Thursday 27 March 2014

March Book Challenge: As You Like It by William Shakespeare

I know what you're thinking! All of the negative connotations of secondary school Shakespeare studies are flooding back to you. You're probably questioning why anyone would want to read a Shakespearian play post-school. 

I'm the exception to this rule, during college I was an English literature and drama student, and I fell in love with Shakespeare use of language, his humour and how his complex plots unraveled. I was looking forward to reading As You Like It for this month's calendar challenge as I hadn't read any Shakespeare since I studied A Midsummer Night's Dream five years ago

However, I must admit, this play fell short of my expectations. The story followed Rosalind who flees to The Forest of Arden to be close to her banished father. She dresses as a man whilst in exile in order to live freely they way a man does.

Rosalind is a brilliant character, she's headstrong, witty and has the most lines of any of Shakespeare's female characters. She's a very developed character and which is a huge step forward considering that this was written during a time when women weren't allowed to even appear in plays. (All of Shakespeare's female characters would have been played by teenage boys.) 

Despite my love of Rosalind, this play didn't really seem like Shakespeare. The plot tied itself up too quickly, it felt rushed in parts and it didn't spark my imagination the same way his other plays have. However it includes one of the most famous Shakespeare quotes: "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." 

I think that my opinion might change slightly if I saw this preformed live, however it doesn't jump off the page in the same way his other stories have. I'll be reading Shakespeare again in May for the calendar challenge, and I'm hoping that my faith in Shakespeare will be restored. 

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