When Reading Shakespeare, Everyone is Right and No One is Right

There are no right or wrong answers in Shakespeare—the ambiguity is part of what makes it endlessly fascinating.

This has occasionally created a tricky situation in a reading group, where one person tries to insist that his/her thought is the correct reading and wants everyone else in the room to agree with that conclusion. If this person stays in the group long enough, s/he eventually comes to accept that there is always more than one way to understand just about anything in Shakespeare.  ;-)

Only once have I had to gently put my foot down and say, “I understand that you truly believe this is the only way to see this situation, but I encourage you to listen to the other possibilities. Sometimes we have to hold several ideas in our minds at the same time, which is a remarkable testament to this author, a good exercise for our brains, and all of us in the room gain insights from the process. You have a great idea, and let's hold that along with the other great ideas."

If this person cannot accept that, then they leave the group and lose the entire experience. It's sad, but fortunately it's also rare. Most everyone rises to the occasion and eventually learns to revel in that darned ambiguity!

Have you had any difficult situations in a reading group? How was it handled? What did you learn?