Monday, March 7, 2011

Why We Should Not Read Shakespeare In School

Hi this was another assignment for school. I personally think its pretty good. My teacher liked it, she told me it was at the top of her pile for the hour and she was so excited to read it and that it lived up to expectations. I hope you all enjoy.
William Shakespeare was without a doubt a gifted and talented writer.
His play Romeo
and Juliet is a non realistic tragedy which at times seems like a comedy or
true love story; were a 13 year old girl and a young man fall in love, get
married and die in a matter of days. Many teacher’s, parents, and students have
the same question; should we be reading Shakespeare in school? Shakespeare used
inappropriate perverted language in his writings, which is hard for a lot of
kids to read, and he was an anti Semite, which is why, we should not be reading
Shakespeare in school.

Shakespeare should not be taught at school because his plays use

inappropriate perverted language that some parents do not want their kids
exposed to. There is perverted language immediately following the prologue.
Gregory a servant for the Capulet family is responding to his friend, a fellow
servant by asking if what he means is to take the girls virginity. On the
second page “The heads of the maids?” (1.1.22) Sampson the servant
Gregory is talking
to says in line, “Me they shall feel while I am able to stand.”
(1.1.26) According
to Spark notes this means, “They'll feel me as long as I can keep an erection.”
As you can see the language here is not the kind every parent wants his or her
child to be exposed to. Furthermore Lady Capulet tries to pressure her daughter
to lose her virginity. She tells her how at Juliet's age of 13, she was already
a mother, “I was your mother much upon these years  / that you are now
a maid.” (1.3.74-75) She said. Most
parents have the opposite approach when it comes to virginity and try to
encourage their children to keep there virginity as long as possible.
Shakespeare makes these, and more perverted jokes in the play seem okay for
everyday language, when it is not.

Shakespeare is hard to read. Reading Romeo and Juliet in ninth grade is

the hardest task a kid ever does in English class, because they are not
prepared for the challenge; “ If students first time being exposed to
Shakespeare is in high school, it’s almost to late...At that point they just
find it dull, difficult, and too much of a challenge too master,” said(name taken out) paper advisor, (name removed). Students just use spark notes to
understand. Teachers know that kids need their hands held when reading
Shakespeare, which is why a lot of teachers do not like teaching it, because
they don't know how. “The problem with Shakespeare across the board is that
many teachers aren't sufficiently prepared to teach it and therefore teach it
poorly,” said Fitzgerald. Students have to deal with countless hour of homework
so why add on this biased author’s works who will only increase and
frustrate the
average student more.

We should not read Shakespeare in school because he was a known anti

Semite whose work was used by Nazi's as propaganda during World War 2. Anti
Semitic according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary means, “hostility toward or
discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.”
The word “religion”
is found in the definition. The words, “Congress will make no laws respecting
an establishment of religion,” are found in the first amendment. By reading an
anti Semitic writer his works will be biased. James Madison known as the
“father of the constitution” to everyone but himself wrote in a journal entry
dated August 15, 1789 that “Congress should not establish a religion, and
enforce the legal observation of it by law, not compel men to worship God in
any manner contrary to their conscience....” By reading the author of work that
became Nazi propaganda that goes against any Jew's conscience. The propaganda
work of Shakespeare's was his controversial play called, The Merchant of Venice
whose 1619 edition at the end of the title had the words, “With the Extreme
Cruelty of Shylock the Jew...” Shylock is a Jewish merchant who is teased,
bullied and is then asked according to the play by an “honest gentle,” Christian
man, Antonio for a load. Historians have reason to believe Antonio was not as
honest as the play makes him sound because of the amount of anti Semitism at
that time period. Antonio wanted to repay his at zero interest. The problem
with this is, Shakespeare makes it sound okay to bully and tease a Jew and then
ask him for money and cheat him of the interest that is ethically his. This
goes against the first amendment. Unlike other books there is nowhere in the
play that it says it is not okay to do this.

At the end of The Merchant of Venice for one reason or another Shylock

is forced to give up all his land and convert to Christianity. To a Christian
this seems like a good ending, now Shylock will go to heaven, well its actually
an awful ending and it is very bias. Jews pride themselves on not changing from
the Torah way, for sticking with tradition. The facts that we are learning in a
public classroom were there is separation of church and state that the Jew is
the bad guy, and the solution is to convert him is completely disgusting. If a
Jew were to convert in the time period the play was written in Italy, where
literally everyone hated them, they would have no were to live. The Jewish
ghetto would kick him out, and the regular people of his city would never
accept him. Is the public school system really going continue to allow this
kind of bias publication to be read in the classroom? Should this be the
example for the future of tomorrow? Parents who will have to help their
children understand this author will also be uncomfortable with his language.
There is lack of good teaching available to help students read the material, so
why stress them with literature Nazis liked? Halting further reading of William
Shakespeare's is the best thing for everyone.


  1. Wonderful article. I used it for my research paper, by the way :D

  2. Thanks so much for commenting. How did you find my blog? I'm totally touched that my paper helped you. Going to be honest, most of my info I got from reading wikipedia. What'd your get on your paper?

  3. Please tell me this is ironic. I just might have to lose faith in humanity otherwise. I'm going to assume you're not very old, but even still I can't not say something about the way you present your arguments (if your teacher actually liked it, there's something very, VERY wrong going on). It would take me far too long to deconstruct each point, but suffice it to say you repeatedly make ridiculous generalisations based on barely relevant knowledge of the subject matter, which is in no way qualified by any background knowledge or contextual understanding. The basic idea that everything you read is somehow a lesson is a flaw born out of religious dogma, but I won't go too far into that messy subject. My point is, you're basically applying the same flawed logic as the Nazi's did in using it as propaganda - you're reading your own ideology into something culturally and historically separate from yourself and not analysing it in any reasoned or rational manner. His plays are not a list of rules to live your life by, and in studying them you are not somehow being corrupted by the intolerances of the past. Please try to enjoy the complex and brilliant way he deploys the English language - that's why they're teaching you Shakespeare (not because they want to 'stress you, they don't).

  4. don't worry my teacher hated it;)
    adults design a curriculum so we'll learn, therefor if we read a book in english class, its designed to be a lesson. see my logic?

    fair enough tho. next year when we do shakespeare i'll give him another chance.

  5. But you didn't have to read Merchant, correct? I want to research this myself - I know I've read defenses of his portrayal of Shylock. I would never choose to read it with students.

    Did you find any anti-semitism is R&J? Caesar?

    I admire your writing syle.

    Glad you're giving him another chance this year.


  6. In the Shakespeare course I took in college, we read The Merchant of Venice. Perhaps it depends on the way it's taught, but what I was taught was that Shylock cared a bit more about money rather than his own religion and was bitter against Christians because they couldn't charge interest, and it didn't help that he had to deal with Antonio. Antonio is perhaps the only one that could be considered an anti-Semite in the play, but he's also a bit of an idiot. The others may call Shylock a "Jew" but that was the norm rather than used in a derogatory sense. The people that hated him mostly hated him for his bitter behavior. In the end, after Shylock actually tries to kill a man legally in court, they forced him to be Christian on paper so he couldn't charge interest on his clients anymore, but it'd be rather unrealistic to think he'd completely change his personal beliefs, or that they could enforce it.