As You Like It

I have no idea how to write this without sounding, well, un-ed-jee-kated. Coz, unlike many English students/graduates/professors, I firmly believe that Shakespeare should be SEEN and not READ. I try once in a blue moon (granted the last time I tried was, oh, about 17 years ago when I was in college) to read a Shakespeare play, and, I’m sorry to say, it always ends up with the same result. I. Don’t. Get. It.

I remember my high school AP English class, struggling through Hamlet, until my mom suggested that she and I read it aloud. All of a sudden, it made (more) sense. Since then, I’ve been a big fan of seeing the Bard’s plays, but not so much reading them. I’d like to say that years and years of not reading Shakespeare would make a difference. And maybe since this play is one of his comedies that would make it easier, but, sorry, no. I read the words, and even managed to be surprised that “all the world’s a stage, and the men and women are merely players” turned up in the play. But, I just don’t get the appeal of reading the words on the page. It’s a decent play, and I think I got the gist of what was going on. But, I think I would have enjoyed it (and understood it) so much more if I’d seen it.

My question then, I suppose, is for Carl: If I go see Midsummer Night’s Dream on Friday, do I still have to read it?


11 thoughts on “As You Like It

  1. I’m not Carl, but I’d say, nope. However, once I’ve seen the play, I really enjoy reading it. I just have to see it to figure out character and plot. THEN I can be dazzled by language and wit and stuff.


  2. Just browsing and thought I’d say “hello”…My daughter just got through performing in Loves Labours Lost and she studied Hamlet this past fall, and loved both.Did you try to read it after you watched it? It really is a great play… 🙂Nice to meet you.


  3. Melissa,First of all, greetings from a fellow Wichita blogger. I found your place via In Medias Res, and I’m pleased I did.As an English prof who makes it a point to teach either <>Hamlet<> or <>Othello<> in my Intro to Lit. classes, I too have trouble reading Shakespeare silently. But either seeing a performance or, as I did this spring when discussing <>Othello<>, having groups of students choose snippets of scenes to read aloud helps with comprehension.Enjoy the play.


  4. So, John — if you happen to drop by again — two questions. 1) how long have you been reading my husbands misives? and 2) where in town do you teach?I have not watched As You Like It (anyone know of a good movie version?). But I promise to read and blog about Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’m actually excited about this. A local Shakespeare in the park: Wahoo!


  5. Melissa,I teach for Butler, and though I’ve known about your husband’s blog for a couple of years now via Crooked Timber, I actually linked to it just a couple of weeks ago.


  6. Hey–John B.! I’ve read Blog Meridian a few times on and off, but somehow I never made the Kansas connection before–much less the Wichita one. Weird. Well, welcome to the neighborhood. I’ll definitely be linking <>you<> now, if you don’t mind (Melissa says she definitely doesn’t object to you linking her…she apparently never asks permission before linking!).


  7. I think this is the reason I haven’t sat down and read very many plays in my life. It’s because I can’t picture the action and stage directions and everything going on along with the dialogue. When you see the play, everything makes so much more sense. I like the idea of reading plays <>after<> you’ve watched them.


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