A second helping of… commonplaceness? commonplacement? commonplacity?

December 18, 2009

Here lies the second installment of the one and only commonplace blog.  Unless, of course, there is another commonplace blog.

Hold on to your seats, folks, you’re in for a wild second round.  Unless, of course, this is the first time you are viewing this site, in which case you have not read the premier section.  If this be so, I would suggest starting in the middle, down there with the entry entitled “Prologue.”  Yes, the order of the blog is a mess.  Please bear with me and, as previously stated in said “Prologue,” you can look through this in any dang order you want.

This, the subsequent component of the blog, deals with some real issues.  Ghosts, children’s movies, cross-dressing, and magical islands.  These are but a few of the topics we will discuss on this follow-up journey through the Bard’s mind.

I present you with four more plays in this, the division of the blog that proceeds the first.  Between Hamlet and King Lear, there is enough tragedy to send one over the cuckoo’s nest.  Therefore I do not dwell on such sadness for extended periods of time, but still deal with some other substantial issues in those plays.

Twelfth Night and The Tempest are also included in this, the ensuing half of the Shakespearean blog.  These two plays should bring more lightheartedness to those that might get bogged down in the messiness of tragedy.

Please enjoy your perusal of part deux of this blog, as thus, being the sequel to the first.


not quite Bachelor Island

December 17, 2009

I can’t help but feel sorry for Miranda.  She doesn’t have a lot going for her.  No wonder she falls in love with the first normal human being that wanders onto the island.  Her crush on Ferdinand really doesn’t say much about his looks.  However, she does say:

“I have no ambition to see a goodlier man.”  (1.2.486-487)

She seems settled on this guy.  I guess it never crossed her mind that there might be other men out in the world that would be more desirable than Ferdinand.

Miranda, the bachelorette

"I have but one rose remaining. Hmm... do I chose the hairy monster, the old wizard who might be my dad, or the normal guy?"

I guess you have to take what you can get.

Fool me once, shame on you…

December 17, 2009

Caliban doesn’t seem too bright.  He rants about how he showed Prospero everything on the island:

“When thou cam’st first,
thou strok’st me and made much of me, wouldst give me
water with berries in’t, and teach me how
to name the bigger light, and how the less,
that burn by day and night. And then I loved thee
and showed thee all the qualities o’th’isle,
the fresh springs, brine pits, barren place and fertile.
and here you sty me
in this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me
the rest o’th’island.”                           (1.2.335-341…345-347)

So Prospero duped Caliban.  Unfortunate.  However, as a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.  When Stephano and Trinculo come along and give Caliban some booze, he repeats the exact same thing he did with Prospero:

“I’ll show thee every fertile inch o’th’island,
and I will kiss thy foot.  I prithee, be my god.”    (2.2.146-147)

And at this point, Stephano and Trinculo sound even worse than Prospero, because they only refer to Caliban as “monster,” and at one point, Trinculo already alludes to violence towards him:

“I shall laugh myself to death at this puppy-
headed monster. A most scurvy monster! I could find
in my heart to beat him”                    (2.2.152-154)

Caliban sure knows how to pick ’em.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.

Lear in the tempest?

December 17, 2009

Interesting that the last two plays we look at involve raging storms.  While Lear, the fool, and Kent are out in the storm, Kent even refers to it as a tempest (3.2.62).

The image of a king, stricken with sorrow and rage, ill-clothed and out in a violent storm is a very powerful one.

Lear in the storm

"Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow!" (3.2.1)

Actually, come to think of it, Twefth Night sort of started with a storm as well – at least that’s how Viola and Sebastian and the like ended up in Illyria when their ship wrecked.

Anyway, back to King Lear.  It seems when he outwardly appears the most mad is when he’s saying things that make the most sense.  While he appeared somewhat normal, like in the first scene, his words and actions seemed the most illogical.  Once he finally loses everything, though, he starts to see everything he has done wrong, and in a way seems much more sane.  While he is in the storm, he says:

“Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! Spout, rain!
Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters.
I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;
I never gave you kingdom, called you children.
You owe me no subscription. Then let fall
your horrible pleasure. Here I stand your slave,
a poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man.
But yet I call you servile ministers,
that will with two pernicious daughters join
your high-engendered battles ‘gainst a head
so old and white as this. Oho! ‘Tis foul.”

Of all the things he has said up to this point, this seems the most lucid.  Once he got into this raging storm, he was finally able to see straight and process what has happened to him.

Cordelia… for goodness’ sake!

December 17, 2009

Dear Cordelia,

COME ON!  You were so close.  SO close!  If you were the closest to your father, like he said you were, you would’ve realized that you needed to play this little game with him.  But no, you had to go and be the innocent, honest, virtuous little daughter.  What was it you said?

“What shall Cordelia speak?  Love and be silent.”  (1.1.62)

Nice one.  It was this great little idea that sent your father spiraling into craziness.  Not that he wasn’t headed there already.  Your sisters picked up on it a little quicker than you did.

“The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash.”  (1.1.298-299)

Maybe you’re just too young and naive to pick up on it.  Okay, maybe I was a little harsh.  Your intentions were good, I suppose.  And it took guts to call your sisters out on their lies.  I enjoyed that part:

“Why have my sisters husbands if they say
they love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,
that lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry
half my love with him, half my care and duty.
Sure I shall never marry like my sisters,
to love my father all.”  (1.1.99-104)

As right as you are in that statement, sometimes some people just can’t handle the truth.  I fear the worst for thee.



Malvolio – a nasty narcissist

December 17, 2009
“Oh, you are sick of self-love, Malvolio, and taste with a distempered appetite.”

Olivia gets it right.  Malvolio is really into himself, and it ends up costing him the dignity he tries so hard to uphold.  When Maria plants the letter for him to read, he falls into the trap by assuming it addresses himself:

“‘M.O.A.I.’ This simulation is not as the
former. And yet, to crush this a little, it would bow to
me, for every one of these letters are in my name.”

Even the subtleties in his language suggest his narcissism, for instance, how the letters “bow to him.”  He goes on to ironically say he will withhold his biased assumption that the letter is to him, but states that the facts indeed point that direction:

“I do not now fool
myself, to let imagination jade me; for every reason
excites to this, that my lady loves me.”
cross-gartered Malvolio

"She did praise my leg being cross-gartered." (2.5.163-164

This trick would only work on someone as self-infatuated as Malvolio.

Oh! He’s a she! Hooray!

December 17, 2009

Comedies are meant to be resolved in happiness.  And Twelfth Night is no exception.  However it seems a bit odd how everyone just accepts that Cesario was really a woman all along.  It means that Olivia, Orsino, Sebastian, and Viola all pretty much get what they want.  Nobody questions Viola for dressing as a boy for the entirety of the play.  Actually, when Olivia sees that there are two Sebastians, she finds it “Most wonderful!” (5.1.227).

Robin Williams was not awarded this generosity when he was discovered to be cross-dressing.  Sexism?  You tell me.

Mrs. Doubtfire

"Let me see thee in thy woman's weeds." (5.1.273)

Orsino accepts this new-found information just as well as Olivia:

Hamlet just can’t wait to be king.

December 17, 2009

Simba = Hamlet

Mufasa = Daddy Hamlet

Scar = Claudius

Nala = Ophelia

Even as children we were subconsciously subjected to a subliminal Shakespeare through The Lion King.  Even in the original, Hamlet alludes to his deep down desire to be like Simba:

“My fate cries out,
And makes each petty artery in this body
As hardy as the Nemean lion’s nerve.”                              – 1.4.81-83

"to rawr... or not to rawr?"

One of the remarkable parallels that Disney made between the two was the main character’s tragic flaw.  Both Hamlet and Simba seem frozen – unable to take action and revenge their fathers’ deaths.  Fortunately, to prevent severe psychological trauma to children all across America, Simba lives.

a whole lot of swearing

December 17, 2009

After Hamlet converses with his ghost of a father, he realizes that Horatio and Marcellus have witnessed him.  They want Hamlet to tell them what he and the ghost talked about, but as any wise person would do, Hamlet refuses.  Taken out of context – as it is here – this conversation sounds like Hamlet has a juicy secret he can’t wait to divulge.

Marcellus:  How is’t, my noble lord?
Horatio:  What news, my lord?
Hamlet:  Oh, wonderful!
Horatio:  Good my lord, tell it.
Hamlet:  No, you will reveal it.
Horatio:  Not I, my lord, by heaven.
Marcellus:  Nor I, my lord.
Hamlet:  How say you, then, would heart of man once think it?
But you’ll be secret?
Horatio, Marcellus:  Ay, by heaven, my lord.                       – 1.5.120-128

Meanwhile,  the ghost – not completely gone, at this point under the stage – doesn’t seem to trust their secret-keeping capabilities.  So he makes them swear not to say a word. A lot.

Ghost (cries under the  stage):  Swear.                  – 1.5.158
Ghost [beneath]:  Swear.                                           – 1.5.164
Ghost [beneath]:  Swear by his sword.                  – 1.5.170
Ghost [beneath]:  Swear.                                           – 1.5.190

a shrouded figure... aka the ghost of Big Daddy Hamlet.

To quote Horatio, “Oh, day and night, but this is wondrous strange!” (1.5.173).  I think I would listen if a subterranean ghost told me to keep their secrets.


October 23, 2009

First of all, welcome, and I hope you are all enjoying yourselves. Coffee and hors d’oeuvres are in the back; just have a seat and make yourselves comfortable.

This blog is a representation of my thought process as I read through these plays.  Some of it might be amusing, some of it might be overreaching, some of it might be insightful, and some of it just might not make sense.  Case and point, this whole blog is set up backwards.  You should probably start at the bottom and work your way upwards, because that’s the order that I wrote them.

Or don’t.  By all means, I give thee permission to peruse this blog in any random, non-linear based method that you so choose.  Every entry is a representation of something that struck me (metaphorically) while I was reading that particular play.  Whether it be a character, or a relationship between characters, or a concept that seemed odd to me, I took it and ran with it.  Sure, sometimes I ran in the wrong direction, but I certainly got there quickly.

I feel like the Chorus in Henry V:

“Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts…
and make imaginary puissance.”

And I’m not entirely sure what puissance is, but, on my behalf, please make some.

Finally, sit back, relax, and open your mind to whatever has managed to make its way out of my own.

“Admit me Chorus to this history,
Who, Prologue-like, your humble patience shog
Gentle to hear, kindly to judge, our blog.”