I came across an enlightening video featuring Margaret Atwood where she explains how Shakespeare could help prisoners.
“People are very conflicted about what prisons are for,” Atwood states at the beginning. “Are they to punish people and make them have the most horrible awful life possible? Or are they to open up other chances for them, or possibly a combo?”
So while Shakespeare may have disappeared from school textbooks, the Bard does carry appeal for a certain section of the population- convicts. Someone in prison identifies better with the psychological landscape of Shakespeare’s characters, particularly in his tragedies.
This story Why Shakespeare Belongs in Prison explains how literature has actually benefited the lives of prisoners.
“Shakespeare’s tragic figures are very much imprisoned by both their circumstances and their choices,” says Scott Hayes, an associate dean in the School of Communication and Creative Arts at Liberty University and a seasoned Shakespearean actor and director. “Prisoners connect deeply with that sense of imprisonment. The consequences of choices made by Shakespeare’s characters are tremendous, and the prisoners truly understand and connect to the power our choices have to reap tragic consequences.”
And Shakespeare has found his way to Indian prisons too. Read this to understand the appeal of Macbeth in Karnataka, India.