Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Some summary thoughts

It's official, I've decided that reading summaries before reading Shakespeare's plays is no longer an option.  For one, it is a necessity to better enjoy the the overall story.  Example: once upon a time I started to read Shakespeare's The Tempest without looking first at a summary.  The end.  Seriously though, I didn't get past the first act and now remember approximately nothing about it, except the title.  When I do read The Tempest in a few weeks, there will definitely be a time for summary reading before diving in.

Focus is another thing that improves if a summary is properly utilized before reading a play.  Since I wasn't preoccupied with remembering who is who while reading the beginning act of Love's Labour's Lost, I was able to pay more attention to things like rhyme (although that's really hard to miss anyhow) and the nuances of different characters' personalities.

Now for a more subjective reason: it is a necessity to better enjoy the the overall story.  I know I don't speak for everyone on this, but knowing the end of a story usually doesn't hinder me from wanting to read it.  In fact, in many cases it causes me a greater desire to see the process, or the story's development.

The math's not perfect, but a simple sum might be:
summary + text = greater reading comprehension


  1. I agree. A Winters Tale was very helpful after I had read the summary. Sometimes I wonder though if it ruins the play by taking away the surprises, like a statue coming to life.

  2. I was just thinking about this topic when I read this post. I read a summary of Henry IV that also provided an analysis of the play. I felt a little bit like I was seeing the movie before reading the book. I almost feel like I try to superimpose motives or ideas provided by the summary onto the text when I read it. Does anyone else feel this way?

  3. I agree with Justin on this one. I have a hard time reading the summary beforehand because I don't worry as much when I know what is going to happen. It helps me be in the moment with the characters. But then, I do agree with Gabe's fact that there's greater comprehension later. I find that I learn new insights as I go back and re-read, looking for little clues and patterns in the text. It makes me feel like I'm going back to the scene and doing some real investigating!