Don’t cancel Shakespeare


Bellwood-Antis freshman Olivia Hess.

“Cancel culture” is a term that Gen-Z seemed to have made popular in recent years. Simply put, “cancelling” is when a large group of people stops supporting something or someone because they may have been involved in a scandal, or did something that could be considered a wrongdoing. Everything is getting cancelled: celebrities, influencers, children’s characters, and now…classic books? Cancel culture should not interfere with teaching Shakespeare in high school classrooms. 

Shakespeare’s works have been taught in schools for ages, and all of a sudden, a lot of people think that they shouldn’t be in the curriculum anymore. This doesn’t make sense. It is surely an issue that texts, Shakespeare especially, could be taken out of lesson plans because a few widespread articles said they should be.  

As expressed above, I don’t think Shakespeare should be banned or cancelled. Yes, it is no secret that the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet, along with several others, I’m sure, have some questionable content that probably wouldn’t be published in today’s world. With that being said, we can’t take away from the fact that it was. If there wasn’t any Shakespeare in the classroom, there wouldn’t be as much student involvement. When reading his plays, everyone gets to be a part of it. Even though there is old-fashioned language, texts exist now that translate the latter into “modern-day” language for easier understanding. Students can see how old language looks while actually grasping what is being said. Many good class discussions could also happen with recurring themes such as love, death, fate, revenge, and power. Shakespeare is known as one of the greatest writers to have existed. Reading him in school gives students the chance to experience, for themselves, writing that is timeless and perennial. 

Along with my personal opinion, there are other reasons why Shakespeare is beneficial and shouldn’t be cancelled. One of those reasons being that there are still lessons to be learned in his writing. As old as the plays are, one would think that the storylines are outdated as well. On the contrary, there are themes that anyone could relate to, like loving someone so much that you would do anything for them. Another reason why Shakespeare should stay, is how some of his most famous pieces were written in the 1590’s and are still being read. That shows how important they really are. Also, since they were written in the 1590’s, “offensive” in today’s words and back then are two different things. There was, no doubt, misogyny, racism, and sexism in his works. Nothing is going to change that. So, talk about it. Make it a class discussion. Discuss how that language probably wouldn’t fly these days, and how those themes affected the end result of the play. Just because there are suggestive lines and topics doesn’t mean that we can stop teaching these established and beloved stories. 

Cancel culture is taking over the world for the worst and is not slowing down. If “cancelling” doesn’t end, something you treasure in 50 years could be next. Imagine your favorite book not being sold anymore, because the author said the wrong thing in an interview. Or, your favorite artist gets dropped from their record label because they made a mistake. Trying to take Shakespeare out of schools is almost as tragic as Romeo and Juliet itself.