Lucretia’s blog about how Shakespeare changed her life has prompted me to write my own entry about how Shakespeare changed mine. Like most students, I was introduced to Shakespeare in high school. We studied Macbeth and had to memorize a passage from it to deliver in front of the class. I still remember the passage (“Tomorrow, and tomorrow …”), but it’s the reaction from my fellow students that stays with me. They really sat up and took notice, and I think that attention led me to try out for the school play (West Side Story). That experience has resulted in a life-long love affair with Shakespeare’s plays.
Shakespeare’s plays stayed with me through undergraduate school, and in graduate school I had the opportunity to read Titus Andronicus for the first time. No one in the seminar wanted to read the play, but I volunteered to read and research it and present my findings to the group. What a play! Blood, guts, and violence. It became my favorite. The beauty of the language to describe some of the most horrific events in Shakespeare took the wind right out of me. It’s a play I often taught to my students, and I think it led them to really get into Shakespeare. In fact, from time to time I see former students and they almost always mention the play.
Shakespeare’s plays have been an important part of my professional life, to be sure. I thank Fred Davis, my high school teacher, for introducing me to Shakespeare. Who gets your thanks?