The Folger Shakespeare Library (i.e., the library that owns my soul because I can’t stop buying their wonderfully annotated plays) is celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday by asking his readers why we love him! That’s me up there, recalling when I first connected with Shakespeare. You should participate too – the library will be keeping all of our reflections in their archives!

I only answered one question, but I do want to type up my other responses.

What does Shakespeare mean to you?

Shakespeare means discovering what it is to be human. It means finding comfort and peace in only dialogue. It means laughter, bloodshed, and tears. And for me, it means happiness.

Which words and lines from Shakespeare do you love the most and why?

I love this exchange between Berowne and Rosaline from Love’s Labor’s Lost:

Did I not dance with you in Brabant once?

Did I not dance with you in Brabant once?

I know you did.

How needless was it then
To ask the question.

I like my Shakespearean ladies to be witty and sharp-tongued, and Rosaline certainly delivers!

Here’s another one: in Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice’s uncle says he hopes to see her married one day. This is her response:

Not till God make men of some other metal
than earth.

This is 100% something that I would say myself.

And, finally, you all know how I feel about the final scene of Henry V. Not the most popular wooing scene in Shakespeare, but definitely the one that’s closest to my heart.

Share your favorite Shakespeare quote.

Upon the king! Let us our lives, our souls,
Our debts, our careful wives,
Our children, and our sins, lay on the king!
We must bear all. O hard condition,
Twin-born with greatness, subject to the breath
Of every fool, whose sense no more can feel
But his own wringing! What infinite heart’s ease
Must kings neglect that private men enjoy!
And what have kings that private men have not too,
Save ceremony, save general ceremony?
And what art thou, thou idol ceremony?

I love this passage in particular because we really get to see how vulnerable Hal is. You know how much I love Henry V – and it’s mostly for Henry himself. My six posts on the matter will tell you as much!

Tell us about your favorite play and why it is your favorite.

My favorite play is, and always will be, Richard III. It was my very first taste of Shakespeare, so there’s that. But I also love how skillfully Shakespeare manages to have the audience be manipulated by Richard as well. I am not easily manipulated, so it was thrilling to read a play that could affect me as both a reader and audience member.

Which Shakespeare character speaks to you and why?

I’m going to say Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing. She and I are one and the same. I love her wit, her sharp tongue, and I adore how much she loves and supports Hero. I seem to be missing my Benedick though, hmm.

What is the most memorable production of Shakespeare that you’ve seen?

Unsurprisingly, it was a production of Richard III. I was at the Globe in the summer of 2012, and I was a groundling. It just started pouring in the middle of the theatre, and I couldn’t hear anything but the roaring of the rain. I distinctly remember thinking, “Well, it’s a good thing I have most of this play memorized!”

When did you first see or read Shakespeare?

I answer this in my Instagram video, but it was 10th grade. I will never, ever forget the opening to Richard III for as long as I live because of that classroom experience. The first time I actually saw Shakespeare was when I still lived in Abu Dhabi – I saw a modern production of Richard III. It was in Arabic, but luckily they had screens with English subtitles! Shameful for an Arab girl such as myself to have to use them, but even I can’t keep up with all the dialects people speak in the Middle East. Catesby was Iraqi, I remember, so I understood him, at least.

How would you answer these questions? I’d love to hear your thoughts! I am almost done with Richard II, so I’ll be seeing you around these parts very soon! Have a good World Book Day this Sunday, and remember to spare a thought for our favorite playwright.

3 thoughts on “#MYSHX400

  1. Thanks for this – you’ve given me something to post tomorrow to celebrate the birthday 🙂 I’m also with you on Richard III – such a wonderful play, and I feel so excited and privileged to be able to teach it!

    1. You are most welcome! I’m excited to read your answers. 🙂

      It was so hard for me not to fall in love with Shakespeare after reading Richard III – it’s really something else! I envy you for being able to teach it – when I was in high school, students were used as substitute teachers (!) and so I got to teach parts of Richard III to a classroom full of my peers a few times. I love teaching Shakespeare! It’s such an exhilarating experience – though I hope your students are more invested than mine were!

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