How to Decipher Hamlet, Macbeth & More with SparkNotes' No Fear Shakespeare Study Guide
Let's face it— most people don't understand Shakespeare's language. If they say they do, they're probably lying. The poetic words of the world's most famous playwright continue to plague school children and college lit. majors alike, but not anymore.
SparkNotes, one of the only free online study guides, now owned by Barnes & Noble, was started by four Harvard students over 10 years ago to help give high school and college students help understanding old literature. Currently, those teens and undergraduates can find help for others subjects, such as poetry, history, film, philosophy, math, health, physics, biology, chemistry, economics and sociology.
In the past, they had study guides for most of William Shakespeare's work, but now they've gone a step further and broken down the lyrical madness of the English Renaissance into a modern day translation— you know— the kind of words we speak today. They list the translation side-by-side with the original text, so you see exactly what's going on.
They call it No Fear Shakespeare.
To see why it's so fearless, check out the sample images below.
Some highlights from above:
If that his majesty would aught with us, we shall express our duty in his eye, and let him know so.
If His Majesty wants us to do any favor for him, tell him his wish is my command.
MacbethLet your highness command upon me, to the which my duties are with a most indissoluble tie forever knit.
Whatever your highness commands me to do, it is always my duty to do it.
Romeo & Juliet
My bosom's lord sits lightly in his throne, and all this day an unaccustomed spirit lifts me above the ground with cheerful thoughts.
Love rules my heart, and all day long a strange feeling has been making me cheerful.
For besides these beneficial news, it is the celebration of his nuptial. So much was his pleasure should be proclaimed.
For besides the good news, we are also celebrating his marriage. That's the end of the announcement.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
O sweet bully Bottom! Thus hath he lost sixpence a day during his life.
Oh that great, funny guy, Bottom! He would have gotten a pension of six pence a day for his whole life.
It is perchance that you yourself were saved.
It was a total fluke that you yourself were saved.
To check out the full translations above, along with more of Shakespeare's work, simply visit the No Fear Shakespeare section at SparkNotes. The best part— it's free! Plus, it tells you exactly how to cite each play for high school and college essays using MLA, APA and more, including footnotes. There's also links to purchase eBooks or a regular print version at B&N.
To go directly to a title and start deciphering Shakespeare's language, follow the below links.
All No Fear Shakespeare Titles