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November 4, 2011 / michelleinclema

Cartoons- not just for Saturday morning anymore

As an English nerd, I have long harbored a love for Shakespeare. However, as a theatre geek as well, I prefer to enjoy Shakespeare the way it was intended, theatrically.

For those who find Shakespearean language difficult to understand and the plots too complicated to follow, I highly recommend renting a film version of the play or checking out a live production (most area colleges will perform at least one Shakespeare play per year). I particularly enjoy films that use the original text but set the scene in another place or time, such as the Leonardo Dicaprio version of Romeo and Juliet, which sets Verona in sunny California, and the Montague and Capulet families as business rivals.

For another twist on Shakespeare comprehension- check out Cliff’s Notes videos. The videos are colorful caricature cartoons, short, sweet, and fun! Guided by your host (Cliff of course!) the videos transport you scene-by-scene through plays such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Othello. Using modern language and short scenes, these videos are a great way to review the events of the play.

Despite a shameless plug for an upcoming movie mid-video (I guess websites need advertising and all) I found the videos to be thoroughly entertaining as well as a decent summary of plot. In addition to cartoon videos, there are mini lectures on theme, character lists and even sample essays! Remember, Cliff’s Notes should in no way replace reading the text as well. Teachers are well aware of these resources and will know if you skip out on your required reading.

What do you think of the site? Do you think tools such as these should be used in schools, or do you think they are detrimental to the learning process?

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