So Many Adaptations…So Little Interest

One mark of a popular story is the number of adaptations that it has inspired. Think of how many Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet, and Cinderella adaptations you’ve seen. This includes books and movies.

I don’t know if I’m breaking some kind of Shakespeare Society rule by saying this, but I think that adaptations based on the plays can be gateways. You might be surprised how many books and movies are actually based on these plays. If you love one of those, then you already have one foot in the door. But you have to choose wisely.

Here are some popular Shakespeare adaptions that you should check out if you’re looking for something to read/watch next. These are my own opinions, so please tell me if you don’t agree or you think I’ve missed something. I’ve tried to include a variety of options for those who might be interested in finding out more about these Shakespeare-inspired books and movies.

Here we go…


Ophelia by Lisa Klein, published in 2006 – The story of Hamlet is told from a woman’s perspective. While the author employs a different point of view and plot structure, she gets major points because she leaves the original story line intact.

The Taming of the Drew by Stephanie Kate Strohm, published in 2016 – The tables are turned in this story as the girl set out to tame the boy before he ruins her chances of playing the lead in her school’s next play. I’m a fan of authors who can tweak one detail of a story and create some entirely new. This The Taming of the Shrew adaptation is spot on!

Enter Three Witches by Caoline B. Cooney, published in 2007 – This author delivers a surprising retelling of Macbeth from Lady Mary’s perspective. It’s truly refreshing to see one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies from a new set of eyes.

Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty by Jody Gehrman, published in 2008 – This book is inspired by Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Anything. It’s full of YA romance, comedy, and coffee. That’s a winning combination!

Ariel by Grace Tiffany, published in 2005 – This adaptation of The Tempest is told through the eyes of the wild and powerful spirit, Ariel. The author explores the darker aspects in the original play and sheds fresh light on this classic tale.

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley, published in 2003 – Jane Smiley has earned multiple awards for her modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Family and farm life are at the heart of this heart-changing story.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, published in 2012 – This well-known rendition of Romeo and Juliet combines the classic story with zombies. The young couples fight for love is combined with their fight for survival. Plus the fangirling potential is high!

The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Clarence Palmer, published in 2010The Tempest gets a steampunk makeover in this beautiful retelling of Shakespeare’s play. A young man trapped aboard a Zepplin drifts between the real world and a dream world where he fights for his love’s life.


Macbeth (2015) – If you’re looking for a Shakespeare adaptation that doesn’t leave bloody war scenes to the imagination, look no further. I respect the directors of this movie for bringing out the dark themes in Shakespeare’s original play and creating a movie that appeals to modern viewers.

Chimes at Midnight (1966) – This classic movie includes story lines from Shakespeare’s Henry IV Parts I and II, Henry V, and the Merry Wives of Windsor. The result is a completely new piece of art that circles around the iconic character, Falstaff.

The Lion King (1994) – Yeah Disney! This iconic Disney movie is loosely based on Hamlet. Simba stands in for the prince who must seek revenge for his father’s death and take back his “crown.” You might have trouble finding the original play underneath the cute animals and family friendly themes. But rest assured, it’s there.

Romeo and Juliet (2013) – I deliberately saved this movie for last. I grew up in a world where the 1996 version of this play was considered the best thing ever. While I admit that I like watching the two young lovers in that adaptation, I just couldn’t get into the updated feel of the movie. In comparison, this latest adaptation of Romeo and Juliet simply took my breath away. From the costumes to the acting to the sets, I just loved it! I dare you not to cry during the death scene!

So what’s your favorite Shakespeare adaptation? How does it compare to the original play?


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