Category Archives: Culture

Close Reading: Twelfth Night (Act 1, Scene 1)

Paraphrase:

[Music.] Enter Orsino Duke of Illyria, Curio, and other Lords.

ORSINO: If it is so that music feeds the appetite of love, keep

playing. Give me more of it, so I can become sick of it and stop

loving. [To the Musicians] Play that again! It had a sad fall. Oh, it

sounds sweet, like a breeze over a bed of violets, carrying

away its scent. Stop playing. It’s not as sweet anymore.

Oh, love is so restless. It makes your desires as vast as the sea,

and then make you despise everything. Love is so fantastical

and incomparable.

CURIO: Are you going to go hunt, my lord?

ORSINO: Hunt what, Curio?

CURIO: The hart (deer)

ORSINO: That’s exactly what I’m doing, with my own heart. Oh,

when I first saw Olivia, I thought that she cured the diseased

air (with her purity). At that moment, it was as if I was a hart

and my desires, like vicious hounds, attacked me.

Enter Valentine

What news do you have [from Olivia]?

VALENTINE: Excuse me, my lord, but they did not allow me inside.

But I did get an answer from her servant and it reads,

“[Olivia] will be kept inside for seven years, and will not even

show her face to the skies. She will keep herself as if she were

a nun, to remember her deceased brother’s love. This will keep

his love pure and untainted in her remembrance.”

ORSINO: Oh, her heart must be so great that she pays so much

respect and love to her dead brother. Think about all the love I

will get, when she is struck [from Cupid’s arrow] and falls in

love with me – then she will surrender her sweet and perfect

heart and mind to be controlled by only  one – me! Let’s go to a

place with sweet flowers, and think about love.

Exit.

Shakespeare has used many literary elements in this scene.

First, an example of simile is present in the line 5-7:

“Oh, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound

That breathes upon a bank of violets,

Stealing, and giving odor.” (I, i, 5-7)

Moreover, “Receiveth as the sea” (11) and “my desires, like fell and cruel hounds” (21) are also an example of a simile.

Furthermore, an instance when a metaphor is used is when Orsino says “That instance was I turned into a hart” (20).

In addition to, Shakespeare has used puns in this passage. Specifically, the pun of “hart” was evident, when Curio asks Orsino whether he would like to hunt a hart, and Orsino claims that  he is indeed hunting a heart.

Also, there is an example of apostrophe: “O spirit of love” (9).

In this passage, Orsino laments the effects of love, and claims how restless his unrequited love is for Olivia. Furthermore, this scene provides the audience with some of the basics of the story: Orsino is a high lord who is in love with the grieving Olivia, who does not return his feelings.

12th night 112th night 2

(I also performed a reading of this scene which can be found here.)

 

 

 

Rape of Lucrece

While reading and annotating Rape of Lucrece, I tried to view characters such as Lucrece in varying lights and try to understand  what drives them to make certain desperate decisions such as suicide. I decided to take a bit of a different approach and objectively analyze Lucrece.

The way Lucrece is treated  and labelled by men directly reflects what she deeply values the most about herself. Lucrece values her reputation and appearance greater than her own life and mind. She internalizes her given designations transcribed by men. In the poem Lucrece is heavily objectified by the ones closest to her and she is constantly compared to inanimate subjects and animals forcing her to internalize those characteristics. Lucrece is illustrated as  harmless animal such as “silly lamb” (line 168) to show that she is not perceived as an adult but rather as a naive child.  “Dove” (line 360), “bird” (line 457), “white hind” (line 543) and even “pray” (line 342) are also used indicating her fragile and harmless nature. Lucrece accepts all of these labels given by men and takes on those roles, describing herself as “poor unseasonable doe” (Line 581), “poor frightened deer” (line 1149) and “myself a weakling” (Line 584). This shows that her perception of herself directly affected by men. In a way, she struggles with herself and resents her internalized weakness ascribed by others. For instance, she immediately regrets for not being able to physically fight during the rape : “And wast afread to scratch her wicked foe, Kill both thyself and her for yielding so” (line 1035-1036)

There is also an interesting correlation between having a beautiful body and being virtuous.   Lucrece was described as “as bright as heaven’s beauty” (line 13), “earthly saint” (line 84) suggesting that somehow individual’s virtue and purity is coupled with outward appearance. Few times, descriptions of her beautiful bodily appearance is associated with having an innocent and unspoiled mind that of a saint and heaven. In a sense, her body image reflects her mind and soul. To demonstrate this, Shakespeare also mentions: “Within his thought her heavenly image sits” (line 288), “Hath barred him from the blessed thing he sought” (line 340) also supporting the idea of her body image being intertwined with her divine soul, and emphasizing her virtue, innocence and unspoiled mind. Lucrece accepts these elevated roles. She indirectly implies her pure state by mentioning: “stain so pure a bed” (Line 684) and calling herself a “The silver-shining queen he would distain”  (Line 786).

Other times, she was equivalent to man-made objects “virtuous monument” (line 391) and “Her breasts, like ivory globes” (407). Once again, she internalizes objectifications and says :”To fill with worm-holes stately monuments” (Line 946). As illustrated by the quote, she is obliquely calling herself “stately monument”, viewing herself as an elevated and majestic man made object, created to be displayed and valued due to its appearance.   The fact that she describes herself as a possession and an object created to be admired for appearance further supports the idea of her dependancy on reputation/appearance. As a result, this constant coupling of  “pure body” with “pure mind” intensifies the pressure to remain untouched to keep  an elevated reputation in the society.

As a matter of fact, Lucrece’s sense of identity is so strongly intertwined with her body that she would rather commit an unspeakable sin of suiciding with a better reputation than live on with a ruined image in the society. “But she has lost a dearer thing than life” (line 687), “To live or die, which of the twain were better When life is shamed and death reproach’s debtor” (line 1154-1155). Another interesting incidence that stands out is when one of the servants showed up to deliver Lucrece’s letter to her husband. Interestingly and oddly Lucrece was more preoccupied with thought of servant knowing about last night’s act rather than being devastated by the rape and violence. She was more worried about people finding it out and destroying her reputation as an individual with “Immaculate and spotless is my mind” (line 1656).  “Imagine every eye beholds their blame; For Lucrece thought he blush’d to see her shame:” (lines 1343-1344) and “The more she thought he spied in her some blemish.” (line 1358) demonstrate her concern of the servant exposing her “blemish” or in other words rape rather than being emotionally preoccupied with her traumatizing experience. Lucrece’s egoistic act of suicide reflects that she values her reputation in the society far greater than her children, husband, father and even herself. This shows that one of her deepest values in life is fame. The fact that she is willing to leave  behind without even worrying or mentioning  well being of those closest to her, shows that Lucrece is more concerned with honour and shame of rape that will destroy her reputation.  Ironically, importance of her reputation is most obvious when Lucrece  lusts for bloody revenge, seeking blood and death to redeem her prestige as pure and virtuous individual:

“Mine honour I’ll bequeath unto the knife

That wounds my body so dishonoured.

‘Tis honour to deprive dishonour’s life;” (Lines 1184-1186)

“For in my death I murder shameful scorn:

My shame so dead, mine honour is new-born” (Lines 1189-1190)

I hope you guys enjoyed my quick analysis! Any comments/ideas/arguments/evidences against my take on Lucrece are greatly appreciated 😀

Quick note: the reason I thought she might have children is because Tarquin said : “Then, for thy husband and thy children’s sake ” (line 534)

 

King Lear by Theatre Calgary

In February we will be covering adaptations and productions of King Lear. These productions will be audio and video (here), but I also want to encourage you to attend Theatre Calgary’s performance of King Lear.

We’ve managed to negotiate a reduced price for English 205 students. So really, how can you pass this up? Continue reading King Lear by Theatre Calgary