William Shakespeare is quite possibly one of the most famous playwrights in theatrical history. The bard was very talented, being able to produce play after play in very short periods of time. What is even more amazing is in those short lengths of time, he wrote beautiful poetry and prose, and many quotations and common phrases have been adopted in everyday language today. He captured the human essence: what it is to love, to hate, to feel. As such, Shakespeare's works are first taught at a high school level, and usually the tragedies such as Hamlet and Macbeth are introduced. However, Shakespeare's tragedies contain themes that may not be appropriate for a high school audience, including death, and psychological issues. Therefore it seems that light hearted themes in Shakespearian comedies are more suitable for a secondary education level.
Every Shakespearian tragedy contains common elements; included in these are the moral flaws or weaknesses of a tragic hero. The tragic hero is usually a member of the noble class, and an exclusive flaw brings about his downfall. In Hamlet's case, he is rash, unable to act, and ill tempered. Because he was unable to recognize his weaknesses, his and the lives of those around him were lost. Similarly, Macbeth's ambition to become king eventually leads to his demise. This is not a good moral to teach at a high school level because it creates an impression upon students that their own moral flaws can lead to tragedy. .
The themes of madness and delusion are other common themes in Shakespeare's tragedies. The most obvious example is the appearance of Banquo's ghost to Macbeth in which only Macbeth can see; everyone else around him is oblivious to his vision and therefore considers him mad. In many cases, these elements of madness are too complex for a high school audience to fully comprehend. Furthermore, some of the madness can be quite disturbing, such as Ophelia's songs: .