Shakespeare’s plays “illustrate principles we could use to navigate our daily lives today.” So says Michael Witmore (director of the Folger Shakespeare Library) in a lecture listing 10 such principles of Shakespeare’s wisdom (with examples).
3. Reputation is a “bubble” that’s easily popped. In Othello, Iago and Casio discuss this, Witmore says “Shakespeare sided with Iago” (+see why Shakespeare beats “rationalist” economists on human nature).
4. “Power is harder to give away than it is to get.” I’m unconvinced, but Witmore says that’s “the lesson of King Lear.”
5. “Our love of legend is greater than the love of facts.” The history plays (Henry V etc) are myth-making.
10. “Our hopes sustain us even when we think they cannot be satisfied.” Winter’s Tale’s sculpture scene.
Do watch the full lecture, it’s full of further interesting points.
11. Witmore says, Shakespeare created “a democracy of perception.”
12. He harnessed “the persistent reality of our longings for justice, for a world in which the good prevail,” and made the “audience, its hopes, its longing, the efficient cause of the miracle that the theater creates.”
15. —>“The only art that escapes social, or ethical, or political effects, is art with no audience.”
16. —>It isn’t a cool view in the “art for art’s sake” crowd, but many use art as a source of wisdom.