Why are William Shakespeare's plays important today ?

Expert Answers
wordprof eNotes educator| Certified Educator
The word "important" requires elaboration -- thematically they might be universal, but later works would do as well. To scholars, his importance lies in his influence on subsequent literature and art; to linguists,his importance lies in his contributions to the English language -- vocabulary (he invented thousands of new words), syntax, metaphor, etc. To sociologists his contributions were the penetrations into human nature; to historians his contributions were the bringing alive of English history. His "importance" today is echoed in all these fields, and more. Putatively, anyone who has not read Hamlet cannot consider himself educated.
s309 | Student

it is a very general question. as correctly written above, "important" is not quite clear. however, shakespeare has had a huge imapct on the english language. for the same reason people go back to read historical documents like anne franks diary, the ancient egyptian heiroglyphics, others look back at shakespeare's work with the same interest and look for his contribution in english history.

the themes that are discussed in his plays are universal, since each has somehting that people fo all ages can relate to.

Finally, shakespeare was an entertainer. He has clearly done a good job if people still want to go and read his works and enjoy watching his plays.

hope this helps.

elenyr | Student

Although not Shakespeare's biggest fan (as I'm sure many others could claim to be), after having studied his work through various stages of my academic life - from highschool through to university, I do appreciate the relevency of themes he explores (whether intentional or not). I believe that everyone, even younger generations can find something in Shakespeare in which they can identify with - be it:

Teenagers - forbidden love - tragic end (Romeo & J.), sibling rivalry (King Lear), ambition - corruption (Macbeth), manipulation - jealousy (Othello), gender uncertainty (Twelfth Night), revenge (The Tempest), etc.

This is one of the reasons why I believe that Shakespeare is still important today, together with various other reasons. One other is perhaps the fact that he was first and foremost an entertainer and helped shape the modern day theatre that many of us enjoy today.