Shakespeare’s Iconic Characters Live On (The Conversation)



The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death is big news, with celebratory events planned across the country and around the world, writes Assistant Professor of English Brett Gamboa in a Conversation opinion piece.

One reason for the playwright’s enduring popularity is his characters, who “hold up so well that we continue to see Shakespeare’s imprint on today’s most popular television shows and films,” writes Gamboa.

“Most of us know what it is to feel heartsick, jealous, blinded by ambition or disappointed by ingratitude,” Gamboa says. “Romeo, Othello, Macbeth, and King Lear—all seem to have anticipated and expressed our own emotional experiences better than we could. Our mistrusted politicians are so many Julius Caesars and Lady Macbeths, our ill-fated lovers Romeos and Juliets, our ingenious heroines Rosalinds and Portias.

“Shakespeare’s men and women are both archetypal and still so modern partly because, like no others before them, they grapple with inner conflicts. Soliloquies and dialogue become not only sources of information for the audience but also lead to action; in other words, whereas the plots of earlier plays depended on what the characters did, Shakespeare’s plays seemed to progress and develop because of what the characters thought.”

Read the full opinion piece, published 4/22/16 by The Conversation.

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