The Student News Site of Illinois Wesleyan University

The Argus

The Argus

The Student News Site of Illinois Wesleyan University

The Argus

The Student News Site of Illinois Wesleyan University

The Argus

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Banning Shakespeare in Florida schools is a huge mistake

In honor of Banned Book Week, one of the most renowned and studied authors in history has also fallen victim: William Shakespeare. Banned books have been the subject of many lectures, case studies, and close readings over the years, yet no one suspected that Shakespeare would be on the list of banned content. This recent banishment from Florida public schools is not brand new, but many do not know that the decision was due to the “sexual content” of Shakespeare’s works. It seems ridiculous to ban Shakespeare because his works were written centuries ago, but, why is Shakespeare so important to teach to students?

One of the reasons Shakespeare is important is his attention to religious differences. During his time, the British empire was being swung back and forth between Protestantism and Catholicism because of the reigns of Mary of Scots and her younger sister, Elizabeth. This caused a great deal of religious confusion to the people, and Shakespeare expressed these feelings in his plays.

One specific work that showcases this is “Hamlet”, where a ghost mourns being killed without the Catholic sacraments. However, this play was written during Elizabeth’s reformation of Protestantism, so Shakespeare had to gracefully handle the conflict between these two religions, showing the divide, and he did so. It’s ludicrous for modern day high schools to preach about diversity in every way yet censor Shakespeare’s works that do include religious diversity. 

Another reason is his use of language. Shakespeare was renowned for his clever use of language and the many layers to it. usness, combative wordplay.

In “Taming of the Shrew”, for example, was likely Shakespeare’s wordiest play, but full of educational value. However, it was one of few plays that will be censored due to the mild sexual content that Katherina and Petruccio say to each other, such as referring to Petruccio as a stool and then Petruccio requesting Katherina to sit on him yet this is all flirtatiousness, combative wordplay.

In “Taming of the Shrew”, the reader can learn how to use wordplay, pulling layer upon layer on the choice of words in created plays, poetry, and short stories—or even novels, if someone were that ambitious. However, none of this is possible if his works are banned from schools completely.

Learning is supposed to be the pinnacle of education, yet Florida wants to be foolish and ban an excellent source of educational material. So, banishment of Shakespeare brings to question what may come next? What other old-time classic will be stricken from the shelves because they thought it was too racy? Shakespeare’s works teach us about issues we all can relate to and taking away something as classic as “Macbeth” or “Romeo and Juliet” is nothing short of a grievous mistake.

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