Best of the Bard: Skipping and second chances

In my post today, I wanted to share a couple of other random
bits that I wanted to mention but don’t necessarily deserve their own posts. I’d
love to hear what you think of these!

you can skip:

I really hesitated
to list some plays that I thought readers can skip, because all of Shakespeare’s
plays have a kind of merit, to some degree. There are a few others I sort of
wanted to include, but thought it would be best to just include the few that
really, really had problems.

  • Titus Andronicus—This is an early play, and one of
    those that shows how much Shakespeare grew as a writer. This would be reason
    enough to read it, but the thing is that there are a number of other of the
    Bard’s early plays that can show you how much he grew and changed while still
    being enjoyable and more believable. Titus
    , I’m afraid, really didn’t cut it for me, and is one that I
    really believe you can skip without missing anything important.
  • All’s Well That Ends Well—On the surface, Helena is a great “strong
    female character,” but in actuality, she is one of Shakespeare’s least
    appealing heroines. I find her choices push my buttons in so many ways—but not
    in a way that is constructive or thought-provoking. It just makes me angry. It
    makes me angry that we teach women to accept poor treatment and belittlement
    from people they love. It makes me angry that we teach women that men can
    mistreat them, as long as they say sorry later. And it makes me angry that we
    teach women that they should bend over backwards to catch and keep “their man.”
    All of those cultural beliefs are on disgusting display in All’s Well That Ends Well. And here’s the thing. Shakespeare is
    problematic—even highly problematic—elsewhere in his work. (You need look no
    further than Merchant of Venice, Taming
    of the Shrew
    , and even Othello
    for evidence of that.) But All’s Well
    That Ends Well
    is different, because it presents those cultural beliefs I
    mentioned as normal, and really doesn’t bother to dive deeper, whereas in
    nearly all of Shakespeare’s other plays, we see problematic representations,
    but we also see those questioned, and we see the complexity behind them. That’s
    not the case here, and that’s part of why I have no desire to give this play a
    second chance and why I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

ones I need to give a second chance to:

As much as I tried
to take in all of the plays that I read, there were some that, despite reading
or listening to them, I could honestly not really tell you anything about them.
There are also a few that I didn’t particularly enjoy the first time around,
but think I may appreciate more in the future. I thought it would be fun to
share those plays that I want to come back to and that deserve more of my time
to give them another chance to wow me, as so many other of the Bard’s plays

  • Cymbeline,
    Troilus and Cressida, and Two Noble Kinsmen—All three of these
    are plays that I had never read, watched, or listened to prior to this project
    and that, for one reason or other, I could not focus on or take in much of the
    story. I feel like they deserve a second chance when I’m not so focused on just
    getting through them and can really take the time to go through them as slowly
    as I need to so that I can actually talk about them with at least some basic
    level of understanding.
  • Merchant of Venice—Reading this play was a really
    interesting and difficult experience during this project. I had more
    conflicting feelings about Merchant of
    than I did about any of Shakespeare’s other plays, and there was a
    lot that really bothered me. I don’t intend to come back to this play in the
    near future, but at some point later in my life, I think I could return to it
    and appreciate it much more.
  • Antony and Cleopatra—When I read this one, I could see its brilliance and
    everything, but just wasn’t enjoying it as much as I knew I should. It was just
    kind of an off time for me—not really the right time for me to read it—so even
    though I still quite liked it, I really feel like I need to give it another
    chance so I can fall in love with it as deeply as the play deserves.
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