Shakespeare’s Tardis

For all the Whovians out there, there is Shakespeare for you too! This notebook details the encounters that the Doctor had with the British Bard. It explains everything from the “true” story on how the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream came to be imagined to providing original notes from Hamlet.

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I first came across this journal perusing the aisles of Barnes and Noble; it was sitting within the Children’s section like a lost treasure just waiting to be discovered. However, any Shakespeare fanatic will find enjoyment from the whimsical tellings. Click the picture below for a sneak-peek of the story:

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If this does not satisfy your Shakespeare/Dr. Who taste buds there is also a Dr. Who episode that references the playwright! Go view the episode and find out if the Dr. can stop the curse of the three witches from Macbeth.

Author’s Note: Hey everyone! Sorry it’s been a little over a month since I posted something. I will try not to let that happen again. Anyway, just wanted to let you all know that I changed my Twitter name to @TheWordsUSpoke so follow me at that name for blog updates! 🙂

Is Oberon Jupiter in Disguise? **Not Media-related**

This post is not related to Shakespeare in media, just Shakespeare in general, but I hope you’ll find my essay interesting nevertheless.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

Oberon, king of the fairies and the gods?

William Shakespeare makes many references to Greek and Roman mythology in his poems and plays. Shakespeare is a master of using these allegories to support his messages; however, none of his references to Roman mythology play a more intricate role in the playwright’s works than those in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In this play, King Oberon parallels the Roman god Jupiter by preaching the deity’s adamant aversion to the dark; yet (like the Roman deity), the fairy king has a tendency to contradict his words by reveling in mischief. Oberon mimics Jupiter’s vast knowledge of the other Roman gods/goddesses, he interacts with humans, and Queen Titania has Juno-like characteristics which further connect the fairies to the Roman gods/goddesses. King Oberon must resemble Jupiter because this association explains why A Midsummer Night’s Dream is resolved as a Shakespearean comedy should be, with all of the lovers paired with their respectful partners; King Oberon’s meddling but ultimate need to right his actions are the driving force behind the resolution of the play.

Early Roman spirits, like all mythological creatures, had very specific spheres of influence and roles they played in people’s lives. However, it was the assimilation of Greek mythology that anthropomorphized twelve of the original Roman gods/goddesses, giving these deities particular human-like character traits, personalities, and abilities (Shelton 365). Since then, Jupiter is always referenced as the deity he became after Rome’s “Greek encounter.” So, Jupiter, like Zeus, is a god associated with the thunderbolt and strength; meddled in the lives of humans (he particularly tampered in the lives of women and lovers); and he was king of the other gods/goddesses, his wife Juno was queen. While Oberon does not go around throwing thunderbolts, he does have strength and dominance over both his subjects and humanity. And, he has a queen who also holds power but is slightly less dominant than he is. These two facts are exemplified in the way Oberon is able to manipulate his Queen into giving him the “changeling boy” in the play through the use of the potion after she soberly refuses (Midsummer 1.2.118-120). Titania is a powerful governess, she even has a spirit entourage that follows her around, but ultimately her husband is the one in charge of the realms and individuals’ actions. The potion allows Oberon to manipulate peoples’ freewill unseen as if he is godlike.

The dichotomy of Jupiter and Pluto is common knowledge; in layman’s terms Jupiter is associated with light and life, and Pluto the darkness of the Underworld and its dead inhabitants. In 3.2 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream the fairy Robin refers to Oberon as the “king of shadows” and in Oberon’s next dialogue the king instructs Robin to shadow the night by covering the stars and “dripping fog as black as Acheron,” which is a river in the Underworld, so that the human lovers do not run into one another (348-358). Under the night’s watchful eye, Oberon instructs his puck fairy to enchant the youth. It should be noted that while night certainly is the setting of these actions, the fairy king has what he considers to be good intent for his so-called “mischief,” only wanting to pair the humans with someone who actually loves them (e.g. Helena with Demetrius). Oberon is even upset when this plan goes haywire because Robin tampers with consensual true love. Of course, it can certainly be argued (and well defended) that forcing love upon someone is not innocent in the least and may even be considered a very tainted action morally. However, it is not Oberon’s or Jupiter’s actions, but their intent that differentiates them from Pluto whose mythological tale is shrouded in dark motives.

Furthermore, in this same scene of the play Oberon insists that the fairies are not dark spirits, claiming they are “spirits of another sort” and that he “with the morning’s love [has] oft made sport” (389-390). The fact that Oberon interacts with the morning, with light, allows a reader to interpret him as a Jupiter-like character because the fairy king is directly juxtaposing Pluto’s realm by insisting that his presence is often connected to the light. In Roman mythology, Pluto is kept away in the underworld, rarely ever leaving his domain there. On the other hand, Jupiter was the State god – the main protector/patron saint of Rome – and therefore thought to preside in almost every Roman action (Shelton 361). Jupiter was praised during a Roman triumph with grand parades and festivals during the day. While it is true that the people of Athens do not vocally recognize the fairies throughout A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Oberon still plays a central role in the peoples’ merriment and festivities; had it not been for his actions, the wedding at the end of the play may not have been a happy occasion – Hermia and Demetrius may have been forced to be with one another leaving both Lysander and Helena alone and heartbroken.

Yet, while Jupiter certainly resides in the light, he presides over public morality and sometimes revels in impure acts under the sun’s watchful eye. The Romans considered their gods to exist on an Earthly plane – the gods were not located in a Heaven or faraway Mount Olympus – even interacting with humans to the extent that the gods and humans had offspring called Demigods. Owen Barfield describes what exactly it means to be a rational creature; his qualification is that to be rational, i.e. to possess consciousness, one must be a tangible being (211-212). However, it can be argued that Barfield did not take into account the possibility of “the god factor.” The ability to govern realms and make decisions that affect everyday occurrences proves that deities have to contain some capacity to rationalize and make levelheaded decisions. However, since they are intangible and therefore do not follow Barfield’s only requirement we should think of the gods as having a semi-status. Or, in other words, while gods/goddesses can rationalize, they have a tendency to often act animalistic, i.e. irrational, lustful, and based on their emotions. In the play, all of the fairies at one point or another demonstrate this godlike ability to rationalize at certain times and be completely emotionally driven in other instances. Oberon’s rationality is portrayed through his good intent for the lovers, as described in previous paragraphs; but, the fairy king does partake in certain actions solely based on greed and spite/petty jealously when he gives Titania the potion to force her to give him the changeling boy and when Oberon forces his queen under the influence of the same potion to fall in love with Bottom who at this time in the play has the head of an ass.

Another way in which the fairies’ and gods’ semi-rationality can be contrasted with human rationality is through the laws of love in the play. In Athens, young women are the property of their fathers (to make another connection to antiquity, this was also the case in Ancient Rome). So, when first speaking with Theseus, Hermia is told that she must obey her father Egeus’ wishes and marry Demetrius even though she loves Lysander; Theseus specifically tells Hermia, “For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself to fit your fancies to your father’s will, or else the law of Athens yields you up – which by no means we may extenuate – to death or to a vow of single life” (Midsummer 1.1.117-121). There is no leeway, Hermia must obey her father or face death or a life of chastity. Theseus does not agree to allow Hermia to marry Lysander until Demetrius no longer wishes to marry Hermia because of his love for Helena; even in this instance mans’ will and wants overpower women’s. In contrast, Oberon cares not for the lovers’ parents’ wishes – the thought never even seems to cross his mind; his only concern is that the youth be marry with consensual true love. The fairy king bypasses the laws of Athens, instead focusing solely on the emotion that is love, which portrays that the fairies can let their hearts and not their minds run their actions at times. The Roman gods acted the same way as the fairies; at times Jupiter and Juno had to be just leaders, but in other circumstances Jupiter fell into lust with human women who birthed children such as Hercules and Perseus. And, Juno is well-known for her jealousy over Jupiter’s affairs and her hypocritical viewpoint of what is an “ideal family.” While the human authority figures in Athens seem to be completely driven by reason, both the gods and fairies demonstrate a mesh of human and animal rationality/irrationality.

Another similarity between Oberon and Titania in particular to the Roman deities is their abundant knowledge of the other spirits around them. Having to govern and oversee the actions of his brothers and sisters, Jupiter knows much about the other Roman deities; and – being a strong, willful queen – Juno knows much about her godly family as well. Oberon and Titania’s many references to other gods/goddess – particularly Roman gods/goddesses – is therefore a key element that pins the two fairies to the mythology. Oberon mentions rivers and other associations with Pluto’s realm throughout 3.2, but the fairy king also directly names Diana and Cupid in 4.1 when waking Titania from the influence of the potion (72-74). This is significant because not only is Oberon referencing the name of Roman gods, but he is also demonstrating his knowledge of these gods’ significance, i.e. the roles the gods were thought to play in certain situations and the powers they held. Diana – known as Artemis in Greek mythology – is deeply associated with the moon, the hunt, and virginity and Cupid is known for love and also lust. Oberon has just allowed Titania to fall into lust with a man with the head of an ass, a monster, and is telling her when she wakes that, “Dian’s bud o’er Cupid’s flower hath such force and blessèd power” (4.1.72-73). Or, in other words, Oberon is stating that chastity/faithfulness have power over lustful desires when there is love between two individuals. On a similar note, earlier in the play Titania shows her knowledge of other deities as well by referring to Neptune (2.1.126) and the Norse god Heims (2.1.109). Since Heims is not Roman, some may rule-out this reference as being irrelevant, but it may be viewed as an exaggeration for just how vast Titania’s knowledge really is of the spirits that surround her, even encompassing foreign spirits.

Individuals may also argue that the fairies in the play are not associated with the Roman deities, but rather Celtic spirits even after seeing the abundant proof to support the argument that the fairies can indeed be linked with Roman mythology. And, while it is true that the fairies in this play are commonly connected to Celtic mythology, the Roman-Celtic god Jupiter-Taranis in Britain clears up any lingering doubts of the fairies being Roman-like or not. Oberon is very much like Jupiter for all the reasons previously discussed, what his Celtic tie “Taranis” adds to his personality is the fairy king’s association with fortune and being a protector from evil (Green 346). However, in a way all mythological deities can be expressed as shaping humanities’ “fortune” because they directly tamper in the lives of humans. And, Jupiter is very adamant to not be associated with his brother Pluto; even though Jupiter’s mischief is not the most innocent at times, the god is known to be the protector of Rome, the protector of evils against the state and Roman morality. What is important to take away from Jupiter’s Celtic tie in Britain is the knowledge that this tie did in fact exist and therefore may have influenced A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but that even without the Celtic tie Jupiter is still sufficient in fully expressing Oberon’s personality and actions. If anything, Taranis only reemphasizes characteristics that Jupiter already possesses. The connection of Celtic and Roman mythologies further demonstrates the link not only between the fairies and mythology in general but also specifically the fairies and the Roman gods/goddesses. For this reason, Jupiter-Taranis is a very important Roman-Celtic-English tie.

Similarly, the fairies elusive, metaphysical status links them with gods in general but particularly mythological deities. As Miller explains,

Shakespeare lets us have our fairies and doubt them too. Yet beyond these formal uncertainties lie other uncertainties residing not in the world of the stage but in the world of ordinary human experience to which every dramatic representation… must ultimately refer. As theatrical immanences – ambulatory metaphors… – who secretly manipulate affections, cause transformation, and bring good luck, the fairies obliquely hint that or own offstage existence may be touched by mysteries no less genuine than those that disrupt the world of Theseus, Hermia, Bottom, and the rest. (Miller 255)

In other words, the fairies hint that there are mysteries in the world and that sometimes things happen to humans for reasons that are completely unexplainable. We call these instances acts of luck, consequence, circumstance, or religion. However, the deities in mythologies played a more direct role in the lives of people than other religions such as prominent religions today, e.g. Hinduism, Taoism, even Christianity and Islam, etc. While the followers of religions today pray to their god(s) and hope for help in return, most believers do not go so far as to believe that their god(s) is/are walking amongst the people consistently tampering with human lives; there is more of a disconnect now between the earthly realm and what is considered mystical than there was in the time of antiquity and earlier. So, if the fairies hint to religious deities, it makes even more since to tie them specifically with mythological deities because of the fairies direct and continuous manipulation of human actions and emotions.

On another note, Oberon can be connected to Jupiter through his queen, Titania being like Jupiter’s wife Juno. Juno was a stern deity, “somewhat prone to anger,” and “a god who concerned herself with personal morality in general and chastity… in particular. In fact, we shall discover that this virtue was… essential to the political stability of the state” (Mueller 223). Juno compliments Jupiter in that while he is somewhat apt to partake in mischief, she is the mother goddess, i.e. the goddess who looks over the family. Oberon and Titania have a similar relationship. While Oberon is seen throughout the play meddling with emotions via the potion with Robin, Titania is concerned about the changeling boy because his mother was a part of Titania’s order, but has died (Midsummer 2.1.122-137); the fairy queen wants to make sure that the child is cared for. In contrast, Oberon desires that the boy be his “henchman” (2.1.120-121) – “henchman” is a very specific choice word and connotes neither fondness nor nurture, but duty and service (Rome was very insistent that boys grew up to be strong men and Jupiter was the god that was equated with this masculinity and brawniness). But, Titania personifies Juno when she tells her husband that she will not give him the boy; she believes that the boy is just a child and therefore still needs motherly affection.

Moreover, when a connection is drawn between Titania and Juno, Oberon influencing his wife to fall into lust with a monster becomes even more significant and deeper meaning in the act is illuminated (4.1). Bottom takes on the head of an ass, which can symbolize that Titania is degraded to her animal, bestial instincts when she is forced into making love with him (Bottom’s name in itself also allows the reader to allude the situation to sexual animalism). Lusting after a beast – or anyone else for that matter – is something that Titania would never consciously do, she holds herself in high esteem and is faithful to her king. Oberon commits this “prank” due to the fact that Titania will be appalled by it. This same characteristic of Titania’s, her value in chastity, is one that Juno holds in high regard as well. In both women’s lives, the husband is the one seen as the mischief maker and the queen watches over the family and maintains some sort of order. Therefore, Oberon’s trickery is the lowest of lows; when this plausible connection is made between Titania and Juno, the importance of Titania’s chastity is magnified. The fairy queen’s emphasized characteristics help further prove that Oberon is Jupiter-like since like Jupiter and Juno, Oberon and Titania are a pair that are inseparable by their marriage.

Ultimately, in a Shakespearean comedy chaos/tragedy always precedes a resolution, loose ends are tied up and lovers are paired with their respective partners in the final act. While this disharmony will inevitably lend to harmony, Oberon’s Jupiter-like status is what explains this inevitability in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. If Oberon would have not had Jupiter’s characteristics – the god’s mischief and tendency to participate in immoral revelries, aversion of darkness, good intentions and need to look over public morality (even to the extent of directly interfering in the lives of humans), and a wife associated with faithfulness and an ideal family – then the fairy king probably never would have meddled with the pansy-juice or bothered with the lovers in the forest. Therefore, the changeling boy would have been raised by a woman (a feminine association that is very unromantic), Hermia and Lysander would have fled Athens and escaped, or Helena and Demetrius would have dragged Hermia and Lysander back to Athens to await their dismal fate. Love would not be consensual in the resolution of the play if not for the fairies’ interference, an interference that only takes place because of King Oberon’s Jupiter-like character-traits. Fittingly, it is Oberon who wishes the mutual love of Theseus and Hippolyta, Demetrius and Helena, and Lysander and Hermia be blessed in Act 5. The fairy king is like Jupiter from the beginning of the play until the end, embodying the Roman deity even in his final lines, “Trip away, make no stay, meet me all by break of day” (Midsummer 5.2.50-51).

Works Cited

Barfield, Owen. “Dream, Myth, and Philosophical Double Vision.” Myths, Dreams, and Religion. Ed. Joseph Campbell. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1970. 211-24. Print.

Green, Miranda. “The Worship of the Romano-Celtic Wheel-God in Britain Seen in Relation to Gaulish Evidence.” Latomus. Vol. 38. N.p.: Societe D’Etudes Latines De Bruxelles, 1979. 345-67. JSTOR. Societe D’Etudes Latines De Bruxelles. Web. 29 Oct. 2014.

Miller, Ronald F. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream: The Fairies, Bottom, and the Mystery of Things.” Shakespeare Quarterly 26.3 (1975): 254-68. JSTOR. Folger Shakespeare Library. Web. 29 Oct. 2014.

Mueller, Hans-Friedrich. “Vita, Pudicitia, Libertas: Juno, Gender, and Religious Politics in Valerius Maximus.” Transactions of the American Philological Association (1998): 221-63. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ed. Gary Taylor. The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works. Ed. Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 1986. 401-23. Print.

Shelton, Jo-Ann. “Religion and Philosophy.” As the Romans Did: A Sourcebook in Roman Social History. Second ed. New York: Oxford UP, 1988. 359-429. Print.

Romeo’s Playlist

There are numerous songs from all genres today that reference what is undoubtedly William Shakespeare’s most famous play Romeo and Juliet. Here are just a few:

  • “Romeo and Juliet” by: Dire Straits

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOe7Ke1JuuY

  • “Check Yes Juliet” by: We The Kings

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CUyWJ7UINM

  • “Love Story” by: Taylor Swift

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xg3vE8Ie_E

  • “My Kinda Party” by: Jason Aldean

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isLqoB3v_wI

  • “I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor” by: Arctic Monkeys

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeGLA-CuyCk

  • “I Saw Her Standing There” by: The Beatles

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oroSpLjkCvo

  • “Cherish” by: Madonna

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8q2WS6ahCnY

  • “Romeo and Juliet” by: Edwin McCain

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4lv_B5jI9w

  • “Fever” by: Peggy Lee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eIDtwcFXcI

  • “I Don’t Care” by: Delta Goodrem

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFdXl_Y1Rqk

Now, I know some people are groaning right now because for many Romeo and Juliet is a terrible love story about teenage lust. However, I beg to differ; instead, people may be reading the play wrong. It is important to keep in mind that Romeo and Juliet was not written to be a love story at all – it is a TRAGEDY and therefore should be read as one. The goal of the tale was not for Romeo and Juliet to find undying love, yet this is what people expect when they try and read the play as a love story.

What makes Romeo and Juliet a tragedy? Well, it follows the same outline as Shakespeare’s other tragic plays such as Othello and Hamlet. That is: two young people fall in “love,” the young lady goes against her father’s wishes to pursue said love, the protagonist is a sympathetic but not necessarily a heroic character, and in the end when love is either not consensual and/or harmonic many of the characters in the play die (including the lovers) in a claustrophobic – or as is the case with this play – literally a tomb-like scene.

You can read Romeo and Juliet on Sparknotes!

Shakespeare’s Language and Audience

By: Emily Scott

ABOUT

In this post I will analyze a few of the major reasons that Shakespeare’s fame is still upheld today. I further explain my reasons for this project in the ANALYSIS portion at the end of this post. Enjoy! 🙂

WHY LANGUAGE MATTERS… WHY IT MATTERS A LOT

Language is an intangible thread that ties people together and allows organisms to communicate. With this being said, the medium that is language is further complicated than if two organisms speak the same “type” of language or not: an example of two types being Japanese and English. Just because two people speak English, for instance, doesn’t necessarily mean that they can communicate easily; we often see a disconnect in the English language in business jargon and slang. Another example of this language barrier appears in classic literature; usually the wording of the texts alone is enough to scare people away (what with all the “thou’s” and “thy’s”).

Why people don’t read:

Part 1

Part 2

However, as I will explain, William Shakespeare’s literature should be the exception in breaching this barrier and even today his works can be read by everyone because his language is always adapting. In Shakespearean England, Shakespeare’s works were able to reach a wide audience because his literature was written in both prose and verse (as well as in laymen terms when speaking on ‘bad quartos’); and, today the language that his works are presented in still is a major factor in determining his audience, with versions such as No Fear Shakespeare being today’s parallel of Shakespeare’s colloquial prose.

VERSE vs. PROSE

In mid-16th century England, the time and home of Shakespeare, the upper-class – being better educated –  had a wider vocabulary and were able to express themselves in elaborate details, while middle and lower-class individuals were thought to put their thoughts in a straightforward, simpler manner. The question is: how did people enjoy the same entertainment if there was this prevalent language barrier? The genius that is Shakespeare scripted his plays in both verse and prose to accommodate the masses. Typically the nobility in Shakespeare’s plays speak in blank verse and the commoners speak in prose; however, sometimes the nobility speak in rhymed verse instead.

What are Prose and Verse?

  • PROSE: Ordinary language with no accented rhythm. A long passage in prose is typically printed in your text like an ordinary paragraph with right and left justification.
  • RHYMED VERSE: Rhymed verse in Shakespeare’s plays is usually in rhymed couplets, i.e. two successive lines of verse of which the final words rhyme with another.

RhymedVerse

  • BLANK VERSE: Blank Verse refers to unrhymed iambic pentameter.
    • If you are unsure if a passage is in blank verse or in prose, READ IT ALOUD.  If you can discern the regular rhythmic pattern of iambic pentameter (da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM), it is in blank verse.

When are Prose and Verse used?

Prose vs. Verse

  •  PROSE:
    1. To express ordinary – NOT DEEP – observations.
    2. Quick, one-line replies.
    3. Suggest madness, such as when a character is going insane.
    4. Drunken rambling.
    5. Make fun of characters who lack wit.
  • VERSE:
    1. Express deep emotion.
    2. Make wise, philosophical observations.
    3. Add irony.
    4. Portray order and exactness.

BAD QUARTOS

What is a ‘Bad Quarto’?

HamletBadQuarto
Picture from: http://mentalfloss.com/article/51369/bad-quartos-what-shakespeare-could%E2%80%99ve-been

With this being said, the men who would attend Shakespeare’s performances at The Globe Theater and pirate his plays were usually from the lower or middle-class (they might have been merchants or sailors, for example). So, these men were not well educated and therefore their written versions of Shakespeare’s plays were rudimentary at best.

The worst yet most famous Bad Quarto is from Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy. The original First Folio is full of Shakespeare’s luster and careful word choice; needless to say, the First ‘Bad’ Quarto pales in comparison. As you can see by following the links above, the Hamlet’s Bad Quarto is really very awful. However, in reference to language and maintaining an understanding of Shakespeare’s tales, the Bad Quartos have a very important role. One thing that Shakespeare’s folios lack (as I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog post. See: “Bad Quartos and Piracy”), are clear stage directions; but, the individuals who scripted Bad Quartos tended to provide very detailed descriptions of the actors’ movements and body language. For example, while Shakespeare’s folio of The Winter’s Tale was wonderfully written, without Bad Quartos we might not know that a bear pursues Antigonus when he flees the stage in Act 3, among other stage directions that bring Shakespeare’s plays to life when performed. Detailed stage directions are all Bad Quartos are helpful for, but if we didn’t have these directions then live performances of the playwright’s works would not be as authentic as they were during the time of his life; Shakespeare’s plays would not contain the same amount of drama, humor, or tragedy had it not been for these faulty replications of his works.

IF THEY COULD LEARN IT, SO CAN YOU

Something else to consider when reading Shakespeare is that today we have an advantage over the audiences of his own time because the words that the playwright invented were at his time new, but today they are clichés/commonplace. Some scholars disagree over whether or not Shakespeare was the first person to use many of these words, but nevertheless he is believed to at least be the first to write them and put them in literature. As The Huffington Post details, a few very common words invented by Shakespeare are: gloomy, laughable, majestic, lonely, radiance, hurry, generous, frugal, critical, courtship, zany, undress, and rant.

ShakesLang2

Also, just like the audience of his time had to do, Shakespeare’s words often take on more than one meaning when used in a play’s context and therefore these meanings must be constantly reinforced and re-evaluated. The most prevalent example of this can be seen in the use of the word “honest” in the play OthelloThere are 52 occurrences of the word “honest/honesty” in this play alone. Shakespeare transitions from using the word to describe Iago as truthful and loyal to Desdemona as chaste, however, so the reader must be ready to interpret these changes.

OthelloHonesty

DO NOT FEAR, MODERN SHAKESPEARE IS HERE!

Most people consider reading No Fear Shakespeare as cheating if they are true, “honest” Shakespeare Fanatics because this modern version of the playwright’s texts are not in his original language. It’s like reading The King James version (KJV) of The Bible versus the New International Version (NIV). THE WORDS JUST AREN’T THE SAME, but the message itself is. A benefit of reading No Fear Shakespeare’s modern text is that today’s readers no longer have to deal with verse and prose; while you can certainly still decipher when a character jumps from one to the other because his/her speech becomes plainer or more elegant, the sentence structure is less changed. For an example, consult Henry V (5.2):

  • In this scene, Henry is trying to convince Catherine of France to marry him. Since her native language is French and his is English the two lovers have trouble understanding one another. So, Henry begin to speak in prose to make his speech simpler for Catherine. In the original text, Henry’s change to prose also allows the audience to more fully receive Henry’s feelings and intentions for Catherine because prose is so straightforward. But, in the No Fear Shakespeare version of this scene the same message is still described and even further simplified for today’s readers.

SUSTAINING HIS FAME

Shakespeare does not just use language, he is language; his language is the driving force behind his fame, a fame that isn’t declining anytime soon. Shakespeare’s clever incorporation of verse and prose in his plays allowed his audience during his time and his audience today to better interpret the mood/tone/meaning of his characters’ dialogue. As explained above, one example of this can be read in Henry V. Also, individuals’ piracy of the playwright’s literary works actually had a very important effect: without them, theatrical shows of Shakespeare’s works would not be as true to their original versions – the original stage directions of Shakespeare’s plays more than likely would have been lost or changed in time if all we had for reference were his first folios. So, while I in no way condone piracy, in this instance the criminal act had the benefit of helping to bridge the barrier that is understanding Shakespeare.

Furthermore, I say that Shakespeare is language and doesn’t just use it because he had a way of bending it to his needs, inventing more words than anyone else ever has, yet still being able to be perfectly understood. With this thought in mind though, another way that Shakespeare bent language to his needs was by playing off the many meanings that one word may be able to express. The most common example of this is in the play Othello’s use of the word “honest,” also described above.

Language is ever changing, and it is a change that is inevitable and should be welcomed. So, while some people may shy away from modern translations of classic literature, I would encourage people to read it. Of course, read the original texts as well, but at least reference modern translations (especially if you are having trouble understanding the original text). What really matters is not a play’s dainty or bombastic wording, but the meaning it provides and the actual tale the literature is trying to portray. Modern translations are bringing the messages in Shakespeare’s works to today’s generation; they are helping sustain his fame.

Both the lovely phonetics of reading Shakespeare aloud and the timeless messages one receives form his literary works equally come together in upholding his influence.

ANALYSIS

I have never done this for a blog post, but I thought you all might find it interesting to know why I wrote this post and my blog in general (sort of like an extensive author’s note). I absolutely love Shakespeare; I love how one can read his plays and always walk away affected in a different way and I love the drama in reading his plays aloud, the phonetics. All of my other posts have been on how Shakespeare is portrayed in the media today, and for this post I wanted to analyze why his works are even still around today. In other words, what makes them so treasured?

When first sitting down and wondering how to get this out to the world I thought about starting a Tumblr blog, but ultimately decided to use WordPress because I was already familiar with the medium. Now, I am happy I made this decision because I feel as if WordPress allows people who share a real interest in the topic of Shakespeare to easily find my blog. At first, I just advertised this blog using “tags” at the end of my posts so individuals with other WordPress blogs could easily view this blog. Then, about halfway through this project I decided that writing this blog is a lot of fun, even more so than I originally thought it’d be. So, about two weeks ago I began to advertise my blog on Twitter and have linked the URL of this blog to my Twitter profile (feel free to follow my Twitter @EmilyScott7112 for updates on when I post to this blog). Needless to say, connecting this blog to my Twitter has already doubled my viewers (I appreciate every single one of you who read my blog!). This growth in viewers has further cemented my belief that the internet/media and technology in general is connecting people. It further cements my belief that Shakespeare having an audience on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and other social media sites is aiding in upholding his presence today. There are so many reasons why a Classic is deemed a Classic and stays a Classic. I believe that Shakespeare was originally remembered because his language is nice on the ears and he wrote in a way that all social classes could relate to his messages. I believe he is still remembered today for both of these reasons and through the use of technology such as No Fear Shakespeare.

 

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”

-William Shakespeare

Henry V Film Adaptation (Tom Hiddleston)

Like I previously did for the film The Merchant of Venice, I’d like to portray the differences and perks the film version of Henry V has over the Shakespearean play by the same name:

  • Unlike Shakespeare’s written work Henry V, the film adaptation by the same name is able to add emphasis to scenes through the careful selection of the characters’ costumes. When first introduced, Henry is darned in brown leather which sharply contrasts Canterbury’s harsh red cloak and gold jewelry. Just from this distinction, the audience can begin to infer that Henry is (for the most part) sensible, down-to-earth, well-intended in his actions, and a hard worker; leather is commonly deeply associated with the earth, homeliness and strength/labor. On the other hand, due to just an analysis of his clothing one can assume that Canterbury and (since he is the archbishop and therefore represents the church) the church in general is cloaked in blood, a readiness for war, and a need to separate itself from the lower class. Henry’s leather ties him to the people immediately; a connection that one really is not confronted with in the play until Act 4, Scene 1 when Henry talks to his soldiers as a commoner and his kingly status goes unnoticed. And, just as Henry’s attributes are later portrayed through his actions, so are the archbishop’s in Act 1, Scenes 1 and 2 when the church is wanting to financially support the King in his war with France with more money than the church has ever lent out before, when Canterbury is willing to bet his right intentions for the war on his own life, and when Ely (another extension of the church) directly refers to blood/brotherhood in Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 115-121. The film adaptation’s visual aspect in clothing layers the exact same story under the play’s original dialogue.
  • The film adaptation is also able to utilize props to supplement the actors’ dialogue, unlike a silent read-through of the Shakespearean play. Props are carefully used in the film in Henry’s speech to the French Ambassador in what is Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 259-297 of the original play. When the two characters begin to speak, Henry is shown standing between two fiery torches, he sits in his throne for a few moments between the torches, then gets up and circles the ambassador as if he is circling prey. Henry V TorchesWhen the confrontation is over, Henry has to have two men open the massively heavy doors that lead out of his throne’s chamber. The props – the torches, the dark throne, and the massive doors – add to the scene’s eeriness; it made me connect the scene to what Hades’ palace may look like in the Greek underworld, which is a fitting connection considering that Henry is furious for vengeance when speaking to the French ambassador.
    • However, the most important prop used in this scene to defend the actor’s intent is the tennis balls Henry receives from the ambassador as a mocking gift from the Dauphin. After Henry finishes circling the ambassador, Henry throws the ambassador the tennis ball he had picked up off the floor and been holding as if to silently say, “make your move, England will war with you for this mockery, and the ball is now in your court.” This one gesture alone allowed Henry to threaten so much more than his lips uttered aloud.
  • The film adaptation, unlike the play, portrays male dominance through omitting Queen Isabel’s character in Act 5, Scene 2 and changing some of Henry’s lines in the same Act and Scene; in this way the play is freed from the original dialogue. In the film, King Charles speaks Queen Isabel’s line in lines 12-20 and line 98; and Burgundy speaks Queen Isabel’s lines in lines 354-363. This demonstrates male power over women because in the play, when Isabel speaks she is the one to greet King Henry, she is the one to decide that Catherine may stay to speak with Henry, and she is the one who ultimately dictates that Henry may wed Catherine; however, by omitting Queen Isabel’s character altogether – as the film does – and by having King Charles and Burgundy speak the Queen’s lines the men are seen to be the ones making the major decisions for their kingdoms and their households.
    • Unlike the written play, the film further demonstrates male dominance in this same Act and Scene by changing Henry’s speech in line 368. In the play Henry states, “Then shall I swear to Kate, and you to me…” When he says, “And you to me,” Henry is acknowledging Kate’s consent and presence. But, in the film Henry’s dialogue is changed to, “Then shall I swear to Kate, and she to me.” The use of the word “she” instead of “you” is a subtle difference; nevertheless, it shifts Henry’s dialogue from the acknowledgement of his fiancé’s consent to the acknowledgement of her father’s permission. Henry is even looking to King Charles and Burgundy, not Kate, when he speaks this line in the film.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

Today, Shakespeare is brought to generations young and old through George Lucas’ Star Wars.  In 2012 Ian Doescher read Quirk Books’ Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, watched Star Wars for the umpteenth time, and then attended the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. At the festival, Doescher saw a funny, gay-marriage-themed, modern adaptation of The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa by Alison Carey.  Within this span of a few months, Ian had mash-ups, Star Wars, and Shakespeare in the forefront of his mind.  The morning after watching The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa, he had the idea to write William Shakespeare’s Star Wars.

True Shakespeareans and Star Wars fans alike will appreciate Doescher’s adaptation. One thing in particular that I appreciate is the attention that Doescher gave to the character that is Yoda. In Lucas’ films, Yoda already arranges his dialogue in a Shakespeare-like way; especially in his famous phrase, “Do or do not, there is no try.” When Doescher had people read rough copies of his work they commented that everyone sounds like they’re speaking in Yoda’s original dialogue and that the character no longer stuck-out as much as they’d like. So, Doescher thought about having Yoda speak in modern dialogue to completely invert the story, but quickly decided that that wouldn’t do. Instead, he has Yoda speak in Haiku. Doescher comments, “As soon as I had the idea, I realized ‘That’s it!’ It’s very un-Shakespearean, but it makes so much sense for the joke of [Yoda] being the sensei-like teacher.”

Picture from: http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2014/07/ian-doescher-the-bard-behind-william-shakespeares.html
Picture from: http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2014/07/ian-doescher-the-bard-behind-william-shakespeares.html

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Shakespeare Quotes in Social Media Posts

One way in which Shakespeare’s works are still so talked about today is via social media.

  • Facebook is a great social media site to search Shakespeare’s quotes! Simply login in and proceed to look-up William Shakespeare Quotes as you would a friend! Facebook is a highly useful site because not only can you obtain quotes easily, but you can also find further information (such as biographical information on Shakespeare’s life) with just a few clicks of a computer mouse.

Shakespeare Facebook PostShakespeare Facebook PostShakespeare Facebook Post

  • Pinterest, being a social media site that revolves around pictures solely, is a resourceful way to find quote-art. Below are a few pictures of Shakespeare’s quotes from Pinterest that I find particularly lovely/impactful:

This is a gorgeous edit, and I'd like to credit the maker! Anybody?

"I love but thee, with a love that shall not die till the sun grows cold, and the stars grow old." ~ William Shakespeare

Macbeth – Act 4, Scene 3 - Shakespeare Hey you guys, I met someone nice. I'm dealing with that part of you Ron that always said it was just another cruel joke God was playing. Maybe not. It was a good day guys.

Though She Be But Little, She is Fierce / Shakespeare Quote Art Print

 

One might ponder if social media may end up restricting people’s access to Shakespeare’s works. Will people post a photo of one of his quotes having never read any of his plays? Is that what society has come to? While it is true that the younger generation likes momentary media such as vines, do not be worried: the reading of Shakespeare is not going anywhere. He is the bestselling fiction author in any language of all-time, even topping J.K. Rowling, Leo Tolstoy, and Stephen King.