In English class, everyone lets out loud groans when they hear about their next units: Shakespeare. With the class complaining about the hard language and the difficulty of understanding the plays, the teacher might grow exasperated and let them read the infamously talked about book No Fear Shakespeare. The teachers are doing question thing when they keep a supplementary text with the original. Yes, 15th century Elizabethan era is a tad difficult to understand, but that is one of the beauties of Shakespeare.
No Fear has a good translation but is missing a few key elements such as symbolism, poetry, allusions, and other literary techniques. I think the original version is much better than the translated version because it has more appeal. No Fear Shakespeare is a series of translations of the Bard’s famous works to the modern-day language that is used today to make it easier to understand. I must admit that the translation is well written and is a much easier read than the original.
No fear should be used for non-English speakers to read along but still have the original. Shakespeare’s language is broken down in the translation and takes away the finesse the original has. In the first soliloquy of infamously “emo-tastic” Hamlet, his first line in the speech is “Oh, what a rogue and peasant slave am I! ” in the original as opposed to the translated one that says “Now I’m alone. Oh what a mean low-life I am! ” Now compare them and see which sounds more poetic and more passionate.
Shakespeare has a way of making such a self-loathing speech sound so passionately powerful and beautiful. The translated version is too literal while Shakespeare was all about the symbolisms and metaphors that was his trademark. In this famous “to be or not to be” speech is another example. “To be or not to be? That is the question. ” Is destroyed with “the question is: is it better to be alive or dead? ” The point of that line is to be used for a variety of situations it has been taken too seriously.
It’s more poetic and a bit dramatic (in a good way) to say “to be or not to be” rather than “should I kill myself to end all the hardships or just live with it miserably? ” It’s almost as if Shakespeare’s version is a pretty girl who wears a lot of make-up and looks attractive until you see her without the make-up and see what she actually looks like unmasked so to speak when it is taken into No Fear Shakespeare.
The last line of this speech is worse saying “But shh, here comes the beautiful Ophelia. Pretty lady; please remember me when you pray. Instead the original “The fair Ophelia-Nymph, in thy orisons be all my sins remembered. ” The allusion to Greek mythology is one of the things that make Shakespeare’s work significant because his world was controlled by the monotheistic Roman Church. He uses a polytheistic religion for his allusions but No fear gets rid of some of it to make it more comprehensible. The No Fear Shakespeare series should not be taught in regular English speaking class because it takes away the symbolism, rhyme, and beauty of the literature.
It should be used as a reference outside of school. As one of my friend said “the teacher is supposed to teach you what it means and if you don’t get that then you can use the book translation. ” I agree with this completely. They’re supposed to be teaching Shakespeare to enlighten the students in ways that connects to them. If they have a bad teacher that is when the translator is depended on to teach what Shakespeare is writing. If the language was better understood by students you’d be able to realize that the themes and plots are so relatable.
What teenager doesn’t relate to Hamlet with his depression or with his feeling of being misunderstood? As Alexandra Petri’s article “On the Bard’s Birthday: Is Shakespeare Still Relevant? ” it states “If we want to do a modern staging of his work, we’ll have to stipulate that ‘In fair Verona, where we lay our scene/the cell reception was spotty/from ancient grudge that brake AT&T. ” Sure we can’t exactly relate because most teens have cell phones to communicate, but it gives us a feel of if this was to happen in the “electronically deprived” centuries. It gives a link from the 21st century to the 15th century.
The translation’s text book definition of Shakespeare does not give you that link, it just tells a story; it doesn’t have meaning behind it. Shakespeare has great insults as well, so why insult in modern language when you can confuse a fellow peer with beautiful Elizabethan. We shouldn’t fear Shakespeare we should learn to love him. He brings beauty and richness into literature that no other could do, especially in this age. He is thought to be a genius of the theatre. He has this originality that has influenced a lot of famous authors of modern-day literature so I say “Long live Shakespeare! ”