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  • Writer's pictureJayna Newbold

Shakespeare: Comin' Out Strong!

Updated: Nov 19, 2018



A friend recently posted some Shakespeare-isms on social media. It got me thinking.


Dear Hearts: I have mentioned many times that “Writers read!”. And the classics are some of the best! Timeless, rich, and meaningful literature always withstands the test of time.


But I never really liked reading / studying Shakespeare. If memory serves me, I believe we spent an entire semester my sophomore year of high school on this guy.


At the time, I thought, “Why?”


What a fossil! And there is so much more great literature out there.


But alas, I suppose it was required curriculum; which is probably why my English teacher, Ms. Hightower (who, although she was one of my favorite educators, mispronounced my first name both the entire freshman and sophomore years. She called me “JANya” instead of “JAYna” the whole time), stood at the front of the classroom and patiently listened as we slogged through the reading of several of old William’s boring plays. Trust me when I tell you I would much rather have spent fourth period (after lunch, no less! Where's my snooze button?) diagramming sentences! Seriously. I loved that stuff. Nothing like a good dissection of English language anatomy following the rapid-fire ingestion of high school cafeteria grub.

Freshman year, we read Greek and Roman Mythology; which, surprisingly enough, I thoroughly enjoyed! But somewhere around the end of freshman year or the beginning of sophomore year, we read Steinbeck’s “The Red Pony”. I’m a Steinbeck fan now - have spent considerable time visiting Cannery Row in Monterey, and love the old classic, “Grapes of Wrath”; however, next to “Tortilla Flats”, “The Red Pony” was his worst! And then came Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”. I have no idea why the absolute most deplorable works of these great authors were chosen! These particular tomes must have been on sale.


My faith in Ms. Hightower’s reading choices had begun to wane. By second semester of my second year of high school, when she busted out the Shakespeare, it was all I could do to drag myself to class, much less stay awake!


English class suddenly "had an alacrity of sinking" from being my second favorite subject all the way down to dead last! UGH! I simply failed to see the value in spending an entire semester enduring this pain!


Fast forward to present day.


My minor in college was English, I am an author, and a linguist (well . . .almost. I’m still making my way through the coursework toward a post-graduate certificate in linguistics, but at glacial speed. It’s much tougher than I originally thought, and is taking at least twice as long as I’d planned). The closest I had ever come - in my life! - to enjoying Shakespeare was when I sang the role of "Cornelia" in Handel's exquisite opera, Giulio Cesare.

But when I saw my friend’s social media post yesterday, I did sit up and take notice of old Billy - perhaps for the first time in my life!


I actually saw purpose in his writing.


“Why?” You may ask. I’ll tell you! My friend’s post included a relatively exhaustive list of the things we say today which we owe to Shakespeare (some of them were a complete surprise to me!). Feast your eyes!:


Knock Knock, Who’s There? In a Pickle

Set Your Teeth On Edge

Fight Fire with Fire

Heart of Gold

So So

Lie Low

Faint-hearted

Good Riddance

Send Him Packing

Baited Breath

Come What May

The Game is Up Where Your Heart On Your Sleeve

Full Circle

Not Slept One Wink

Out of the Jaws of Death

Too Much of a Good Thing

What’s Done is Done

Break the Ice

The Naked Truth

Breathed His Last Wild Goose Chase

Vanish Into Thin Air

Laughing Stock

Heart of Hearts

Make Your Hair Stand On End

For Goodness’ Sake

Love is Blind

Seen Better Days

Dead as a Doornail

Off with His Head

Fair Play / Foul Play

Green-eyed Monster

Brave New World

The World is My Oyster

Sorry Sight

Be All / End All


Therefore . . . my most humble apologies to my high school English teacher for my teenage Debbie Downer attitude (for all we know, that could have been one of Shakespeare’s sayings as well!).

As it turns out, the guy happens to be a legend! Who knew? Dear Hearts: I live on the left coast where Shakespeare plays are alive and well, mostly year round. We even have "Shakespeare on the Beach!" Perhaps I'll "bite the bullet" (Okay, so that's a Kipling phrase. I don't think Willy minds), make Ms. Hightower proud, and go check it out one of these days!


Mad respect!




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