Today for Simply Shakespeare, I’m sharing a lovely little post by Hannah from acupofwonderland all about the play that got her into Shakespeare!…
When I remember my first encounter with Shakespeare, I had no idea what I was reading was from Shakespeare, quite honestly I only every thought he had one play which was Romeo and Juliet. Even then I hadn’t even read or seen that I was once perhaps a clueless child back then but admittedly I was only 12 when my English teacher decided to introduce Shakespeare to a rowdy bunch of pre-teens. Who would much rather be outside running around like utter lunatics than study some old playwright from many years ago? But we did study Shakespeare and a play called Much Ado About Nothing, for the rest of term which was around 8 weeks? Little did I know that after those 8 weeks, Shakespeare would click with me, just something in my mind came engrossed with this ‘new’ style of storytelling which I had never encountered before. Back then the only style of storytelling which I thought was books and works of fiction, not plays or poetry or even works of non-fiction!
However, like I’ve said already, Shakespeare just clicked with me. Now I know that for others Shakespeare wasn’t an instant love, or click but for some took time in my class and for others none of them ever loved Shakespeare. Which is completely fine, at least they attempted to engage with Shakespeare and experience it and then went off and found the playwrights who they truly clicked and connected with. Really for some of my classmates, Shakespeare acted more as a springboard into the world of plays and some of them now truly adore modern plays and even study playwriting! As for me, I have since continued to study and experience Shakespeare, in year 10 I finally got to study Romeo and Juliet and when I hit A-Levels that was my first introduction to Twelfth Night. Then last year as part of my literature degree, I was able to study Shakespeare’s sonnets which meant I managed to achieve a 2:1 in that assignment! For me, Shakespeare just clicks, even at times where I need to see an adaptation to reinforce the meanings in my head. Which is why I’m writing this post since when I saw Rosie’s tweet advertising this new segment on her blog, I leapt at the chance to be a part of it. I wanted to write about my first experience of Much Ado About Nothing which was my introduction to Shakespeare and has consequently remained to be my favourite of his plays. Which I find quite ironic, as those who know me well, know that I normally prefer darker tales, yet my favourite Shakespeare play is actually a comedy!
Why I like Much Ado About Nothing so much? I don’t even know fully myself, though I have a strong feeling it has something to do with Beatrice. During our first class of studying the play, we were all given a car with a different name on it and a bit about the character but nothing else at all. From that, we had to work out the connections between all the characters of the play, the card I was given was Beatrice and I was fascinated. Described as a woman with an intelligent wit, I found her to be incredibly enjoyable to read. Even as the course progressed, I was always attracted and intrigued by her character and always putting my hand up to speak her role in class – something which I would never do otherwise. Looking back on it now, I think why I was so attracted by Beatrice was because she was something of an equivalent to a modern-day feminist. She’s brash but honest, witty and unapologetic, she pushes against the boundaries what society has, such as her refusal at her Uncle’s suggestion that one day she finds a husband. Even with her love interest Benedict, their battle of wits is clear to be a battle of equals which I love. I think this attraction of a strong female is important as before studying ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ the female characters which we were introduced to were either side characters, used as plot devices or seen as devious women to lead men astray- Curley’s wife in Of Mice and Men for example. Not only during that time I was introduced to a new way of storytelling but the introduction that women in fiction published over hundreds of years ago could be strong and important characters.
Next year, in my final year of university, I will be taking a module in Shakespeare which I’m really looking forward to. I have my suspicions that Othello and Macbeth will be on the syllabus. They are two plays which I have actually never engaged with before so I’m really excited as I know they are favourites of my friends. But secretly, I hope and pray that Much Ado About Nothing appears as it would be another experience to engage with this play once again but at degree level!
I loved reading this! You can find Hannah’s blog here. I always love to find out how people came to love Shakespeare! If you would like to get involved in Simply Shakespeare, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with Simply Shakespeare as the subject and I’ll get the details to you! Or you can contact me on Twitter.
Thank you lovelies and happy reading! ox
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