Why Is Shakespeare Still Popular Today?

Shakespeare's enduring popularity can be attributed to the breadth of genres he covered, the integration of his work into academia and the complexity and universality of his stories. Other popular writers cover comedies, histories or fairy tales, but Shakespeare's complete bibliography includes every type of character and story imaginable, adapted to modern audiences throughout history.

English students typically study Shakespeare in both high school and college. Shakespeare's most popular characters are referenced in a variety of contexts, including in movies, music, commercials and festivals. Regardless of an individual's personal feelings about the relevancy of Shakespeare, it's impossible in today's society not to be aware of who he was and to be able to attribute certain stories to him.

People also value Shakespeare not just for his entertainment and literary value but for the insight his works provide into the human mind. Although Shakespeare was no psychologist, his characters are complex, tormented by feelings of guilt, jealousy or despair, acting out of selfish and selfless motivations. They engage in political intrigue, and their lives are shaped by wars. Shakespeare's work remains popular because audiences can identify with his characters.

Shakespeare's works were written to be performed, designed to draw the attention of the audience. Modern performances retain that quality, despite many adaptations and interpretations of the original works.