Some thoughts on Shakespeare

So a couple of days ago my roommate David and I were talking about Shakespeare, who really is very good in spite of all the people who say he really is very good (as opposed to, for example, William Faulkner, who really is pretty dreadful in spite of all the people who say he really is very good).

Now, I started reading Shakespeare on my own in middle school; during recess, I’d sit in a corner of the playground with Macbeth, which probably explains a great deal abou why I m the way I am today. Though that’s a whole ‘nother subject altogether.

Anyway, the part the folks don’t seem to get about William Shakespeare is that the man was the Quentin Tarantino of his time. The way we teach Shakespeare in high school literature class is absolutely awful; we suck the joy and fun and off-color humor right out of him.

I have visions of lit classes 300 years hence subjecting Quentin Tarantino to the same sort of academic savaging:

“Now, class, today we’re going to be discussing the symbolism of the wallet owned by the hit-man Jules. His wallet had ‘Bad Mother Fucker’ written on it. As we discussed yesterday, the word ‘bad’ in the English of the time meant something that was of inferior quality, but it also had a vernacular meaning of something that was especially good, or dangerous. Today, I’d like us to turn our attention to this dual meaning, and how Mr. Tarantino played on the juxtaposition of the two meanings of the word ‘bad’ in the slogan written on the wallet.

“Tonight, when you go home, I want you to write a 600-word essay about the meaning of the two hit-men’s conversation about foot rubs in the beginning of the movie. Pay particular attention to what their conversation says about gender roles and assumptions during the late 20th century. Compare and contrast the view of gender and gender roles in the line where Jules says ‘Now look, maybe your method of massage differs from mine, but, you know, touchin’ his wife’s feet, and stickin’ your tongue in her Holiest of Holies, ain’t the same fuckin’ ballpark, it ain’t the same league, it ain’t even the same fuckin’ sport’ to the ideas about gender and gender roles later when the character Jody tells the hit-man Vincent that her tongue ring is ‘a sex thing. It helps fellatio.'”