How to Interpret Shakespearean Literature

Many of us may little know that William Shakespeare invented a large number of words in the English language. They were not found in the English language history before the Shakespeare era but have been used as an integral part of the English language since then. A reasonable number of these antiquated words are difficult to interpret, especially by the students who have just taken on to study Shakespeare.

It is more likely that students will not be able to understand many words written by Shakespeare but they should not get intimated by the lacking of understanding at that moment. They can easily decode almost all those words and terms with the passage of time and can expand their understanding of Shakespearean literature.

By following a  number of tools, which can help you understand Shakespeare’s writing, you can become well versed with the meanings of Shakespeare’s literature. Just be patient and keep trying on learning.


  • 1

    Identify Difficult Words, Terms While Reading

    When you are reading Shakespeare's work for the first time, identify all those difficult words and phrases, which you are unable to understand. It can be that you understand the literal meanings of a word but cannot understand the context in which Shakespeare had used it. So just mark all those during first-time reading of  the literature.

  • 2

    Read The Way It is More Expressive

    You might be able to know meanings of many words by reading them in the right tone. It is possible that by reading a word in a wrong way or tone, you just get confused. So it is better to read words and phrase the way they are more expressive. This will help you in understanding meaning of each word and phrase.

  • 3

    Consideration of Punctuation

    Try to immerse yourself into a situation in which you are reading a dialogue or script of a play. A better way of doing it is to pause at commas, periods and make use of other punctuation. This can also help you to read words, phrases and dialogues in their right contexts, and let you understand their meanings.

  • 4

    Try Understand Basic Themes

    You can relate to theme of each emotions or words describing them to the knowledge you already have about them. For example, you know meanings of love and anger, then try to relate Shakespeare writing on these in that context. Be careful while doing this, as you might miss the actual context of these words, the one which Shakespeare had tried to tell his audience.

  • 5

    Read Articles on Shakespeare and His Work

    While you continue reading Shakespeare's own work, you should read articles on internet or books written about Shakespeare and on his work. This can help you to give an understanding of Shakespeare's work and his era. It will add to your knowledge about Shakespeare and his literary work.

  • 6

    Consult Literature on Shakespeare and His Literature

    Shakespeare and his work has been a subject of critical literary writings by people all over the world in all eras. You should read the work of different academics and writers of all eras and understand their critical view of Shakespeare's work.

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