Why Do We Study Shakespeare? In a speech, tell your class the value of studying Shakespearean comedy.

Essay by stella8h8changHigh School, 10th grade June 2004

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"Looming over everything, of course, heart of the city, is the great Castle Shakespeare. You see it wherever you look. It rears its head into the clouds, reaching into the celestial sky, dominating everything around."

These were some of the opening words of Fay Welden in her novel, "Letters to Alice". There are many reasons for Shakespeare's fame, including his profoundness, lifelike characters, historical value and uniquely beautiful language.

On the surface, the comedies may appear to be simply a source of entertainment, but a closer examination shows that they all have underlying meanings. Through humour, comedy and disguise, human weaknesses are satirically highlighted. For example, in Twelfth Night, we are warned of the folly of ambition. When Malvolio, Olivia's steward, uncovers a love letter apparently written by her, he believes it is meant for him, and indulges in a dangerous fantasy where he imagines he will "discard" his lowly status and rise to that of a lord.

This leads to nothing but contempt and ridicule, as he is locked into a cell and labelled as "mad" - the punishment for his greed. Shakespeare's themes are relevant to today's society. For example, he uses the twins, Viola and Sebastian, to demonstrate the uncertainty of gender and the preoccupation with external appearances. A simple change of clothes renders the twins identical, leading to many dilemmas, including a serious marital mistake. Among his other messages are gullibility, the inefficiency of communication and the suffering of love.

Shakespeare's characters are realistic, as none of them are wholly good or evil. Viola is a highly likeable character, having no major faults, but she is not a saintly character who has done nothing wrong either. For example, she has lied to people in the process of her disguise. While Malvolio...