Sunday, March 01, 2009

How to Enjoy Shakespeare by Robert Thomas Fallon

How to Enjoy Shakespeare is aimed at the theater-goer about to attend a Shakespearean play. Mr. Fallon attempts to briefly give enough exposition about the language, themes, staging, characters, and plot of Shakespeare as to provide the reader with a more enjoyable experience at the theater. Personally, I found only the chapter on language particularly useful. Despite having read only a few of the Bard's plays, I was quite familiar with much of the material covered in the chapters on themes, staging, characters, and plot.

The chapter on language, however, was quite enlightening. I was surprised that in all my education, I do not remember being taught much about Shakespeare's language. One item I find key: Shakespeare's use of language is in large part determined by his having to fit his words into whatever type of pentameter he was using. This means that he omitted syllables, or even whole words, as well as changed word order to fulfill his rhythmic requirement. From the quotes provided by Mr. Fallon, it is abundantly obvious that this one fact will grant me a much greater enjoyment of Shakespeare.


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