A brief analysis of John McWhorter’s “Will Shakespeare’s Come and Gone” In “Will Shakespeare’s Come and Gone,” John McWhorter argues that people do not fully appreciate Shakespearean plays for what they are because they have difficulty understanding the language. Therefore, he suggests that translating Shakespearean English into modern English would make it easier to comprehend. McWhorter does a splendid job appealing to all three conventions of essay writing: logos, pathos and ethos.
He manages to present his arguments clearly and prove his stance, which leaves the reader in agreement with him completely. From the very first sentence, to his thesis, and to the concluding sentence, McWhorter keeps the reader asking for more. With his examples, analogies, and paraphrasing, he does a wonderful job appealing to the reader’s intellect. One example that was appealing was the example of his friend reading Hamlet in French and understanding it better than he had in English. This piece of evidence alone automatically reaches out to the reader.
It plants the idea in the subconscious of the reader, that perhaps the translation into modern English would be beneficial to them. Another example that strengthens his thesis is the analogy he presents about the Jamaican speaking in a foreign language, and the translations of Chaucer. He practically says that Shakespeare’s language to us is the same as a foreign language; we simply cannot understand it without a translator by our side. Both readers and viewers have difficulty making sense out of what Shakespeare is trying to say.
However, it is a tad bit easier for the reader to understand Shakespeare than the viewer. This is because when the reader is reading the play, they have the translations available to them in the footnotes. McWhorter mentions that in a theatre play, boredom arouses in the audience simply because they are not able to fully understand what the actors are saying; even if the actor goes above and beyond with their expressions. One thing that keeps his stance really strong throughout his paper is the fact that he identifies himself with his readers by using the term “we”.
This way he is not only connecting with his readers, but also trying to make them look at the whole situation from his perspective. With this device of persuasion, McWhorter manages to continuously strengthen his arguments. In support of his thesis, McWhorter presents an astonishing argument about people understanding archaic English. He argues that these people ‘can’ assume what Shakespeare is trying to say, however, they still do not know what he means exactly. This clarifies that archaic English speakers also have difficulty understanding Shakespeare.
Furthermore, he shows expertise in Shakespeare by providing translations for the words he uses. This not only shows the reader that he is trying to get a point across, but also that he understands the Shakespearean language quite well. Leaving the reader very attentive to his argument, the reader would then think to themself why would someone who has no problem understanding the language argue against it? This shows his readers that he is considerate of their understanding and that he is simply arguing for their sake which ultimately results in him alluring the trust of his readers.
McWhorter manages to persuade his audience completely by appealing to logic, emotion, and gaining the readers trust. I, as McWhorter’s reader, am fully convinced that the translation of the original Shakespearean text into modern English will only be beneficial to the audience. Without looking up the meaning of a word, the reader of a Shakespearean play will stumble upon every other word they come across. Shakespeare, to many of us, is a foreign language, and we have and will continue to have difficulty comprehending it. However, if it was translated by scholars, it will indeed make the lives of Shakespeare lovers a whole lot easier.