Hello again readers!
I know, every time I come post I think, I should post more often. Then, I don’t….
In any case, I have started my first few weeks of studying Shakespeare! The plays and sonnets we are going to read are all new to me. The reading, analysis, and discussion has been really interesting. I am certainly enjoying it!
Here is what we’ve read so far!
Week 1 – Comedies
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Can you believe I have never read this comedy? It was pretty funny. I enjoyed the whimsical nature of the plot. It reminded me a lot of Aristophanes and his comedies. In fact, I learned that Shakespeare was educated using Greek and Roman plays. I analyzed Act V and discussed the meta-theater of the “Pyramus and Thisbe” play. All in all, a good play.
The Merchant of Venice
One of our focuses during these five weeks is the comparison between performance and reading the plays. Our first week we watched a production of The Merchant of Venice as we read along. I really didn’t care so much for this play. I felt like the characters were just trying to get the better of each other. Not my favorite, but certainly another interesting comedy to read.
Week 2 – The Histories
The Tragedy of Richard III
We started our week of history plays with Richard III. The opening soliloquy was the topic of much discussion. Shakespeare has Richard open by laying out his entire evil plan. Shakespeare’s Richard is apparently very deformed, so instead of finding a girlfriend/wife, he wants to manipulate others and work his way to be king. Now, being a “tragedy”, you can guess what happens.
It dawned on me about halfway through the week that some archaeologists analyzed a skeleton that they think is Richard III. What I found intriguing is that the osteology shows the person suffered from serious scoliosis, but was not a disfigured as Shakespeare’s Richard. That led to interesting thoughts and discussion about the literary purpose that Shakespeare had for creating an even more disfigured Richard.
The Life of Henry V
Our read/watch play for this week was The Life of Henry V. Henry is painted as the “mirror of a Christian king”. He leads his people into battle in France. We watched a performance with Lawrence Oliver as Henry. Again, the second play this week was not one of my favorites.
On the side, I’m reading a hilarious comedic collection of essays called Furiously Happy. The author, Jenny Lawson, presents a honest, cynical look at her life with anxiety, depression, and a crazy family and loving husband. If you are interested, you should certainly check it out. She also has a blog you can read here.
Seriously, read it. (Warning: moderate amount of cursing, some possibly triggering portions for those who struggle with self-harm, depression, and other mental illnesses. However, a great, positive look at the nature of surviving a mental illness!)