Is Shakespeare good enough on his own as a writer or is it necessary for his work to be staged?

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I enjoy seeing Shakespeare performed well, but have seen many poor adaptations which I would willingly replace with my own private reading. I agree that the plays were meant to be staged, not read, but the language and structure is fascinating to read and study as well as see and...

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I enjoy seeing Shakespeare performed well, but have seen many poor adaptations which I would willingly replace with my own private reading. I agree that the plays were meant to be staged, not read, but the language and structure is fascinating to read and study as well as see and hear.

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In my own experience, I find reading certain Shakespeare plays to be just as enjoyable - if not moreso - than seeing them staged. When the writing is really good, reading can be enough. With Shakespeare, I feel that play companies often don't seem to understand the plays they are putting on and so the presentation is more than a little strange.

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I think they can stand on their own as read, but certainly they gain from being performed. Shakespeare's works evoke a visceral as well as an intellectual response, which is one of the reasons they made a comeback during the Romantic period. You miss that when you're reading them. Lady Macbeth washing her hands, Lear clutching his dead daughter, and Hamlet confronting his mother with her sins are just not as powerful on the page as they are performed. 

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While I am a big proponent of watching the plays, they can't be truly studied and appreciated in their intricacy that way. Watching the play is watching the story-line unfold and listening with a passing admiration of the language. To read and study the play is to really dig in and notice the fine details of motif, diction, imagery etc. 

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Shakespeare gains so much when performed; if you can't attend a performance, then his works should be read aloud at a minimum. Even his sonnets are more beautiful when read aloud. This is probably even more true now than when they were first written, as the language has changed enough to hinder reading comprehension for weaker readers.

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As a previous post mentioned, plays are written to be PERFORMED. Generally regarded as the greatest playwright ever, Shakespeare's plays can stand alone better than anyone else's, and his writing is so beautiful that it can be read for enjoyment without the benefit of a live performance. Shakespeare's plays are also a pleasure to HEAR, and when I took Shakespeare classes in college, I generally listened to audio recordings (on the old fashioned LP) as I read the work. A play is always best enjoyed when performed live on stage, but no plays read better than Shakespeare's.

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Personally, I think that all plays should be staged to be really appreciated.  However, Shakespeare's writing is beautiful, funny, haunting and strong.  Nonetheless, I never send my English students home with a homework assignment to read Shakespeare.  We read in class, acting it out along the way.  Then we perform the play at the end.  I also show film versions.  I just don't think you can truly appreciate the majesty of Shakespeare alone in your own head.  It's interactive.  It needs to be experienced either as an actor or as an audience member.

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This is a question that is largely based on people's opinion. However, I would say that the majority of people, if not all, would say that William Shakespeare is an excellent writer and that his works deserve to be read and studied apart from the stage. Of course, to see the works of Shakespeare acted out is a treat, but his writings alone are excellent. There are several ways that we can come to this conclusion.

First, truth be told, many schools and universities read Shakespeare without ever enacting his plays. This alone should be proof that his writings alone are excellent and worthy as an object of study and admiration.

Second, Shakespeare also wrote many works that were not supposed to be put on stage, like his sonnets. When it comes to these, what we have to rest on is his writings alone.

Finally, he has passed the test of time. He has been beloved of all generations. This fact alone might be the greatest testament to his his genius as a writer.

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