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What do you first think of when hearing the word Shakespeare? When I hear Shakespeare, I think of the greatest playwright of all time and an actor. But also all the stereotypes that come with it such as how boring his plays are, and hard to understand. But believe me, after studying Shakespeare for over a term now, I have come to learn his language and show an interest in his plays. He has given me a personal understanding and appreciation of the value of drama. These personal understandings have come from the universal themes shown in his plays, ‘Julius Caesar’ has the main themes of betrayal through Conflict. And ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ has the themes of love and jealousy.

What exactly is ‘Julius Caesar’ about? It is set in Rome with about two men. One is named Julius Caesar and is next in line to be crowned king. The other is Brutus who doesn’t want that to happen. Brutus believes, “He then unto the ladder turns his back, looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees, by which he did ascend.” Brutus is saying that if Julius Caesar gets the power he will do damage. Brutus decides to kill Caesar for the good of Rome. So how is betrayal shown through conflict in this play? I believe an example of this theme through a technique of dramatic irony is in Act II Scene 1 when Brutus plots a plan to kill Caesar for the good of Rome because he says “And therefore think him as a serpent’s egg which, hatched, would, as his kind, grow mischievous, and kill him in the shell.” In this, he is saying Caesar is a serpent egg (which can represent the expression of good and evil) and we must kill him before he hatches and becomes dangerous. This relates to teens today because I believe nobody is born evil. Evil is something people learn from their experiences. Shakespeares’ plays take complex concepts and present them through drama clearly identifying lessons for future generations.

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The last play is ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and it starts off with Hermia arriving to see her two suitors, Lysander and Demetrius. Both men love Hermia but Hermia only loves Lysander. Meanwhile, another girl Helena loves Demetrius. A fairy takes pity on Helena and instructs Puck to put a love potion in Demetrius’ eyes however he mistakes Lysander and puts it in Lysander’s eyes. After the mistake is realized the love potion is also put in Demetrius’ eyes and both now love Helena. The puck eventually reverses the spell on Lysander and makes them forget what has happened so that Lysander will love Hermia again. An example of love shown in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is the dramatic irony when lovers awake feeling disorientated while believing their dream was half real and half fake. Demetrius questions, “Are you sure that we are awake? It seems to me, that yet we sleep, we dream”. This is an excellent example as the audience knows what happened during the night, but the characters don’t know if what happened is real or not. This relates back to reality in our modern world today. What we think, see, and believe may not be true just like in the play. Puck uses the words “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” Social media, videos, and movies all influence and affect our perception of reality and can make fools out of us.

An example of jealousy in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ comes from the quote that Helana says, “What wicked and dissembling glass of mine, made me compare with Hermia’s sphery eyne?”. In saying this she is dwelling and not letting go of how Jealous she is of the beauty of Hermia. This quote can relate back to teens of today who constantly compare themselves to each other and are influenced by Instagram rather than just being happy with who they are.

Shakespeare has changed my personal understanding and appreciation of the value of drama as I once viewed drama like movies and books as being created for entertainment only. Drama, as created by Shakespeare, proves it can be so much more. Shakespeare has the ability to weave lessons into his plays that are still applicable in our modern world. Shakespeare’s plays have strong and clear messages such as the betrayal and conflict in ‘Julius Caesar’, and the love and jealousy in ‘A Midsummers Nights’ Dream’. These dramas need the attention of the viewer, and a deeper understanding of the story to appreciate the work.

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