What are some strategies for reading Shakespeare?What are some strategies for reading Shakespeare?
Charles and Mary Lamb and Evelyn Nesbit have written beautiful story versions that are very readable for all ages. If you read it as a story without the dialogue or unfamiliar dialect and language, you will get a feel for the plot and characters. You will understand the story better. "Read a great plot synopsis; Find an annotated copy of the work you would like to read; Get comfortable and read once through the play. In this quick preliminary reading you should focus on learning the meanings of difficult words, and, as you read, you should start to become familiar with the personalities of the characters. Rent, buy, or borrow from your local library the BBC production of the play, or any audio version. Read the play again. By now you should have a solid understanding of the key passages."
I like to break it into smaller parts for my students...we look at one speech and study language, meter, and effects when delivered different ways. You will find tons of resources on this at the Folger Shakespeare site. The link is below.
Also check out No Fear Shakespeare and the resources for teaching Shakespeare here at enotes.
If you are having a difficult time with Shakespeare, there are several things you can do. First, go ahead and read the eNotes plot summary. Shakespeare's language is easier when you already know what is going on. Secondly, as you are reading, try to read out loud and with the punctuation. Do not stop at the end of lines. Try to summarize lines in small sections in your own words. As you get more comfortable with the language, then read some criticism as see if it makes sense to you.
The best way to read Shakespeare is out loud. You cannot just curl up in your chair and read. The plays were meant to be performed! An audio version that is word for word is really the best way to enjoy the full experience, short of a stage presentation.
Reading and listening to the play at the same time can also be helpful. Try checking out a recording of the play at your library.