Recently there have been several television programmes and films to do with the life of Shakespeare. If you have plenty of money, a good imagination and can find a director, then it's not that difficult to create a story about Shakespeare for the simple reason that there is very little detail that is known about his life and so what you have to do is make it all up. But then who's worried about those details when you have the wonderful storehouse of his plays and poems to read?
If you were brought up in Britain, as I was, and here I'm going back a bit now because things have changed considerably since then, it was essential to read Shakespeare at school without, I must admit, much explanation from the teacher. The result was for my generation that we were put off the playwright for a long time. What people don't realise is that there are many expressions used in everyday English that were created by Shakespeare in the first place and are in fact used by people who may well not have read a single line of his plays. There is the story, no doubt apocryphal, of the old lady who was taken out to the theatre for the first time in her life to see a Shakespeare play. When she was asked what she thought of it, she replied: 'Interesting - I had no idea his plays were so full of quotations'.
Let's look at three expressions, the first from Midsummer Night's Dream, the next from Anthony and Cleopatra and the third from Othello. We now go into the world of the young where and when you can do what you like and you have no responsibilities. Shakespeare describes this status as being fancy free. 'Sara was just 18 and was wondering what to do with her life - get a job, emigrate or travel the world - she was totally fancy free'. Sadly this period of being young or as Shakespeare would say 'green', does not last for long and this time is known as your salad days. Appropriate, isn't it? As we all know, salad only stays fresh for a short time unless of course you keep it in the fridge.
But who wants to live in a fridge - certainly not our heroine, Sara. 'Such were Sara's salad days - a time when he was young, innocent and happy before she took on the duties of work, a wife and a mother'. Sara of course is not alone in the world and one day falls in love with Andrew. Sara knows that Andrew feels exactly the same because he wears his heart upon his sleeve. Andrew cannot hide his feelings and emotions and everyone can see that he is in love with Sara. 'It is obvious the way Andrew thinks about Sara and he is quite incapable of hiding how he feels because he always wears his heart upon his sleeve.'
With a tear in my eye I have to tell you that this couple did not find life easy at first, the details of which I have no space to tell you, but be assured that everything eventually worked out all right and I refer once more to the great English poet by choosing the tile of one of his plays - All's well that ends well.
You also might want to check the new materials on our website. For example there are quite a number of amusing stories
Here is what our reader Aneta from Poland says:
..."As I became a new … fan of your web site I must congratulate you again. I was just going to take one of Alan's tests tonight (I'm trying to make it a habit - one test every day...) when I noticed that some new things appeared on the site! I like your stories very much as well as the articles about learning English. I got the message: English really IS the language of international communication and to communicate with people from all around the world to share ideas and experiences is at least one good reason to ‘walk through the room and open the window’..."
If you have any questions or comments regarding this essay, please post your answers on the forum here: How many quotes by Shakespeare do you know?