He wrote that we should ‘never a borrower or a lender be’ but exactly 400 years after his death – we are still very much borrowing all the nifty phrases that William Shakespeare – the coolest dude of his day – shared through his work.
Your average schoolchild (or adult) may not be that enamoured, his work often considered out-of-date, or hard to understand.
But the reality is his plays are of tragedy, comedy and farce (think the complicated plots of Eastenders) and we are using his language every single day, with many of his phrases moved into cliché and Instagrammable wisdom.
Those who ‘wear their heart upon their sleeves’ have Othello to thank, while the well-used phrased ‘milk of human kindness’ is classic Macbeth.
Many people think you can have ‘too much of a good thing’ with Shakespeare (As You Like It) but his storylines, humour and drama remain as relevant to this day.
He tackled the subjects of gender and sexual ambiguity, sibling betrayal, romantic farce, death, murder and politics many hundreds of years before those lauded for breaking boundaries today.
His work is reinterpreted every day – it is no longer essential to plough through a hefty tome to access his stories.
But ‘All that glitters is not gold’ (Merchant of Venice) and sometimes Shakespeare’s mischievous innuendo and cutting humour is lost in the Hollywoodisation of his classic stories.
Tell me ‘good riddance’ if you like but it is worth returning to the original, as the ‘truth will out’ and he will have you ‘in stitches’ (Twelfth Night)
Of course many of these phrases, still in everyday use, have lost their original meaning but ‘love is blind’, which appears in several of his plays (Henry V, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Merchant of Venice), remains just as meaningful for those frustrated in a relationship today.
It is ‘high time’ we appreciated Shakespeare’s lessons in love – we can’t all be ‘more sinned against then sinning’ and should probably ‘pack it in’ and bid that behaviour ‘good riddance.’
There is nothing worse than a ‘wild goose chase’ after all – ask Romeo and Juliet.
And don’t get ‘in a pickle’ (The Tempest).