The first time I annotated Shakespeare was in high school, where I annotated individual scripts line by line into modern language. The latter method allowed for easier reading and a connection of humor to the tragedy I was required to analyze. Translating line by line is easier said than done when it comes to The Rape of Lucrece.
Like much of Shakespeare’s work, Lucrece is first and foremost a tragedy. Containing violence, political intrigue, and internal conflict to rival even the most intense of television dramas (Game of Thrones comes to mind), it is – in my opinion, at least – the saddest of Shakespeare’s works. I cannot state that as explicit fact, as I have not read every single one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, but it is quite possibly the most bloody depressing piece of literature I have read thus far.
Because my literary tastes tend to deviate away from the horribly sad, I was quite sure this poem was going to be difficult to get through. However, by setting up an extensive system of annotation, I am able to get through it and comprehend a majority of what is going on. There was that instance with Tarquin and the glove that went right over my head, but that was incredibly odd and I won’t get into that at the moment.
Like at least a couple people in this course, I do not enjoy writing in books. To do so is a direct threat on my perfectionist desire to have every volume in my house look like it was just picked up from Indigo. However, I decided that because it was Shakespeare, and because it was for school, I could throw myself on the grenade and write in a book. In coloured pen. *gasp*
My annotations thus far make my book look like it has snatched little pieces off of rainbows. I colour code my margin notes, with employ orange for literary tropes, black for repetitive themes or symbols, purple for allusions to history or mythology, blue for plot, and pink for the moments I am feeling particularly punchy and/or sarcastic, which is – unfortunately – frequently. I’ve read the entire poem, but as far as I have annotated there are many symbols related to colour, siege, and birds. The appearance of bird symbolism in this poem was fairly unexpected, and though it will require further analysis, I believe it may be related to the Greek myth of Philomena, who was similarly ruined by a man she thought she could trust.