mostly stolen from the Bard’s play. The characters in the plays were so intriguing that many of our friends sharing the similar taste of description got nicknamed. For instance, a friend of mine who was for most of the time observed intoxicated was effortlessly remembered more as Trinculo than by his actual name. Trinculo in The Tempest is characterized by his drunkenness. A girl from another class who was quarrelsome and ill-tempered earned Katherine, a character branded for its shrewdness.            
But sadly, these once-infectious characters of the Shakespeare are all gradually turning Greek to many of our students. Let alone quantifying their writings with the Shakespearean language, our children fail to realize that majority  of words they use in their writing are in fact mined from the Bard’s own language bank.
To argue whether they the English in our children has grown with its expected limbs of language after removal of Shakespeare is still uncertain, but one thing is almost definite; Students rarely or by no means appreciate the linguistic prowess of the Bard of Avon.  
A time is eventually witnessing Shakespeare literally being dead.   
“In literature as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others”- Andre Maurois


  1. Truly reflected the quality of literature and expression during those days and contemporary education system of today. Always love to read your inspiring article sir.

  2. I fully agree with u on this Sirji. We still miss Shakespearean plays. I have expressed a similar concern on my blog sometime ago. If u r interested, the link to that article is below:

    Thanks for sharing the article.



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