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...

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
marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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. 

litlady33 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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. 

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.  

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

Here is a video about the importance of Shakespeare today:

smarty97 | Student

I think that he is still popular today because of the little knowledge we have about him. We don't have any exact knowledge about his life so, there is a curiosity among the literary writers and they want to know more about him, which keeps him alive in the hearts and mind of the people to the present day.

salimj | Student

There are a lot of factors which help William Shakespeare popular even today. First of all it is his characterization itself. When we look at his characters, they are universal and beyond all times. When we compare the modern people with that of Shakespearean characters we find similarity in their characters.

The second factor is the English language itselt. We have in many other cultures playwriths and poets much much better than shakespeare who lived much before Shakespeare. But still he is popular because of his language.

rashmi0133 | Student

Shakespeare is undoubtedly the world’s most influential poet and dramatist, leading Ben Jonson to note that, "He was not of an age, but for all time!" Four centuries later, Jonson’s words still ring true. Students and people new to Without doubt, Hamlet is one of the greatest dramatic characters ever created and is possibly the crowning achievement of Shakespeare’s career. Shakespeare’s skilful and psychologically-astute characterization is utterly remarkable because it was written hundreds of years before the concept of psychology was invented.Shakespeare’s collection of 154 love sonnets is possibly the most beautiful written in the English language. Although not necessarily Shakespeare’s best sonnet, Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day? is certainly his most famous. The sonnet’s endurance comes from Shakespeare’s ability to capture the essence of love so cleanly and succinctly. Shakespeare is best known for writing the greatest love story of all time: Romeo and Juliet. Thanks to Shakespeare, the name Romeo will forever be associated with young lovers and the play has become an enduring symbol of romanticism in popular culture. This tragedy has entertained across the generations, spawned endless stage versions and film adaptations including Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 film classic.

scarletblood15 | Student

People are still reading Shakespeare there are still some themes that are in a way related to modern life. As well as that he was an amazing playwright and alot can be studied from his works.

florine | Student

  Sorry, more precisely "not of an age but for all time".

florine | Student

    Even though some other contemporary playwrights like Heywood, for example, who had a hand in over 220 plays, wrote lavishly, as regards quantity, variety and quality, Shakespeare's plays are bound to be considered the most valuable contribution in the Elizabethan theatre.

   In addition, Shakespeare's works have a long-standing relationship with audiences that belong(ed) to extremely different social backgrounds.  It certainly at least partly justifies the fact that he is the most popular English playwright "of all times", as Ben Jonson put it: "not for a time, but for all times."

soccer1235 | Student

Very few people know about Shakespears life but what some people do know is that he wrote 36 plays in his life time