Category Archives: Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature

Under this heading, you will find all of my blog entries which I completed while studying Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature in 2017.

Summative Entry for Shakespeare and the English Renaissance.

While people in the English Renaissance wore different clothes and had no access to digital technology, their artistic expressions and the experiences these embody still have an impact on human beings living in the 21st Century.

I have learnt a new language and become immersed in another culture much different from my own, but at the same time so similar.

The culture and language are Shakespearian. When I first started the unit “Shakespeare and Renaissance literature” I was lost. I had no idea how to read or decipher the words or phrases on the page. The culture of the English Renaissance seemed far removed to culture today.

I soon learnt that there are many similarities between then and now, between that culture and my own in modern day Australia. Indeed much of our own language and culture evolved from the English Renaissance period.

It was Mr Shakespeare who invented many of our composite words, and other words which have become commonplace in our language today.  People attribute Donald Trump in making up the word “Bigly” but it is used in a few of Shakespeare’s texts including Othello. It was however an obsolete word from the Scottish language meaning of great importance or size. It can also mean boisterous or loud, something I think you would agree that describes Donald Trump accurately.

Shakespeare tells the story of a deformed man seeking love and acceptance through his play “Richard III”.  In the time of Richard III the deformed and different were cast aside from family and community, to try to survive any way they can. For Richard, his survival was reliant on his usurping his brother, in fact killing him in order to get the throne of England. Did he have a lust for power? Or did he merely seek to be loved and valued as a human being? The question of the origin of Richards evil ways was the topic of a blog I penned called:

Richard III. Evil: Inherent or learned?

I also wrote a poem, that perhaps may have been the thoughts of Richard, in a blog I entitled:

Would it be: A poem for Richard

I truly believe that the story of Richard would have been different if he was loved by his mother and family and included more in the family life. Poor Richard was hidden away, treated differently, looked down upon for his disabilities. Are we in the 21st Century treating our disabled or mentally ill any better? I think we are trying on this account but we still have a long way to go.

I liken some of the world leaders today to Richard III. Instead of working with others, certain leaders want all the power. They kill anyone who gets in their way, much like Richard did. Some of our world leaders today are downright evil, and we still ask the question: Is the evil they have in their hearts inherent or learnt behaviour?

From there, I went on a sidetrack and looked at the life of Sir Walter Ralegh and the monarch of the time, Queen Elizabeth I. We studied Ralegh’s poem “The Lie” in class and I wanted to uncover the context in which it was written. I did this in the post:

Walter Ralegh said the world is a Liar.

Raleigh knew too well that people were two faced, saying one thing in front of your face, then turning around and chopping your head off with their next breath. But wait, James said, I will free you if you go back to the Americas and bring back more riches. When he returned it was learned that he had a fight with a Spanish dude. The Spanish King said to the English King, “If you don’t chop his head off, I wont be your friend anymore”. Isn’t this how children in the playground act now? have we learned anything?

I wrote a poem to woo Queen Elizabeth I, to make her see that she needs to give England an heir. We know from history that I was unsuccessful.

Marry me?

 

King Lear is the second play we studied in class. We saw again in this play how people don’t value each other and how even family turns against family when they are seeking importance, power and money. Cordelia, the youngest daughter of Lear does not bend her fathers ear or lick his boots. She is content with her lot in life, whether that means inheriting part of the kingdom or not.

For King Lear, I wrote a bit of a frivolous entry, which compared the behaviour of Lear’s daughters to my dogs and cat. Just a bit of fun really, but I do think it is a good analogy:

Modern analogy of King Lear opening?

 

I wrote a poem for my father, comparing my relationship with my father to that of Lear and his youngest daughter. I then got a little soppy and wrote a Sonnet to my partner, which he loved by the way. Perhaps it was looking at Shakespeare’s poems and Sonnets that allowed me to express my love for Sam and my father. Maybe Shakespeare is still teaching the world how to love, through the legacy of his writings.

I did a sidetrack and studied the sonnets further, especially after the wonderful lecture we had from Professor Spurr. I for one didn’t know who Petrarch was, or the style of sonnets he wrote. I didn’t know they differed from the majority of sonnets written by Shakespeare. I went digging and wrote the following blog entry in response to that research.

Petrarch and the Sonnets

We then studied The Twelfth Night and discovered that this was an ancient equivalent to the modern day Rom/Com. There is lots of Romance in it and the comedy comes in the form of making us laugh at the stupidity of the drunks. However it made me look at the temporary nature of life and love. It was true in this play and is true in today’s world. In this poem Love or lust knows no boundaries. there are women in love with women, men in love with men. One can see that deception reigns as a teenage boy plays the role of a woman, who disguises herself as a man. Confused? so was I. But again I looked at Love as a theme and created the blog:

What is Love. Twelfth Night

We sometimes confuse love with lust, or is it just infatuation?

The Tempest is also something we may describe as a Romance. Certainly the end of the story and the solution to the dilemma lays in the Romance between Prospero’s daughter Miranda and the King’s son Ferdinand. The play again looks at deception. Prospero is usurped from his dukedom by his brother and exiled with his daughter to this island. When Prospero arrives on the island, he wants to take control. He frees the spirit Ariel from the tree, only to enslave him and make Ariel do his bidding. He takes the deformed and cast aside person of Caliban and teaches him language, so they can understand each other. Prospero seems to think he has done Caliban a great favour by teaching him language. Caliban is enslaved to Prospero, for now that Prospero has shown Caliban that life could be different, easier, Prospero says that without him, Caliban would be nothing.

The Tempest shows us the evils of colonisation. The western world takes on an air of superiority and thinks that anyone who is not at their standard of living, is substandard. In fact the natives of a land prior to colonisation, know more about the land than the colonisers. Without the natives, the colonisers would perish. I think we really need to remember that. I wrote further feelings about this subject in my final blog post:

Colonisation and “The Tempest”.

So what from Shakespeare is still relevant today? I have learned the truth in that power is something that men (and women) want at all costs. I have learned that disabled people were treated as bad in Shakespeare’s time as they are today; but I think we are getting better at that. I have learned that love takes many forms, that gender is fluid, and love as well as life are temporary. I have learned that deception was a major theme in many of Shakespeare’s plays, but that deception was not limited to the stage. Deception was rife in the courts of Britain during the English renaissance. Deception is also rife now. People are confused about what is true. What the heck are alternate facts if they are not indeed lies? What is fake news?

I have learned that language is evolving. Shakespeare made up words in his time. We make up words, and meanings in ours. When I was a child, hardware is what you bought from Nock and Kirby’s and software was not even a word. A mouse was something not wanted in the house. A screen is what you used to keep the flies out. a Monitor was someone who volunteered in the school library. A browser was someone who went window shopping. The young people of today don’t know what a walkman is, or a discman. Records are something to be broken, not to be played. Even the term CD is becoming obsolete as we download, upload, stream music.

These three remain, Faith Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is Love. Love was a theme then, it is relevant now, and it will be forever, whatever form it may take.

Thank you for coming on this journey through the writings of Shakespeare and the Renaissance. See you all again next Semester when I study Reading Australia and American Writing.

Dave

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Colonisation and “The Tempest”.

Say whose side you are on in the contest between Prospero and Caliban as it appears at the end of Act 1 Sc 2.

How do humans live without so called civilisation?  How do tribes of nomadic indigenous people even survive without the internet, mobile phones or the golden arches of a favorite fast food place.

Fast food for Australian indigenous people was an emu who could travel at 50km per hour or a kangaroo capable of speeds up to 70km per hour. The calling of a relative involved travelling to see them and spending time with them. Instead of Facebook, they had face to face.

We in the western world think that we are far superior to the natives of lands whom we rape for resources and riches. Natives of North America were conned into giving away precious land and resources in exchange for coloured beads. Now the American government just takes the land that has been in traditional ownership for centuries in exchange for nothing. This is sacred land. Land of great importance to the natives. Western man’s greed is greater and to him, more important, than a natives man’s sacred spots. For more on this issue follow the link.

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/01/us/standing-rock-sioux-sacred-land-dakota-pipeline/

Nauru is an island nation that was raped of its resources. The phosphate that was here was a result of an abundant bird life.here The Island has been inhabited by Polynesian and Micronesian people for over 3000 years. Prior to colonisation, this was a land which was plentiful. The people farmed the land growing fruits and vegetables and catching the fish in the waters that surrounded the nation. Then the Germans colonised it and began to rape the land of the phosphate to make their grass green in their own backyards. It continued under British,Australian, and NewZealand administrations after WWI.

nauru-phosphate-mining-1

Tall pillars of coral is what remains after the phosphate is removed. © PHILIP GAME/ALAMY

Nauru gained its independence in 1968 but by then the land was barren, the waters polluted and the people reliant on imported canned goods from the western world to feed themselves. This introduced obesity and disease to the land.

In The Tempest, by William Shakespeare we see Prospero come to the Island that was inhabited only by Caliban and Ariel. Ariel was a spirit, trapped in a tree by a witch who had since died and so had no way of release. Prospero released Ariel but placed the spirit in servitude to do his bidding.

Caliban was the son of that same witch. He was born with deformities and was seen in his state to be less than human. He wandered the island and knew it like the back of his hand. He reminds Prospero in his speech in Act 1 Scene 2

“…show’d thee all the qualities o’ the isle,
The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile:”

Before Prospero came, Caliban was King of that Island, although he had no subjects. He would have not been able to procreate, and the Kingdom would have died with him.

Prospero was the coloniser, albeit an unwilling one. Again from that same speech, Caliban states:

“This island’s mine, by Sycorax my mother,
Which thou takest from me. When thou camest first,
Thou strokedst me and madest 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 Prospero reminds Caliban

I pitied thee,
Took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour
One thing or other: when thou didst not, savage,
Know thine own meaning, but wouldst gabble like
A thing most brutish, I endow’d thy purposes
With words that made them known.

Caliban sought to procreate with Prospero’s daughter, whom at the time was quite young. Caliban did not know the harm he could cause to the girl, or the social graces of courting, wooing and consent. He sought to take her and thus gained the wrath of Prospero and indeed his daughter Miranda.

So the blog question is…Say whose side you are on in the contest between Prospero and Caliban as it appears at the end of Act 1 Sc 2. Is colonisation a good thing? I would have to say no. Colonisation occurs and did occur on the island in The Tempest, to the detriment of the natives who already inhabit the land.

Without Prospero, Caliban would have happily lived on the island, using its resources wisely, respecting and knowing the land intimately. Prospero spoilt that with his attitude of superiority over Caliban.Because he could speak a language which he thought others should be able to speak, and hence communicate, he thought himself better than Caliban whom he couldn’t understand himself.

The western world think they are so much better than the native people who inhabit a place before colonisation. The Australian Settlers deemed the land uninhabited when they landed, even though the natives of the land were clearly evident. The settlers did not think of the natives as human.

We boast our civilisation is a better way if living. In Whose eyes? We say that western medicine is good for helping the natives live longer, free from pain and disease. It was the white man who bought the diseases in a lot of cases. It was also the white man who introduced the indigenous people of Australia to alcohol, and tobacco. It was the white man who bought petrol vehicles to the country and allowed the young people to sniff it, infecting their minds.

There are very few areas in the world not colonised. I believe there are areas in South America and New Guinea who don’t know white man. North Sentinel Island near India, has inhabitants who shoot arrows at airplanes who come to close. Leave them be I say. These people do not need out western society with all the politics, greed and corruption.The people of North Sentinel Island have survived without modern man for 60,000 years. They are doing alright without us.

Sentinelese tribespeople, holding javelins, gather on the shore of North Sentinel Island, located in the Bay of Bengal 

Sentinelese tribespeople, holding javelins, gather on the shore of North Sentinel Island, located in the Bay of Bengal

So it is a good thing when Prospero is restored to the Dukedom and returns to Milan, leaving a freed Ariel Spirit and Caliban to inhabit the island alone. Perhaps no major damage is done and Caliban is able to restore the Island to the former beauty.

Dave

 

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Peer Review, Ronny

https://ronnykamaledine.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/engl210-shakespeare-week-7/?c=121#comment-121

Hi Ronny,
Well done for attempting the writing or a sonnet. Your rhyming changes after the first 4 lines. you start with the rhyme sequence being abab, but change to aabb. This makes it a little difficult to read. The iambic pentameter is out of sync in some lines. It was however a great idea to attempt a sonnet of Shakespeare using Richard III as a text base.
Blessings
Dave

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Peer Review, Audrey

https://barefootfairy42.wordpress.com/2017/05/15/disguise-i-see-thou-art-a-wickedness/comment-page-1/#comment-174

A wonderful post, Miss Barefoot Fairy. I wonder about the meaning of the Twelfth Night and the reason Shakespeare used this as the title of the play. In Christian circles it is indeed the arrival of the wise men, and the Epiphany, or revelation of some great truth, said to occur on this day. Perhaps Shakespeare is saying through the poem that it is time to get wise. I think wisdom and the getting of it is a serious business, and I see merit in Malvolio’s insistence that they pipe down, while he tries to sleep and prepare for the first day back at work. Does Belch know when to be serious, or is he that type of larrikin that is fun to be around sometimes, but too much merriment becomes tedious.

The Puritans have a dilemma. They take pleasure in being morbid and straight. But when they accomplish this, then they become proud and even happy with themselves. This happiness is not allowed. So they throw on their sackcloth and ashes and flagellate themselves again, in order to rein in the spirit of happiness.

It has once again been a pleasure to study with you this semester.
Dave

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Peer review. Michael Griffith

The Benefits of Blogging in University Education.
Although Michael is my teacher and not my peer, I felt safe enough to share this review of his post.

Hi Michael.

Thank you for this article on blogging. It is very concise and feel it could benefit from extra content including anecdotal evidence how blogging increases active participation in marginalised people such as those in the Clemente program. Perhaps this sheet is only an overview and that a more comprehensive paper is available to others who have an interest in this. I being one.
As a student, I thank you for introducing me to blogging. It has been a way for me to ‘nut out’ ideas before committing them to an essay. It is also a way for me to share my passions of art, photography and writing. Blogging has become a major thing in my life, not just to benefit academically but in other aspects of my life.
Dave

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16/05/2017 · 11:44 am

What is Love. Twelfth Night

“What is love? ’tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What’s to come is still unsure:
In delay there lies no plenty;
Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty,
Youth’s a stuff will not endure.”

The above is an excerpt from the song that Feste the sings to Sir Toby and Sit Andrew when they are drunk and making a raucous on the patio of Lady Olivia’s house.

All are in a fairly jovial mood and Toby asks for a song of Feste. Feste, being a fool, but being wise, knows that laughter and merriment will not last forever; and love does not last eternally.

Who knows what the future holds, he says. Have fun now, for fun and things and love will not last. Kiss while you can. The things of youth… Love and merriment will not continue.

I think we can be sure of the truth of these words. Love for someone changes over time. First it starts with infatuation. This is the type of love described in the opening speech of this play, when Orsino says “If music be the food of love, play on”.

“If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound,
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour!”

And again when Antonio is speaking to Sebastian.

“If you will not murder me for my love, let me be
your servant.”

Orsino is madly, deeply in love with a woman who is in mourning and unatainable. I think that Orsino feels safe in expressing his love, as he knows that it will be rebuffed for the moment. But for him, he loves the idea of being in love, instead of being in love with Lady Olivia herself.

Antonio rescued Sebastian from the sea when the vessel he was aboard was sunk. Sebastian could not have been on board the ship for long, but in that time Antonio has fallen truly, madly, deeply in love with him. In the line mentioned above, he bravely expresses his love for fear it would be rejected “If you will not murder me for my love…” It was indeed not rejected but Sebastian has a greater mission, and leaved Antonio to grieve the love that was lost.

Related image

After infatuation, when love is both accepted and welcomed, one can grow weary of love. We take the other person for granted. We get disappointed when the object of our desire does undesirable things (like leaving the toilet seat up, or clogging the drain with hair).

One must accept the ever changing nature of love. It cannot always be “on heat”. It slows down and becomes comfortable. sometimes people fall out of love with actions and think they have fallen out of love with the person.

I love to see old couples holding hands, kissing… a gentleman pulling a ladies chair out, or opening the door and helping her in or out of a car. My own Sam is very loving like that, treating me with the utmost gentleness and love. Sam is very considerate when we are together. We are both very busy people so don’t get to spend as much time together as other couples might. We value the time we have together. After four years together we are still truly, madly deeply in love. I think we always will be.

I feel that Feste may have had a bad experience with love, and so the love song he sings is more like a dirge or requiem. He is remembering how sweet love once was but remembering with regret that it had to end. Poor Feste, does he really know what love is?

Dave

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Peer Review. Linda

https://mermaidblues507.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/nothings-new-king-lear-on-social-issues/

Linda, this is an incredibly insightful post. You have got right to the heart of the matter in King Lear. Homelessness and mental illness are very big issues now, as well as back then. Jesus said take care of the poor…they will always be with you” (Dave’s paraphrase).
I was surprised to hear that the number 1 cause of Homelessness is domestic violence. There is something inherently wrong with our society when violence causes people to leave their homes to escape it. Homes should be a haven in a cruel world. It’s wrong where people feel safer with the unknown dangers than the dangers in the home.
People think that alcohol and drug abuse are greater causes of Homelessness. I have met too many homeless people to know that is false. A lot of homeless people turn to drugs and alcohol when they are already homeless as a way of escaping the situation.
There are not enough appropriate support systems in place to cover the diversity of the problems people living rough cope with. You are right when you say psychiatry is not the only answer. They do not offer solutions. The medication doesn’t heal, just makes it easier to deal with. That is why we have social workers. Social workers should not sit in their offices but go onto the streets where the situation is non-threatening to the vulnerable. Meet the people where they are at and offer some hope, if a way out is not immediately apparent, give support which will ease the suffering of the homeless.
Thanks for your post and shining the light on the shadows.

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