Antony & Cleopatra–Act III

Sometimes life throws you punches and you have to sleep for a week to reconfigure your life.

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Enobarbus. He’s calling all of Antony’s bluffs and faults, mainly, “that would make his will/Lord of his reason” (III.xiii.3-4). The whole theme of the play, kids. Make your will or pleasures the master of your reason, you’ll make a few political mistakes, war against Caesar by sea (which obviously isn’t your strong suit) and flee the minute your buttercup leaves the fight. I’m a little obsessed with Enobarbus (despite the fact that it takes me a few tries to type his name correctly), because he’s incredibly aware of everything. And awareness is sexy.

I’ve been thinking about this line of his, “I see men’s judgments are/A parcel of their fortunes, and things outward/Do draw the inward quality after them/To suffer all alike” (III.xiii.31-34). And I actually have to think about it more before I can say anything about it. It’s too cool for school, and right now my thoughts are a-jumble with “negative capability” and “outward manifestations of internal truths” and I can’t put them together quite yet.

REPUTATIONS: RICHARD BURTON, TAYLOR MADE FOR STARDOM

That said, I have a feeling certain loves are not reciprocated by other loves. And the in-continuity of Antony no longer being himself with Cleopatra, and Cleopatra’s identification that she is only herself with Antony…things are going to get a little interesting on the “who is who in relation to who” front here soon. Love, that which makes us not ourselves…but this one doesn’t seem to…fit. 

King Henry IV, Part I–Act V

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While I tend to be on the side of glory, honor, and all things heroic, I can’t help but understand Falstaff’s sentiments on going into battle. “What is honour? A word. What is that word honour? Air. A trim reckoning!” (V.i.133-135). I’ve been thinking more and more about the character of Falstaff. I’ve been doing some background reading on the play, and it seems the influence of this play comes from Holinshed’s Chronicles. From my internet sleuthing, there is no Falstaff. What does his character change about this “history” play? I’m trying to capture what dimension he adds to understanding Shakespeare’s unfolding of Hal’s character.

I do think Harry does, in a certain way, love Falstaff. During the scene where they find Falstaff stabbing dead Hotspur, Falstaff taking the duty for killing him, Harry doesn’t get angry with Falstaff–even though the past three scenes have drove into our minds that Harry killing Hotspur is how he’s going to regain honor. Though, supposedly, it’s just a word.

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Moving on, the crux of this battle falls on Worcester’s decision to lie regarding the King’s mercy. Perhaps Hotspur would have fought regardless, but honestly, Worcester, you seriously just caused hundreds of lives, including your own, in order to risk not being treated as a traitor. Ugh. Sorry, I must vent my frustration. Who lies about mercy? Proud, arrogant jerks.

Let’s look at Hotspur’s ending words:

O, Harry, thou hast robb’d me of my youth!
I better brook the loss of brittle life
Than those proud titles thou hast won of me;
They wound my thoughts worse than sword my flesh:
But thought’s the slave of life, and life time’s fool;
And time, that takes survey of all the world,
Must have a stop. O, I could prophesy,
But that the earthy and cold hand of death
Lies on my tongue: no, Percy, thou art dust
And food for– (V.iv.176-185)

It echoes with Falstaff’s speech about honor, except, for Hotspur, that word is what he has spent his life earning. With his death, those things are taken by Harry, which haunts his lasting thought. Next to him, is the “pretending to be dead” Falstaff. Perhaps this is the expanse of a kingdom, the expanse of battle within the kingdom–the honorable next to the base. Who understands it better than Harry himself?

I’m going to start Part 2 this coming Monday. However, I have a trip to Louisville that I am taking, so if I am able to update, it will be extremely brief.

King Henry IV, Part I–Act III

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Opening on the bridge of civil war. It’s almost sad to think that the king began this play talking about unification through the one thing that everyone agrees on (Christ). If you can’t agree on who should be king, at least everyone wants to participate in a crusade.

Moving on. Let’s make a list of all the things Hotspur hates:

  1. Poetry
  2. Myth
  3. His wife
  4. Glendower
  5. Mystery
  6. Superstition
  7. “Signs”
  8. Anyone who likes the aforementioned list.

But hey, at least he can appreciate music. If not only for the sake of chiding his wife.

Also, I think it is quite apparent that Mortimer loves his wife, despite that fact that he literally can’t understand her. I’ve long railed against the ending of Henry V, that Henry couldn’t actually love Kathrine because they can’t speak to each other. Yet, I think this particular scene reveals Mortimer’s character. He loves her beauty, her music, and I don’t think that his love is shallow, either. I’m just looking at these two marriages on the eve of war, thinking, “Well, it won’t last long.” Love and war never do mix well.

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Now, I’m particularly interested in Hal’s comment that he will take on Hotspur’s glory by killing him. I’ve been thinking about the idea of transferring glory and deeds through facing off with another person. I don’t have anything solid to say about what I’ve been thinking about, but I will put it here when I have my thoughts flowing freely, and not super garbled as they’ve been…all week.

To end, Falstaff often speaks in biblical turn-of-phrase, or direct quote, or alluding to it. The word of God through the mouth of a sinner? And his treatment of the poor Hostess…I don’t know what to make of him.