Does Shakespeare's genius so compel us to identify with his dramatis personae that it turns us into murderous Macbeths, suicidal Hamlets and brutal Othellos?  Look around you...for 500 years people have been quoting Shakespeare as if they are actors in his plays...someone is doing a Caesar here, some others trying to be Iago or Shylock, and then there are the Brutuses, Cleopatras, Capulets and Montagues.... while those who haven't read Shakespeare just go about happily living their own lives ...In fact , the Shakespeare-educated can't even understand life unless it follows a Shakespearian character pattern...is this healthy for society? People hiding their evil in the cliche "tragic flaw"?

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Yes. The truth is that Shakespeare's characters, including Hamlet, Macbeth, and Othello, are complex, round, dynamic characters. They appeal to our humanity. We see them suffering, and better understand, if not dismiss, their actions.
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AGREE ENTIRELY WITH BOTH ! There is no saying what, "doing justice to Shakespeare" really means and surely criminals do not go searching for  a Shakespeare to justify their "motives", BUT WHAT IF WE TOOK SHAKESPEARE TO CRIMINALS? What if we stopped trying so hard to make him palatable to college and school going kids and ran him through audiences in jails and rehabs , even for those in death row for crimes of passion such as jealousy, ambition, covetousness, for being accomplices, WHAT WOULD BE THE OUTCOME ? Has this been tried ? Is it worth the try ? Would they find themselves ? Would they be repentant ? Would they justify their actions ? Would they....!?

I am very impressed by your questions, assertions, and obviously strong feelings. But what you say about Shakespeare could be said about a lot of other authors, going all the way back to Sophocles and the other Greek tragedians. It occurs to me that it could also be said about classical music. Operas have been written about Romeo and Juliet and Othello as well as about other literary characters who have committed all sorts of crimes, including Mozart's Don Giovanni who spent all his time seducing women. Tchaikovsky wrote a beautiful tone poem about Romeo and Juliet, and Prokofiev wrote another. You ask, "What if we took Shakespeare to criminals?" There are a lot of things we ought to take to criminals instead of leaving them to rot away in their cells, but I don't believe that Shakespeare would be a top priority. Are you really serious about that question? At least it's a novel notion. Literature has changed a lot since Shakespeare. Modern authors don't care to write about the problems of kings, princes, dukes, etc., who were mostly a bunch of bandits and thieves. The great Tolstoy disowned his novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina because he said he could not longer write about the trials and tribulations of a class of people he had come to see as parasites.

 

 

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What defines doing justice to Shakespeare?  Certainly as time rolls foward and the culture changes, some of his metaphors and subtle wordplay are lost if not studied.  But his works are still studied and performed; I've seen brilliant Hamlets and others....not so much.  As media evolves, yet another version of his works are produced. We recognize he comprehended deeply human motives and wrote what he comprehended, and thankfully we can still appreciate that today.

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Yours is an excellent and thought-provoking question. I don't know how to answer. However, I think you are making a pretty wild assumption when you say that "those who haven't read Shakespeare just go about happily living their own lives." That sounds like a very easy prescription for happiness. Just avoid reading Shakespeare. I can't believe that most people who read Shakespeare, and especially people who really love Shakespeare, read him because they are looking for excuses for being wicked. I doubt if you could find many really wicked people who knew anything about Shakespeare. But I like your question.

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Witnessing how a character in a play copes with all-to-real life instances in no way compels the observer to act accordingly.  The brilliance of Shakespeare's characters is that they are accessible to a modern audience even after a few centuries have elapsed. Comprehending Hamlet's wordiness and lack of worldliness, Lear's parenting, MacBeth's ambition, and Othello's jealousy as you exemplify, serves to challenge the observer to ask of him or herself how they would resolve those issues.  Characters are case studies that provide guidance; "look what happens when this happens."

Watching a murder on stage or reading about it in a script is one thing; allowing oneself to be inspired and go commit a murder is quite something else.

"The fault lies not in our stars, but in our selves."

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