Study Guide for ENG 209 Midterm
Study Guide for ENG 209 Midterm ENG 209
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This 34 page Study Guide was uploaded by Miranda Browning on Thursday October 13, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to ENG 209 at North Carolina State University taught by William Shaw in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 65 views. For similar materials see Intro to Shakespeare in English at North Carolina State University.
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Date Created: 10/13/16
Lecture 3 Talked last class about the plot structure. In particular, about the induction and how Shakespeare creates a farcical introduction to the play. We also talked about how the frame of the plot is incomplete—as we never found out what happened to Christopher Sly. However, we usually see Sly in a balcony watching the main play and him falling asleep and being taken off stage. In which, he is accounted for and not upstaging the “main play.” Question Dr. Shaw proposed: What is the relationship between the Sly plot and the plot that deals with the two sets of lovers, Lucentio/Bianca and Petruchio/Kate? o On surface it doesn’t seem to have much significance with the other. o Sly plot is generally farcical and comical in tone while the other plots are essentially love plots. o Sly plot—by changing his costume, surrounding, & how people treat him—he begins to believe that he is actually a Lord. o In other two plots we also deal with the idea of change. o We see the motifs of disguise and change come through. Where disguises are used to cover identity and play tricks on others. Theme of change can be seen through the changing of costume to ultimately change identity (as depicted by the number of characters who pretend to be someone they are not by changing clothes; such as, Lucentio trying to be a tutor in order to impress Bianca and Petruchio dressed as a bum when arriving to his own wedding and many more) o So, are these changes in identity no more than changes in clothing? Or, is there a more substantial change in terms of their outlook on the world and their personality/behavior? Genre Clearly, this play is a comedy—begins in confusion and problems but ends happily, often times through a marriage or multiple marriages. Subgenres: comedy of manners and romantic comedy—especially in the Lucentio and Bianca plot through the sort of battle of the sexes. Farce means that a play is not really concerned with ideas/themes that carry some social and intellectual weight. The main interest in the play is the slapstick elements, as seen through the Sly plot. Dr. Shaw refers to it as a “three stooges” scene with no serious underlying theme to it and meant only for laughs. Relationship Among Plots Important to understand the relationship dynamics of the play as they exist through: husbandwife, master servant, and parentchild. In the 16 century, social, political, and familial structures were both hierarchical and patriarchal. In terms of hierarchical structures, we refer to the pyramidal system in which those with the most power are on top and levels of power trickle down from those at the top: like the Pope, Kings, Archbishops, God, etc. In terms of patriarchal structures, we refer to the importance of the “Father” figure, thus, translating to a male dominated system. So, fathers in the family as the “kings of their castle,” and men in the church and government holding upper level positions with the most power. o For those men like Baptista who did not have sons to “rule” after his passing, and instead two daughters, their main goal and responsibility was to try and get them wellmarried. Passing on their “property” to the hands of another man, because, during this time, women were unfortunately deemed as property. Marriage proposals and men asking the father for their daughters hand in marriage was, then, ultimately a contract for the exchange of “property” with money, land, etc. on the line. o For those fathers who could not pass along their daughters to another man, the woman would live as an old maid and continue to live in the father’s home. Or, the father could make a gift of his “property” to the church, assigning as a convent, giving his daughter as a gift to God. o While women did not legally have ways to escape the patriarchal nature of the time, they did so in other ways, such as: being more intelligent and stronger willed than their husbands, or through manipulation. Many instances of violence, through characters striking and beating others. Where does this violence come from? During this time there were essays on how and when to beat your wife and servant. Such as “HowTo” books in order to keep one’s house in order. Characterization Lucentio is the traditional courtly lover, going to University to enjoy a life of intellect. But, when he sees a beautiful girl he falls in love at first sight and sets his education aside to pursue Bianca. Bianca is favored more by her father and a lot of men seem to want her. Why? She is docile, submissive, charming, quiet—thus, admissible to the men around her and lending to the patriarchal nature of the time. Petruchio is an interesting character. He has traveled the world and been in combat, so an older and more mature man then Lucentio. o His motives: comes because his father has died and did not leave him enough money. So, he needs someone to take care of his house and to marry someone that has money. o Openly stated that he is looking for marriage to support his monetary needs. Katherine—the big question is whether her behavior is motivated or unmotivated? o Her behavior is unmotivated at most times. But, is motivated when it comes to her younger sister Bianca. Cognizant of her father liking Bianca more than herself, she has developed a stronger willed and intelligent personality who is not scared to challenge authority. So, her behavior is motivated by the sibling rivalry with her sister. o She feels alienated from her father and is fed up with the patriarchal system in general. o Her relationship with Petruchio—he originally sees her as a means of money where she sees him as another challenge that she has to overcome. o Act 2, Scene 1—series of dialogue made up of one line passages between the two, a pattern called stichomythia. A rhetorical pattern that Shakespeare often used when he had an argument going back and forth between characters. This is a significant moment because this is the first time she has engaged anyone on her level. Part of the play where each has the potential to be actually interested in one another, through this argumentative “word game.” o Through lines in the play we see Petruchio claiming his victory through which he will be arranged to marry her, and “tame her” into becoming a Kate made suitable for the home. o Petruchio takes her away from the wedding party as a way to “protect her.” He will not let her eat or sleep because he claims neither the food nor the bed are good enough for her. So, although she is being deprived and starving and tired, he claims this all is beneficial and “in reverent care for her.” He compares this to the training a falcon, making her go through a sort of “boot camp” training. o Brings up the scene of Petruchio telling her what she can and cannot wear, and him even making plans for her. o Overarching question: Does Kate change because of what has been imposed on her or from something that occurred within her? Thus, is she becoming educated to the point where now she is making choices for herself. Act 4, Scene 5 critical moment in the play, a dialogue between Petruchio and Kate o Key part of the dialogue between the two: when Petruchio claims that the bright light of the sun is actually “the moon.” Kate, claiming that it is actually the sun argues for a little with Petruchio, but ultimately succumbs and agrees with his claims, now saying that it is whatever he claims it to be, whether it be the sun or the moon. o So, has she come to a realization now that connects her to what she discovered with Petruchio in an earlier scene. She realizes that he is different from other men, as he approaches her with reverse psychology that uses her own anger against her. o Both of them investing into the playfulness of their relationship can be interpreted in several ways. Going along with this gamefashion, they have a unique relationship that she has never before experienced with other men. Theme: Susceptibility of Personality Change Towards the end of the wedding, Petruchio makes a bet with other men that his wife will be more obedient than the other women. Hortensio and Lucentio both get mocked by Petruchio for not having wives that are obedient, but when he calls for Kate to come…sure enough, she does. o The theme of susceptibility of personality change as seen through Kate’s final speech. o Key line: “Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper. Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee.” The question is then, why has she spoken like this? Many possible reasons… Could argue that she has not changed—she is dominating and showing up the widow and her younger sister Bianca. So, she has gotten revenge on them by showing them up. Or, she and Petruchio have made an alliance to loot up some money from winning the bet. Could argue that she has changed… Through coercion thus, able to subscribe to all of these things about your husband as “your king” and the societal norms of the time. Being brokenspirited or depressed, almost like an inmate in this male dominated world. Repetition—it has been repeated so often that she now is accepting of all this. Nurture of being “trained” into this Education, she has come to see the wrongness of her old behavior and the rightness of this new behavior in subscribing to these “truths” from Petruchio. For her own selfinterest and advantage, such that “the best way to get along is to go along.” So, by pretending to give him his way, Kate can therefore get what she wants. For play between her and Petruchio (Dr. Shaw’s favored interpretation) – so, she is going to participate in this game because it is something between her and Petruchio and how they communicate with one another. So, they are in a relationship through this “separate sphere” from everyone else. Most unique outlook on the play—stretches even to a practical joke being played on the community and using this sort of play to make some money for the two of them and get back at people who have hurt them before. Lecture 4: “Midsummer Night’s Dream” Dr. Shaw leads the lecture off with a question: What do you see in this play that you have noticed in the earlier plays? Are there any Shakespearian techniques or signature elements that we saw in “Taming of the Shrew” that are similar, or different? Midsummer Night’s Dream (MSND) is a different type of play in many ways—in terms of the types of characters, the tone of the play, the poetry in the play, and the settings. Similarities between Taming of the Shrew and Midsummer Night’s Dream: o Framing Plot: framing plot here is the plot that has to do with the wedding occasion of Theseus and Hippolyta, the intrigue with the four lovers who fall in & out of love, and the wedding celebration at the end. o Also have a “play within a play” —what is different here is that the play within the play is performed within the fifth act and it is a skit. o Multiple Plots—in TOS we called it a triple action play. In MSND we see several plots as well: the four lovers, Theseus & Hippolyta, Oberon & Titania, Bottom & others, and the Pyramus & Thisbe plot. So, a total of five different plots within one play. o Character Groupings With each plot there is a separate type of grouping—ranging from the noble people (governors, rulers, kings, queens), young aristocrats, and the townspeople. All groupings have their own style and mode of speech. o Dual Settings: Similar to TOS-- we see the play begin in Athens and then moves into the forest, and back to Athens o Specific Motifs: in TOS we see #1 the practical joke motif, which is tied into the motif of disguise. The themes within both plays have to do with change, or human transformation. The idea of metamorphosis, the idea of something changing from one state to another state or emotional condition. Midsummer Night’s Dream Referred to by Dr. Shaw as “one of Shakespeare’s most perfect plays.” Even when it is produced, it is rarely changed because there is no reason to edit a character, or scene, or even line from the play. It is so beautifully written, there is little need to alter it. In MSND we see a hilarious and comic expression of young love Has multiple plots with a variety of different kinds of characters, types of language, etc. The play to a large extent is about imagination Title of the Play: Midsummer night in Europe has a very significant connotation—a time of celebration in places like England, Scotland, Germany, Norway, etc. Because the nights in the summertime are so long (such that a part in Sweden is called “the land of the midnight sun”) A time of extraordinary celebration associated with midsummer nights. Interestingly, the Puritans when they took power tried to eliminate all of these festivals and expressions of singing & dancing. Surrender of inhibitions goes with the idea of giving into one’s emotions & passions is the idea of dream. So, what is a dream and why do we dream? What would happen to us if we didn’t dream? And why does Shakespeare use all of this in the context of the play to provide a focus on the action? o Dreams obviously occur in a sleeping state o But, most often, dreams occur in our sleep when our subconscious is able to emerge and our inner emotions are able to discover expression in random or recurring images. o Must think of the idea of dream in the context of this play. In the dual setting, Athens is the “waking world” and the forest is the “dreaming world.” Such that, Athens is governed by law, reason, and common sense—they go into the forest and all of these things are lifted with a complete loss of restraint, time, codes, inhibitions. o In this dreaming state, people experience change in form, change attitudes, and change partners. o End of Act 4, when people wake up and leave the forest, everyone is unsure or not whether they were dreaming or really experiencing such bizarre acts. o If we did not dream, we would have no outlet to siphon our repressed desires and energies. So, we might act out such behaviors in our waking state without dreaming. Dual Setting: So, play begins in Athens where the prominent figure in Athens is Theseus, the Duke—who has recently won the hand of Hippolyta. Their coming together did not occur as a process of mating rituals, but by winning her hand in battle, where she in a sense became his prize. He came to fall in love with her and wanted to marry her. First 19 lines: when he opens the play speaking to her, he is excited and ready to get married. How she recites her lines and where she stands on stage in reference to Theseus is important. We have to decide from this opening scene whether or not Hippolyta is excited or resentful (because she was won in battle) to be his future wife. These lines will be helpful in determining & interpreting their relationship throughout the rest of the play. Dr. Shaw leaves us with a question to think about: Is Hippolyta’s relationship to Theseus similar to other relationships we see in the play, or is it different? Theseus then has to handle a touching matter with Egeus and his daughter. Egeus comes to Theseus with a serious problem: his daughter will not marry the man that he has chosen for her (another similarity between this play and TOS—this indication of a patriarchal society in which men decide the will for their daughters). o Comes insisting that Hermia marry Demetrius, as he has wooed the father in a conventional way. Hermia, however, loves Lysander, who sings at her window, and writes poetry, and sends her gifts—a more casual and romantic figure. o Theseus has to negotiate this problem and lay down the law—if the woman does not obey her father’s wishes she can be put to death, a rather harsh punishment. Or, she can become a nun. o Stage is left to Lysander and Hermia who express their pity about the tragedy that just took place. Until they decide to run away and get married at his aunt’s house. They plot to run through the forest and get to his Aunt’s house. o The four make their way into the forest: Hermia, Lysander, Helena, and Demetrius o Act 2—everyone then is in the forest and the fairies appear, who seem to have ownership of this place. This is their world, and these mortals are now intruding in. Character Groupings: Multiple groups associated with the various plots, which are very different one from the other. How are they different? o Language: Theseus and Hippolyta speak blank verse (poetry, where every line has 10 syllables with an iambic pattern, or heartbeat rhythm). Bottom and his group speak prose or in lack of a better word, slang. The language of the lovers, often speak in rhymed couplets, where their poetry is much more stylized. They tend to use a lot of nature imagery, romantic expressions, and extravagant metaphors and similes. Language of the fairies is often “fairy-tale like” with a quick skipping rhythm (often times an iambic trimeter, with three feet to the line, or iambic pentameter couplets) with detailed imagery. o Visual Appearance: Theseus is an authoritative figure, so he should look the role and be dressed in well- tailored clothes with fine fabrics. Hippolyta should be an athletic woman who is tall and strong because she was an Amazon Queen and warrior. Both Theseus and Hippolyta have commanded people, so clearly their language and movement would show their own sense of power and authority. The four lovers would likely be young adults, 19-22 years old. Their language would reveal that because they speak in more emotional terms, and their mode of dress would likely be more casual, but still nicely tailored with good fabrics. They would move in a manner that suggest their impulsivity, with sudden and random actions. Bottom & his group—you have men who are weavers, carpenters, tailors, and all different sort of crafts. They are men of all different sizes (Starveling as thin, Bottom as thick- as their names would suggest) and would likely wear clothing appropriate to what their work is (likely coarse clothing versus elegantly tailored, sheer fabrics). Would not move on stage with the same control and dignity as Theseus, Hippolyta and not with as much grace as the lovers. Movements more slow, clumsy. Fairies—portrayed in the ways people might image the fairy world. Different interpretations: punk-rock, composed-ballet, playful-eccentric. Sometimes we see the same people who play Theseus and Hippolyta playing Oberon and Titania. Such that, Oberon is the “unconscious version” of Theseus and Titania the “unconscious version” of Hippolyta. Often cast people who have qualities of grace and movement, who are able to move quickly on stage with elegance. Costumes should allow them to move quickly and freely about the stage (i.e., ballet type outfits) Iterative Imagery—Symbolism – Help give a subliminal sense to the making of this play Iterative Imagery: Image that is repeated throughout, it is reiterated. To such an extent that it becomes a motif with a symbolic meaning within the play. It should attract your attention either consciously or unconsciously. Such that, in modern music we can relate this to the “hook” of a song. Some of these iterative images: o Forest: important symbolically, it is the place everyone goes to retreat from the pressures & laws of Athens. A dark place with no light, and in this case the only light that appears are the beams coming from the full moon. Frequently been a symbol throughout the history of literature as the dark, forbidding place where people go to encounter monsters, demons, and the unknown. Not just a place, but a place associated with a state of mind. Such that your imagination is liberated, where logic no longer prevails. Symbol for the unconscious mind—where we are challenged to confront our own inner demons (hidden emotions, frustrations, problems, fears, desires) that in some way prevail on us. Place where all of these emotions are released and drained out. o Moon: often times has a powerful, symbolic effect. Occurs when the sun sets—two different realities to our world, the “sun-lit” and the “moon-lit.” Moon has different phases, so there is lunar cycle. The moon is constantly changing as it revolves around the Earth. Phases have to do with the changeability of it. Ties into the idea that love is inconstant and ever-changing, it is never the same. People change under the influence of the moon, they become lunatics (where LUN= moon). So, the moon is supposed to have an effect on the behavior of human beings. Romantic associations- thus, the romantic aspect of “being in the moonlight,” taking a moonlit walk on the beach, the dim light of the moon, etc. o Magic: things that appear to be one thing but are actually something else Most obvious reference to magic is the plant that Oberon has Puck gather that has a special juice, that placed in the eyes of people makes them fall in love with the first person they see. Thus, realities ability to be diluted by a trick. Lysander appears to love Hermia, but when magic is touched on his eyes, he falls in love with Helena. o Eyes: another important symbol where the juices are placed into their eyes Helena: “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.” Interesting in this play, because the juices are placed in the eyes, but the distillation of the juice goes to the mind—by going through the eyes. Thus, it is what people perceive. Such that perception is reality—becomes an important aspect of this play. So, is love so shallow that it can be so easily tricked through the eyes? — something that Shakespeare is challenging in this play. Lecture 5: “Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Part II Genre The play is a romantic comedy, but it is often played in different ways, or tones: (1) The early way of performing MSND—which pointed to its enchantment and magic. All of it done in a very playful and lighthearted way. (2) Beginning in the late 60’s and especially with the production of Peter Brook, there is an examination of some of the darker elements. Such as the cruelty and treatment of women. Gave a different perspective, and forced us to look at the play as it exposed important themes that were not developed in the old tradition. The tempo of the play is always quick- because the scenes are very short, with a constant turnover of characters and settings. Opening Lines- A Deeper Look into the Two Traditions Dr. Shaw recites the first 19 or so lines of the play, in which three characters are on stage at this point. Theseus and Hippolyta would come downstage speaking their lines and Philostrate would follow. Notice frequent references to the moon—which point out this is an important image within the play. Theseus is certainly excited and looking forward to the wedding. But, what about Hippolyta? Is she looking forward to it just as much as he is? If so, they would be reciting their excitement toward one another (often times how it is usually performed- in a happy manner). Theseus: “I woo’d thee with my sword.” Is Hippolyta content with this statement, or resentful? She was a woman who was queen of the Amazon, with a strong will. So, is this now an instance where she is under control of Theseus and deemed his “prize.” If resentful, she could read this is a more resigned, deflated manner. Staging: if you wanted to see this played out where Hippolyta is more resentful—there would be a visible distance between the two of them, showing they are not in the same line of through. If both were excited, they would instead be close to one another, Theseus with his arm around her. Women Within the Play Hermia o Arrival of Egeus, “Full of vexation” over his child Hermia- who is under the will and power of her father. o And as she is his, he wants to dispose of her, by either marrying his choice of suitor or being sentenced to death. o Hermia is being therefore suppressed by her father’s will Helena o Has been rejected by Demetrius- who made love to Helena and then abandoned her after his affections shifted to Hermia. o Another instance of women being treated badly by men Titania o She will not surrender the Indian boy to Oberon and as a result he has decided to have his revenge on her. He puts the love potion in her eyes and makes her fall in love with the first thing she sees—which is Bottom, who has recently been transformed by Puck to a human being with as asses (donkey’s) head upon his shoulders. Examples of three women who have been repressed/tormented within this patriarchal system. Good rationale for having Hippolyta seen as someone who is not entirely happy with her situation. Because each of these women have a serious grievance within the play, they are all happily reconciled with their men by the end of the play. Within the Text Lysander and Demetrius are called forward by Egeus. Lysander tells us that he is of the same class level, and of general appearance as Demetrius— and that Hermia loves him. So, why is Egeus loves and accepts Demetrius so much, that Demetrius go off and marry him. However, the two have different attitudes towards the customs of the world they live in: o Demetrius is more conventional- such that he understands you have to seek the father’s blessing o Lysander is much more laid back and doesn’t necessarily see the importance of traditional conventions. He first woos the woman with love tokens (singing in moonlight, reading poetry, giving gifts). Theseus is the Duke of Athens, who stands for law, order, and authority. He tells us that your father should be looked at as a God—and to respect the wishes of Egeus. We see Hermia arguing back and forth with Theseus over Lysander being an equally suitable suitor. Theseus gives her the harsh reality of the law—to die, or go on living life as a nun (which he describes in an awful manner, perhaps even worse than death). Lysander claims he is just as well derived and well possessed as Demetrius, and also brings up that point that Demetrius has once already abandoned a woman he swore his allegiance to (Helena). Hippolyta is on stage while all of this takes place, but without any lines. If she is in fact happy with her relationship with Theseus, she would likely be agreeing and going along with what he has to say. On the other hand, if she is feeling oppressed by her own situation she may be identifying more with Hermia. Lysander, Hermia, Helena The two are then left on stage alone. Another instance of stichomythia- much like the “word game” between Petruchio & Kate in TOS. Conversation going back and forth where they are clearly responding to what the other said. Recognizes that “the course of true never did run smooth.” Lysander makes note of the age difference between the two, and the different classes each are from. Many people believe that MSND was written in the same year as “Romeo and Juliet.” We see in this play a companion piece to R&J and that it is the comic counterpart to the tragic counterpart in R&J. Love is irrational and possibly even lunacy—one of the ideas that Shakespeare picks up in this play. The two make a plan to leave Athens—Hermia decides she will bolt out and head for the forest. In this way she asserts her own power and unwillingness to subscribe to this patriarchal system. Then Helena arrives o She is unhappy as well—in a way different from Hermia; because she loves someone who loves someone else (Demetrius loves Hermia). So, she wishes she had the qualities of Hermia so that Demetrius would love her. Hermia and Lysander say their goodbyes to Helena and head off into the forest Helena delivers her soliloquy, which is important in a number of ways: o First, gives us a sense of her character. She is confused as to why she has been rejected by Demetrius and thus reflects on her own appearance. She recognizes that objectively she is the same as Hermia and there is nothing to distinguish between them. But the problem is, Demetrius thinks there is. o “Things base and vile, holding no quantity. Love can transpose to form and dignity. Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.” Love has a transposing effect—in other words, love, because it is irrational does not look at things rationally. So, the emotion and experience of love invests in a person and creates something that it objectively does not have. If love looked with the eyes, it would be rational and see things as they are. But since it looks with the mind, it invents the imagination, transforms, transfigures. It causes the change…and why? Because it wants to, it wants to be in love so it creates out of something base and vile something with form and dignity. o Helena is desperate to do anything to win over Demetrius’ love—with that, she prepares to go into the forest to follow Hermia and Lysander and tell Demetrius of Hermia’s flight. Midsummer Night’s Dream is perhaps the most consciously poetic of all Shakespeare’s plays in which he experiences with a variety of poetic forms. Dr. Shaw shows a scene from the play. From a Peter Hall production in 1968—the costumes are a little off-putting and distracting initially, but the acting is done so well and the lines are read in a proper manner. Within the Text Becomes Puck’s task to organize everything within the chaos of the forest. “All shall be well”—as they awaken, characters are now able to see things for that they are the illusions are dispelled. Interesting, Demetrius is the only of the three men who had the potion placed in their eye. He is the only one whose life has been changed through the intervention of the fairies. His object of affection has been changed from Hermia to Helena, brought back to his original state before the play begins. The four lovers express their feeling that they have just come back into a sense of reality, but mysteriously their lived have been transformed. Interesting about Bottom: even though he is the least aware of any of them, he paradoxically seems the most aware. He seems to know that he’s had a dream but is willing to confess the transformative powers of dreams. Act 5 Bottom returns to Athens and meets up with his friends, and discovered that their play has been preferred. So, they are going to the palace to perform Pyramus & Fisbee before Theseus and Hippolyta. Passage by Theseus points to some of the important polar distances of consciousness between Theseus and others, between the “world of reason” and the “world of imagination.” o He is a character portrayed to believe only in reason and common sense. Talked about love in this play being irrational, something not guides by objective reality. So, it is the imagination that conjures up love. Thus, a way of illustrating the madness of love—and why? Because they have such “shaping fantasies.” “The poet’s eye”—think about the way Theseus describes the poet’s imagination. The imagination perceives images that it absorbs, then begins the process of transforming these images/information, then the imagination takes the state from the outside world and filters into the mind of poet. o Shakespeare has bodied forth the forms of things unknown. His own imagination has brought forth the forms of the characters we see in MSND. Thus, he has given to these things that were airy nothings, a local habitation (through the text, the stage, the names/characters he has invented, etc.) all as a product of his own imagination. o So, we have a character, Theseus, who has been taken by the poet’s pen and is a product of Shakespeare’s imagination. Interestingly, he is talking about the fact that the imagination cannot be trusted. o Dreams affect our reality, because it gives our waking lives structure and meaning and filters out our deeper feelings, emotions, desires. o Hippolyta comes in and challenges Theseus. Such that, everything cannot be calculated and quantified and measured. So, there is an entire world of the unknown. As being somewhat suppressed in the beginning of the play, she explains now at the end of the play what reality really is—a much larger concept than Theseus’ limited view of the world, where reality incorporates our imagination and dreams. The Play Within the Play Bottom, Peter Quince, and all the crew come out and perform their amateur production. They are nonetheless being mocked by Theseus, Hippolyta, Lysander, & Demetrius. Blocking on stage: o They are not going to be performing in the balcony or upstage, but more than likely they will be mounted on a platform on stage. o The other lovers (those mocking them) must be overheard by the audience. So, they would likely be right in front of the lifted platform watching the play within the play take place. But their comments and mocking’s still able to be heard by the larger audience. o While this theatrical performance is taking place, the lovers are laughing and mocking the performance. o But, looking at the larger plot—who has been laughing at the lovers? Oberon & Titania, the fairies: “Shall we their fond pageant see, lord what fools these mortals be.” o Dr. Shaw suggests having Oberon, Titania & Puck located in the balcony. So, you would have the analogy working of the lovers mocking Pyramus & Fisbee, the fairies at the same time mocking the lovers. o Shakespeare in his own way is blocking this final scene, so that all of us are included in this “human folly.” Such that even we as the audience, who are watching upon the cycle of mocking on stage, are thus being mocked as well. Final notes: love has a sort of transformative power. But out of this chaos, “all shall be peace,” as Oberon would tell us. Lecture 6- “Merchant of Venice” Catalogued in the first folio among Shakespeare’s romantic comedies. Has always been a controversial, yet interesting play. Consider the play as both a comedy and as another genre, such as a tragic comedy. In Comparison to Other Plays: Number of common features in all of these plays; recognized as signature features of Shakespeare’s comedy. Multiple Plots o Three love plots, with multiple marriages that derive from these o Bond plots (pound of flesh and the exchange of rings) Dual Settings, where each setting has a set of value attached to them o Venice—place of business, intrigue, place of exchange (people trading for profit). Harsh kind of human exchanges. o Belmont— “beautiful mountain,” a place of romance and music, where people exchange vows of love rather than vows to pay $. Idea of romance, love, eternal vows, and marriage Journeys o Not only journey from one place to another, but journey of the heart, soul, and mind. Use of games, trials, practical jokes, and music o Several practical jokes played by Gabo on his father, and Shylock in the courtroom, for instance. Love vs. Friendship, and multiple marriages o Theme developed out of the conflict between love and friendship and the love that forms out of close friends. Tension between Father/Daughter o Discussing the patriarchal system where the daughter is the property of the father, and it is his prerogative to marry her off to whomever he chooses. Such that, the woman’s will does not matter. Tension between Master/Servant o Poor treatment of servants as seen through the betrayal that occurs by Gabo Comic Villain, or the “butt of jokes” = as seen through the character of Shylock “Merchant of Venice” Themes Old Testament & New Testament (Law/Justice vs. Mercy/Forgiveness) o Interested in the sensibility which looks at competing ethos and ethics of Old & New Testament o The idea of law and justice and the prevailing code of “an eye for an eye,” “a tooth for a tooth”—such that this is the way justice would be dispensed in the Old Testament o New Testament— “turning the other cheer,” more focus on forgiveness and mercifulness. The Meaning of “Bond” o Depicted in two expressions: (1) the pound of flesh, and (2) the exchange of rings Sacrificing/Scapegoating o Sacrificing for others, giving up something of yourself for the welfare of others. Taking on the sins of others so that someone else can be forgiven o Or, projecting your sins or wrongdoing onto someone else and driving that person from your midst. Such to purge yourself of sins/crimes by pushing someone else away from the community, or life itself. Very interested in these ideas throughout the play In structuring the plot, he sets up a series of polarities that push us in a certain direction Chart The dual setting, with two different worlds: Belmont vs. Venice o Belmont is a Christian world, with people who subscribe to the New Testament and codes of mercy. o Shylock subscribes to the codes of the Old Testament. Thus, he wants justice and revenge. He wants revenge on Antonio and justice in the form of his bond. All of these values of the OT are embodied in Shylock, thus a character who stands for the various codes in the column. o Portia- gives a speech about the quality of mercy. Asks Shylock to relent on his request for exacting revenge on Antonio. So, she subscribes to these codes as they are embodied in her character. o Portia is referred to as an angel, as Belmont is described as a kind of Heaven. o Whereas, Jessica refers to her house as a kind of Hell in Venice, and Shylock is referred to a number of times as a devil. o Generosity is a value associated with the Christian community- as Antonio is willing to give up his life for his friend, Portia leaves her home to protect her friend- thus, a very communal spirit and sense of people being bound together. o With Shylock we see someone who is very hoarding of his $$$. He wants to protect everything he has just as he wants to protect himself within his community. Thus, more focus on the individual. o Lead us to believe that Shakespeare is setting up the Christian community as good; & Shylock, the Jew, as evil. So, if you structure the plot with these values—as Shakespeare does, it seems that he is very much favoring the Christian community. And Shylock as someone who needs to be stopped, suppressed. Suggest a Christian allegory- that justice is important in the world, but must be tempered by mercy. All of us in some way are corrupted, and must be conscious of our own sin. True path to happiness is through the sort of Christian, New Testament ethos. Questions to think about during this play: Do these polar values bear scrutiny in the play? Do they suggest a Christian Allegory? Or, do the values and allegory fracture and give way to ambivalences and ambiguities? Genre: Tragedy Troubles in interpretation of the play are created by the character of Shylock. Must understand to an extent the kind of a world Shakespeare received, and how he would have reacted to this idea of Jewishness. Jews in England th o All the Jews were driven out of England under King Edward in the 12 Century. Forced on ships to leave. o In Shakespeare’s time- believed there were no more than 200-300 Jews in all of England. So, likely he may have never seen or interacted with a Jew, often described as “exotic creatures,” in England o Entire set of attitudes and prejudices towards Jews- when they refused to be converted, resisted even under persecution the conversion to Christianity. Thus, always considered the outsiders. Isolated to live in “ghettos” = the place in which Jews were located, where gates were closed on them at night. Word derived from that period in the Middle Ages. Forced to wear red hats, and badges on their garments to signify them when they were in public. Not considered full human beings- given by the church a status of 4/5 of a human. Thus, it was justifiable to do many of things to Jews (leading into a poor treatment of Jews). Not allowed to participate in the professions, or attend the universities. Not allowed to mingle into marriage or even buy property from Christians. o When Bubonic Plague hit Europe, there was a period of time in which people targeted the Jews. Thus, accused of poisoning the wells and therefore demonized in a literal sense, because they were only 4/5 human. They only took human form by killing Christian children & drinking their blood. In demonizing the Jews in this way, it gave them justification for imposing harsh treatment on them. Shylock as a Tragic Figure? o These are therefore some of the attitudes that Shakespeare would have inherited about the Jews. Could possibly be taking a lot of these prejudices and received attitudes about Jews and altering them. Setting it up so that Shylock is an identifiable villain, but then in some way begin to sabotage that idea. And if he does, then don’t we begin to look at Shylock as something other than a tragic figure? o So if we see shylock as not a two-dimensional figure, but as a three-dimensional figure (someone that comes to life)—then we have to look at the play in a different way. He has ill-feeling toward Antonio and towards Christians. But, why is that? Because he is bad and hates all Christians, or from something in his past? So, is his behavior motivated, and then understandable if it is not justifiable. If we look at him as a persecuted minority (someone treated badly) by a cruel Christian community, then we can understand why he is embittered and feels justified in his contempt. Thus, we can understand his behaviors. Shakespeare provides instances in the text where this occurs: Antonio has spit on him, kicked him, tried to destroy his business/livelihood, and even admits he will do it again when he has to. See Shylock talk about himself as being human like anybody else. Explain how if he is treated badly, he will treat other badly, and if treated well, he will treat others well. o Interestingly, in the 18 century and well into the 19 century, Shakespeare’s text was altered into the tragedy of Shylock rather than of the comedy of the lovers. The play ended with Shylock leaving the stage having been stripped of his wealth, and being forced to convert to Christianity. Questions for Performance Begin to think about Shakespeare’s intentions. But, we don’t really know because he never explicitly told anyone of his intentions. Must examine the text very carefully and look at each character in the play, not just Shylock. If Played as a Comedy… o Doesn’t the role of Shylock become problematic. o Is it possible to play for comedy without favoring the Christians and stereotyping Shylock as evil and giving the play an anti-sematic tone? o Must assess and emphasize the villainous qualities in Shylock- seen through costuming, speech, movement. o Imagine him slumped over, wearing dark clothes, with a pointy nose, and an aggravated voice- almost a witch-like figure. o Christians shown as light, sturdy Arians with good stature, grace, charm, and generosity. Could also be shown by deleting lines in the play that put Christians in a bad light. If Played as a Tragedy… o Tragedy of Shylock—as a man who is misunderstood and tormented by Christians. o Thus, becoming a play about anti-Semitism. o Have Shylock speak his lines with dignity and clarity and maybe clearly explain why he feels the way he does. o Also must show Christians in a different light—no longer loving members of the community (maybe they treat one another in a nice manner, but treat those who are different than them in a bad way) What happens to the play if you “play the ambiguities”? o Is it still a comedy like Shakespeare’s other romantic comedies? Has it become tragic, or something else? Judging from the text, did Shakespeare intend the ambiguities? If so, does this “deep structure” he subvert his own surface meaning? o Would not consider the play a comedy, or a tragedy, but call the play a tragicomedy. o And even more a “problem play” – a play that is designed to make us uncomfortable and deal with unpleasant realities. o We have ambiguity—such that neither the Christians or Shylock are all good or all evil. They both have instances of good and bad behavior, whether motivated or not. o Play the ambiguities because this is what Shakespeare intended. o Deeper structure comes out of the language he writes for Shylock and the language for the Christians. & in the way they treat Shylock. “Merchant of Venice” Ambiguities Genre: tragicomedy, elements of tragedy and comedy. But also a “problem play,” in that the problems are so complex they test us and make us think about our own behaviors and beliefs. Portia o A charming, resourceful, loveable, clever—perfect romantic heroine o But on the other hand, a “manipulative, sardonic vixen.” Antonio o Seems to be a loving and sacrificial friend, but on the other hand—a bigoted, self- righteous prig who thinks he is able to kick people, scorn them, and demean them. Bassanio o A sensitive courtly lover- going to risk everything for her. But also has a clear sense of how to win over the girl. Thus, a playboy looking for a rich wife to help cover his own debts. Shylock o Is he pure evil, or avenged and motivated by the wrongs that have been done to him? Through all of these characters, we can see some combination of good and bad. And Shakespeare has intended that—leaving us to decide how to deal with this in production. Lecture 7- “Merchant of Venice” Part II Picking up where we left off in lecture 6—according to John Barton, it was important to play the ambiguities! Within the Text Bassanio- on one hand, the idealized courtly lover- trying to win Portia’s hand by guessing the correct lead casket as part of the lottery. But look at his motivation… o “In Belmont is a lady richly left”—not that he is in love with Portia, but that she is rich. o Going to Belmont to find some money and needs the means to get there. Gores to Antonio to ask for the money, but all of his “fortunes are at sea.” o Has no money, wasted it in protical ventures, and wants to leave to try and win the hand of Portia in the lottery. Thus, his primary motivation is money. Portia—beautiful woman who has been constrained by her father’s will. Patriarchal situation even after her father’s death, so that the person has to be of the value of the father’s choosing (Bassanio is the only one able to meet those values). o Complains about and mocks all of those trying to court her. Saying negative things about each one. o All of the suitors are held up to scorn and mockery, except for Bassanio when she hears of him. o Sense of racial prejudice with the Prince of Morocco—with the color of his skin. o Also somebody who is willing to be sardonic and willing to inflict pain on Shylock and discomfort on Bassanio (through the game with the rings) Act 4- comes in disguised as a lawyer, and tells Shylock that he must be merciful. o Think they are offering him a path to salvation. But is such a required conversion going to work, or are they more trying to strip him of his culture, identity, essential belief. o Seems very unchristian and unmerciful o She was right in trying to stop Shylock from executing Antonio, but after she had done that—it could have been left at that. o Everything after becomes a kind of taunting and takes on the face of being malicious. Antonio—through the eyes of Shylock o “I hate him for he is a Christian” -Shylock Shows Shylock is a bad light, as someone who is vengeful and hateful. But, because of Antonio’s actions to hurt him financially with his business. o “you spit, you suprn’d, you call’d me dog” –actions that Antonio has done to Shylock He does not apologize for these actions, but instead says he would not hesitate to do such things again. He may be loving and care for his Christian friends. But, he becomes rather cruel/harsh to those people who are not of his own kind o We see through this that Shylock’s behaviors are motivated. Shylock has reason for acting the way he does and wanting to execute Antonio. o Shylock: “He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies—and what’s his reason? I am a Jew.” As a means to feed Shylock’s revenge One of the most famous speeches in Shakespeare’s work—interpreted as someone pleading his own humanity. And at this time, the Jews would have to argue for their own humanity. Saying he is a human being and he deserves to be treated like so. Because he has not been, he is right in his choice for revenge. In this speech he is also declaring that he plans to kill Antonio. People see the play in one way or in another—they tend to see it as a play about anti- Semitism. Either a play showing the Christians as superior. Or (especially after WWII) and in productions since the Holocaust—will find sympathy with the character of Shylock. Back to the idea of “trusting Shakespeare.” Such that, both Christian and Jew are flawed human beings. o A play about forgiveness/mercy o But also a play about hypocrisy—such that, those who call for forgiveness and mercy are at the same time the ones treating other human beings in terrible ways. o Shylock makes an argument that he was not born evil or a villain. But, those people who have treated him so poorly have made him the way he is. o A play that can lend itself to propagandistic uses. Dr. Shaw plays a clip from a film by Michael Radford–not a production that plays the ambiguities, it avoids them. It should become clear right away, the way he chooses to perform the play. o Very favorable to the Jewish community and unfavorable to the Christian community— wanted to work with the assumption that the Christians were filled with hypocrites. o Notice the music—Hebraic hymns which played while the Jews were being mistreated, and while the books were being burned (to remind us of the book burnings in Germany during the Holocaust) o Jews (in their red hats and badges) are circled and being mistreated by Christians. o We see religious services of both Christians and Jews Should create an uneasy feeling—both praying to a God to fill them with spiritual nourishment. o Bolted door: important symbol in this film o Bassanio traveling in a gondola down the river, sipping wine, in the company of his friends (often prostitutes, who are associated with Christians) Shows clip of the first meeting between Antonio and Bassanio o Surprised at the kissing scene at the end of the clip we see o Antonio is sad because he knows the man he loves is looking for another woman—thus, this relationship is not going where he wants it to go. o Critics have suggested Antonio’s affection for Bassanio is homoerotic—but nothing mentioned in the play o Long passage by Gratiano: “let me play the fool” In the text: Antonio knows that he will not have this close companionship with Bassanio anymore if he seeks marriage with Portia (could interpret this in a homoerotic way, but the text does not necessarily indicate that) No stage direction of the two kissing—this is an adaptation for the director! In order to pursue a certain type of thesis- trying to show Christians as religious hypocrites, people who are violent and cruel against Jews, and the two most important characters in the play have a sort of homoerotic relationship (as a violation of their own codes and beliefs). Director here has taken a very pro-Jewish interpretation and in some way finding sympathy for the Jews by diminishing the character of the Christians. The clip is interesting nonetheless! Lecture 8: Merchant of Venice, Part III Passage where Shylock is speaking to Salarino o Shylock repeats the line, “let him look to his bond.” As an actor, you can use this repetition to build up to a sort or anger—Shakespeare provides a nice pattern for an actor to seize onto and develop an emotion through these lines. o Passage about revenge: Verbs are important in this passage. Such as, “disgraced, hindered, mocked, scorned, thwarted.” Series of parallel patterns within this passage builds up a kind of momentum that moves forward. Shylock moves to another series of parallel patterns of what ifs. The actor will use these parallels to his advantage. Elements that give opportunities for emphasis and affect- with the appropriate inflections, pauses, and intonations. o Dr. Shaw presents a clip of this scene. Through this clip, you can see how Pacino uses those heavy verbs, conditional clauses to build up energy from one clause to the next. The passage becomes a ladder he can step on emotionally to act the scene. o Another way of degrading the Christians and slanting against them is having them in the arms of prostitutes, carrying on casual conversations and having sex. Thus shows them as religious hypocrites. Act 4, Scene 1- Trial Scene o Entire Act is one scene. o Shylock has a contract—to take a pound of flesh—where Portia is there to try to save a life. Told Shylock to take twice the amount of money he was offered and take mercy. But Shylock still wants his revenge. o Portia claims that he may take revenge, but if he sheds any Christian blood while doing it, his lands and goods are “by the laws of Venice, confiscate unto the state of Venice.” o “Thou shall have justice, more than thou desirest” o Interesting phrase because it brings about a question: Is Shylock really getting justice? Or, are they showing revenge themselves? o When Shylock realizes he cannot collect on this bond: “I take this offer, then, pay the bond twice and let the Christian go.” o Notice how Portia calls him a Jew in this line: “The Jew shall have all justice.” In this scene he is called Shylock 5 times and he is called Jew 16 times. Effect of this is to insult, degrade, and depersonalize him. Thus, make him seem more like a thing rather than a human being, and use this dehumanization to justify their acts. o Shylock is not only going to lose all of his wealth but his life if he tries to collect on this bond. Because he is obviously not going to get precisely a pound of flesh. o Is this justice? o In Dr. Shaw’s opinion—this is going beyond justice and the letter of the contract, it is taunting. o Seems to be bad precedent in common law o The Duke states that he is not going to take Shylock’s life as a means of proving Christians are better than he. It is up to Antonio to decide what will happen to his estate. In which he gives back half of the estate to Shylock so he can live and the other half he will keep in trust for his children, so that when he dies that money and the entire estate will go to them. But, there are conditions to this: “that for this favour, he become a Christian.” o This forced conversion has two outcomes: The Christians are giving him an opportunity to achieve forgiveness, redemption and life after death through Jesus. The worst outcome is that this is a punishment for him—because he has shown no desire to become a Christian, so this is the final taunting. Thus, stripping him of his cultural and religious identity. Through this, the Christian community shows itself in a very dark light—through this forced revenge. Thus, not merciful at all. o Dr. Shaw shows a clip from the Act, in which he describes as “a very powerful scene.” The scene is done very effectively in this film. We see Shylock as someone who is very strong and determined on revenge. But when he realizes the law has a grip on him, he begins to lose his sense of power. When they see him weakening, there is a kind of taunting. So, at this point, Shylock is degraded and stripped not only of his wealth, but of his standing in the community, his religion, and his culture. o In many productions in the 18 century until the 19 century—actor/directors opted to end the play here and call the play a tragedy, called the “Tragedy of Shylock.” Many felt that once he left the stage, the play is over. Such that he is the most compelling character, in which he is the villain of the piece but also the tragic figure. o Not true for Shakespeare—he has an entire fifth Act that he plays. Act 5 o Move from the harshness and confrontation of the Trial scene back to Belmont o Scene opens with Lorenzo and Jessica, in a long, romantic dialogue in which they are expressing love for one another. o Then, Portia and Nerissa arrive. And shortly after, the arrival of Bassanio, Antonio, and Gratiano and the playing out of the rings. o How does this play end? o Both Portia and Nerissa explain who they were and all is forgiven. o Portia explains to Antonio that he has received news that all of his ships are safe at home and “are safely come to r
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