Tag Archives: to be or not to be

Shakespeare’s Wisdom – Centuries On

I didn’t do Shakespeare at school. Previous generations of students sometimes had it as compulsory study. For me, it wasn’t an option in the science stream. I suspect, the influence of Shakespeare’s writing and plays has reduced over time, even elsewhere in the world. Many a tourist would go to see Shakespeare’s birthplace, a few people would go to see the odd Shakespeare play and students of Shakespeare would study it formally – that would appear to be the extent of Shakespeare’s influence in today’s world of text messaging and social media. Even as a kid, I found the language difficult to understand in the plays. I only read a few of the simplified versions of the stories.

Some of Shakespeare’s phrases are of course, famous and still in widespread use today in the English Language – “to be or not to be” and “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” to name a couple.

One particular verse that struck me as being full of meaning and wisdom even in today’s world is from McBeth.

The trudge of daily life, with us all often going on and on and on like hamsters on a wheel are captured beautifully in the lines:

“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time.”

The way humans often blunder through life during our short lives (in the relative span of the universe) only to die an inconsequential death is reflected in these famous lines:

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more.”

The melodrama we observe in the modern world (often amounting to nothing) is captured eloquently when Shakespear says (of life):

“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

Perhaps there are many more gems in Shakespeare’s works that still hold true today and could serve as valuable thoughts to ponder on. This has led me to a new resolution – one day I shall dig up this treasure and read through the works of Shakespeare that I have missed.