Shakes week 8
Shakes week 8 Eng 150B
Popular in Shakespeare: Later Plays
Popular in Foreign Language
This 10 page Class Notes was uploaded by Alyssa Notetaker on Sunday November 22, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to Eng 150B at University of California - Los Angeles taught by Robert Watson in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 19 views. For similar materials see Shakespeare: Later Plays in Foreign Language at University of California - Los Angeles.
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Date Created: 11/22/15
Week Eight: Lecture 15 Political and social systems and how they interact in Coriolanus Prefixes • com-‐ • part-‐ o Community, participate, commitatus, etc. o Both part-‐ and com-‐ words are more common in Coriolanus than any other play Aristotle: “He who cannot live at peace with society is either a beast or an angel” • Which is Coriolanus? • Too good or too bad? o Wants higher principles to rule over his heart and humanity; wants to perfect himself § “Against those measles which we disdain should tetter us” • Bodily stuff as holding one back o Brutus accuses Coriolanus of speaking to the Roman people “As if you were a god to punish, not a man of their infirmity” § Tribunes= the perfect people to point this out; they are there to check the nobles, also try to check Coriolanus’ god-‐like demeanor and point out he is human, too • Voice of the commoners in the Senate, voice of bodily needs and internal weaknesses in Coriolanus o Nature has a way of reminding people they’re just creatures § Coriolanus wants to deny nature, even as nature creeps up on him (rejects showing wounds, having paternal figures, disgusted by people’s voices and breaths and food) • Wants to be self-‐made, autonomous and independent, so rankles at the need to ask the commoners for their bodily and stinky voices • Rejects Menenius as a father figure, rejecting being human, having parents, being made by another § Tries to re-‐parent himself! • Shuts behind the gates, others think he’s dead, there’s eulogies • Then he comes bursting out of the gates, covered in blood, and gets a new name: Coriolanus • “O me alone! Make you a sword of me?” o What he wants: to be Rome’s sword, independently o Image of a self-‐inflicted C-‐section; brings self into world o He’s re-‐fathered himself, but it’s not clear if he’s re-‐mothered himself § And that’s where the world starts coming back to him, where the systems of biology and society come back and he is no loner autonomous • After war against Aufidius: o Mother pressures him, and his diction reverts to childlike voice § Wants mother’s approval, wants her to stop chiding • At the end, he can no longer deny his parenthood, his mother o Stops denying his origins in other people and the functions of biology, though he doesn’t want to recognize limitations of his origins; recognizes that in seeing self as a son, trapped by biology from being godlike, in front of Aufidius’ army he’s signed his own death warrant o After war with Aufidius: § During war, everyone unites against common enemy § After war, everyone’s differences re-‐appear • Coriolanus’ goals, his mother’s goals, and Rome’s goals were all the same; After war, their needs and goals change o Mother wants him to advance politically, Rome wants him as the consul, but Coriolanus wants to fight and stay uncompromising; keep his ideals strong § While the people and his mother want him to bend and compromise • Coriolanus as figure of treacheries and destroying of instinctive grandeur o Story of Eden being erased, historical inevitability o Coriolanus truly believes patriotic stories of the greatness of Rome § Wants to live it out § Everyone else knows it’s just a story • In peacetime, what do you do with a guy who only honors honor and violence and the archaic embodiment of Rome? Who won’t bend? o And he doesn’t even realize he’s not what Rome needs; when he’s banished he says “I banish YOU!” to the citizens; believes Rome is behind him o In end, joins with other great warrior to revenge against the compromising Romans who don’t see how great he is § Not aware of just what an epidemic there is of compromising people; he goes to find Aufidius and finds him eating with others, being part of a community Aufidius and Corilanus meeting • Mirroring o “Beard to beard,” “sword to sword,” “He is a lion I am proud to hunt,” “were I anything but what I am, I would wish me only he” • Aufidius’ response to Coriolanus: o Erotic diction o So invested in ideal of himself, he can’t see any connection between his relationship with his wife and with Aufidius § Sees women as chaste and having nothing to do with the world of war and battle, the world of men o Adolescent desire to be part of the beloved object § Aufidius wants to be Coriolanus, or at least in his place § Coriolanus wants to be in Aufidius’ place (never having been a child of Rome, only existing in battle (as that’s the only time when Coriolanus has seen Aufidius up till now)) o Love of men for other men § Seen as more noble, reaffirmation of manliness § But, as it goes on, possible competition for who’s the man and who’s the boy, who’s the one in the active sexual role and who takes the passive role • Diction of failed penetration (Aufidius fails in war with Coriolanus) • Homosexual fantasy o In the time: sodomy as an act existed, but an idea of a person being homosexual wasn’t a thing • Sexual imagery at fighting at Corioles: o Symbolic of Coriolanus’ efforts to abolish biological systems, and instead to create a system of creating perfect autonomous soldiers in his image § Leave behind mortal identity • Succeeds for a time; Cominius about Coriolanus: “He is their god. He leads them like a thing made by some other deity than nature” • Coriolanus as coming against the butterfly that is Rome o Coriolanus’ son: chases, plays with, and tears apart a butterfly just like dad o Another reference: Menenius states “there is a differency between a grub and a butterfly” and says Coriolanus has transformed into a butterfly (and a dragon) § And in all the references are of people and armies destroying butterflies § à Foreshadowing Coriolanus’ “boys” tearing him apart • Vulnerable in his greater transformation! • Emerges from his chrysalis state, but it’s all wrong and disastrous o He emerges as great, not common; a god o Leaves the mortal, natural self behind § This= disastrous • Can’t leave behind mortality forever o Unsustainable o Mother, wife, and son come to him, reclaim him for nature § Mother refers to her womb bringing him into the world; if he wants to sack Rome, he’ll have to tread on his mother (rape her) § Show the generations, biology • The generations and symbolic emphasis of dependence haunt him • Seems to say “join us” § Bond of mother’s milk § Nature closing in on him • Can’t transcend nature for long o He’s being made to realize his independence and transcendence was just a role he was playing, and his real self is dependent on his mother and family § Opposite of his previous claim that he has no connection to wife, mother, nor child § Opposite of earlier claim that his fierce warrior personhood is who he truly is, not a role; “I play the man I am” • Saying he is fierce, and in the marketplace will play a role of being softer § Used to think of self as metal • Menenius: “Till he had forg’d himself a name o’ th’ fire of burning Rome” • Suggests Coriolanus is going to continue forging himself, making himself • Possibly reference to getting another name; possibly “Romulus” § Now: “I melt and am not of stronger earth than others” • Still wants to be special, but in kneeling to his mother o Knees deeper in dirt than a common son • “I have forgot my part” (part of the soldier) o He gives in not with words, but with silence § Holds mother by the hand, retakes his place in the generational chain of his mother, child, and wife onstage § Chain of flesh draws him back in o Belief of transcendence dies, à image of gods laughing at him • Human quest for glory was caught in a paradox the whole time o Impossibility of him transcending o High desires cause downfall, and gods’ laughs at the attempt to be as a god § Elusive meaning: are the gods mocking Coriolanus or just retaining the natural order of things? § Is Coriolanus bloodthirsty and evil or wronged or trying his best? o End: no satisfaction § Mugging scene more than a grand warrior scene § But has a chance before death to remind them of his past victory at Corioles, alone • Asserts one last time his defiant, solitary self § Mob that kills him does so to avenge kinship • Avenge the deaths of their family members • Kill the one against ideas of family and interdependence on them • Seems like it could easily be a comedy o Someone trying to be greater than he is, but it goes wrong for him and it embarrassingly turns out for him he’s really nothing more than what he is o BUT: Coriolanus’ problem is that he’s two people § This= key trait of a tragedy § Being caught between two opposing ideals • Godly ideal v. humanity • Classical ideal of Mars and Hercules and greatness v. now ideal of Christianity and community and humility • Is it heroic or satanic to be proud? o In Roman world: probably heroic o Christian world: it’s a sin o Allows us to see how values change and transform over time • Politics v. patriotic values o Lack of belief in transcendent values in the play; tragic in that it’s no longer possible to transcend o The world is now a lesser place; the whole system that allowed for grandeur is either wrecked or revealed to have been an illusion all along • Determinationà forgiveness Lecture 16: Winter’s Tale Context • 1608 • Shakespeare is 45 or 46 • Change in kinds of plays he’s writing: o From intense tragedies of the last few years à plays with a whole different feel to them, miraculous § They were called comedies, then they were called romances, now it’s debated what to call them • Romances are like comedies in that everything’s good, then bad stuff happens, then everything naturally springs back into good shape • But focus more on miraculous rebirth, not fully natural o Journeys are not just wandering into the woods, but part of a long pattern, complicated penitence the world has to go through in the presence of guilt o Different kind of epic § Not so playful, not so realistic as his past comedies § Drawing back purpose to life, accepting death rather than despairing it • Also, working commercially in start-‐up market: o Sees people paying to go see Beaumont and Fletcher plays o Royal children being lost, raised among commoners, then found and everything is better § Problems are solved, they can marry whom they want to marry, etc. § Re-‐assertion of the naturalized hierarchy • Can just naturally tell that royal children are better, have better status, no matter what • And it comes out of their natural virtues o Nature > nurture o But complicates this: even royalty is subject to human frailties like jealousy, foolishness, mistakes o Shakespeare uses this as an opportunity to make the stories meaningful to audiences, “cure” the issues of the tragedies § Love, distrust, jealousy, betrayal • Re-‐examining them to figure out a path out of the tragedy in life § Some of same patterns as in tragedies: • Jealousy of man over innocent wife • Nature re-‐claiming that which is human • Man trying to live in an ideal that normal human emotions can’t sustain (Leontes, tries to make it a court of impeccable manners) o (i.e. Coriolanus) o Wants to create a new Garden of Eden o Inevitability of embarrassing or awkward moments, imperfect moments, insecurities arising § Trying to be perfect, à sexuality starts becoming a problem § (i.e. Othello, Measure for Measure) o Where Bohemia is more grounded, sexual (like Cyprus in Othello?) Two cultures not quite lining up o From perfection à beastly, jealous, bad host § What makes it different: • In the end, nature comes back from Bohemia to happily help Leontes rejoin nature (not to drag him back into his own mortality) o Becomes figure of repentance, shows that creating a new Garden of Eden isn’t within his power to make, but is just his pride straining too far) reveals hope • In the end, there is hope! First few scenes, suggests desired Garden of Eden at court • How can we be sure Hermione really is innocent? o Even says Polixenes has been there 9 months, and she’s about to give birth o Is the oracle truthful? o Court culture: affectionate and polite, over-‐complimenting, possibly § Leontes becomes split person: • Wants to see world in exalted way • BUT, he can’t leave behind the other side, the creature that sees the politeness in a deviant way § In a way, lost to himself due to the way he’s tried to build himself o Language of birth, breeding; procreative language in Polixenes’ words • When Leontes dismisses them, Hermione and Polixenes say they’ll be able to be found in the garden • Polixenes about his youth with Leontes o Time is very central in the play § But here, denial of time, denial of change of the self over the years § =Denial of reality, being mortal o Describes them as lambs § “We changed innocence for innocence” • In their youth, didn’t know it was sinful to have sex/ play the field o Could not conceive of evil in selves or others o And, had they been able to stay that way, they would’ve been able to “answer heaven boldly, ‘Not Guilty’” § Had idea that in innocence together, they could live forever in perfection § Polixenes knows this can’t really happen • Leontes hasn’t given up on the dream yet o Determination to deny time and change and try to remain perfect o Hermione’s response: don’t continue on that line, for then you’d call me and your wife devils § (For tempting them, revealing sin to them) • Many references in the play similar to that o Leontes wants a perfect world, and anyone who messes that up has to go § Like Coriolanus in that • Also like Coriolanus in lots of co-‐ and com-‐ words; also uses those words disdaining ways § Like Othello in wanting perfection in wife, which does not include a sexual appetite • In the language: o Leontes: Othello with his own built-‐in Iago § Leads self to jealousy § He sets up his own scene, sets up his downfall into jealousy in how he frames everything that Hermione and Polixenes do and say • Comillus’ role o Middle road, shows the sane opinion o Put in an impossible situation § Can’t deny his king, or Leontes will think he’s in on it • Psychology: conflicting points of viewà denying them or tying them in to somehow prove your point § But also can’t compromise his own scruples • “For some while, a friend” o Misinterpretation available: § Bad interpretation: in the time, “friend” could be used to intimate “friends with benefits” • “For some while”= for the last 9 months? § Innocent one: • A friend who’s here for a bit whereas we’re forever • Seeing others as rutting animals o Suggests he feels like he can transcend this animal-‐hood § =Fundamental mistake § Mistake= idea he can claim perfect innocence and purity, and turn world back into Garden of Eden o “Bawcock” (=rooster)= his son § Tries to get son to be “neat, not neat but cleanly” • Because “neat”= word for horned cow or bull § Sees himself in his son • Scary; are his son’s faults also his? • Also, another instance of him denying time o Keeps being open to believing no time has passed § Ex: sees daughter and believes it’s his wife, briefly o “Steer, the heifer, and the calf” o “Deer,” “eggs,” “I’m angling now,” “give line,” “cuckolds,” “fish,” “hiss,” etc. § Calls Earth “a bawdy planet” o Idealizes social behavior, while denying that he is mortal, too • Opening conversation o Trying to be elaborately polite § And in doing so, start saying stuff that sounds ominous • “Great difference betwixt our Bohemia and your Sicilia” o Inviting friend to visit, differences in the places o BUT ALSO: conflict between the kings (who are also named by their countries) • “Pay Bohemia the visitation which he justly owes him” o Which Leontes thinks is a dose of poison • Doesn’t know what to say to keep praising Sicilia, so Archidamus (of Bohemia) depreciates self, stating he’ll serve “sleepy drinks” o Ominous—like poison… • “Rooted” together, but “cannot choose but branch now” o “The heavens continue their loves!” o Thinks he’s describing a good friendship, but is really describing ritual used to look good and friendly; descriptions are about actions, not communication (shaking hands, embracing, giving gifts, etc.)