It was announced this week that comic strip versions of Shakespeare plays are to be published for use in schools as Britain’s secondary school children find the original versions boring and difficult to understand. It is thought that youngsters will find the comic strip versions (written using simple English words and expressions) easier to understand and it will inspire them to take an interest in the Bard’s works. Surely part of the fun of learning Shakespeare is reading the plays in Shakespearean English and learning what all the terms mean. I enjoyed studying Shakepeare's plays at school. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare containing all his plays still takes pride of place on my bookshelf. Much of the beauty of the Bard’s work lies in the language more than the actual plot. Many of Shakespeare’s plays contain finely crafted passages. These will now be reduced to quick, snappy phrases. Reading comic strip versions of the plays which are illustrated by artists who worked on Spiderman cartoons, just won’t be the same.
The first play to get the “comic strip” treatment is Henry V. Shakepeare’s unforgettable line from the play which rallies the troops, “Once more into the breach dear friends”, will be replaced with, “Take a deep breath and fight. Get a fierce look in your eyes!” Eventually all Shakespeare’s plays will be available in the comic strip versions. There are also plans to produce comic strip versions of some classic novels like Great Expectations and Jane Eyre as well. It’s enough to send Shakespeare spinning in his grave!