William Shakespeare Writes About Issues That Are Still Relevant Today

Shakespeare Writes About Issues
That Are Still Relevant Today

    William Shakespeare is generally considered as the greatest litterateur in the English language. Given that he wrote in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, some people contend that the issues in his plays are no longer relevant and therefore think it is a waste of time teaching and studying them. It is possible, however, that these commentators are misled by the archaic language and historical settings of the plays and have not looked beneath the surface. There is another perspective. This essay will compare the Shakespearean play Julius Caesar with the modern film The Club to argue that indeed, Shakespeare writes about issues that are still relevant today.

    Shakespeare’s dramatic works can be categorized as either histories or tragedies. His play, Julius Caesar, fits both. It is a play on the concepts of loyalty, betrayal and power set in Ancient Rome, addressing the concerns of the Elizabethan audience about the implications of unlimited political power and ambition. Shakespeare wrote at a time when the Queen, Elizabeth I, was very old, and had no designated successor. The issues of loyalty, betrayal and power also appear in a more modern context, in the film The Club, based on David Williamson’s play. Like Rome and Elizabethan England, the Collingwood Football Club is perceived by its members to be in crisis and each member seeks to demonstrate his loyalty by securing power for the betterment of the club, even if it involves betraying club mates. As in Julius Caesar, loyalties change, power corrupts and betrayal occurs.

    One of the major issues in the play Julius Caesar is the concept of loyalty. Loyalty is the faithfulness to one’s allegiance, whether it to a friend, sovereign, government or state. This concept is of utmost importance in the play. Marc Antony, for example, displays this quality when Caesar asks him to touch Calpurnia during the race. His reply is...