How is William Shakespeare relevant to us today?

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Many students have asked this question over the years, and there is no doubt that Shakespeare can be challenging reading for high school students. Whether someone finds Shakespeare relevant is, of course, up to the individual, so it might be best to discuss the reasons why Shakespeare is still taught. Shakespeare's continuing relevance probably lies in the fact that his most popular plays deal with enduring themes that are as much a part of our lives today as they were during his time. Love, betrayal, vengeance, evil, honor, loyalty, and free will and fate are just a few of these themes. This is a major reason why we find his works so compelling. But his enduring significance is also related to his ability to express complex ideas in pithy phrases that remain in the English language. There is a very good chance that you hear or read an expression derived from Shakespeare almost every day. "Be all, end all," "break the ice," "full circle," "good riddance," and "mind's eye" are just a few of these phrases. His effect on the English language has been profound. So for these reasons and many others Shakespeare's works (some, of course, more than others) remain relevant and continue to be studied by literature students.