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Seeing as it was Sant Jordi – a celebration of love and literature – last weekend in Catalunya, we thought we’d share our love for one of the English-speaking world’s literary giants, William Shakespeare (who, coincidentally, is widely believed to have been born on 23rd April)

We’re sure you’ve heard of his famous plays like ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Macbeth’, and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Even if you don’t recognise these titles, it’s very likely you’ve seen modern interpretations that are based on his works. Let’s take a look at some of them and see if we can tempt you into exploring the wonderful world of Shakespeare

Disney’s ‘The Lion King’, for example, is based on Shakespeare’s play ‘Hamlet’ – the story of a king who dies and then his ghost tells his son (Hamlet) to avenge him by killing the new king (Hamlet’s uncle). The uncle finds out about this and makes his own plan to kill his nephew, Hamlet. Of course, as in every Shakespeare tragedy, pretty much everyone dies in the end. Although, predictably, the heroes survive in the Disney re-imagination of this famous play, we’re sure you can see some similarities between the tragic tale of Hamlet’s family, and the sad story of Simba and Scar. We know you’ve all seen the film, so why not challenge yourself and try reading a bit of Shakespeare. This wonderful website ( allows you to read the play and provides icons to click on and they tell you the meaning of a word, the significance of an expression, and you can even press the audio button to hear it read aloud. The language looks complicated but give it a try! If you get confused, you can always read a plot summary on the trusty website Sparknotes (

If you don’t fancy Disney, how about the beloved teen rom-com ’10 Things I Hate About You’ – a personal favourite of ours – that is based on Shakespeare’s comedy ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. In theatre, for a play to be a comedy, it must include a variety of the following: a light and humorous tone; clever language and witty banter; deception, disguises, and cases of mistaken identity; young love that must overcome some kind of struggle; family drama; lots of twists and turns; and multiple plots that come together in the end – which always involves the reunification of the family and/or a marriage. This play and its modernised retelling, certainly have these! Both tell the story of two sisters, one beautiful and charming and the other outspoken and ‘shrewish’ (meaning bad-tempered or aggressively assertive). The beautiful sister wants to marry (‘date’ in the modern version) a man, but the girls’ father says she is not allowed to until her older sister does too. The story ends with a contest to see who is the most obedient wife and the finale might just surprise you. We definitely recommend watching ’10 Things I Hate About You’ EVEN IF it’s just to see the incredible declaration of love scene that involves Heath Ledger singing ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ ❤️

‘She’s The Man’ is another teen favourite that is based on another one of Shakespeare’s comedies, ‘the Twelfth Night’. The story follows Viola, a young woman, who dresses as a man in order to gain the approval of the leading man – Duke Orsino in the original and Duke in the modern film. As in all comedies, the play and the film contain a string of humiliating yet hilarious misunderstandings and mistaken identities that ultimately culminate in a happy ending. If that’s not enough to tempt you, there’s also an unforgettable scene where Channing Tatum’s character sticks tampons up his nose to stop a nosebleed. It’s definitely not the most critically acclaimed of all the modern versions of Shakespeare’s works, but ‘She’s The Man’ is worth a watch if you fancy some light-hearted entertainment.

Finally, arguably the best and probably the most loved by critics, is the 1996 film version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. This modern retelling of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy is a real treat for the eyes and the ears as it’s a combination of a modern setting, contemporary fashion and actors that we all recognise, but they speak in Shakespeare’s English, which sounds very poetic and old-fashioned to modern ears. But fear not, readers…while the language may sound strange at first, we promise that after the first few minutes you’ll get used to Shakespeare’s style and you’ll follow the plot with ease.

We hope you will watch (some of) these films and get an insight into the literature that is a key part of the foundation of the English language that we use today.

In honour of St Jordi, we’ll end with a famous quote from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ about a rose:

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet’

Why don’t you watch the film and tell us what you think it means…

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