University to place ‘content warning’ on Shakespeare plays to protect student’s wellbeing

Jul 25, 2023
A university in Wales plans to add a trigger warning to some of Shakespeare's famous plays. Source: Getty

It seems that William Shakespeare has fallen out of favour with modern-day beliefs after the University of Wales Trinity Saint David slapped a “content warning” on the beloved play, Twelfth Night. 

While the romantic comedy has delighted audiences for centuries, with its story of a cross-dressing heroine and mistaken identity, the university has allowed its students to leave lectures that discuss the play should they feel the story is harmful to their wellbeing.

The warning label also covers OthelloMeasure For Measure, and Coriolanus.

Australian radio host Ben Fordham has called the move nonsensical, arguing that the university was meant to challenge and not coddle its students.

“So Shakespeare is now the subject of a trigger warning,” Fordham said on 2GB.

“You can just walk out of class because university bosses are worried that some snowflakes may find the material too much.

“Once upon a time universities challenged students and now they wrap them in cotton wool.”

Fordham continued to say, “the play features a cross-dressing heroine and in 2023 you would think that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow.

“But someone wants to protect the students from Shakespeare. Can you believe it?”

Sharing similar sentiments is actress Felicity Kendal, who played Viola in the BBC‘s ’80s adaptation of Twelfth Night. 

According to Kendal, the move is “totally absurd”.

“Great art is meant to challenge our senses, our feelings and our prejudices… We should not be deterring students from engaging with these works,” she told the Daily Mail.

The university’s decision to place a trigger warning on Shakespeare’s plays comes months after it was announced that Roald Dahl’s classic children’s books would be censored.

Dahl’s publisher, Puffin Books, intends to update 16 of the author’s books, including famous titles like James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to remove language related to gender, weight, violence, and mental health such as “fat” and “ugly”.

“At Puffin, we’ve been publishing and editing children’s books for over 80 years. It is not unusual for publishers to review and update language as the meaning and impact of words change over time,” they wrote in a statement.

“Children as young as five or six read Roald Dahl books and, often, they are the first stories they will read independently. With that comes a significant responsibility, as it might be the first time they are navigating written content without a parent, teacher or carer.

“Within the context of the word count of the wider books, these textual changes are minimal. Roald Dahl’s stories remain unchanged and his mischievous spirit is undiminished. They still celebrate and showcase his unique voice and his brilliantly rich storytelling.”

But even more recent works have come under fire for their lack of political correctness.

Back in 2021, two well-known Perth high schools cancelled their productions of the popular musical Grease after students argued the musical was “offensive” and “anti-feminist”. 

Tom Jones’ hit song Delilah has also been cancelled after its lyrics were deemed “problematic and upsetting”, with Welsh Rugby Union announcing that the song will no longer be performed by choirs at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

Do you think people have gone too far by trying to censor a play written around the 1600s?

Please sign in to post a comment.
Retrieving conversation…
Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up