Alas, Poor Homey

Shakespeare for morons

June 11, 2006

2 Min Read
Alas, Poor Homey

8:00 PM -- The U.K.'s Mail on Sunday reports that "thousands of teenagers across the country are studying 'dumbed down' Shakespeare plays at school..."

  • They are using texts and GCSE revision guides which reduce the great works of literature to a series of simplistic cartoons and jokes...

    Coordination Group Publications, which describes itself as one of the country's most popular educational publishers, produces a series of complete plays of Shakespeare and revision guides.

    Last year, more than 126,000 copies were sold direct to schools and on the high street.

Following are a couple of honest-to-God examples. Remember, this is Britain, not Kansas...

Old & boring:

  • Romeo:
    But soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
    It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
    Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
    Who is already sick and pale with grief...

    O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
    Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
    Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
    And I'll no longer be a Capulet...

    Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized;
    Henceforth I never will be Romeo.

New & improved:

  • Romeo: What's on your mind?

    Juliet: Oh, just moons and spoons in June.

    Romeo: Cool - let's get hitched then.

Old & boring:

  • Macbeth:
    Is this a dagger which I see before me.
    The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
    I have thee not, and yet I see thee still...

New & improved:

  • Macbeth: Oooh! Would you look at that.

Old & boring:

  • John of Gaunt, from Richard II:
    This royal throne of kings, this sceptr'd isle,
    This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
    This other Eden, demi-paradise,
    This fortress built by Nature for herself
    Against infection and the hand of war,
    This happy breed of men, this little world,
    This precious stone set in the silver sea,
    Which serves it in the office of a wall
    Or as a moat defensive to a house,
    Against the envy of less happier lands,
    This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

New & improved:

  • Inger-land! Inger-land! Inger-land!

OK. I made that last one up. Anyone can write this stuff.

— Larry, Out, Damn Monkey! Light Reading

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