From villains to tragic heroes, these days, there’s a whole self-help genre that might have provided comfort for Shakespeare's tortured characters. Here are some books we wish we could recommend:
Hermia: He’s Just Not that Into You
It makes sense that at first, Hermia’s confused that Lysander is spurning her. He had proposed to her the day before. But she throws herself at him for awhile after he’s told her no, and that’s when we’d give her this book - some time in the middle of the night, before Puck gives Lysander the love-flower antidote. Let Hermia get some sleep, and Lysander have to do some work to win her back.
Richard III: How to Win Friends and Influence People
In the first part of Richard III, it seems like the guy could have written this book. But his master manipulating declines as the play goes on, and maybe reading the most classic of self-help books would have helped him think of an alternative to (spoilers!) taking a hit out on some little kids.
Lady Macbeth: Eat, Pray, Love
Lady Macbeth is clearly going through a midlife crisis. The woman could benefit from some me-time. Though Eat, Pray, Love isn’t technically a self-help book, it’s been used that way, and we recommend Lady Macbeth jump on that bandwagon. Instead of helping her husband gain power, she could visit some ashrams, meditate a little—discover her own personal power.
Hero: Lean In
Hero doesn’t defend herself when she’s publicly (and wrongfully) accused of adultery. A little Sheryl Sandberg would knock that timidity right out of her. A Lean In-educated Hero wouldn’t faint—she’d denounce. And she’d never, ever take the guy back.
Hamlet: The Power of Positive Thinking
Look, we’re not denying that Hamlet’s going through some tough stuff. Finding out that your uncle murdered your father is quite the revelation, even without having to deal with the fact that your mother remarried said murderer. We’re just thinking that maybe things wouldn’t have ended in so intense a bloodbath if Hamlet’s thought-ruts were nudged in a more positive direction.