Shakespeare, William. The Complete Sonnets and Poems. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print
Here are a few sonnets that I selected from this week’s reading. I chose to record these because I like their musical quality well as the theme of time passing, and the references to the seasons and nature. This gave the sonnets a haunting and melancholy feel, and a bit more depth than a simple proclamation of love.
Over the course of the next month each of the TAs will be posting some advice on how to survive the dreaded end of semester! Because we are, each of us, well-seasoned on surviving the end of semester (read: old), Dr. Ullyot believes that we may have some advice to offer you to help ensure you continue to be successful and produce the absolute best work possible during this stressful time!
As some of you may already know, I’m a huge nerd, and so my strategy for surviving the end of semester is bound-up in my nerdiness and my love for reading. While an English major’s semester generally doesn’t end with a lot of final exams, I often found myself having to write multiple final papers over the course of the last several weeks. I’m sure many of you will agree, writing papers can be a very draining experience, and so staying fresh becomes of paramount concern. As such, I developed a habit of rewarding myself for time worked (I’ll admit, it’s very Pavlovian in the way that it relies on positive reinforcement, but for the most part I tend not to behave like a pet). What I would do is this: for every hour I spent writing, I would take a brief break to read a single comic. It’s quite simple, but this technique served a three-fold purpose:
1. I was able to stay on top of my weekly comics read pile (ha! You thought the first benefit I would list would be academically-related!)
2. This 10-15 minute break would be enough time for me to recharge my batteries doing something I loved so that returning to write my paper didn’t feel like such an exhausting chore.
3. Perhaps, most importantly, I love to read, but one thing you’ve all realized during your time in university is that you’re asked to read a lot of things you may not necessarily love, or even enjoy. While the suggestion of adding to anyone’s ridiculously massive read-pile seems untenable (in grad school there would be weeks where I’d have upwards of three novels and ten secondary source articles to read), I think that allowing myself to read things that I loved amidst all of my assigned readings and all of my writing assignments allowed me to maintain my passion for reading.
So, maybe it isn’t reading for you. Maybe you love to run, or watch tv, or knit. I don’t know. But I encourage you to take a little time for the thing you love everyday, even when your schedule seems unforgiving, because it will help you maintain your sanity. And who knows, maybe someday you’ll be able to turn your passion into what you do for a living. I mean, I get to study comic books, and that’s pretty cool. So go get your Master’s degree in knitting, or television watching, or whatever, just never lose sight of the things that you love.
Best of luck to each of you during the end of semester and for the remainder of your time at the U of C. I hope you all know that I am rooting for you!
Why Do We Still Care about Ol’ Willy? – My Pro-Shakespeare Argument Post
This is a mock trial blog entry, where I will argue to defend my client, William Shakespeare.
Just kidding! Actually, this post is nothing nefarious. I will write on why Shakespeare still matters in 2015, based on my personal experiences with Shakespeare in the past and this course. Of course, to support my statements, I will bring a few outside sources.
I was first exposed to Shakespeare’s classics such as Romeo and Juliet when I was in elementary school. The book was loosely translated in Korean, so it was easy for any children ages 8 and over to read. However, much of its content was lost since it was a simplified version of the original.
I also remember not enjoying that version of Romeo and Juliet. The simplified version was boring and heavily over-romanticized —yes, I can’t stress how saccharine the translation was— and tragically, I never picked up Shakespeare again….
….Until high school rolled in. Again, I was not able to enjoy Romeo and Juliet due to my dismal rendezvous with it in the past. In spite of that, Macbeth, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Taming of the Shrew all profusely entertained me. To this day, I still love all those four plays.
Anyway, before I left high school, I remember being questioned in grade 12 on why we still read Shakespeare in this postmodern world. In fact, the question made me wonder why we still study any texts from many ancient civilizations, and if they were still relevant to humanity in this digital age.
I mean, seriously, why read Shakespeare in our globalized, electrically dizzying, hurly-burly, heap-of-a-mess planet, where we are constantly bombarded with advertisements and TV shows, in a world that tells us to get rich or die trying, in a world where culture is society and vice versa?
Fast forward to 2015, and on week 1 of this course, we were asked two questions, or at least something similar in the following:
1. Is Shakespeare a great writer? Is he the greatest writer of all time?
2. Why do we still read Shakespeare in 2015?
I remember my answer being “No” to the first question since I thought of other writers such as Oscar Wilde, Homer, Virgil, Virginia Woolfe, Al-Hallaj, Charlotte Bronte, and Haruki Murakami… The list was endless!
For the second question, I thought that we still read Shakespeare now because the themes in his plays were still relevant to us. But “How?” was the question that I couldn’t answer.
First, I found it difficult to agree that Shakespeare is the greatest writer of all time since that is a very subjective statement. I could perhaps say that Shakespeare is the greatest writer of all time, but someone living in Poland or Djibouti could say “Nay” to that.
Still, is Shakespeare a great writer? The Oxford English Dictionary defines “great” in the following:
11. Of long duration; lasting, or having lasted, a long time.
a. Of a period of time.
13. Having significant effects, importance, distinction, etc. (Of things, places, actions, events, etc.)
a. Of considerable importance, significance, or distinction; important, weighty; distinguished, prominent; famous, renowned; impressive. Also in weakened sense: highly commendable, praiseworthy (“Great.”)
Did Shakespeare’s works last for a long time? Well, it’s been over 500 years since he wrote his plays, and we still read and watch his works come alive on stages and films. I suppose that means he’s great. Also, he does have important significance in our high culture, so I guess he’s double great…?
Still, does the OED’s definition of “great” have specific requirements? How long does a work have to last in order to attain prominence in a culture? Through these questions, I think that the definition of “great” is also subjective, and even nebulous.
That doesn’t mean that I can’t deny Willy’s masterful use of language, which poetically justifies the near-immortal essence of his art. For example, in Sonnet 55, Shakespeare writes:
Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmear’d with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory. (491)
Shakespeare never said, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” but his sonnet here might as well have with its hard-hitting points.
Skyscrapers and statues can erode and crumble. Money can lose its value. Political systems can be rebuilt or destroyed. Politicians can be overthrown or brought back in power. Flowers can bloom and fade away in short period of time.
But words can leave records of our memories in this mortal realm. Words, which speak to the heart of the human condition, can last for a long time if they still matter to us. Alan Crevan argues that “[Shakespeare’s] language is rich, the characters are complex and many of his basic themes – love, treachery, honor, bravery and political intrigue – still resonate today” (“Why Do We Still Care About Shakespeare?”).
I have to agree with Crevan here. All of Shakespeare’s plays and poems that we’ve studied in this course have themes and characters that we can relate to. Perhaps we can’t relate to all the characters in Shakespeare’s works, but there is always someone out there who can.
Take for example, Lucrece. I’m sure that many people out there in the world can relate to her story of rape and empowerment. Perhaps others could relate to Perdita and Florizel, who are in love with each other but social hierarchy demands them to separate. How about wars between Troy and Greece that tears peace apart, and instills double standards and hypocrisy? What about Viola’s agency in regards to masculinity and cross-dressing?
Shakespeare made me question a lot of our civilization’s ethics, morality, and current events. After reading Shakespeare’s texts, I can see Marias, Cressidas, Troiluses, Malvolios, and so on scattered throughout our postmodern era. There are still people in 2015 that deal with the same struggles people in Shakespeare’s time went through.
Again, why read Shakespeare in our globalized, electrically dizzying, hurly-burly, heap-of-a-mess planet, where we are constantly bombarded with advertisements and TV shows, in a world that tells us to get rich or die trying, in a world where culture is society and vice versa?
For me, I think —as corny as this may sound— it’s so that we don’t lose our shred of humanity in life that can turn into a race where excessive competition runs rampant in our culture. I think that Shakespeare’s works has underlying themes of humanity that we can analyze to comprehend the complex system of the human condition.
Either that, or we probably read Shakespeare for Internet’s sake:
“Great, adj., n., adv., and int.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 2 April 2015.
Shakespeare, William. “Sonnet 55.” The Complete Sonnets and Poems. Ed. Colin Burrow. London: Oxford UP, 2002. 491. Print.
“Why Do We Still Care About Shakespeare?” Ovations. The UTSA College of Liberal and Fine Arts. Cindy Tumiel. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.
While reading Sonnet 106, I noticed that the notes at the bottom of the page seemed to flow in their own sort of jolted, poetic way. Putting it all together, I thought it fit quite nicely with the idea of not being able to find the right words and falling short of describing the true worth of someone that the sonnet revolves around.
Chronicle of wasted
Annals of all-wasting
Annalls of all wastinge
Rhyme mine of hand, of foot, of face, of hand
Of face of hands
Of eye, or eye of brow, or brow even
Their, mistakenly transcribed as ‘these’ in Oxford,
Are, were this, these, those
Days looked, saw, say divining, deceiving skill
Tucker, your, thy…me
Present pleasant tongues, tongue
Professor Michael Ullyot
1 April 2015
Source of Shakespeare’s Inspiration
The Winter’s Tale was written in 1609 – 1610 (Winter’s Tale np). Just like any other play Shakespeare has written, The Winter’s Tale was inspired by the work of Robert Greene which was written in 1588 (Aasand np). Greene’s work, Pandosto, provided the base for Shakespeare’s basic characters, narrative structure and essential plot based on jealousy and romance (Aasand np). However, like all of Shakespeare’s other plays, Shakespeare used it as a base for his plays and altered the characters to increase the dramatics of the plot (Aasand np). There is a reversal of the names of the two major characters as well as the two settings where the plot and the subplot took place. In Shakespeare’s play, King of Sicilia is Leontes while the King of Bohemia is Polixenes (Aasand np). In Greene’s work, King of Sicilia is Egisthus and King of Bohemia is Pandosto (Aasand np). In Greene’s work, it is King Pandostro who is jealous of his wife over an assumed affair, she is having with King Egisthus (Aasand np). Therefore, the story of the play is reversed in Greene’s play compared to The Winter’s Tale. In The Winter’s Tale, the act of jealousy of King Leontes takes place in Sicilia and the act of redemption takes place in Bohemia (Aasand np). Futhermore, Shakespeare created new characters such as Paulina, Autolycus and Antigonus, who were not present in Greene’s work (Mabillard np). Shakespeare also combined the characters of Franion and Capnio to form the character portrayed by Camillo who is a nobleman working for the King of Sicilia (Mabillard np). The story of Pandosto has a darker ending as the wife of King of Sicilia remains dead and there is no second chance at life at the end of the story (Dollimore np). On the other hand, Shakespeare turns this tragic ending into a potentially happy ending bring in the idea of redemption and forgiveness for one’s wrong doings (Dollimore np). Overall, one can say that Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale follows the story of Pondosto by Greene quiet closely, but he makes unique additions and alterations of his own to create potentially lighter tone for the story as he plays with the idea of rebirth, redemption and forgiveness in the play.
“Internet Shakespeare Editions.” William Shakespeare and The Winter’s Tale: A Brief
Chronology ::. Web. 15 Mar. 2015. <http://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/Annex/Texts/WT/intro/Chronology/default/;jsessionid=0BC4392EEAF7E08AF578A4DA0463C765>
“Internet Shakespeare Editions.” The Winter’s Tale; Introduction ::. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.
“Shakespeare’s Sources for The Winter’s Tale.” Shakespeare’s Sources for The Winter’s Tale.
Web. 15 Mar. 2015. <http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sources/wintersources.html.
“Shakespeare’s Sources – The Winter’s Tale – Blogging Shakespeare.” Blogging Shakespeare. 31
Aug. 2011. Web. 15 Mar. 2015. <http://bloggingshakespeare.com/shakespeares-sources-the-winters-tale>
if I could put my body over there
and never have to see myself again
I’d give me something beautiful to wear
and walk away with paper and a pen.
for some things go unspoken, some unseen,
I wish sometimes that I could go un-both.
my life is better lived behind some screen;
my love is better written down in oath.
for you I remain visible and loud,
although my quiet instinct disagrees.
you find it hard to lose me in a crowd,
I find you put my worried mind at ease.
if ever you need me to disappear
I’ll hold my tongue, my love, but I’ll stay near.