“King Lear” by Shakespeare
It has been told that someone who has sinned on Earth intentionally or unintentionally should be sent to hell. The theory of hell is that one who sins gravely against god is to be sent to hell to forever and suffer eternal pain. If we do believe in hell, it creates a conflict between love and justice and it concludes to that god execute eternal punishment for temporary sins.
In the play of king Lear, the author Shakespeare gives us an emotional ride of tragic events and portrays characters who goes through tremendous amount of suffering and grief for their actions on earth. Lear himself has suffered a substantial amount of pain on earth to not be sent to hell but rather purgatory. Gates of hell should be closed for characters in the play such as Lear and Edmund because they suffered an incredible amount of pain on earth. They already have paid fair prices for their sins, what could be worse than death ? Does one really deserve eternal punishment in hell for the sins one commits during their short life span? Striving to make punishments fit their crimes would be defined, such as sending them to purgatory.
As a matter of fact in king Lear, characters like Lear , Edmund , Regan, Goneril , Regan shows their greed and lust for gaining power. Due to their action they are ones to blame for what they suffer. If the gates of hell are remained it would only add on top of their suffering. After reading the story the readers can get an insight on Edmund on his greedy, wicked and devious character and are aware of all the awful deeds he has done. He wasn’t just born evil, but rather made evil by the society. All bastards are grown up with a neglection. Edmund is mad that he cant have what he want, which is to inherit Gloucester’s land. He is mad that his brother Edgar is receiving all of the inheritance just because he’s the legitimate son. Why does Edmund have to be treated different and harshly ?, and pay for his Gloucester’s mistakes.
At the end of day he’s his still Gloucesters blood son, he totally deserves to inherit at least something. His father has always mocked Edmund and made fun of him for being a bastard. How would you feel if your father greeted you a bastard every time. Here’s an example on how harshly Gloucester treated his son Though this knave came something saucily into the world before he was sent for, yet was his mother fair, there was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged ( Shakespeare 1.1.21-25). This shows us how poorly Gloucester treated his son . Edmund attains the power he desires after misleading his father and banishing his brother. He’s able achieve this by betraying and and being manipulative. When his brother Edgar stabs him and he’s slowly bleeding to death, Edmund wish to atone for all his sins and do some good to people around him in his dying moments. An example of this would be when he states I pant for life. Some good I mean to do, despite of mine own nature. Quickly send (Be brief in’t) to the castle.
Is on the life of Lear and Cordelia (5.3.243-6). This quote shows us that he says these out of guilt for the sins he committed by trying to Lear and Cornelia’s lives, and it also shows us that he wants to do some good deeds before he dies. Edmund wasn’t villainous but people treated in such a way that he becomes the way he is trying to get what he rightfully deserves. There’s been records that bastard have been treated horribly in past. Edmund suffered his fate and paid a fair price of living hell on earth. Hence the gates of hell should be closed for Edmund he should rather sent to purgatory for his crimes.
Above all in king Lear , Lear the protagonist has suffered the worst fate out of everyone and went through a living hell on earth. In the beginning of the play in King Lear, Lear decides to divide his kingdom to his daughters right now rather than creating problems later. The process Lear chooses to do so, is rather a very wrong way to handle such a matter. He gives away the kingdom based on whichever daughter flatters him the most, will receive the portion of the kingdom. Regan and Goneril succeeds to flatter him with extravagant words. Lear’s youngest daughter Cordelia is disowned Lear for not being able flatter him. Later novel we see how inhumanly Regan and Goneril treats their old and kind father but rather betrays him. Cordelia is the true loving daughter of Lear. It’s notable that Lear is responsible for a lot sins. He’s foolish, gullible and reckless and has big ego. Lear is foolish enough to trust his daughter’s with the kingdom and power, later on they deceive him my taking all his powers, strips him of his kingship, takes all his knights and is thrown away in the storm by the very daughter that he thought loved him. Lear even states I am a man more sinned against than sinning (3.2.59-60).
One of the worst burdens for parent is when their child betrays their trust and makes them an outcast. He had to go go through all that. Throwing an old man away in the storm without any resources was truly harsh of Goneril and Regan specially during older times it was harder. After reading King Lear, the story really touched emotionally and made the horrible experiences Lear faces while being alive. By the time lear says Let the great gods, That keep this dreadful pother o’er our heads,Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,That hast within thee undivulged crimes,Unwhipp’d of justice: hide thee, thou bloody hand; Thou perjured, and thou similar man of virtue[…],Rive your concealing continents, and cry ,These dreadful summoners grace. I am a man More sinn’d against than sinning. (3.2.49-60) he doesn’t have any more power left over his kingdom ,he bare has any friends left, he’s in the middle of a storm out in the grasslands, crying to god for justice for his suffering. His pain is so great that he can’t feel anything physically, like the storm. Lear is saying that he has sinned but nothing compared to what his daughters has done. Regan and Goneril has been ungrateful to their father after he gave them everything , this is a burdening feeling for Lear.
Arguably it might be hard for one to feel sympathy for Lear because he’s a difficult character to like. As the goes on we observe the consequences of the “sins” he has committed, but we also witness the brutal punishments he receives on earth for his irresponsibility. What Lear faces is almost unimaginable.He loses his kinship, turns insane , loses his dear friends Kent and Gloucester, he’s betrayed by his daughters and then later all his daughters die. All these have taking places at once has been painful enough for lear.
But especially Cordelia’s death hurt him the most because she came back to help her father even being banished. She was truly loyal to Lear unlike the other daughters. To see his favourite daughter die in front of him was the last painful thing he had to bear before dying. After facing all these event it must have been painful for Lear and thus dies of a heart attack right away. He has lived a living hell on earth and paid a fair price for his sins. Lear states “Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life, and thou no breath at all?” (5.3.370-371). What he’s saying is that why is rats, horses and dogs are alive but not Cordelia. We can see how tragic his life has been. Lear started at the top and has lost merely everything by the end of the story including his sanity.
Supernatural Elements and Special Style in Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth
Language and the Supernatural in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth
The study of anything from an era before Modern English can be a bit dense and confusing for most people, particularly when attempting to persuade students of all levels to study Shakespeare. As soon as anything by Shakespeare is mentions students cringe and the complaints begin. “He didn’t even write in English.” “How are we supposed to read it if it isn’t translated?” “What dos this even mean.” These are some of the most common complaints that are heard in classrooms when the subject of Shakespeare is brought up. However, a lot of the misunderstanding is in a lack of understanding of the sociological context that the language was used in rather than the language itself. Modern s simply cannot wrap their minds around the individuality of each word within the context of the whole, a bit like not being able to see the trees for the forest. Due to this the nuances get lost in the quest for overall meaning rather than taking it for itself.
The problem lies not just with students, but with modern teachers as well. Educators that are pressed for time spend most of it focusing on the overall meaning of the text, the lovely wording of particular speeches, or the literary devices used in the text to emphasize certain parts of it. They do not attempt to delve into the deeper meaning within the language itself; the ebb and flow, the word shifts, or the slightly altered connotations that make Shakespeare universal. They ignore the trees in order to look deeper into the shadows of the forest and forget what it is that makes Shakespeare and writers like him so great; language.
Language is a method of communicating. More than this, however, it is a method of seducing. Language, used the right way, can transcend cultural barriers and lead even the most reluctant student into places he or she never explored before. Beyond the obvious use, that of basic communication, language can be adapted for whatever need. It can become a painting, a melody, a sound that has never been heard before, or a person never before seen. Language can act as the transport carrying the student into worlds and wonders. Yet most students are repelled from beautiful pieces of literature and theatre by the tool used to lure them in, the language. However, there are methods of studying Shakespeare with a focus on the connotations of words taken in sociological, historical, and textual context rather than looking at the literal meaning which would allow even the beginning scholar to find his or her footing. This means that the study of Shakespeare must go beyond the study of overall meaning, textual meaning and delve into the language of Shakespeare by studying the words and lines individually rather than as part of the whole creating a level of comprehension that demonstrates what lovers of Shakespeare have been asserting all along. Shakespeare is universal and can be readily understood by modern audiences from all walks of life just as his work was enjoyed by noble and commoner alike when it was fresh from the writer’s pen, so to speak.
There are several methods for looking at the language in a piece of literature, and even a few critical theories that do this as well. For most, Deconstructionist Theory is the first on thought of when language is meant to be a focus in a literature study. Deconstructionist Theory is basically founded on the idea that language is fluid, so the meaning of a word cannot possibly stay the same over time (Allen, Brizee J. Case Thompkins, Libby Chernouski, Elizabeth Boyle). However, this doesn’t take into account the social or historical context that a word or group of words was used in. Nor does it allow for connotations that can remain the same even if the denotation of a word changes over time, or if the word falls out of use. For that there is Linguistic Theory which operates under the premise that language in literature must be studied in the sociological context the piece was written in to be fully understood (Fowler). In other words, the connotations of a word change with the audience’s sociological frame of reference and to fully understand what the author meant the audience must be aware of the sociological history of the piece. That being said, a piece of the puzzle of true understanding is missing even in a broader view of the language. That piece is filled in when audience response is taken in to account. Basically, it doesn’t matter how much the denotation of a word changes, or the connotations are understood based on society viewpoints when the piece was written, the audience’s comprehension is everything (Maroder, Tim, T.J. Milano, Caleb Nickels, and Mike O’Donoghue).
Taken together, all three theories basically imply that comprehension of any piece requires a working knowledge of how the language has changed over time, the sociological viewpoints that influence the connotations of certain words, and what the audience thinks the connotations of certain words are meant to be. At first glance this seems to be a daunting task, however most authors want their works to be read (or performed) and so they aren’t as dense as they seem to be. In fact, when looked at combining these three theories, they aren’t dense at all. Indeed, they become easier to comprehend and interpret when these three theories are applied, even with the differences in spelling and connotation in the original version of English as opposed to the modern English.
Studying Shakespeare using any of these theories means picking apart the language and looking for the inconstancy and hidden meanings in the words. To begin with, looking at words that are familiar to any audience, regardless of time frame, is a requirement. It would be almost impossible to break down words and phrases that are not currently in use for beginning studies because there is no frame of reference to compare these words with, but there are plenty of words and phrases still used today for students to study in depth. Probably the easiest and most familiar references to use for this would be the ones that revolve around the supernatural. The reason for this is that the supernatural seems to be the recent craze in modern literature of all genres, as it is in film and television. There are many references to the supernatural in Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, however two stand out as treating solely with the supernatural and these are A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream tells a tale of lovers who are torn apart and run to the woods to be together, lovers who are not loved who follow the others to the woods, and a lover’s spat between the fairy king and queen that is apparently affecting everything else. All of these problems are solved by the supernatural stepping in and fixing everything so that they all live happily ever after.
Macbeth is the story of Scottish kings and how they became kings. Macbeth is told by three witches, the supernatural, that he will be thane of an important part of Scotland and then king after that. At first he doesn’t believe them, but when he is declared thane he begins to plot how he will be king. Goaded on by what the supernatural women told him and by his wife, he kills the king and becomes king. He gets paranoid and kills anyone who could take his crown, but then seeks the supernatural again. He is told by the supernatural that he will be king until certain events happen and can’t be killed by “any man of woman born” (Shakespeare, Macbeth) and so feels safe even when the events he was warned about start happening. However, he is killed and someone else becomes king in his place.
The idea of witches and fairies began long before Shakespeare, but seems to have grown in the literary genre in the last two or three decades, which gives beginning students something familiar to relate to when Shakespeare is brought into their literary mix. It also adds a bit of familiarity to the language used by these supernatural beings since most modern authors seem to think that they should use almost antiquated language when they speak in modern settings. Granted, some of the language is modern by comparison, however the cadences are similar when the witches or fairies cast spells and such which gives a similar feel to the language as they begin to move from modern to Elizabethan English. Thus we have common ground with which to begin a study of the language in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth, with a focus on the lines spoken during the supernatural scenes.
Breaking down a play line by line and word by word is decidedly a bit more difficult than, say, a novel. Interpretation of the reader/actor and/or the watcher creates more of a difference in denotation and connotation than may have been intended by the author. This is part of the dynamic of a play, and part of the reason audience response is so important when studying the language of the play. For example, the line “Days and nights has thirty one,” (Macbeth 4, 1) could mean many things. The witches are most probably referring to a length of time, however it could refer to an age – such as the idea of someone being a certain number of “moons” old as referenced in some tribal cultures, or it could refer to a particular month and thus would mean a specific date. Interpretation is everything, and this means that the individuals which make up the audience (the reader/actor and/or the watcher) supply the connotations that lie behind the denotations in the words and lines. However, for the purposes of convincing a student that he or she is perfectly capable of not only understanding, but comprehending the language, denotation is just as important as connotation. In the previously mentioned line it can be agreed that the denotations of the words have not changed over time. A “day” is when the sun is in the sky, a “night” is when the moon is in the sky, “thirty one” is a number, and “has” is a verb referring to a state of being. This is readily apparent. But what about the more complicated lines? Lines such as “Swelter’d venom sleeping got,” (Macbeth 4, 1)? What are the denotations of this line? “Swelter’d” or more modernly “sweltered” means “very hot” when it’s used these days. However in old English it could mean “faint with heat” or “to die” (Online Etemology Dictionary). Add to that the obvious words, “venom” which is poison – usually from a snake, insect, or other poisonous animal, “sleeping” – present progressive of sleep, and “got”- past tense of the verb “get” which means to acquire or gain and the line translates to “died by poison while sleeping.” Once broken down, it become much simpler to read and interpret based on the denotations and possible connotations that come from looking at the text as individual words rather than as a whole.
Likewise, breaking down some of the more complicated lines in A Midsummer Night’s Dream can help reluctant students determine the intent behind the words. A simple line such as “Set your heart at rest,” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2,1) is fairly easily interpreted. The denotation of these words hasn’t changed much over the years. However, if the witches’ speeches became rifer with meaning, then the fairies are even more so. A more complicated line would present a greater challenge, though not one that could not be met. For instance, the lines “The childing autumn, angry winter, change Their wonted liveries, and the mazed world, By their increase, now knows not which is which:” (Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2,1) are meant to bring a certain imagery to mind. However, though flowery and beautiful when spoken, changes in spelling, word order, and denotation do not allow modern audiences to share the vision that was created. And so it must be broken down and translated. There are several words in the lines that are easy to comprehend, their denotations and connotations have not changed much. Words such as “autumn”, “angry”, “winter”, and “change” are fairly straight forward. But there are words intermixed that need a bit of studying before the intended meaning is clear. “Childing” is could be present or future perfect, depending on the contextual use. It is a shift in the usual use of the word “child” which is the offspring of two humans. It literally means “bearing children” or “fruitful” (Childing). “Wonted” means usual, according to the Online Entomology Dictionary, and “livery” means “pay” or “rations” or “pay” which was usually clothes (Online Etemology Dictionary). Finally, “mazed” means “bewildered” or “astonished”, basically “confused” according to the freedictionary.com. Once broken down, the lines translate to “the fruitful autumn, angry winter, change their usual clothes, and because of this the confused world doesn’t know which is which.”
When looking at Macbeth linguistically one of the first things to note is the change in the witches’ dialogue versus every other character. For example, Shakespeare is fond of using poetic devices such as iambic pentameter, which has five beats and ten syllables in each line (Marotus). However, when the supernatural is involved, this changes. He changes the beats to something resembling catalectic (incomplete) trochaic tetrameter, beats which are opposite an iamb and number in four instead of five (rhythm and meter in English poetry), changing the rhythm into something a bit more sing-song, flowing, and musical-almost something you can dance to.
“Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.
Double, double. Toil and trouble
Fire burn and cauldron bubble,” (Macbeth 4, 1).
If spoken outloud, you can hear the slightly abbreviated rhythm which follows a beat that is accented primarily on the first syllable rather than the second, and ends in a half beat in almost every line. Another distinction that can be heard is the difference between characters who speak in verse and those who don’t. For example, the upper class characters speak in verse using iambic pentameter, save for a few speeches that are in prose. The lower class characters speak in prose.
Linguistically speaking, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is very similar to Macbeth in the use of prose, verse, iambic pentameter and catalectic trochaic tetrameter. The differences are in the slight shifting of metered syllables to create a more sinister impression in the witches’ dialogue versus the more flower-child feel of most of the fairy dialogue in Midsummer. The extra half beat that creates the incomplete rhythm feels as if it falls randomly in the few verse speeches made by his fairies.
“Set your heart at rest:
The fairy land buys not the child of me.
His mother was a votaress of my order:
And, in the spiced Indian air, by night,
Full often hath she gossip’d by my side,
And sat with me on Neptune’s yellow sands,
Marking the embarked traders on the flood,
When we have laugh’d to see the sails conceive
And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind;
Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait
Following,–her womb then rich with my young squire,–
Would imitate, and sail upon the land,
To fetch me trifles, and return again,
As from a voyage, rich with merchandise.
But she, being mortal, of that boy did die;
And for her sake do I rear up her boy,
And for her sake I will not part with him,” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2,1)
Another distinction between the witches’ spell and the fairies’ speeches is that they almost seem to begin in prose and fall in to the rhythmic pattern set for all of Shakespeare’s supernatural characters.
Using tools such as verse and prose in his plays was a method to delineate character relationships in a way that audiences could easily relate to that had nothing to do with style of dress. In many of his plays, in fact, style of dress did not always give clear evidence of social class or even gender of a particular character. Thus, in a time when audiences relied on sight and sound to distinguish between characters, a method is needed when sight is unreliable – such as in box seats of on standing on the floor in a theatre. And so, classism in language is used. As noted previously, lower class characters spoke in prose as opposed to the verse of upper class characters. However, supernatural characters were not as easily distinguished and so they needed a different method that is verse, but not verse. However, this is not the only distinction that can be noted when the supernatural comes in play. Simple linguistic shifts, that is shifts in connotations, also play a part in giving audiences clues as to the nature of the speakers. In Macbeth the connotative shifts reference an older, more pagan, faith than the prevalent Christianity of Shakespeare’s day. Simple phrases such as “thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d,” (Macbeth 4,1) may seem innocent, a cat meowed three times. Yet to a clever ear the connotations are more in line with the idea of a herald or a trumpet calling the spirits, the witches, to come using the power of three which binds them to a purpose (Campbell). In fact, the very image Shakespeare created, through use of connotative shifts, of the three women implies a much different meaning that simply “witches.” Even the various translations of the “name” for the women carry different connotations. For example, “weird” as the modern connotation of “strange” or “different” probably came from the original idea of “wyrd” which originally meant “fate” in old English, and was used to represent the three fates in Macbeth (weird). Another connotation of the women comes from the word “sisters” which can mean so many things in a time when Christians called nuns “sister” along with the familial relationship implied by the word, and the implication of a bond that is beyond blood – as in a bond of prophesy or magic. It implies that the women were bound together in some way that covered all of the possible meanings of the word “sister” and none of them at the same time.
Once the language is managed, the audience’s interpretation of the text can completely change the connotations, even beyond what the author may have intended. A play isn’t a play without an audience, and the audience is fickle, both in favor and in what it thinks the lines mean. Add to that shifts in denotation, words that fall out of use, and shifts in connotation and you have a maze that must be waded through carefully when presenting material such as Shakespeare to students. It must be taken step by step, and audience response is only one of those steps. Once the possible intended denotations and connotations have been determined, it’s time for the audience’s idea of connotations. Simply put, while denotation cannot often be argued because it is the literal definition of the words, connotation can change over time as it did with the word “wyrd” (weird). All it takes is a simple shift in dialects, and words suddenly take on whole new meanings beyond what they were originally. One example of this, as mentioned perviously, is the word “sister” which began as meaning “mine own woman” (Online Etemology Dictionary) to meaning “female sibling”, “nun”, “female” in general, “black female”, or “female member of an organization.” Because of connotation shifts based on dialectical changes in the language over time, “weird sister” could mean anything from “fated women” or “strange siblings” to “creepy club members.” It will vary with audiences. The same could be said for the word “fairy” which has changed from “fae” and “faerie” meaning “fates” or “supernatural” (Online Etemology Dictionary) to meaning “touched”- as in mentally unstable or sort of living in a dream world- to slang for a male who is homosexual, both modern connotations being used in the movie A Midsummer Night’s Rave to some degree. Thus, the audience could interpret the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in very different ways depending on cultural differences in dialects of English. Based on the idea of audience response, the witches’ and fairies’ speeches begin to take on new interpretations that lend a certain more sinister air to the witches and a more sensual air to the fairies. While “finger of birth strangl’d babe” (Macbeth 4, 1)is usually interpreted as “finger of a baby who died at birth” it could take on new connotations suggesting sacrifice and murder on the part of the witches based on how modern audiences receive the spell and the idea of witches to begin with. Likewise, Titania’s talk of her time with the Indian boy’s mother, while innocent enough by the original connotations, suggests an intimacy that modern audiences read to mean “lovers” rather than “friends” or even “goddess and priestess” as was probably originally intended in the text (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2, 1).
Audience interpretation is everything. In the case of a play the audience consists of everyone who reads, performs, and watches the play. Canny authors know and play to that, implying more than is intended while audiences bring their own ideas of what is meant to the table, creating a dynamic where connotation and denotation mix beautifully bringing the scene to life for everyone who is involved in it. Part of the difficulty with modern audiences is the different methods for presenting the material. With so much technology available, Shakespeare’s images can be presented in whole new ways that bend the interpretations to suit the director’s imagination. With modern, jaded audiences expecting spectacular special effects, directors run into the conundrum of how to stay true to the original connotations of the text without disappointing audiences, and at the same time making the language more accessible. It is a conundrum that most modern film versions cannot get past.
While there haven’t been many modern translations of either of these two plays, their themes reappear time and again in television programs and movies. Shows such as Black Sails have the theme of a woman convincing her lover to do something for her benefit as well as a woman being the power behind the men that is in Macbeth. Movies such as Men of Respect and Scotland, PA are overt modern retellings of Macbeth complete with witches and wives. There are movies based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream such as A Midsummer Night’s Rave and Where the World Mine. Each of these use very loose translations of the characters, event, or language to recreate the elements of magic, mystery, and darkness that are present in the plays. Keeping in mind that there are not modern equivalents for some of the words and phrase Shakespeare used, there can only be loose comparisons in the dialogue of the modern translations. However, it is important to note that even loose translations can provide an element of understanding that will aid students with comprehension in the original text.
Modern adaptions of Shakespeare rarely hit a good note with audiences. They tend to be too full of images that don’t connect well with the language denotations and connotations. However, though it was not well known and was a low budget movie, but Men of Respect is probably one of the better modern language adaptions of Macbeth. The writer chose to use modern language and slang instead of Shakespeare’s English, but the connotations in the film are the same and or similar enough that the two could almost play side by side and create the same images in the audience’s mind, even if civil war with swords is turned in to mob style gun fights. We have a “padrino,” a god father, instead of a king, and where Lady Macbeth encourages her husband to “screw your courage to the sticking place” (Macbeth 1, 7) and talks about a child that dies of an illness, Ruthie talks hints at abortion and killing a child for the man she loves (Turturro). By this we have the same deeper, devious, manipulative voice screaming, “If you love me you will do this,” in the ear of the main characters in both versions. Translation: nothing is lost in using modern English as long as the connotative meanings are kept so that audiences can read between the lines, so to speak.
A Midsummer Night’s Rave is the closest to Shakespeare’s dreamy comedy using modern English that I’ve found, however, the connotations are lost in a drug induced haze of flashing lights and loud music. While there is the underlying idea of supernatural creatures playing with mortals for fun, and controlling the environment that mortals dwell in remains, the overall lightness and sort of playful, bantering dialogue that creates a world of dreams is lost in a darker, more diabolical connotation. However, while not close to the original in denotation or connotation, there are some lines that provide apt translations, based on the connotations, which do allude to the idea of music, laughter, and dancing playing a part in keeping the environment stable. “Don’t you know? The earth stops spinning if you don’t dance on it,” This is a wonderful summary of Titania’s speech to Oberon in which Titania tells him that nature is disrupted because he refuses to dance in the fairy rings due to the fact that he is jealous of her affection for an Indian child;
“But with thy brawls thou hast disturb’d our sport….
The human mortals want their winter here;
No night is now with hymn or carol blest:
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,….
Is, as in mockery, set: the spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries, and the mazed world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which:
And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissension;
We are their parents and original,” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2, 1).
In the case of the movie, the language is simple enough that anyone can comprehend it, yet it does not change the connotations of the longer speech which is that idea that the world can’t function without the fairies dancing on it. And yet other than a few lines similar to the one mentioned, so much of the original connotations are lost in the change from Elizabethan to modern English and the attempt at a modern party setting in this version that the original play may as well have not been mentioned as the source.
Most beginning audiences assume that they won’t “get” Shakespeare because they can’t “understand the language.” What they don’t realize is that they hear it every day in the connotation of words we use all the time. Words like “hag,” “dance,” or “gossip’d” are used today with connotations very similar to the ones Shakespeare implied in his dialogue. If audiences could see past the whole to the meanings behind the words, then they would find that Shakespeare really is universal; even if the audience isn’t full of Shakespearean scholars.
Good and Bad Characters in Macbeth
Macbeth Reader’s Response
In the play Macbeth, the main character Macbeth is questioned for being “a real man” many times by his wife, Lady Macbeth. She questions his masculinity many times throughout the book, often for not obeying one of her orders. Through the work of Macbeth, we can see what a “good man” was culturally expected to do. According to the story of Macbeth, the qualities of a good man include being caring about your wife, to love your country, and to display self control.
Lady Macbeth had most of the authority in the Macbeth household. She was an evil person who influenced Macbeth to commit murders. In this circumstance, we can see that the wife in the story is a psychopath. However, the fact that he does what she wants him to do shows that he cares for her and holds her in high regard. The thought of being a man in the eyes of Lady Macbeth is obviously very important to him, so when Lady Macbeth is trying to convince him to kill Duncan and become king, he is very doubtful. We can see this by when he says, “We will proceed no further in this business. He hath honored me of late…” In response to this, Lady Macbeth strategically attacks the one thing that he seems to care about most by saying in page 43, “When you durst do it, then you were a man.” Once Lady Macbeth says this, Macbeth goes on with the murder of Duncan to assume kingmanship. Without the persuading of Lady Macbeth and the challenging of him being a man, Macbeth probably would not have gone through with the murders. However, we can see that he cares about his wife and wants her to be happy with him. While the act that he did is conceivably evil, we see the values of a good man in this passage is caring about your wife, no matter how crazy she may be.
In the story of Macbeth, a good man cares for his country. Macduff, who eventually kills Macbeth and is considered the hero of the book, displayed a great love for his country. For example, in Act 4 Scene 3, Macduff finds Malcolm at the English court and tries to convince him to attack Macbeth right away. Malcolm suspects Macduff of being an agent of Macbeth sent to persuade Malcolm to destruction in Scotland. To test his theory, Malcolm acts as a bad King, one arguably worse than Macbeth. Macduff cares too much for his country to let this happen, so he exclaims in page 141, “Bleed, bleed, poor country! Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure.” Once Malcolm realizes that Macduff is trustworthy, he lays out his plan for stopping Macbeth, and Macduff’s anger is only fueled more when he finds out that Macbeth killed his family. Macduff did a good deed in killing Macbeth, and much of this was fueled by a great passion for their country, something a good man has as one of their traits in the Macbeth.
In the story Macbeth, self control is very important to be a good man. We see Macbeth’s attitude completely change throughout the book. When we are introduced to him in Act 1 Scene 3, he is a valiant hero who got back from battle to be a Thane. However, once Lady Macbeth uses her manipulative powers to kill Duncan, his attitude goes from fearful of committing murder to bloodthirsty. He soon seems to escalate from just one murder to basically killing anyone who looked at him the wrong way. This shows an immediate lack of self control. It got so bad to the point that even Lady Macbeth, the mastermind behind the murder of Duncan, shows immediate regret for what Macbeth has become. She realizes the monster that Macbeth is is a product of her own selfish and devious desires. She regrets the team of murderers they turned into, and most of all she regrets the murder that started Macbeth’s loss of self control. On page 163, Lady Macbeth sees blood spots on her hand. Sher exclaims, “Out, damned spot, out I say!”These blood spots represent the blood of Duncan that was shed when Macbeth killed him. While this is not the best point for proving how Macbeth has lost self control, it is important because even the evil mind of Lady Macbeth sees the evil that she did and how it changed Macbeth. I also believe that she would not have this regret if Macbeth only killed Duncan. Another example of how he lost self control is when he hears that his wife died. On page 177, when he hears of the death, he says, “She should have died hereafter.”The control over his emotions and actions are obviously gone. He is more of a ravenous animal then a person, and this quote helps prove that. The death of a woman that he loved so much that he would commit a murder for suddenly means nothing to him. Macbeth does not display being a good man during this time by losing control of himself.
Macbeth is an extremely interesting book because while it is plastered with examples of bad men, we can see qualities in some of these characters that reflect what an example of a good man would be during this time. We see that obeying your wife is a good quality for a man to have, and this point is proven in a twisted way in Macbeth. Having pride in your country is also a very good quality to have, and we see this by the way Macduff cares too much for his country to let a tyrant like Macbeth do something to ruin it. Lastly, self control is a good quality to have during the time the play was written, and that obviously also pertains to modern day. While Macbeth is the villain in this story, we can see some qualities in a good man both by what he does and does not do. We saw his compassion for his wife vividly in the beginning of the story, that is why he committed the murder. We as well see his devilish lack of self control as he turns into a bloodthirsty monster.
An Attitude to the Male Characters in Twelfth Night
The male characters in Twelfth Night are utterly unlikeable or utterly ridiculous; it is impossible for the audience to feel any sympathy for them
There may be moments within the play’s narrative where certain male members of Shakespeare’s cast are perceived as unlikeable and ridiculous. However, arguably it is indeed ridiculous in it’s self to say that this is the case all of the time and for all of the male characters. As well as this it is important to consider the various different versions of Twelfth Night which are available for of course it is possible that an audience would feel sorry for a character in one version and not in another depending on how sympathetically the role is played. Finally, the theme of disguise plays a huge part in the analysis of these characters for if they are playing a part or hidden under a disguise perhaps it is not even viable to say that they are utterly unlikeable for we don’t even know their true identities.
Shakespeare’s Malvolio is a complex character disliked by the majority of the remaining roles and conceivably deemed ridiculous and unlikeable by the play’s audience. It appears that the character takes on the part of the stern superior who lords over Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew in a condescending, supercilious manor. It is this patronizing persona which seems to render him unlikeable and certainly detract from the audience’s opinion of him, including one critic who refers to him as ‘a minor and pompous character.’ My masters are you mad? Or what are you?/ Have you no wit, manors nor honesty…’ Here, we see how the character proceeds to tell his ‘masters’ off for making ‘an alehouse of [his] lady’s house.’ The word ‘masters’ here appears to allure to his patronizing tone for although we see that these are his superiors, the repetition of rhetorical questions seems to create a tone of mockery which parallel to the syndetic list of insults provides him with an air of pride which makes it no surprise that his comrades are no friends of his. Interestingly, we can deduce from his speech that Malvolio’s intent is to defend his ‘ladies’ honour and yet Shakespeare’s presentation of their relationship does not appear friendly either. Indeed, Olivia scorns him expressing, ‘O, you are sick of self-love, Malvolio, and taste with distempered appetite.’ The imagery of appetite and sickness implies her distaste for Malvolio and his self obsession and once again advert to the other character’s hatred towards him. A hatred, which indeed could cause either mirrored hatred or sympathy for the character’s obvious loneliness amongst Shakespeare’s viewership. We see then that Malvolio could be deemed as utterly unlikeable for it appears he is utterly disliked by the other characters. However, arguably some audiences may sympathise with this solidarity and see that he is a well meaning individual.
As well as appearing unlikeable, conceivably Malvolio is utterly ridiculous as well in the way that he falls for the tricks and lies of the drunkard jokers Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew and the flirtatious maid Maria. However, potentially it is this ridiculousness which provides an opportunity for sympathy, arguably making sympathy for this character possible. Although some may argue that Malvolio is deserved of his poor treatment it would be difficult to feel no empathy for this character due to his circumstances. ‘He will come to her in yellow stockings, and ‘tis a colour she abhors, and cross gartered, a fashion she detests.’ We can infer that the intentions of Maria here are to maliciously humiliate Malvolio by presenting him as a fool dressed in a garish ‘yellow’ a colour used specifically to offend his mourning mistress who eventually imprisons Malvolio: ‘What, ho, I say! peace in this prison!’ and has him labelled a ‘lunatic’. The exclamatory language here, emphasizes the excitement of the characters, whose plan has fallen into place, highlighting their evil intent and potentially causing the audience to sympathies with him, indeed one critic expressed ‘Malvolio is not essentially ridiculous.’ We see then that it is not impossible for an audience to hold sympathy for the character for despite any dislike they may have for him certainly; his mistreatment is at least a little in excess. Finally, it appears that the character may be perceived differently depending on how he is presented. For example, in the Tim Carroll version of Twelfth Night Malvolio is played by the popular actor Stephen Fry who plays the role in a comical manor which indeed is more sympathetic that the stern portrayal in the Kenneth Branagh production where one critic writes: ‘Richard Briers [plays] an unforgettably mean-spirited Malvolio.’ We see then that depending on the version of the play and the cast chosen the character Malvolio can be sympathized with or not, seen as unlikeable and ridiculous or not and so we see that the presentation of these male characters is not set in stone.
Feste, is a character presented by Shakespeare as the clown, arguably utterly ridiculous but not utterly unlikeable. However, Feste seems to hide behind a ‘mask’ and plays the persona which his environment requires from him and so it is difficult to say whether his true character is unlikeable or not, for we as a viewership do not get to see him. The character Olivia however, seems to see through this mask: ‘the fellow is wise enough to play the fool’. Here, the word ‘wise’ highlights the true nature of his character an adjective which perhaps suggests that his true self would not be unlikeable to an audience but perhaps admired or found humorous. Indeed, one critic referred to him as ‘bawdy, witty and wise.’ These adjectives show the antithesis of an ‘utterly unlikeable character.’ On the other hand, another critic wrote when referring to him: ‘Putting on an official costume does not necessarily make one virtuous’ which implies that just because Feste plays the part of a likeable joker, does not mean he is funny or even well liked, certainly the remaining characters are fond of his ‘gown’ but are not familiar with his true nature. We see then that Feste’s character draws upon the theme of disguise a disguise which contrasts with the statement under investigation for he appears indeed, likeable yet ridiculous. His true nature on the other hand is under question for it is difficult to say whether his true identity is unlikeable and/or ludicrous.
To conclude, by using the characters Feste and Malvolio Shakespeare presents ideas of disguise and humour which causes the audience to question their feeling towards them. Some may indeed argue that all male characters featured throughout the play are utterly unlikeable and utterly ridiculous however, this may be a narrow view for arguably these characters are far too complex to be utterly anything. Certainly, in this comedic play there are elements within each character which could be deemed ridiculous but conceivably it is down to each individual to decide if a character is unlikeable or not. The characters Malvolio and Feste however, are perceived differently from different critics perhaps depending on the presentation of them in different versions.
Biography of William Shakespeare – One of the Greatest Writers in the English Language
William Shakespeare was the son of John Shakespeare, an alderman and a successful glover originally from Snitterfield, and Mary Arden, the daughter of an affluent landowning farmer. He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and baptised there on 26 April 1564. His actual date of birth remains unknown, but is traditionally observed on 23 April, Saint George’s Day. This date, which can be traced back to an 18th-century scholar’s mistake, has proved appealing to biographers because Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616. He was the third child of eight and the eldest surviving son.
John Shakespeare’s house, believed to be Shakespeare’s birthplace, in Stratford-upon-AvonAlthough no attendance records for the period survive, most biographers agree that Shakespeare was probably educated at the King’s New School in Stratford, a free school chartered in 1553, about a quarter-mile (400 m) from his home. Grammar schools varied in quality during the Elizabethan era, but grammar school curricula were largely similar: the basic Latintext was standardised by royal decree, and the school would have provided an intensive education in grammar based upon Latin classical authors.
At the age of 18, Shakespeare married 26-year-old Anne Hathaway. The consistory court of the Diocese of Worcester issued a marriage licence on 27 November 1582. The next day, two of Hathaway’s neighbours posted bonds guaranteeing that no lawful claims impeded the marriage. The ceremony may have been arranged in some haste since the Worcester chancellor allowed the marriage banns to be read once instead of the usual three times, and six months after the marriage Anne gave birth to a daughter, Susanna, baptised 26 May 1583. Twins, son Hamnet and daughter Judith, followed almost two years later and were baptised 2 February 1585. Hamnet died of unknown causes at the age of 11 and was buried 11 August 1596.
Shakespeare’s coat of arms, as it appears on the rough draft of the application to grant a coat-of-arms to John Shakespeare. It features a spear as a pun on the family name. After the birth of the twins, Shakespeare left few historical traces until he is mentioned as part of the London theatre scene in 1592. The exception is the appearance of his name in the “complaints bill” of a law case before the Queen’s Bench court at Westminster dated Michaelmas Term 1588 and 9 October 1589. Scholars refer to the years between 1585 and 1592 as Shakespeare’s “lost years”. Biographers attempting to account for this period have reported many apocryphal stories. Nicholas Rowe, Shakespeare’s first biographer, recounted a Stratford legend that Shakespeare fled the town for London to escape prosecution for deer poaching in the estate of local squire Thomas Lucy.
Shakespeare is also supposed to have taken his revenge on Lucy by writing a scurrilous ballad about him. Another 18th-century story has Shakespeare starting his theatrical career minding the horses of theatre patrons in London. John Aubrey reported that Shakespeare had been a country schoolmaster. Some 20th-century scholars have suggested that Shakespeare may have been employed as a schoolmaster by Alexander Hoghton of Lancashire, a Catholic landowner who named a certain “William Shakeshafte” in his will. Little evidence substantiates such stories other than hearsay collected after his death, and Shakeshafte was a common name in the Lancashire area.
Sonnet 116 by Shakespeare
Literature is a broad term with different definitions depending on personal understanding. It mostly refers to the written work be it novels, poetry, novellas, and speeches. The list is so broad for it has to include written interviews, comics and personal letters and this makes the definition broader and therefore it can be further defined as a group of art placed on a specific area or thought. This is because literature exists in mathematics, history, and in psychology. Generally, literature refers to a deep aggregate of the written word, grammar, knowledge and contains a deep analysis of fashion and has some deep heightened standards to set away from other writing standards (Sedgwick., 2015).
Literature is very important in connecting people to be it in fiction and nonfiction world. The books of literature bring people into real life. Through deep analysis and understanding of literature different paintings comes into existence in the mind of the reader depending on the breadth and depth of life understanding (Sedgwick., 2015). Therefore literature in its primary value it gives out the human significance. In addition, literature plays a big role in social function. This is because a well-placed and planned literature arouses the desires of the reader where the literal writers and artists find solace in the world of literature.
Literature by the modern writers has fully developed a good area for expression, feelings and some situations and complex languages. This basically means that literature reduces limitations of life as it becomes the vehicle for free thinking and a field of feelings for the common people, the more literature is employed in real life the more the readers become more popular and public hence making literature more important in connecting literature and life (Sedgwick., 2015).
In analyzing literature and observing the link which exists in between life and the work of art I have chosen love as the aspect of life to major on. Love is a broad word though the meaning is fairly the same. Love refers to that strong affection for one another which starts from kinship or personal contacts and ties, it can be a parental love to a child or that strong attraction of one towards the other based on sexual fulfillment or sexual desire between couples (Sedgwick., 2015). In analyzing this issue I have decided to choose two works of literature, that is a poem and a play so as to show the ties which exist in between real life and the work of art done in form of writing or orally. Sonnet116 is the poem I choose in analyzing the theme of love which is a life aspect issue since each and every one in one time throughout his/her life finds himself or herself strongly attracted to someone else and therefore I chose sonnet 116 which is a poem by Shakespeare in trying to link the oneness which is existing between real life and the work of art (Sedgwick., 2015).
The other work of literature which I chose in trying to link the relationship which still exists between the work of art and real life if a play, a play is a form of a written literature which basically converges and consists of characters who throughout the play they are all in dialogue and are intended to be in a theoretical performance and not just mere reading as the playwright places them with an intention of bringing a specific theme out clearly for the people watching to grasp it at the first performance or on the recurrent times of watching and listening (Sedgwick., 2015). A play is mostly a performed activity which is made for purpose of recreation rather than for a serious or a practical need although there is the main theme which is normally passed by the characters in the play. The play in consideration goes by the name “love and recession” which is trying to link the feelings the play writer who is trying to give out his views about love and how the play connects the characters till it brings some ties between life and literature (Sedgwick., 2015).
The theme of love is very important to the overall human experience in that the human beings will understand the benefits love brings to the lives of those incorporates it in their day to day life. We as human beings look at love as an inferior component in life but the fact is that love plays are a paramount role in our lives. Loving is caring for others and therefore caring for others brings happiness levels high for both parties (Shakespeare., 2012).The need of loving and being loved brings in the sense of belonging and works as a basic and fundamental need for all human beings living and coexisting and therefore the topic on love sheds some light on the benefit of caring and nurturing the love for others. The topic emphasizes on the fact that people need to understand that there exists a parallel line between loving and caring for others and finding love for ourselves and so this will try to link ties which exist between life and the written work of authors (Shakespeare. 2012).
Sonnet 116 is a poem by Shakespeare which is all about love as the main theme. The poet has a lot of praises and tends to glorify the two lovers who met each other and entered into a relationship freely based on personal understanding and trust between the lovers. The first four lines of the poem are revealing the poet’s happiness and pleasure of being in love that is so strong and constantly growing day in day out (Shakespeare. 2012).
(Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments, Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove)
These lines proclaim true love which is existing between the two lovers. The poet puts it clearly that at times we may measure love to some extent and to some degree though this doesn’t mean that we can understand the meaning of love. In a real sense, love cannot be understood though it can be felt and seen (Shakespeare. 2012). This poem is strongly trying to link the reality that love is that affection and strong lover between people as the literature on the sonnet 116 poems are putting it. The poem is emphasizing the importance of remaining strongly attached together from the moment of being love till the edge of death comes. This is a strong point in supporting real-life love as the bride and bridegroom in the moment of being joined together during weddings they are normally advised to remain together as from that very moment till death does them part. This shows that there is a great connection between literature which is the written work and the real life since the two are revolving around staying together and strong till death (Shakespeare. 2012).
According to Shakespeare poem, sonnet 116, love is universal and never changing and it is in this where he calls for people to embrace the fact that love is never dying or losing trust to each other but remaining in strong support till the end (Aquilina., 2011). This poem is conveying a direct and a very important message to the readers with the aim of making them realize the fact that there exist real ties between literature both written and the oral literature and the real life (Shakespeare. 2012). This piece of literature work is very important in that it is trying to educate people on the importance of remaining in love and their marriages no matter the challenges they face keeping in mind that true love knows no barrier and therefore they ought to remain fully attached to each other (Aquilina., 2011). This poem is strongly expanding the theme of love which this research is all addressing on for it is giving a lot of supporting advice to those in love. On the same, the poem can complicate the theme of love under coverage depending on the levels of understanding of the reader since it is not a direct them in which everyone can just read and get it unless a deep eye for literature is used. This poem is telling the readers something new to be proud of and a very educative point which needs to be put in use for the benefit of those in love either in marriages or still dating with the aim of marrying in future (Shakespeare. 2012). In the next work of literature, the play entitled “love and recession” which is a very simple but humorous play which is expressing romance in the times of economic recession in Nigeria a country in western Africa (Herzog et al., 2010).
The play is a mix of music, comedy, and drama with three characters and the main theme of the play being love. The play revolves around a young farmer who is living in the deep villages in Nigeria and was a long- time friend of the area chief and his daughter who is portrayed as being so beautiful. The chief’s daughter is ready and mature enough to get were to propose to her and later marry her for she is seen to be so desperate for marriage (Herzog et al., 2010). But the society sets some standards for her in that she has to remain calm and learn some character and be able to control her tempers before she gets married to the man she is yearning to meet in her love circles. During the time of the play, everything is seen to be living in scarcity including men to marry such beautiful ladies. This play is trying to convey the message that ladies should remain calm and learn the basic and most of the important characters and behavior needed for keep a man in their house. Away from the play which is a work of literature, the real-life demands ladies who have reached the age of being married or who are currently dating to fully get settled and gain some good behaviors which will make them get the right men for their love life (Herzog et al., 2010). This play gives more detail on love since the chief advises his daughter to go for a man to propose to her but due to mine disagreement, the man who was to marry faints and becomes unconscious but later gains some consciousness and the two are forced to marry at the spot.
This play connects completely to the poem “sonnet116” by Shakespeare which still fights for those in love to remain fighting for their love. Since the main theme in this play is the love it teaches people that love is like a star that guides the ship that stays sailing in the process of stormy waters. This shows how strong love should be valued and not lost no matter the challenges such people find themselves in. this play is conveying the main message of love where it is strengthening lovers to remain strong and concerned about their future (Herzog et al., 2010).This piece of advice is regarded as one of the best for it is giving some hope for future and strong existence between the lovers. Play as a work of literature is greatly expanding the theme of love in that it is giving a deep analysis of what lovers go through in the hunt for love. This is serving as a reflection board for those in love to stay focused and at the end, they will enjoy the fruits of being honest and strong in love (Herzog et al., 2010).
The play “ love and recession” is giving us a new dimension of fighting for our love affairs and remaining faithful no matter the cost and challenges we are about to face for at the end we will enjoy the ripe and sweet fruits of our struggles in love. In conclusion, it is worth noting that literature is very important to any society for it brings in some connection between itself and life. Literature teaches people on how to look at life from a different perspective and gives each person enough room to think in a different manner away from the way they away think and to understanding our surroundings better than we normally do (Sedgwick., 2015). Poetry which is an extensive work of literature teaches us in life all round about what we all expect to meet in real life, be it good times in life or hardships. The choices of words in poetry matters a lot in passing the right information into the readers for some of the words soothes our minds, heart, and soul giving us some hope of life (Sedgwick., 2015).Poetry is one of the oldest works of literature acts as a medium for keeping and recording the life journeys of people, their stories and memories and this is the reason why people ought to get concerned with the themes of the works of literature so as to fully make sure that the real information recorded in the previous generation is the one which is passed to the next generation or an improved kind of information so as to make such generations more informed.
All these works of literature, ranging from poetry, songs, and stories are very important in decorating and framing the human experience for they enrich the human experience and conditions greatly since they pass the right and required information from one generation and with the necessary moral lessons something which has a great impact in mounding and improving the experience of those involve (Sedgwick., 2015).
The Mysterious Case of Queen Elizabeth’s Decision to Censor the Works of William Shakespeare
“In April 1559… Queen Elizabeth drafted a proposal that [created] a system for the prior review and regulation of plays throughout her kingdom,” (Greenblatt 38). Queen Elizabeth’s actions limited the number of playwrights who were at liberty to speak of “sensitive” issues in their works, (e.g. politics), because they only permitted “learned men” to write of them. I find Queen Elizabeth’s decision to censor her people’s work interesting for a few reasons. First, it makes her time seem more accessible to Shakespeare’s modern readers.
Since we live in the twenty-first century as opposed to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when she was alive, Elizabeth’s world may seem distant, foreign, and unrelatable. The knowledge that both Shakespeare’s and Elizabeth’s time contained censorship makes it appear all the more tangible because it is something familiar to the modern reader. Although we are meant to have freedom of speech, we are limited in what we can say about “delicate” topics like government officials. There are also strict laws pertaining to censorship in many foreign countries.
Secondly, knowing that censorship existed in Shakespeare’s time causes the contemporary reader to wonder if the things we read are truly reflective of life during the Renaissance. The knowledge also raises a number of questions like: what would have been written without the presence of censorship? How would the things that were written have changed? How much were the plays written during the Renaissance changed before they were allowed to be published? Would the plays even remotely resemble the things we read today without censorship? Is our impression of this time period true to what the people of the Renaissance experienced? Is our perception of the Renaissance entirely wrong? Is it fictionalized or romanticized? What could Queen Elizabeth have been trying to hide? The list is simply endless!
The knowledge that Queen Elizabeth censored the plays that were allowed to be performed in her kingdom is going to influence how I experience Shakespeare’s works. As I complete the assigned readings for this course, I am always going to wonder if Shakespeare’s plays are reflective of the socio, political and economic climate of his time or if they depict Elizabeth’s approved fabrication of the time. Since we have no way of confirming the truth, (everyone who lived during Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare’s time is dead), I will never know.
- Greenblatt, Stephen, et al. The Norton Shakespeare. 2nd ed., W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2009.
William Shakespeare and Vishnu V. Shirwadkar: Writers with Heavenly Ingenuity
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is an ever shining name in the field of English literature and dramatic activity. His plays have brought him immortal fame. The immortal writer of thirty seven plays has tried to touch almost everything through his plays which makes his plays immortal. Though these plays are created in the last decade of sixteenth century and at the outset of seventeenth century they seems to be built on the elements common to the life of all the people in all the times. Themes of his plays are not outdated and still seem fresh and applicable in present time. Approximately more than 500 plays and 660 films are based and inspired on the themes Shakespearean drama. He is the most translated, trans-created and adapted writer of the literary world. We find the translations, trans-creations and adaptions of his dramatic works in almost all the languages of the world.
Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar (1912-1999) is one such great name in the field of Marathi literature. He was a popular Marathi poet, playwright, novelist, essayist and short story writer who wrote with the pen name Kusumagraj. His literary career of five decades started in the pre-independence era. He dealt with almost every literary form in his literary career. He wrote sixteen volumes of poems, eight volumes of short stories, seven volumes of essays, three novels, eighteen plays and six one-act plays. His collection of poems Vishakha (1942) and play Natsamrat (1962) are considered among the masterpieces of Indian literature. He was conferred with many State and National awards including highest literary honor of the nation Dnyanapith Award in 1987, Padma Bhushan in 1991 and Sahitya Akademi Award in Marathi for his classic play Natsamrat in 1974.
King Lear and Natsamrat
From the evidence of the title page of Quarto I and the entry on the Register of the Stationers’ Company, it is clear that the play was first performed on 26 December 1607 and published in 1608. It was perhaps, written either late in 1605 or early in 1606. The text of the play King Lear in modern edition is based on a collection by scholars of the two Quartos those appeared in 1623 and 1632. King Lear was fairly popular play in Shakespeare’s own time and afterwards. It one of the most widely staged performed and adapted play worldwide. The plot deals chiefly with the faithlessness of the children towards their parents bringing forth the pathetic story of King Lear and Gloucester.
On the other hand Natsamrat is a masterpiece by V. V. Shirwadkar which cannot be called as translation or adaption of King Lear. It is inspired or based on the model of King Lear. The play Natsamrat was written in 1962. Like King Lear it deals with the story of a pathetic father who has been compelled to leave everything because of his children. The play was a huge success on Marathi stage and gained Sahitya Akademi Award for the writer in 1974. Though the play is based on King Lear but it cannot be called as translation or adaption of it. The writer, V. V. Shirwadkar confesses while thanks giving and stating his motive of creation of the play ‘Natsamrat’, that he modeled his play on William Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear. He says:
I received the plan of transforming ‘King Lear’ for certain a great actor of Marathi theatre. In the place of the king, the great, I visualized in my mind an age-old great actor. And he alone possessed my mind. I present that picture to the readers and spectators.
Thus Shirwadkar clearly states that he had image of old Lear while picturing the pathetic life of central figure oh his play, Appa Belwankar. But still both the plays have their own individuality and domain. Natsamrat though is an inspiration from King Lear but has its own class and individuality. This comparison can be well understood with certain limitations based on the following points.
King Lear and Natsamrat: Plot, Characters and Story
King Lear, the eighty year old king of Britain decides to divide his kingdom among his three daughers and then retire from the throne. He takes the decision of this division on the basis of display of daughter’s affection for him. The elder daughters Goneril and Regan are cunning and hypocritical; they flatter their father knowing his nature without having any love for him and become successful in getting larger part of the kingdom. On the other hand Cordelia the youngest daughter who loves her father so dearly but is honest and sincere expresses her feelings in most simple words which displease her father. The king fails to distinguish between the flattery and genuine affection and disownes and disinherits her completely and divides his kingdom between Goneril and Regan. He decides to live in turns with these two daughters and from here his real misery starts. Goneril treats him with utter disdain and Lear curses wrath of hell on her and decides to go to Regan’s house. Regan refuses to give shelter to her father until he has unconditionally apologized to Goneril. The two sisters join hands to give all possible pains to the old soul and the heart broken king leaves her house in a fit of rage in stormy night. The mighty king of the past takes shelter into a hovel. Cordelia comes for his rescue but she is also killed according to the instructions of her sisters and Edmund. Brokenhearted Lear could not bear this agony and dies.
Natsamrat is a tragedy of a veteran theatre actor Ganapat (Appa) Belwankar who has enjoyed a massive success, name and fame for his dramatic performances and acting during his heyday. He had acted in various plays based on the works various rknowned writers and especially Shakespeare. He usually remained the center of attraction and at the top during his acting career. After his dominating and shining career of over forty years at the theatre he decides to divide everything between his two children, a son and a daughter. He decides to live rest of his life in the loving company of his children. But the aging father and mother are no more wanted by their children. The play reveals intensely tragic fate if Appa Belawankar and his wife Kaweri who become victim of fate and fortune in old age. This is similar to the turn of fate and fortune in the life of mighty Lear because of the wrong doings of his elder daughters. Appa initially takes shelter into his son Nanda’s flat, finds solace and amusement in the company of his little granddaughter Thami. But as the days pass both Appaa and Kaweri find it difficult to cope up with the changed behavior of their son Nanda and daughter in law Sharada. They decide to go and live with their daughter Nalu and son in law Sudhakar. Their also they get sheer disappointment. Though the son-in-law Sudhakar has no problem with the oldies but daughter Nalu is not happy with the whimsical behavior of her old father. She even checks the trunk of her parents in order to search money stolen from her house. This gives a great shock to the old souls who have given everything to their children. They decide to leave the house in a stormy night. Appa’s greatest support Kaweri dies and this great man collapses. This is a story of a humanist who succumbs to the ill fate and destiny. He withstands great suffering after retiring from the stage. The aging theatre artist and his wife begin to feel unwanted by their own children. This story is contrasted by the story of Appa’s friend Kalwankar and his wife. The couple has no children. This is a great sorrow and want of their life. Mr. and Mrs. Kalwankar are leading the life for each other. They often become sad by watching the complete family filled with children and grandchildren of other people. But Kalawnkar is rather happy and thanks God for keeping them childless by watching the pathetic condition of Appa and Kaweri, the couple who have sacrificed everything for their children.
As an actor Appa Belwankar has played various roles in his life. He has potrayed many charecters from Shakespearean drama. He remembers various roles he has played in the past such as Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Julius Caesar. He seems to be an embodiment of Lear who is perhaps deceived and disappointed by his own children. This might have resulted due to his own pride and nature. The playwright has the picture of old Lear while creating the character of Belwankar.
In the play Natsamrat, Shirwadkar pictures on the stage, the broken and proud Lear in the form of Appa Belwankar. The play Natsamrat is modeled on King Lear but it has its own greatness and individuality. The central theme of both plays is faithlessness of the children and tragic end due to behavior of close relations. We find many similarities in psychological and behaviourial traits of Lear and Belwankar. Bothe plays have shared the intense tragic vision. Both the dramatists have cleverly made the use of soliloquies to lay bare the hert of the protagonist and to give an insight into their personality.
Literary Devices in the Play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
Authors use literary devices in their story’s and plays for an assortment of reasons. This is also true in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. In the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare a Roman senator named Caesar has risen above the rest and soon will become a king, but a group of conspirators assassinate him to stop the forming of a monarchy. However, their honorable effort to save Rome eventually leads to their own demise. Several literary devices can be seen in Julius Caesar, and they all influence the plot or readers understanding in one way or another.
Foreshadowing is a key figure of speech in the play. We see foreshadowing from the beginning of the play, when the Soothsayer or fortune teller tells Caesar to “Beware the Ides of March” or in other words that Caesar will be assassinated on March fifteenth. Calpurnia Caesar’s wife later dreams of Caesar’s death and informs him, but he does not acknowledge her warning. This not only foreshadows what is going to happen, but it also shows us how Caesar’s status and ego are affecting his decision making and cognitive ability which up until this point had been spot on. Foreshadowing gives us a hint of what is to come, and at what point in the plot the story is.
Foreshadowing is not the only figure of speech used in the play however. Puns are another element noted early on in Julius Caesar. When Marullus addresses the Cobbler responds with a pun. Cobbler is meant to have two meanings in this dialog the first being a shoemaker, and the second being a bungler. The Cobbler refers to himself as a “mender of bad soles,” playing with the word soles. Marullus interprets the Cobbler as a mender of souls. This shows that the senators can still be fooled by the plebeians who were considered far below senators in mind and strength. The occasional usage of puns adds to the story of Julius Caesar by enriching the text with some modest humor as well as adding to character personality.
During Antony’s funeral speech, which is the climax of the play in act III, several figures of speech are used, including repetitive questioning, sarcasm, and essive repetition. Antony frequently uses the reparative questioning of Brutus’s nobility and reasoning in killing Caesar to win over the people of Rome. His repetition of “But Brutus is an honorable man” is used to persuade the people that Brutus has done wrong in killing Caesar. Primarily, Antony’s entire speech makes the people of Rome think if Brutus has really done a good deed? It is this use of multiple figures of speech which earns Antony the respect and loyalty of the people of Rome. This, in turn, shapes the plot later in the play and the fate for the conspirators. This is the leading example of how literary devices influence the plot, characters, and audience in the play.
It is effortless to see that figures of speech not only make a story more thought-provoking and amusing, but also have an explicit effect on the plot of the play. Shakespeare, like any author, uses these figures in his plays. Julius Caesar is an excellent example of these techniques being used.
The Narrative Conflict and Structure for Both the Lion King and Hamlet
Narratology is the analysis of a narrative structure in primarily literature but is now being applied to multiple different media studies (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica). A narrative analysis will look at elements such as the story outline and plot structure, roles of characters, and the narrative perspective or point of view (Burgoyne 3). Some other elements that play a role in narrative analysis are technical code; sound, camera angles, design and editing, verbal code; use of language both spoken and written, symbolic code; clues within narrative that give more detail such as socio-economic status, narrative conflict; the central conflict that moves the story forward (Green). With these elements in mind, the 1994 animated movie The Lion King can be analyzed as one of the adaptations of Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare, using a critical approach of narratology.
Specifically focusing on the narrative conflict and structure, the characters, and the narrative perspective or point of view. Looking at the narrative conflict and structure for both The Lion King and Hamlet we see that during the process of transformation they have maintained some similarities while also creating some deviations from the narrative. Following Todorov three key points of a structure; equilibrium, disequilibrium, and new equilibrium, one can notice that there are some similarities between the two (Green).
During The Lion King, Simba’s birth represents the equilibrium in the beginning, and we see that he has a close relationship with his father. In Hamlet, it begins with his father already being dead and Hamlet mourning him, which is the equilibrium in the story. One can already see that some deviations are already made to the narrative, which may be due to who the targeted audience is for each work of arts. What causes the disequilibrium in The Lion King is Simba’s father Mustafa dying due to Scar killing him, in Hamlet the apparition of his dead father causes the disequilibrium, as he states he was murdered by his brother. In both, what occurs to the father figure is what triggers the disequilibrium.
Lastly, what causes the new equilibrium for both is a duel, in The Lion King Simba duels Scar and in Hamlet Claudius and Hamlet duel. While what triggers the new equilibrium in both tales is similar the end of the overall narrative is different, with Hamlet the tale ends tragically with everyone dead but in the adaption, The Lion King, the tale ends on a happy note with Simba being restored to power. One can see that the narrative structure in the adaption does not at all closely follow the origin tale, that it only has very few similarities when looking at the structure. Even though the narrative structures are different it still feels similar to the origin of the tale. This is “because the motifs or objects and persons can vary from tale to tale, only the actions – giving, or removing, or battling – can form the constants that trigger our intuition that two tales are similar” (Bordwell 9). This demonstrates that because the narrative conflict in both are so similar, family betrayal and father-son relationships this is what truly allows the audience to see that it is an adaptation.
Characters are also very important in an adaptation, and one can see that there are many similarities between Simba and Hamlet. Simba and Hamlet are the protagonist of their tales and share quite a few similarities, for example, both are princes who are struggling with the death of their fathers. They also both have their uncle as the antagonist, who takes their fathers crown, by unsavory means, and exiles them. One major thing that separates them from each other is the role their father plays in the narrative. After the death of their fathers both Simba and Hamlet see apparitions of their father. What their father tells them is what separates them from one another, Hamlet’s father tells Hamlet to seek revenge and avenge his death and names Claudius as his killer. In the Lion, King Mustafa has a more positive message for Simba, as he tells his son to remember who he truly is and return to his home. In both tales the message the fathers have for their sons is different, but they both lead to their sons avenging them as both the sons’ duel with their uncle. This suggests that “the same character could fulfill different roles”, the original purpose of the father’s ghost does not transfer in the adaption, but the narrative conflict does not change regardless of the father’s appearance and purpose in both tales being different (Bordwell 6). Thus, demonstrating that if the narrative conflict is the same, it will drive the story to the same plot points but the drivers can be different.
Lastly, analyzing and comparing the narrative perspective or point of view for both The Lion King and Hamlet. Burgoyne addresses that within film narrative theory there are no agreements on the status of the cinematic narrator but discusses some of the popular theories (4). Two that relate to this adaptation analysis are the character-narrator; who “does not create a world, but simply reports”, and the impersonal narrator; “it both creates or constructs the fictional world while at the same time referring to it as if it had an autonomous existence, as if it preexisted the illocutionary act” (Burgoyne 7). In both Hamlet and The Lion King, the perspective is objectively making the narrator an impersonal narrator. This is because in both works of art the audience can “imagine that he or she is confronting the fictional universe directly” thus making their own conclusions about the narrative (Burgoyne 7).
One must also consider that within Hamlet there are some moments what the narrative perspective shifts into a character-narrator, this is done with the use of soliloquies and asides. This allows the audience to get a clearer understanding of the characters inner thoughts and the state of their mind and how they view things. For example, in Hamlet when analyzing the “To be or not to be” soliloquy the audience can see that Hamlet is struggling with constant thoughts on death and suicide as well as demonstrating his existential crisis and how that impacts his point of view or how it may be distorting his reality (3.1.64-78). This does not transfer into the Disney adaptation of Hamlet, and this is due to each work of art having different target audiences. To conclude, when thinking like a narratology critic, seeing Hamlet adapted into The Lion King one can see that bare bones of the narrative is still similar, but many changes and liberties are taken when examining the two. The narrative conflicts, protagonist, and antagonist are the narrative components that really do portray the similarities to the source material. The changes are mostly due to who the targeted audience was for both works of art, for Shakespeare his targeted audience were adults and his intention was to showcase a tragedy, which may have been a result of he himself experiencing tragedy with his son’s death.
For Disney the targeted audience is children and family, so they must be mindful of what they are showcasing, which leads to this family-friendly adaptation of Hamlet. One can really see how taking the audience into consideration can really change the narrative of the story. After analyzing the two, the Lion King really does stray from its original source material, which would lead critics to believe that this is not a true narratological adaptation regardless of how successful the adaptation was. With that being said, this adaptation was a very creative take on this Shakespearean tale. It is also a good demonstrates of how a tale can be revisited and bring new meaning to the story by adapting it into an animated movie.