The Danger of Shakespeare
Shakespeare was most artful in employing the art of eloquence – that was his special genius. He always based a play’s theme on a couple of ingenious creations, and then employed the poet/philosophers’ Kaleidoscope in weaving a network of eloquent verses around a given fundamental theme. Unlike Nietzsche (in Thus Spoke Zerathustra) who stripped his characters naked before proceeding to dissect them, and Homer (in his Iliad) who shed a couple of revealing lights on the nature of his characters, Shakespeare leaves his reader in the dark as to the nature of his characters. After reading through a Shakespearean play one learns a great deal about a happening in an earlier age which has a bearing on the present age and will definitely be of relevance in the future. But one never learns of the factors that led to those happenings or how the underlying mistakes could be avoided and the merits cultivated and nurtured. For instance, in Romeo and Juliet, one learns of the tremendous mutual affection and heroism that existed between the two principal characters, but never learns how one could cultivate and sustain the ideals highlighted, or more importantly control the passions and impulses which such affection and heroism gave rise to.
The danger of Shakespeare lies in the fact that he thrills, without generating neither animosity nor affection, he impresses without arousing curiosity in his reader. He instructs without quickening or slowing down his reader’s activity. Shakespeare is neither an “upper” nor a “downer”, he is simply a tranquilizer. So don’t get addicted!
One thing is clear; Shakespeare is respected by the great mind, but is held in awe by the common mind. Shakespeare colonizes the mind more than he educates it. What a coincidence that he posthumously became a literary symbol and monument to that arch-colonialist nation: Britain.