Early this morning, I finally finished my project of reading each and every single Shakespeare play. This was something that I had decided to do awhile back, but as it happens life gets really busy. But recently, I really kicked my project into high gear and I managed to finish.
It is a weird feeling, you know, finishing something like this. I still remember the first time that I read Shakespeare—it was Romeo and Juliet, when I was 13 years old. Of course, as you would expect it was for my English class in high school. I remember that it was followed by Julius Caesar the following year, then Macbeth, and finally Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, and Titus Andronicus to close out my high school career.
I will be the first to admit that I was not completely enraptured by Shakespeare the first time I started reading his work. It took some time to get into it, but I am extremely grateful that it happened and it was for sure worth waiting for.
Macbeth was the play to hook me on Shakespeare. Specifically, it was the scene with the three witches, ending with “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes”, which is still my favourite scene in his plays even now that I have finished each one.
I love each of Shakespeare’s plays, so it is very hard to choose my favourites, but if I were to do it, I would have to pick, in no particular order: Macbeth, Merchant of Venice, and Coriolanus.
Beyond finding his writing beautiful and poetic, there are 3 quite different reasons why these plays made the top of my list. For Macbeth, it is the simple fact that it is the first play that made me fall in love with Shakespeare (although many plays since made that happen all over again). In the case of The Merchant of Venice, I was able to learn some important lessons while reading it. This can partially be attributed to the fact that I was analyzing this play for a group project, but it was also the first play that I read after Macbeth, so I was in the beginning of my love for Shakespeare and was trying to absorb every single word as much as I could.
The scene that sticks out for me in The Merchant of Venice is the three caskets scene. Well, three scenes actually, when everything is taken into consideration.
“All that glisters is not gold; Often have you heard that told: Many a man his life hath sold But my outside to behold: Gilded tombs do worms enfold.”
To round out this group, I have Coriolanus. Back in January of this year, I purchased a ticket to a National Theatre Live broadcast of Coriolanus from the Donmar Theatre in London, England. I took myself out to the theatre that particular night, because I needed a treat. It had not been the best of times, but watching that broadcast was absolutely amazing. Each of the actors did a phenomenal job, and even though I had read the play prior to watching this, the ending still made me gasp and let out a little shudder. Really, watching that broadcast proved to me why Shakespeare is meant to be watched on stage instead of read, although I personally get a lot of enjoyment from reading his plays.
They are lyrical, beautiful, timeless…everything. The plays that William Shakespeare wrote are more than words, words, words.