Shakespeare & Social Distancing

King Lear is the most referred to play of Shakespeare’s on the third question of the AP English Literature and Composition exam. Not Hamlet. Not Macbeth. Not Othello.

It’s complex and one of his greatest works.

And he wrote it while quarantined from the plague. Shakespeare knew something about social distancing.

Our own modern “Masters of Revels” have shut down the “playhouses” and order us to stay away from crowds, but that does not mean that we can’t have Shakespeare performed.

The sonnets of Shakespeare alone would mark him as one of our greatest literary icons. As a leading form of poetry of the Renaissance period, Shakespeare even created his own rhyme scheme: ABABCDCDEFEFGG. Reading them aloud was a form of entertainment in olden days (and still is), but what Patrick Stewart has started doing on his Facebook page is helping bridge the chasms of social distancing.

Every day he is posting a recording of his reading a Shakespearean sonnet. 


I don’t feel as isolated after listening.

Shakespeare spans time and space.

And that accent.

3 thoughts on “Shakespeare & Social Distancing

  1. All the more fitting that _King Lear_ was (probably) written during the quarantine of 1606. Shapiro’s _The Year of Lear_ is a great read on the subject.


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