JULY / AUG 2016: BY MARISSA BAKER
I have no trouble answering the question, “What’s your favorite Shakespeare play?” (though it sadly isn’t asked very often). My answer has been Henry V since I first read it in high school. I grew up immersed in classical tales of adventure and heroism–stories by Robert Louis Stevenson and Jules Verne, legends about Robin Hood and King Arthur. In that context, my affection for Henry V comes as no surprise.
“Noble Harry,” as Shakespeare dubs the character, is the quintessential heroic figure. He’s a man of action, a brilliant soldier, a king committed to justice only where he cannot show mercy, a believer in God’s sovereignty, and a romantic figure in his wooing of Kathrine. Shakespeare is far too talented a storyteller to leave even his heroic figures one-dimensional, though. There’s much more to Henry’s character than being a perfect king. We learn this early on in the opening scenes of Henry V. In response to Henry’s claim on the French throne, the Dauphin (the French heir apparent) sends a messenger to say, “you savor too much of your youth” and that “there’s naught in France / That can be with a nimble galliard won; / You cannot revel into dukedoms there. / He therefor sends you, meeter for your spirit, / This tun of treasure” – a box of tennis balls (1.2.258-264). Continue reading
JULY / AUG 2016: BY RACHEL SEXTON
For me, the reason William Shakespeare earns his reputation as one of the greatest writers in human history is a combination of form and function. The use of beautiful poetry as the method for crafting a fictional play is something special. The audience gets an entertaining story AND language that can often be memorable. Add to this the deft observation of the universalities of the human experience that he was able to convey and it was inevitable Shakespeare would reach a measure of immortality. This observation occurs in both tragedies and comedies, and today’s audiences can often easily spot the influences Shakespeare leaves behind in the entertainment of the present day. Much Ado About Nothing, for example, pioneered the bickering lovers archetype that continues to enchant romantic comedy lovers today. Continue reading
JULY / AUG 2016: BY CHARITY BISHOP
“Now is the winter of our discontent, Made glorious summer by this sun of York!”
In Shakespeare’s times, plays performed at the mercy of English sovereigns. Theatre owners and playwrights fell in and out of favor according to topic. Financial assurances rested on a play’s ability to pass the censorship of the period. Elizabeth and other monarchs banned plays thought seditious or unfavorable to their reign. Shakespeare wrote up his histories on the War of the Roses, Richard III’s monarchy, and divorcing Katharine of Aragon, in such a manner as to please the crown. Continue reading
JULY / AUG 2016: BY SCARLETT GRANT
The inspiration behind this article was my sister telling me that when she had to study Shakespeare in school, the class chose between Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet. They chose the latter. She was unhappy. “Everyone knows that story, it’s boring!” she said.
Everyone knows the story of Romeo and Juliet… right? Continue reading
JULY / AUG 2017: BY CHARITY BISHOP
History’s best-known author, William Shakespeare influences our lives daily, whether we realize it or not. His words, phrases, and themes turn up in modern culture, in casual conversation, and in literature classes. Everyone has, at some point in time, encountered him in some form. “A rose by any other name…” “My kingdom for a horse!” “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them!” Continue reading