Shakespeare. A word that strikes eye-rolling boredom in the average adult and schoolchild. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest literacy geniuses that ever lived, but many teacher’s, parents, and students have the same question, should we be reading Shakespeare in school?
Firstly, I will highlight how inappropriate Shakespeare’s plays are for young audiences. Take Romeo and Juliet for example, This play is a non-realistic tragedy, which at times seems like a comedy or true love story. Where a 13 year old girl and a young man fall in love, get married and then they both commit suicide within a matter of days. I’m sure many parents do not want their children learning about suicide in school, especially if they have ever had anyone affected by suicide. There are many other examples of suicide but also murder in Shakespeare’s plays, Ophelia and Lady Macbeth commit suicide. Othello murders his wife and Macbeth murders his best friends wife and kids, just because he sees Macduff as a threat to his power. Macbeth killed them just because he felt like it and I think this is highly unsuitable for schoolchildren.
The use of sexual references throughout some of Shakespeare’s plays is also inappropriate; take the Porters speech in Hamlet and the opening scene of Romeo and Juliet for example. The servants of the Capulet family discuss how they would ‘thrust the maids’ of the Monatgue’s ‘to the wall’. I think this is quite out of place here as it has no affect on the storyline of the play.
My second point focuses on Ireland and our literacy levels. Irelands global ranking in literacy has dropped from 5th to 17th. The English curriculum in Ireland should focus on improving literacy levels rather than bombarding students with unfamiliar and difficult language. Look at New Zealand, after removing Shakespeare from their curriculum, New Zealand’s global ranking has gone from 10th in 2011 to 5th in 2013. I’m not saying we should just get rid of every copy of...
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