Is Shakespeare very hard to learn?

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wordprof eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This question as worded is a little ambiguous, but the essence seems to be, “Is Shakespeare too complicated, too historically remote, too obtuse to be appreciated without extensive educational guidance?”  It is the general belief of several centuries of readers that the plays and poems of Shakespeare are perfectly enjoyable when read in a text with reasonable margin and/or footnotes, mostly vocabulary updates.  Of course, good instruction in the period (especially dramatic stage conventions of the time) enhance the reader’s understanding immensely, but the access to the beauty of the language and the human insights can be appreciated by any informed reader (q.v.) “Learning” is a broad term, and “learning Shakespeare” is not perfectly clear as an idea, but he, his times, and his work are no more difficult to “learn” than any writer from history (cf. Chaucer).