Two Shakespeare Quotes Dissing School

Some people may think Shakespeare is difficult, elitist, old-fashioned, or whatever else they don’t like, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Like all permanently classic works–Mozart’s music, the Bible, The Simpsons–Shakespeare endures precisely because he’s the opposite of all those things.  Shakespeare speaks the truth of real, universal human experience so powerfully and honestly that he makes us see life more fully. 

Case in point: Shakespeare had no illusions that school was fun or popular.  He makes fun of how much kids hate school.  See?  Hundreds of years later, and people are basically the same. 

I recently finished reading Henry IV, Part 2, which wasn’t nearly as good as the other three plays in that series, but it did have one line that I really loved.  In act IV, scene 2, after being tricked into a truce by the prince, some rebels report that their armies have disbanded.  One leader tells the others just how quickly the soldiers have gone home after hearing the news:

My lord, our army is dispersed already;

Like youthful steers unyoked, they take their courses

East, west, north, south; or, like a school broke up,

Each hurries toward his home and sporting-place.

Heh.  That information could be visualized like this:

Things that run away quickly

A stressed out army after peace is declared

Farm animals after being unchained

Boys leaving school

Shakespeare does much the same thing in Romeo and Juliet.  At the end of the famous balcony scene (Act II, scene 2), Romeo tells Juliet how much he hates having to say goodbye and leave:

Love goes toward love, as schoolboys from their books,

But love from love, toward school with heavy looks.

Gag me, I know.  But the comparison is clever:

Happy people

Sad people

Lovers going toward each other

Lovers saying goodbye

Boys leaving school

Boys going to school

Shakespeare: when your teachers force him on you, remember that he’s on your side.

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2 comments on “Two Shakespeare Quotes Dissing School

  1. Our high school had the best Shakespeare teacher! Granted, he was suspended for a year for drinking during school, but he totally understood Shakespeare, and was great at explaining the text to the less academic crowd.

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