Antony & Cleopatra–Act II

safe_image

So, Antony gets married to Caesar’s sister to smooth over Caesar’s quarrel with Antony. Let me state the obvious. Or better yet, let’s let Enobarbus state it for me. “He will to his Egyptian dish again. Then shall the sighs of Octavia blow the fire up in Caesar, and, as I said before, that which is the strength of their amity shall prove the immediate author of their variance. Antony will use his affection where it is. He married but his occasion here” (II.vi.126-131).

I’m wondering what the greater message is here–for Antony marries Octavia out of duty, but it will be his undoing when he returns to the bed of Cleopatra. The Literature major in me says that perhaps there is a conflict in letting passions rule reason? The marriage to Octavia is purely rational, while the affair with Cleopatra stems from Antony’s passion.

antony_cleopatra2

 

And Menas. Quite the Machiavellian, killing everyone while they’re drunk on a ship? Or at least conspiring to. Pompey, thankfully, believes more in his honor than in his accomplishments.

I had more to say, but that was before I went to work. My apologies that this couldn’t be a better entry.

Until tomorrow.

Antony & Cleopatra–Act I

Sorry. I needed the week off last week.

taylor-burton

Onwards and upwards–Let’s look at the name: “Antony & Cleopatra.” I had a professor that liked to point out that in tragedies that involve lovers, their names are always separated, only joined by an “and.” This is important, especially to this play–we have two lovers that are having an affair. Unlike lovers that are married–thus making two one flesh–they are separated despite being together. Which is probably going to lead to most of the tragedy.

We open with the changed nature of Antony–He has gone from warrior to lover, and it seems that these two tensions within him play upon his character throughout the rest of the play. “[Y]ou shall see in him/The triple pillar of the world transformed/Into a strumpet’s fool” (I.i.11-13). I like this line, because it shows the gravity of Antony’s change–he’s one of the pillars of the world, but now, melted into the embraces of Cleopatra, he ceases to uphold his end. What happens when pillars melt? Probably what ensues in the rest of this play.

Oh, and then the next line Cleopatra is asking for a measure of love. I don’t think these two understand love at all. Love as a boundless thing has a measure? King Lear made the same mistake, and look what happened to him.

2019611147

One more note on the lover’s notions about love. “Here is my space!/Kingdoms are clay! Our dungy earth alike/Feeds beast as man. The nobleness of life/Is to do thus, when such a mutual pair/And such a twain can do’t” (I.i.35-39), states Antony. Yes, what makes man as man is love. Kingdoms will crumble, but man’s ability to love separates him from beasts. But their love is based solely upon pleasures, did I mention that they’re having affairs?

Which is shown to us by the way Cleopatra regards Antony’s lack of mourning his wife’s death–will he act this way when I die? But if he were to mourn Fulvia, she would also throw a fit equal to the one she throws at his lack of weeping. Women. Anna Karenina acts the same way.

Side note: Cleopatra=queen of Egypt. So why is she always referencing Greek gods? Is there an historical reason for this, or is Shakespeare showing us the state of disorder we find ourselves in during this play? The understanding of man toward the gods, the understanding of Antony’s role in the polis, Rome coming into war–all linked and expressed by small mentions of gods from another area of the map entirely.

Until tomorrow, kids.

Comedy of Errors–Acts IV &V

The past few days have been a whirlwind.

errors_pic

 

My biggest complaint, or perhaps confusion, deals with the relationship of Antipholis S. and Luciana–it doesn’t make sense to me that there’s a big to-do about his affection for her in the middle of the play, and yet there’s not a mentioning of their getting together in the end. But perhaps this is done on purpose–the reuniting of the two brothers and their parents is more important than trifles of love. But I’m not set on that, because unless they’re going to get together, why spur Adriana into a fit of jealousy? It would have been just as confusing, and just as easy for her to think Antipholis E. crazy without it interrupting their marriage as considerably as it did. Perhaps it shows Adriana’s good character and dedication to her husband?

I…don’t really have much more to say, actually. This play, despite some character confusion and complication, is actually pretty straight forward. I’ve read it was one of his earlier plays (with so many a rhyming couplet) and perhaps there’s more here than I can see, or perhaps the Bard revised his work later in his life.

comedy-of-errors-11

 

The next few days are going to be hectic for me–I’m going home Tuesday to see my family, so I’m going to try to at least do what I did this week–keep on top of the readings and do big cluster posts. Thank you, my dear followers, who remain patient with me as my life gets so busy!

Comedy of Errors–Acts II & III

I realize that even doing two acts today puts me behind a day. I’ve been keeping up on reading, but not on posting. I don’t know where my readers hail from, but there’s a very important event happening in Louisville, KY–Derby. It’s bigger than the super bowl. It’s been a crazy week for my city, and I, too, have gotten caught up in the craziness.

comedy-of-errors-lenny-he-007

Regarding both acts–Uhh, so, there was this whole beginning of the play, where a man was to be put to death…and we haven’t seen or heard about any of it. Why is the audience completely removed from the dark beginning that began the ball rolling on this play? We’re taken away from what makes the play tragic, and plunged into the hilarity of the two mistaken twins.

At the beginning of Act Two, there’s an interesting conversation between Adriana and Luciana–

Luciana: O, know, he is the bridle of your will.

Adriana: There’s none but asses that will be bridled so.

Luciana: Why, headstrong liberty is lash’d with woe.

Which is followed by a long list of God’s creation, referring to Genesis and God’s institution of man over nature. The last line that I cited, refers to the free choice of man that begets woe–if we look at the following Genesis reference, we can probably safely assume that it’s a reference to man’s fall. Luciana is rebuking Adriana for allowing her will to stray from the will of her husband’s. Luciana–Lux, lucis=light in Latin. Let there be light. I wonder if something is going on here.

comedy

 

In the third act, when Antipholus E. tries to get in the gate, Luce (ha, light, again. What’s Shakespeare doing with all this…light?) makes a comment on his being too late, and he makes a quip about a proverb–perhaps a reference to the scene where the bridesmaids don’t have enough oil for their lamps and get turned out of the wedding? Perhaps not. Regardless, we have more errors in the scene, when Antipholus S. tries his hand at wooing Luciana. Oi. There’s a strange interplay going on with the theme of adultery, even though no one is committing it in truth, because of the confusion of the brothers. Adultery is a grave matter, but when you have two twin brothers, it makes it easy to make it comical…but I wonder if Shakespeare is getting at something, making the grave comical, with the interchange between Antipholus S. and Luciana.

I’m going to post Act Four tomorrow (hopefully!) and then Saturday post the last. Sorry about falling behind! My life has gotten so much busier than when I began this project!

Comedy of Errors–Act I

0695u

I generally don’t think plays with the word “Comedy” in their title begin with impending death, but here Shakespeare proves me wrong again. Also, I’ve never been more confused while reading a Dramatis Personae.

Most of the act is story-telling, giving us the background of poor Egeon and the fate of his wife and sons. He states, “…the my end/Was wrought by nature, not by vile offence” (I.i.33-34), which I think may be a setting up of the main theme of the play–fate versus our actions. 

Side note: he was saved by fishermen of Corinth. Which smells a little familiar to me…

comedy01-1024x615

 

Antipholus of Syracuse–I can’t find a definition of Antipholus or Pholus or…anything, though I came across the word Centaur among some astrology pages. I do enjoy his plan to lose himself for the sake of his mission, self-giving for the sake of something other. Which, since we’re already getting to see a little confusion with the twin brothers, I won’t be surprised if there is quite a bit of losing oneself. 

Macbeth–Act V

So, as it turns out, I didn’t actually get the extra time to do a good entry like I had wanted, and since I’m working almost every day next week, I’ve got to get back on track, or I’m going to lose it! When you’re a bartender in Louisville on Derby week, you don’t have time for extra Shakespeare, I guess.

SS-Macbeth1

 

One brief thing I noticed about Lady Macbeth. “You mar with all this starting” (V.i.45-46) struck me, particularly because once Macbeth started down this line, he’s fallen to the point that, “what’s been done cannot be undone” (V.i.69). And after Lady Macbeth’s suicide, or I’ve always assumed it was suicide, perhaps there is another dozen interpretations, Macbeth falls into despair. To Macbeth, her death is a result of the great chain of being that we are all a part of–we will all die–and it seems he doesn’t see, or chooses not to see, his role within her death.

Oo, now that we’re talking about death, a side note to point out lines that made me say aloud, “That’s so cool!” Macduff states, “Make our trumpets speak; give them all breath,/Those clamorous harbingers of blood and death” (9-10). The reason this strikes me as being so wicked awesome, lies in the image of breath. To give another one’s breath or blood, in any ancient understanding, signifies the giving of ones life. Breath=life. But here, it is a signifier of war, death, the end of life–but the giving of ones life too.

image024

 

Which brings me to my last point. Death. In this play, those that die are innocent, some are even the descendants of generations that will never live on. What Macbeth has done results in the destruction of the generation under him. He is truly a tyrant, in that sense. But, did not Caesar do the same? He completely destroyed the Republican consciousness of the Roman people by elevating himself to the point of king. There are a few allusions to Caesar in this play, made by Macbeth mostly, and I wonder what Shakespeare is saying about these two men and their tragedy. How they affect the generations after them, what types of men are they? Caesar did not listen to the oracles–Macbeth did. Who turns out the better?

The need to postpone Act V

Ahh, so, I will individually answer comments after I get off of work this evening. Basically, there is SO MUCH going on at the end of this play, I needed yesterday to think about it and chew on it a little bit. And today, time and I have not been friends. So I will do everything in my power to energize myself after work and write an entry that can do the play what justice I am able to do it.

Thanks for your comments, guys!