Article courtesy of The Conversation, written by Brett Gamboa.
Though Shakespeare’s death didn’t attract much attention in 1616, it’s big news today.
To mark its 400th anniversary, there has been no end of events, whether it’s the Folger Library’s First Folio Tour to all 50 states or a production of “Hamlet” that, to date, has been performed in 196 countries. As far away as Tehran, performances and exhibits have been organized. Closer to home, in New Orleans, two full-blown “jazz funerals” will commemorate the occasion.
When thinking about the reasons for Shakespeare’s enduring popularity, you could point to his facility with language, his ability to deliver moments that possess both poetic complexity and heartrending simplicity.
There’s also the fact that his plays are ripe for adaptation, which has allowed “Timon of Athens” to be set during the Occupy movement and “Othello” to be adapted to contemporary India for a Bollywood film.
But many feel most attracted to Shakespeare’s characters, who seem to have lives that transcend the stage.
At the time, Shakespeare was crafting portraits of psychological depth – full of doubt, hypocrisy and mystery – in ways that none of his contemporaries were. His characters hold up so well that we continue to see Shakespeare’s imprint on today’s most popular television shows and films.