Language is a Fickle Whore that Can Be Used by Lots of Customers

It certainly is the case that Shakespeare has been the darling of an extraordinarily weird array of people.

It certainly is the case that Shakespeare has been the darling of an extraordinarily weird array of people -- whether it’s Brecht on the one hand, for the communists, or the people who embraced Shakespeare largely because of the “Merchant of Venice,” for the Nazis. So we have a phenomenon in which a wild array of people, people who would and did happily kill each other, nonetheless looked to Shakespeare as a source.  

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William Shakespeare: Cannibalized and Cannibalizer

Shakespeare was malleable in every way aesthetically and ethically.

There are two reasons that I can think of immediately for why Shakespeare is extremely malleable, not just malleable as an ideological tool, but malleable in every way aesthetically and ethically.  The first is that he wanted it that way.  He seems to have understood very, very early on in his career that it was in his interest commercially for one thing, maybe for more than commercial reasons, to make his texts open and assessable to change.  

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Politics & Current Affairs

Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt tells Big Think that Shakespeare inhabited a world in which "it's much more possible to express homosexual passion and inact that passion without triggering a social crisis."

Culture & Religion

Stephen Greenblatt argues that art is always grounded in its time and place, but that powerful art contains universal elements.