Why is Shakespeare still popular today?

I am completing a speech about Shakespeare and one of the questions we were asked was why he was still popular today? Some of the ideas I have come up with or found include: 

  • themes and characters - he has a large variety of themes (e.g. comedy, drama, love) and types of characters (young lovers, kings etc.) which provides something for everyone and as a result, everyone can relate to his players
  • he has a powerful use of language and uses stong description of the characters, atmosphere, background etc. 
  • really good use of poetry
  • his characters are human - they have positive and negative sides and do have emotions and feelings
  • Please feel free to add more! 

Expert Answers

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William Shakespeare's poetry and, particularly his plays, are still among the greatest ever, and his work is unmatched in the history of the English language. It is no wonder that students around the world are still studying and reading his works, and it is only because of the high quality of his writing that his popularity has continued. 

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There is a depth of thought and feeling, and a magnificient manipulation of the English language by Shakespeare that transcends time. The renowned critic, Harold Bloom declares that "...no one, before or since Shakespeare, made so many separate selves." Thamas Carlyle declared that Shakespeare had "superiority of Intellect." Further, Bloom asserts,

Shakespeare will abide, even if he were to be expelled by the academics, in itself most unlikely. He extensively informs the language we speak, his principal characters have become our mythology, and he, rather than his involuntary follower Freud, is our psychologist.

There is a universal appeal to Shakespeare's diverse and yet so huamn characters, who teach so many about human nature, it virtues and its foibles.

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I think Shakespeare is still so popular because he understood the human character and its weaknesses and imperfections. He also poked fun at all the social norms of the day so some of his plays are quite humorous.  He also writes in very expressive tones that make for some good acting.  Another good quality is that so many of his plays are believable and teach a moral or lesson. 

It's interesting to note that here in Utah we have the Shakespearean Festival which is held annually at one of our southern universities.  It's quite popular and the cast of each production is very, very good.  That shows me that Shakespeare's works are still very popular. 

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I tend to believe that Shakespeare has been able to survive as still being relevant today because his works can still be related to. His universal themes engage readers given they can relate to what is being stated. My students love reading about the supernatural, the problems associated with being overly ambitious, and the treacherous behaviors of some of his characters.

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In addition to all of the above posts, which I agree with for the most part (even the more cynical view), I think Shakespeare remains popular because people who really embrace his works see what a genius he was. He truly was talented, and while his works and themes may seem cliche now, they were masterpieces at the time and remain so today. It always boggles my mind to see line after line written in iambic pentameter and still make sense. That could not have been easy. We appreciate Shakespeare today because he was too good to put aside.

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Aside from the cynical reaction that we continue to spend lots of time with Shakespeare due to inertia, there is the more positive approach which says that because his works have been around for so long and are so masterfully written, there are many phrases and descriptions that originated with him but have now become part of everyday culture. It's good to know the source of phrases we use on a frequent basis.

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Odd as it seems, I was going to suggest the same as pohnpei397 here. The list you have going is strong one, I think, but the popular opinion of Shakespeare should not be overlooked if we are to truly understand what has kept the Bard at the forefront of letters. 

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I'm going to take a more cynical approach and say that he is still popular today because of tradition.  People have been taught for centuries that he is amazing and so there is inertia that pushes us to continue to regard him in that way.  

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