You can now ask Alexa to suck all the humanity out of Shakespeare

In "honor" of Shakespeare Day, Amazon's digital assistant can now recite lines, insults, and soliloquies.

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Most experts are in agreement that April 23 is William Shakespeare’s birthday (oddly enough, it’s definitely his death date), so it probably shouldn’t be too surprising that we’re currently in full swing for “National Talk Like Shakespeare Day.” Yes, it’s a real thing. And what better way to celebrate one of humanity’s greatest and most influential storytellers than by *checks notes* having a soulless, invasive automaton sold by an all-consuming Big Tech nightmare corporation monotonously drone some of his most famous work to you from your nightstand?

As Pocket-lint reports, you can now command Alexa devices to “speak like Shakespeare,” at which point your Amazon Echo will respond with a famous line, soliloquy, or potentially even a Bard-authored insult (the latter possibility seems most appropriate to us in this scenario). To test it out, feel free to try one of the following seven requests:

  • “Alexa, speak like Shakespeare”
  • “Alexa, tell me a Shakespearean insult”
  • “Alexa, Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”
  • “Alexa, to be or not to be?”
  • “Alexa, recite a Shakespearean Sonnet”
  • “Recite a Shakespearean Soliloquy”
  • “Tell me a Shakespearean limerick”

Truly, this is the perfect way to experience the full depth, emotion, and mortal complexities of King Lear... Truly, ’tis the times’ plague, when madmen lead the blind.

For goodness sake — Sigh. At least Amazon additionally supplied some admittedly interesting statistics to accompany its latest cute-until-you-stop-and-seriously-think-about-it PR stunt. A survey of 2,000 Brits revealed that most people use on average about 83 Shakespearean phrases per month. Sound excessive? Well, as luck would have it, we looked up some common phrases with Shakespearean origins and found such tried and true examples like “fair play,” “for goodness sake,” “brave new world,” and... well, “as luck would have it.”

That’s a pretty impressive cultural saturation when you consider that the same survey also showed over a third of its responders admitted having trouble understanding Shakespearean works, while nearly half revealed they hadn’t so much as looked at a copy of The Tempest or Much Ado About Nothing since either high school or college.

The least egregious thing Amazon’s done lately — Alright, fine. Perhaps we’re being a bit harsh on the new Alexa Easter egg. After all, there are plenty of other recent Amazon actions to call out instead: from its aggressive (unfortunately successful) union-busting efforts, to its invasive employee policies, to ignoring COVID-19 safety protocols, to this overpriced sticky-note printer.