Clichés, Shakespeare, and – um – chocolate

A Facebook friend of mine posted a link to this article from Business Insider (Australia) marking William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. It has a list of 26 common phrases that can be traced back to Shakespeare’s writings.

I was curious to see how many might be considered clichés. Although journalists prefer fresher language, we don’t always succeed in avoiding clichés. There’s usually truth in them. That’s why they’ve become clichés. Groan!

Only one of Shakespeare’s phrases from the Business Insider article – “Love is blind” – made this list of 10 common clichés. But here’s a much lengthier list from a seemingly unlikely source, The Pathology Guy. reminds us that we often quote Shakespeare without even being aware of it.

Last summer I saw a play called Taking Shakespeare at the annual Stratford festival in Stratford, Ontario. Veteran festival company member Martha Henry starred as a discontented, aging professor tasked with sparking an interest in Shakespeare in a young, video game-obsessed, struggling student.

The play appealed to me because I wanted it to spark more of an interest in me too. Shakespeare explored ideas and feelings that still resonate today, in language that was fresh for its time. Hundreds of years later, it’s difficult to appreciate all the antiquated turns of phrase.

Reading the Business Insider article this week reminded me again that it’s worth the effort.

PS When I blogged about Stratford last summer, I wrote about the chocolate trail, not the theatre aspect. A visit to the Festival doesn’t have to be all about Shakespeare 😉