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AI Wessex
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Since Juliet was played by a boy (as were all women's roles) in Shakespeare's time, you gave your modern audience another faux jolt.

[ September 30, 2011, 10:13 AM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
(and great line dissection: wherefore = from where, another useful hour).
Doesn't "wherefore" mean "why? for what reason?"
(analogous to 'therefore..' meaning "and for that reason...")

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AI Wessex
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Actually, in this usage you're right. In Juliet's speech it means "why", but the general usage is broader (whys and wherefores, why, for/from what reason or cause, the latter either as a question or a statement). Thanks for pointing that out.

[ September 30, 2011, 11:08 AM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
Since Juliet was played by a boy (as were all women's roles) in Shakespeare's time, you gave your modern audience another faux jolt.

T'was a rather small university audience, largely comprised of grad students, so no. But playing Juliette would have been beyond my skill, not to mention well outside my comfort zone.

"Doesn't "wherefore" mean "why? for what reason?"

Yes. She's basically saying, dammit, why'd you have to be a Montague?

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Aris Katsaris
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Since the first time I heard the speech, it was in a Greek translation, there was no confusion that it meant 'why'. It was unambiguously "Why should you be Romeo?"
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AI Wessex
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Really? Pete's is the meaning I'm familiar with, but I had to learn that's what it meant in college. When I first read it in HS I thought it was something like "Oh, Romeo why do you have to be you?" but I wasn't clear what it exactly meant (such was my teacher's ability to relate it). How did the next lines translate?
quote:
O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.



[ September 30, 2011, 04:05 PM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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Aris Katsaris
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Doesn't "refuse thy name" in the next verse make it clear what the previous verse meant?
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Wayward Son
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Wherefore would it? [Wink]
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Greg Davidson
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Our favorite lines from that play around high school include (I'll go from memory rather than look them up):

Mercutio: God ye good den
Nurse: Why, 'tis den already?
Mercutio: Why, 'tis no less, for the bawdy hand of the clock is on the prick of noon

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Pete at Home
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The shakespeare plays usually handed to high school drama groups -- Romeo & Juliette, and Midsummer Night's Dream, are about the absolute worst for such a purpose. Probably because they are the two plays where people who don't get them, think that they get them. The result is painful. The only one I can think of that would be worse for a high school group than R&J would be The Tempest.

If I had to do a high school Shakespearean play, I'd go for Titus Andronicus.

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AI Wessex
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It will probably be the first one turned into a video game.
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Jordan
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quote:
Pete:
If I had to do a high school Shakespearean play, I'd go for Titus Andronicus.

Sweet heavens… I've never actually seen or read that one, only heard that it was infamous. One Wikipedia synopsis later it turns out that Shakespeare basically started with Ovid's story of Procne and Philomena and ramped it up a notch.

I made the mistake of reading Metamorphoses to pass time on a long bus journey. I felt almost sick after that particular story, so I'm not sure I could inflict a detailed study of Andronicus (which sounds worse) on a sixteen-year-old.

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AI Wessex
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I'm not sure I would unleash this play on HS students. Here's a partial synopsis explaining wherefore [Smile] :
quote:
The next day, during the feast at his house, Titus asks Saturninus if a father should kill his daughter when she has been raped. When Saturninus answers that he should, Titus kills Lavinia by breaking her neck, telling Saturninus of the rape. When the Emperor calls for Chiron and Demetrius, Titus reveals that they have been baked in the pie Tamora has just been eating. Titus then kills Tamora, and is immediately killed by Saturninus, who is subsequently killed by Lucius to avenge his father's death. Lucius is then proclaimed Emperor. He orders that Saturninus be given a state burial, that Tamora's body be thrown to the wild beasts outside the city, and that Aaron be buried chest-deep and left to die of thirst and starvation. Aaron, however, is unrepentant to the end, regretting only that he had not done more evil in his life.
"Mercutio: Why, 'tis no less, for the bawdy hand of the clock is on the prick of noon"

I would hope this would give every HS student an unexpected appreciation for the bard and his relevance...although it's hard to come up with a scenario in which this can be turned to pedagogical advantage. Hmmmm...

[ October 01, 2011, 10:48 AM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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Pete at Home
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"One Wikipedia synopsis later it turns out that Shakespeare basically started with Ovid's story of Procne and Philomena and ramped it up a notch."

I'd say several notches. [Big Grin]

There's a reasonably faithful movie version of it, called "Titus," starring Anthony Hopkins in the title role. I'll say without any reservation that it's the most horific movie that I've ever seen.

I actually studied that play for the first time at age 16, in high school.

Yes, there are serious problems with having high school students performing a play that has about 1.7 atrocities per scene, including but not limited to human sacrifice, rape, mutilation, and cannibalism. My point is simply that it's the only play that I'm satisfied that high school students could perform while actually knowing what they were saying. While it's one of Shakespeare's earliest plays, the language is probably easiest to understand. Not to mention that the topics are such that even high school students would pay attention.

Even the clever wordplay exchanges are easy to understand. My favorite is this exchange between brothers Chiron and Demetrius, with Aaron, their mother's black manservant. The context is, their pregnant mom just finally gave birth, and lo and behold, the baby is black.


quote:
DEMETRIUS
Villain, what hast thou done?

AARON
That which thou canst not undo.

CHIRON
Thou hast undone our mother.

AARON
Villain, I have done thy mother.

DEMETRIUS
And therein, hellish dog, thou hast undone [her].


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Pete at Home
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quote:
Aaron, however, is unrepentant to the end, regretting only that he had not done more evil in his life.
Yes, but hardly does justice to Aaron's language:

quote:
LUCIUS
Art thou not sorry for these heinous deeds?

AARON
Ay, that I had not done a thousand more.
Even now I curse the day--and yet, I think,
Few come within the compass of my curse,--
Wherein I did not some notorious ill,
As kill a man, or else devise his death,
Ravish a maid, or plot the way to do it,
Accuse some innocent and forswear myself,
Set deadly enmity between two friends,
Make poor men's cattle break their necks;
Set fire on barns and hay-stacks in the night,
And bid the owners quench them with their tears.
Oft have I digg'd up dead men from their graves,
And set them upright at their dear friends' doors,
Even when their sorrows almost were forgot;
And on their skins, as on the bark of trees,
Have with my knife carved in Roman letters,
'Let not your sorrow die, though I am dead.'
Tut, I have done a thousand dreadful things
As willingly as one would kill a fly,
And nothing grieves me heartily indeed
But that I cannot do ten thousand more.

LUCIUS
Bring down the devil; for he must not die
So sweet a death as hanging presently.

AARON
If there be devils, would I were a devil,
To live and burn in everlasting fire,
So I might have your company in hell,
But to torment you with my bitter tongue!




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Pete at Home
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Contrast that language about Aaron as a devil, to the much trimmer, subtler, and IMO superior language at the end of Othello, where the title character, finally realizing what Iago has done to him, looks at Iago's feet, wondering if they will be cloven like devil's feet:

quote:
OTHELLO
I look down towards his feet; but that's a fable. If that thou best a devil, I cannot kill thee.

Wounds IAGO

LODOVICO
Wrench his sword from him.

IAGO
I bleed, sir; but not kill'd.

Aaron is one of a sequence of villains in Shakespeare's career of trying to create the ultimate Villain, which he IMO accomplished in Iago.
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Pete at Home
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On the way from Aaron to Iago, Shakespeare seems to discover that treachery and jealous ingratitude are ultimately more villainous -- or "devilish" -- than pure unabated sadism. This theme even shows up in minor characters, as in the end of Much Ado about Nothing.

[ October 01, 2011, 01:59 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
I'm not sure I would unleash this play on HS students. Here's a partial synopsis explaining wherefore [Smile] :
quote:
The next day, during the feast at his house, Titus asks Saturninus if a father should kill his daughter when she has been raped. When Saturninus answers that he should, Titus kills Lavinia by breaking her neck, telling Saturninus of the rape. When the Emperor calls for Chiron and Demetrius, Titus reveals that they have been baked in the pie Tamora has just been eating.

The problem with synopses is that they miss language like this:
quote:
TITUS ANDRONICUS
An if your highness knew my heart, you were.
My lord the emperor, resolve me this:
Was it well done of rash Virginius
To slay his daughter with his own right hand,
Because she was enforced, stain'd, and deflower'd


SATURNINUS
It was, Andronicus.

TITUS ANDRONICUS
Your reason, mighty lord?

SATURNINUS
Because the girl should not survive her shame,
And by her presence still renew his sorrows.

TITUS ANDRONICUS
A reason mighty, strong, and effectual;
A pattern, precedent, and lively warrant,
For me, most wretched, to perform the like.
Die, die, Lavinia, and thy shame with thee;

Kills LAVINIA

And, with thy shame, thy father's sorrow die!

SATURNINUS
What hast thou done, unnatural and unkind?

TITUS ANDRONICUS
Kill'd her, for whom my tears have made me blind.
I am as woful as Virginius was,
And have a thousand times more cause than he
To do this outrage: and it now is done.

SATURNINUS
What, was she ravish'd? tell who did the deed.

TITUS ANDRONICUS
Will't please you eat? will't please your
highness feed?

P.S. Thanks to Jordan for help with the urls.

[ October 02, 2011, 06:58 PM: Message edited by: OrneryMod ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:

There's a reasonably faithful movie version of it, called "Titus," starring Anthony Hopkins in the title role. I'll say without any reservation that it's the most horific movie that I've ever seen.

I actually studied that play for the first time at age 16, in high school.

Yes, there are serious problems with having high school students performing a play that has about 1.7 atrocities per scene, including but not limited to human sacrifice, rape, mutilation, and cannibalism. My point is simply that it's the only play that I'm satisfied that high school students could perform while actually knowing what they were saying. While it's one of Shakespeare's earliest plays, the language is probably easiest to understand. Not to mention that the topics are such that even high school students would pay attention.

Even the clever wordplay exchanges are easy to understand. My favorite is this exchange between brothers Chiron and Demetrius, with Aaron, their mother's black manservant. The context is, their pregnant mom just finally gave birth, and lo and behold, the baby is black.


quote:
DEMETRIUS
Villain, what hast thou done?

AARON
That which thou canst not undo.

CHIRON
Thou hast undone our mother.

AARON
Villain, I have done thy mother.

DEMETRIUS
And therein, hellish dog, thou hast undone [her].


Here's a youtube clip that ends just after the exchange that I spoke of, halfway through Aaron's black-is-beautiful speech [Big Grin] .

The whole 10 minutes is worth watching, to get what I'm saying that Titus Andronicus demonstrates the wealth and power of the Shakespearean language, without going over the heads of high school students. It's a great "gateway play" to Shakespeare [Big Grin]

[ October 01, 2011, 02:56 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
quote:
Aaron, however, is unrepentant to the end, regretting only that he had not done more evil in his life.
Yes, but hardly does justice to Aaron's language:

quote:
LUCIUS
Art thou not sorry for these heinous deeds?

AARON
Ay, that I had not done a thousand more.
Even now I curse the day--and yet, I think,
Few come within the compass of my curse,--
Wherein I did not some notorious ill,
As kill a man, or else devise his death,
Ravish a maid, or plot the way to do it,
Accuse some innocent and forswear myself,
Set deadly enmity between two friends,
Make poor men's cattle break their necks;
Set fire on barns and hay-stacks in the night,
And bid the owners quench them with their tears.
Oft have I digg'd up dead men from their graves,
And set them upright at their dear friends' doors,
Even when their sorrows almost were forgot;
And on their skins, as on the bark of trees,
Have with my knife carved in Roman letters,
'Let not your sorrow die, though I am dead.'
Tut, I have done a thousand dreadful things
As willingly as one would kill a fly,
And nothing grieves me heartily indeed
But that I cannot do ten thousand more.

LUCIUS
Bring down the devil; for he must not die
So sweet a death as hanging presently.

AARON
If there be devils, would I were a devil,
To live and burn in everlasting fire,
So I might have your company in hell,
But to torment you with my bitter tongue!




Wow -- I'd forgotten how well played this scene was in the movie "Titus."

It's a crappy visual, and an IMO excessive swell of theme music as Aaron willingly climbs the gallows while bragging of his villainous deeds. But still electrifying.

Like I said, so blatant that even an high school student can get it. Please watch the 4-minute clip and tell me if you weren't mesmerized.

[ October 01, 2011, 03:46 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Pete at Home
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There are, I suppose, a few ancillary problems associated with putting on a high school stage performance of Titus Andronicus. The lack of subtlety that makes it a good introduction to Shakespearean language, also make it somewhat insensitive about certain issues. For example, high school stage performances of Titus Andronicus would probably provoke a few race riots and more than a few suicides by student victims of sexual abuse. I personally spent about three days crying in a fetal position after seeing the Hopkins version. Laura Fraser is very convincing as Lavinia.

[ October 01, 2011, 04:52 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Jordan
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
"One Wikipedia synopsis later it turns out that Shakespeare basically started with Ovid's story of Procne and Philomena and ramped it up a notch."

I'd say several notches. [Big Grin]

If anyone asks me about it in future, I'm going to give them a three second summary: "Procne and Philomena—turned up to eleven." I mean, gee whiz. Maybe the Marquis de Sade was giving him some tips via superluminal neutrinos…
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AI Wessex
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My problem with introducing students to Shakespeare through Titus is two-fold. The setting and violence are blunt like being hit in the face with a 2 by 4, and the art that is in the language is easily overlooked and overshadowed by the violence. I'm trying to have it both ways here, but I think both apply. The language of R & J may be hard, but I think the appeal of the story would help motivate the students to learn that, as well.

In all honesty, I really don't like Titus Andronicus, even though it was one Shakespeare's most popular and most frequently staged plays for a long time after his death. But I did watch Titus with Anthony Hopkins, for no particular reason other than he was in it. It may have been a good adaptation of the play, but it was grotesquely gruesome in a way similar to the Beowulf he was in (mitigated by Angelina Jolie's seduction scenes). There was also a bizarre retelling of The Tempest with John Gielgud called "Prospero's Books" that I wouldn't recommend unless you're really hard up for some unerotic frontal and sidal female nudity. I don't think Shakespeare is enhanced by updating or special effects. Usually the best I can say for those productions is that not too much was lost. For most of the plays you can get by without much of a set, if any at all.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Jordan:
quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
"One Wikipedia synopsis later it turns out that Shakespeare basically started with Ovid's story of Procne and Philomena and ramped it up a notch."

I'd say several notches. [Big Grin]

If anyone asks me about it in future, I'm going to give them a three second summary: "Procne and Philomena—turned up to eleven." I mean, gee whiz. Maybe the Marquis de Sade was giving him some tips via superluminal neutrinos…
Have you watched it? I' highluly recommend, unless you are a victim of sexual.abuse, and then only with a physician's supervision.
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Pete at Home
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Al, the comparison to AH's "Beowulf" (which was not only unfaithful to the original but literally a CARTOON, computer-animated, to which AH offered only the voice) is grotesquely unfair. All the horror in Titus comes from the original play.

Check out the clips I provided (which aren't gruesome) and tell me if you don't see the power in them.

If it's too gruesome, too unsubtle, or literally dangerous, then say so, but don't go comparing it to trash media; it doesn't belong in such comparisons.

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Pete at Home
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"The setting and violence are blunt like being hit in the face with a 2 by 4"

That's true!

", and the art that is in the language is easily overlooked and overshadowed by the violence."

The 2x4 doesn't overshadow the nails in the 2x4m which are the language. Again, check the links and quotes, and tell me that it's not so ...

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Pete at Home
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"The language of R & J may be hard, but I think the appeal of the story would help motivate the students to learn that, as well"

To learn something, but not actually R&J. The popular appeal of the story is based on a BS interpretation, a romanticized suicide. R&J is far more horrific, and the only film that even began to address that was the Dicaprio/Danes version, which despite its manifest faults at least comprehended that suicide wasn't supposed to be the manifestation of "true love." [Roll Eyes]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
If anyone asks me about it in future, I'm going to give them a three second summary: "Procne and Philomena—turned up to eleven."
Before this thread, I would have said that the number of modern Americans familiar with Titus Andronicus absolutely dwarfed the number of people familiar with Ovid."
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Pete at Home
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Depends on what you mean by "familiar." Actually read or seen it, yes. Actually heard of it, or wanting to pretedn that they were familiar with, no. Ovid's one of the grand examples of "let's not and say we did," whereas Titus Andronicus is more of a guilty pleasure.
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Pete at Home
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Al, I'd agree in a heartbeat that the violence in Titus Andronicus is overwhelming, perhaps destructively so, but to say that it causes Shakespeare's language to be "overlooked and overshadowed" is a insult to the Bard's talent, and inaccurate.

Has anyone clicked and watched any of my vid links?

[ October 01, 2011, 08:55 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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AI Wessex
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The best thing I can say about that film adaptation is that it has a pool table in it, not that they respected it, of course. The bard is brilliant at his worst and least, which Titus Andronicus is a candidate for, but better and better as he wrote on. R&J is a great play both for action and language, sometimes overlooked for being about callow youth rather than his more mature tragic protagonists.

BTW, if you ever get to the Capulet house in Verona, there is a semi-nude bronze statue of Juliet in the courtyard. One breast is polished by all the tourists who rub it for luck [Smile] .

"which was not only unfaithful to the original but literally a CARTOON, computer-animated, to which AH offered only the voice"

AH is graphically enhanced, like most of the characters but he's there in the flesh, and in his case in the nude. Now, *that* is obscene.

[ October 01, 2011, 09:35 PM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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Pete at Home
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Al, you don't think that Aaron is memorable?

I agree that Shakespeare improved as he went on, and Titus Andronicus is his first tragedy.

There are some aspects of Titus (like the Danes/Dicaprio Romeo&Julliette) which feel like a bad drug trip. But both are worth watching despite their flaws.

"BTW, if you ever get to the Capulet house in Verona, there is a semi-nude bronze statue of Juliet in the courtyard. One breast is polished by all the tourists who rub it for luck"

Is that what you call statue-tory rape?

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AI Wessex
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He's Shakespeare's shallowest and most evil villain. He is the only Shakespeare villain I can think of whose actions can't really be scaled to the necessities of the plot. He's a sociopath rather than someone seeking revenge or a merely calculating ambitious usurper. Iago's evil is unexplained, but its purpose is very specific. As I said, even at his worst Shakespeare is brilliant. Aaron's words are sometimes memorable, but the role isn't.

[ October 02, 2011, 09:40 AM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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Pete at Home
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I regret to say that there are Shakespeare plays that I still have not read or seen performed, so I cannot say that any villain is the shallowest.

But off the top of my head, I do think that Shakespeare's portrayal of Joan of Arc in the Henry VI series is a much shallower villain.

Aaron is not an absolute sociopath; Shakespeare takes considerable pains to show that Aaron just hates white people. His purpose is to sow chaos and misery in the societies of the white peoples that enslave him. He's been a slave so long that he equates "thick lips" to slavery. Aaron values his own child's life more than he values his own.

Please watch this 4-minute clip and tell me if it does not move you. Aaron's in chains, surrounded by armed men who are also holding his child, and yet Aaron holds all the power.

While he's arguably "more evil" than Iago, he's also more sympathetic. For one thing, the societies that he's rejected, really are abominable.

But I agree with you that he's shallower than Iago, and that his "actions can't really be scaled to the necessities of the plot." That itself shows my earlier thesis -- that Aaron represents Shakespeare's first clear step in his quest to create the ultimate villain, which I think he accomplished in Iago.

[ October 02, 2011, 11:14 AM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Pete at Home
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Just watched Branaugh's Othello again. This is seriously depressing.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
BTW, if you ever get to the Capulet house in Verona, there is a semi-nude bronze statue of Juliet in the courtyard. One breast is polished by all the tourists who rub it for luck
I'm suspicious of such claims as tourist fodder; at the University I went to, there's a bronze plaque of the founder whose nose is shiny. The official line from the university is that students rub it for good luck. However, no student has ever been observed to do so. On the other hand, especially after a tarnishing agent was applied, the cleaning staff has been observed dedicatedly polishing it to ensure that it's properly ready for the next tour.
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Greg Davidson
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Best version of Romeo and Juliet would be to do it as a back-to-back production of Troilus and Cressida (Romeo plays Troilus the next night, etc.). The later play is about when the spark of love does not quite ignite, it's not a tragedy in the sense that both Troilus and Cressida live, but it is a tragedy for the lost opportunity of something special
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AI Wessex
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"Just watched Branaugh's Othello again. This is seriously depressing."

Othello is the only tragedy that gets under my skin and makes my hairs stand on end. Shakespeare explores and exposes the fragile and ephemeral nature of love, itself. This play seems to be about the pain of a man who loses the love of his beautiful and seemingly devoted wife, but it's really about the even more devastating potential of him losing his love for her. The even shorter synopsis is that love bites. I thought the movie "O" was the best updated adaptation of any Shakespeare play that I've seen. I would like to see the play staged one day where the gender roles are reversed.

Greg, I haven't read Troilus and Cressida since college. I'll have to go dig out my copy now [Smile] .

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AI Wessex
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"I'm suspicious of such claims as tourist fodder; at the University I went to, there's a bronze plaque of the founder whose nose is shiny."

In this case I was there and stood in line behind a bunch of shy and grinning men whose wives looked on indulgingly. From my experience, I have to say it actually does work [Smile] .

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Pete at Home
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shiny titties work!
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