Shakespeare. We’ve all been forced to study at least one of his plays whether we liked it or not. Though he was groundbreaking for his time and has undeniably had a huge influence on film and TV up until today, I’m sure we can all agree that some of Shakespeare’s plot choices are more than questionable. Today, two of our contributors are here to roast their chosen Shakespeare plays.
Alexa Price on Twelfth Night
While Twelfth Night is a personal favourite of mine when it comes to Shakespeare’s works, with its quirky love triangle and comic subplot, one can’t deny that it certainly raises questions of common sense, as well as the authenticity of love and its portrayal.
To begin, one has to question Malvolio’s motives. To go from a total grouch, to a sensitive and obsessed, love-struck man has got to be some kind of joke… right? All after reading a very suspicious – yet heavily detailed – letter, in which Maria has forged Olivia’s handwriting in a plot of revenge against Malvolio. As a man who was initially portrayed to hold himself as proper, and with high regards, he definitely lets his guard down while reading the letter and is dumb struck enough to follow its instructions. He instantly is excited by the thought of impressing Countess Olivia, and deludedly shows haste to wear his yellow stockings and crossed garters in a show of love and devotion for his mistress. One has to wonder, surely nobody can fall in love as quickly as that, right? Especially not to their mistress, who certainly has a plentiful of cash and a noble title? Forgive me if I’m wrong, but it all seems fishy to me…
Unfortunately, all love within the play seems to follow this pattern of love. Disguised as a man, Viola falls in love with the boisterous Duke Orsino, who is desperately in love with Countess Olivia, who is then found head-over-heels for Cesario, who happens to be Viola’s male counterpart! The majority of this tale is spent running back and forth, sending messages, partaking in insinuative meetings, and addressing strong feelings of love in ineffective speeches, which – despite its promising endeavours – lead the characters absolutely nowhere. Instead, this love triangle results in hair-ripping anger from modern day readers and audiences, who can all see the blatant falseness coming from these totally desperate losers.
Despite all of these valid points, it’s important to remember that Twelfth Night was of course written to be a comedic piece, and Shakespeare certainly did an excellent job at that.
Meg Davies on Romeo and Juliet
Nicknamed the greatest love story of all time, Romeo and Juliet is perhaps Shakespeare’s most well-known play. Who doesn’t love a romance between a sixteen-year-old and a thirteen-year-old?
Shakespeare’s play is a romantic tragedy, though the only tragic thing about it is the predatory behaviour. You thought Romeo was bad? Take a look at Count Paris, the man that the Capulets saw as Juliets suitor. A mature man, Count Paris is said to be at least twenty-five years old, almost double Juliet’s age. Yes, I know it was a different time, but you can’t deny this is creepy.
In the play we are introduced to two rival families, the Montagues and the Capulets, which gives us the theme of forbidden love. To be honest, today Romeo and Juliet’s love would also be forbidden – against the law even. Maybe their love would flourish through letters and phone calls from prison. It really makes you think, were the families really against their love for rival reasons, or because it was just plain dodgy?
Moreover, imagine spending a whole five days with someone and being so in love with them that you would rather die than live without them. Call me heartless, but I would say that is impossible. Maybe if we asked my thirteen-year-old self, we would get a different answer. There has to be another love story out there considered greater that lasts at least a week.
Of course, we did get a lot of great content inspired by Romeo and Juliet, such as Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes and, of course, the musical West Side Story. However, it is hard to ignore just how dumb the greatest love story of all time is.