Classic Remarks: Is Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew misogynistic? Should we continue to stage it?

Is Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew misogynistic? Should we continue to stage it?

Courtesy of Wikipedia.
Once again, I am at a disadvantage. I have not read the play in Shakespeare’s own words, and am mostly familiar with it in summary, by reputation, and by…the 1953 MGM film Kiss Me Kate, which I gather is a fairly loose adaptation. I have skimmed the Sparknotes document on The Taming of the Shrew, but admit that this is hardly a firm foundation from which to pass substantive judgment. So please forgive me if I seem over-cautious in my answer. If I say something which seems contradicted by the text, forgive me my error and kindly correct me in the comments! Continue reading “Classic Remarks: Is Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew misogynistic? Should we continue to stage it?”


Classic Remarks 3: Is “Romeo and Juliet” a tragic love story or ironic comedy?

Is Romeo and Juliet a tragic love story or an ironic comedy? Should we take the play seriously when its protagonists are so young?

Having not the time to read the play again and do the sort of long, hard analysis I used to struggle over in college, I beg you to accept my quick thoughts on this matter, jotted down in the subjective and haphazard way that memory brings them to me.

I have always taken Romeo and Juliet as a tragic love story, sharpened and livened with both comedy and abundant irony. I do not view it primarily as an ironic comedy. That is, I do believe we are meant to take the story seriously.

The tragedy is certainly very serious, ending as it does in several unnecessary deaths and provoking enough sober reflection as to end a long and bitter feud between two callous and political families. And the love story is deadly serious to the lovers, whatever we may think of their immaturity and age. Indeed, their immaturity and age are what allows them to act so single-mindedly on their passions, for better and for worse. The better leads them to forsake the hateful feud between their families; the worse leads them to have too little thought for the consequences of their actions, leading to the deaths of some of their friends, and eventually of themselves.

Continue reading “Classic Remarks 3: Is “Romeo and Juliet” a tragic love story or ironic comedy?”

Fare thee well! But I shall continue to be random.

‘Tis finished. I…I confess I did not expect it to occur in such an obtuse, precipitous manner. But I’ve simply no more to say. My hope in starting a blog was that I might find that I had something worthwhile, something of real value, to add to the Internet. And perhaps, at first, I had. But not now. Not anymore.

And so, I must bow out, a dog of a writer, but a dog who knows when his tricks are old and rough.

Wherefore, David, wherefore? you ask. ‘Tis this: I have been surpassed.

And you will agree! After seeing this astounding, brilliant, beautiful, and vigorously entertaining (and subtly philosophical) videographic presentation on the Tube that is for You, what more is there to say? All that I could possibly say in my insensate verbiage is there represented in exquisite gibberish. Adriano Celentano, thou art all I could have hoped to be!

I assure, I am ecstatic with this new arrangement! My reaction upon viewing the video of Adriano Celentano’s amazing show was precisely the same as this. It was enlightenment like no other. At last, I knew! I know…

I know that nothing in the public eye (or browser) awaits me now; no fame, no place as a writer of words that others may cast their eyes upon and with understanding relish. The demiurgic beam that from my mind once sprang with numinous glimmer upon this weblog is now gray and dissolute. I shrink from the blank page, and shall try my digital pen no more.

For after the enlightenment, came this.

Fallow as my brain is, I shall follow in the steps of the one mentor left to me whose example holds the promise of my future. I shall walk his way (in English and Italian). Because now, I just ain’t got nobody.

Adieu…adieu…I do adieu to you…

(I’m sorry, Sam, I’m so, so sorry.)

TV Review: Doctor Who Episode 3.02 “The Shakespeare Code”

Episode 3.02 “The Shakespeare Code”
Written By: Gareth Roberts
Originally Aired: 7 April 2007

Synopsis: “The Doctor takes Martha back in time to Elizabethan England where they meet William Shakespeare and try to solve what sent the architect of the Globe Theatre to the madhouse.” (Wikipedia)

A fun, beautiful-looking episode, very similar to Episode 1.03 “The Unquiet Dead,” with its darkly lush historical setting (see the header image), and its topics of great English literature and creative inspiration. I love how the Doctor is such a huge fan of Earth’s artistic traditions. He loves Charles Dickens, he quotes Shakespeare with glee, and he even reads Harry Potter! (“Wait till you read Book 7. Oh, I cried.”) (In the next season you will discover that he also enjoys Agatha Christie’s Poirot.)

I question the Doctor’s assertion that Shakespeare was the greatest genius of all humanity, but it is neat that the Bard’s brilliance, quick-wit, and intuition render the Doctor’s psychic paper ineffectual on him. Normally the Doctor can just flash his wallet of psychic paper—which is actually blank—and people will see whatever he wants them to see on it (a special ID, tickets to a concert, etcetera). But Shakespeare not only sees the blank page, but he quickly deduces its nature and the fact that the Doctor is from the future. Quite a shocker that should be, but it only delights the Doctor. A true fanboy!As may be expected, there is much comedy gained from the running gag of the Doctor “accidentally” feeding Shakespeare many of his own famous lines (“The play’s the thing. And yes, you can use that.”), as well as a few that aren’t Shakespeare’s (The Doctor: “Rage, rage, against the dying of the light…” Shakespeare: “I might use that.” The Doctor: “You can’t, it’s someone else’s.”).  And it turns out that the Bard is almost as big a flirt as Captain Jack, though considerably more eloquent. Never one to be politically correct, but always one to be romantic, Shakespeare is inspired by Martha’s beauty to write about his mysterious “dark lady.”

All in all, a strong, very entertaining episode, with no huge weaknesses that I remember.

[after landing with the TARDIS]
Martha Jones: But are we safe? I mean, can we move around and stuff?
The Doctor: Of course we can. Why not?
Martha Jones: It’s like in those films: if you step on a butterfly, you change the future of the human race.
The Doctor: Then, don’t step on any butterflies. What have butterflies ever done to you?

Book Meme Day 27: The Most Surprising Plot Twist or Ending

To spoil, or not to spoil, that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler on the blog to make known
The most outrageous secrets of a book,
Or to write vaguely about an author’s ciphers,
And by saying naught preserve them?

Not to spoil, I think. Why should I rob you of the joy of discovery yourself?

My choice for the most surprising plot twists (yes, plural) occur in Chapters Four and Five of Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay. So early in the book, and yet they change everything. Matters which had been presented as absolute fact are twisted on their head and given new meaning. One after the other these twists come, each disguised by the unexpectedness of the previous one, until eventually the reader is prepared to believe just about anything that happens.

“It was too much. Devin’s brain simply gave up trying to understand. Too many pieces of information were coming at him from too many different directions, contradicting each other ferociously. He felt dizzy, overwhelmed. He was in a room where only a little while ago he had stood among a number of men. Now four of them were dead, with a more brutal violence than he had ever thought to come upon. At the same time, the one man he’d known to be dead—the man whose mourning rites he had sung that very morning—was the only man of Astibar left alive in this lodge.

If he was of Astibar!

…Devin simply stopped trying to put it all together. He set himself to listen and look—to absorb as much as he could into the memory that had never failed him yet—and to let understanding come after, when he had time to think.” (108-109)

The reader’s experience is much the same as young Devin’s, but mixed with more air-punching at the sheer awesomeness of the proceedings.