William Shakespeare – School Report

William Shakespeare

Stratford on Avon Grammar School

Name of Pupil: SHAKESPEARE, William

Age: 16

Subject: English

Never in my whole career have I met a boy as hopeless at English as Shakespeare. He hasn’t got a clue. A failure in the forthcoming examinations is an absolute certainty, and for one very good reason. The boy seems incapable of giving a
straight answer to a straight question.

Consider the following the first line from a recent essay:

‘To be, or not to be, that is the question…’

Complete and utter poppycock; That was not the question. The question, which I wrote on the board very clearly was, ‘Write an essay of 400 words entitled What I did on my Holidays.”

Frankly, I rarely understand a single word Shakespeare. writes. For instance, in his essay `What I Got From Father Christmas’, he wanted to say that Santa didn’t bring him everything he had on his stocking list. But could he express that simple idea in a straightforward manner? He could not. His essay began:

‘Now is the winter of our discontent…’

And again, in the mock examinations, he was required to use his imagination and describe a day in the fife of somebody working in an hotel: What happens? He makes a good start, choosing to describe what a chef does. Then what does the idiot produce as an opening line?

`Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble…’

In an essay called ‘What Life Would Be Like Without Pocket Money’ I encountered:

`Friends, Romans, countrymen; lend me your ears…

The examples are endless. I am afraid, that this leads one to the inevitable conclusion: that Shakespeare’s writing is completely and utterly incomprehensible. Certainly I can’t understand it.

Amazingly, l believe the boy wants to write plays when he leaves school The very thought is too awful to contemplate. Can you imagine what it would be like if his work found its way into the classroom and some poor teacher had to try and explain what it was all about? The mind boggles.

I. McBeth