Friday, September 30, 2011

Breathe in . . . breathe out

I have one more thing I wanted to mention about A Winter's Tale and how the story is told.  I mentioned once (can't remember where, maybe a comment on a friend's blog or actually a post of my own) how it's kind of hard to mark the genre the play fits in.  Is it a tragedy?  Well, yes, but not enough people die in the end.  How about a romance?  Sort of, but only in the second half of the play and it's fairly shallow.  How about a history?  Haha!  Yeah right.  A comedy?  Well, Wikipedia thinks so, but I have a hard time putting it there due to the heaviness of the first half of the play.

I've decided to think of the genre as relaxant.  While there could be connotations of the word relaxant being linked to a drug, I try to think more of the end result of religion, especially Christianity, in that it can bring reprieve.  Some would say religion is a drug, and like I said, it can be useful that way, but I can't really say that Shakespeare agreed with Marx's philosophy.  I sure don't.  Anywho, enough about Marx.  Quack quack, I need to get back on track.

I find the overall direction of the play to be similar to relaxation techniques for the muscles.  First, tense the muscles, then relax them in order to be more at ease.  It's a pretty simple analogy, but I like it quite a bit.  The fact that the first half is dark and very tense, followed by the airy, springy, and light second adds to the effect the Christian message of faith has in the end.  Actually feeling the relief with King Leontes when he gets his wife and daughter back after he's truly repented (which subject I've touched upon--read the comments my friends left!), having experienced the tense feelings of injustice when it happened beforehand; both cause reflection on my actions, lest I too, am caused to grieve due to my unjust actions.  I've often thought as Shakespeare as an ideology in and of itself.  More on that later though.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pardon my absence, I was off 'playing'

I try to attend a play at the Utah Shakespeare Festival every year.  Unfortunately, I missed last year due to circumstance and other obligations, and I was consigned to miss it again this year, however, in a bit of a miracle--one that sadly doesn't quite compare to Hermione's return to life--I was able to attend A Winter's Tale and pay my yearly respects to the great playwright.  Speaking of Hermione and the spectacle of (in a way) her rebirth, seeing the play made a huge difference in that moment compared to reading.  First, I read the play thinking she was actually dead and that there was an actual statue of her that came to life in the end. The 'a-ha!' moment for me was King Leontes' describing the 'statue' of Hermione.  Somehow I missed this part until I saw the play live in Cedar City:

Second Gentleman. I thought she had some great matter there in hand; for she hath privately twice or thrice a day, ever since the death of Hermione, visited that removed house.

What's interesting to me is that I was more shocked that she was alive and hidden the entire time than the idea of her coming back to life via heavenly means.  Also, while it took away in one aspect a bit of Christianity embedded in the play, I found a few others, but   this exchange between Leontes and Paulina in the last scene of the play made me think most:

  • Leontes. What you can make her do,
    I am content to look on: what to speak,
    I am content to hear; for 'tis as easy
    To make her speak as move.

  • Paulina. It is required
    You do awake your faith. Then all stand still;
    On: those that think it is unlawful business
    I am about, let them depart.

This part makes me think of the time Jesus healed the man who was bedridden.  It may not be the best relation, but I see and hear Leontes' words as a reminder to Christ's reply to those who scoffed as His ability to forgive sins:

Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?

  I struggle to make a straight up connection between the two, but "for 'tis as easy To make her speak as move" simply reminds me of the power of forgiveness that God alone has concerning our sins.  It's as if Paulina holds that forgiving/judging power for Leontes' trespass against his wife, and Shakespeare wants us to remember how we are changed and forgiven.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Clowning around

Clown Noun: A comic entertainer, esp. one in a circus, wearing a traditional costume and exaggerated makeup.
While reading the fourth act of The Winter's Tale, I suddenly had an overwhelming desire to know why Shakespeare didn't give this character a name, but only a title, or role. He not so much of a side character in the story than I thought he would be, but I still can't help but sometimes think of him as clown in an Adam Sandler kind of way.

At first thought I wanted to assume that he was just a generic character, only to be used. Which he does get used, by Autolycus when he takes advantage of his charitableness. After reading the fourth scene, I wonder if Shakespeare is sending a subtle message of being too giving and charitable to strangers by how he writes the Clown's character/personality. I definitely haven't done enough research into Shakespeare and his take into Christianity through his plays and characters' actions, but I feel Clown definitely could be analyzed in that way for interesting results.

Clown also tends to be involved with matters that include money, more so than any other character. When I read stories, I tend to try to find what character I'm the most like, who I can relate to most. In this story, I wish to think that I am charitable to those in need, but on the other hand I think I too could be easily taken advantage of when being extra giving. I admit this part was a bit of a stretch, I'm really not that much like Clown.

Friday, September 16, 2011

So . . . popcorn anyone?

If you haven't been able to tell, I'm finding the first part of A Winter's Tale slow and quite frankly boring. I've decided to compare in my mind the gist of what goes on, specifically King Leontes, to the bad aspects of old age--slow moving, repetitive, and obstinate to name a few.

I should also mention I'm biased against Winter, we don't get along very well. I'm always looking forward to when it ends, excited for the green and fresh Spring. I'm not quite sure about everything that Shakespeare is using, but the background imagery and subtlety that I get from it is super effective. I'm going to go take a nap . . .

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hamlet: any small piece of food that derives from pig.

First off, I apologize to my faithful readers for being absent in my writing, as I'm still getting used to it. I have had many thoughts about Hamlet, but one that was most interesting and applicable was, well, relating my own personality to Hamlet.  I am not the most direct person when it comes to many confrontations.  Now, I'm not saying I don't get anything done ever, I just feel I have too many times where I think so much about what it is I should do that I accomplish nothing.

Yeah, I'm saying sometimes I can be the leave a note by the sink kind of guy, and then do no follow-up.  I can be the say something witty yet hint at something I wish you did differently or didn't do.  However, seeing the extremity of Hamlet's behavior (and lack of behavior) reminded me that if I need to do something important, at least I know several ways not to do it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I hate Shakespeare.

The above statement is in reality very untrue, but I put it there for A) a little inside humor for any in my class who find it to be such, and B) by putting that as my first statement, I've lowered expectations of what you will find in this lovely blog. Although I just kind of ruined it.

While I could jump right into what I find interesting in the works of Shakespeare, I should give a little history so that obvious influences can be made known, and thus you'll have a higher tolerance of my clear biases--what I without effort find awesome and what I have had to learn to love. My earliest conscious memory/experience of a full Shakespearean play is Henry V. I was a bit of a shadow to one of my older brothers, and he happened to be in AP English when I was in my later elementary school years. He rented the Kenneth Branagh version (superb, although I don't have much to compare it to) from the library, and I of course ended up watching it with him. More than once. At the time (and by at the time I mean I still do) I very much enjoyed medieval anything, so an inspirational story of ragtag British knights overcoming a larger, better armored French army naturally caught my interest. Of course I had exposure to general story lines and main characters of other Shakespeare plays (i.e. Romeo and Juliet), but until I saw Henry V, I thought his plays were naught but popular stories.

Skipping basically all detail and many years, I come to now. I thoroughly enjoy Shakespeare (when I'm up to reading it, I should add). Whether it be his crassy material, loaded-with-punnery insults or the monologue-ical moral inquiries (forgive me for making words up), there is good to be found in all of what I am familiar with, and I am certain with those I haven't read yet.