2/ You are Hermia. You hate your father’s manipulation of your life. You write him a letter telling him what you are going to do and telling him where to go!
You are a pigheaded coward
I could start this letter by hurling a heap of expletives at you to calm the boiling rage that is burning inside of me right now. But, instead I will simply inform you that I will no longer refer to you as my father because no loving, compassionate father would force his daughter into a marriage with a man which holds none of her affections. Demetrius is a fickle, insensitive fool and under no circumstances will I accept the marriage proposal. You are forcing me to choose between Demetrius or death, but a life with Demetrius and more importantly, a life without Lysander is death.
What kind of manipulative monster chooses Athenian law over the happiness of his only daughter? What kind of father gives his daughter no say in a decision that will impact the rest of her life? I am enraged!
My love for Lysander is indescribable, and it pains me to know that you won’t accept that love. I cannot imagine my life without him. Therefore, you have given us no other choice but to run off and get married. Do not come looking for me.
Perhaps if you were to step up as a father and put the feelings of your daughter first by reconsidering the marriage arrangement, I would be able to rethink our relationship, but until then, I no longer consider myself your daughter.
Explore the opening speech by Philo (lines 1-13), say what you think it means and discuss why this speech is so important to the drama that unfolds hereafter.
In Shakespeare’s famous play Antony and Cleopatra, Antony struggles with the internal conflict between his duty to the Roman Empire and his passionate relationship with Cleopatra.
The play opens with a conversation between two of Antony’s subordinates Philo and Demetrius as they discuss Antony’s lustful relationship with the Queen of Egypt. The opening speech sets the tone for the rest of the play and introduces the dichotomy between Rome and Egypt as Philo criticises Antony for putting passion, an inherently Egyptian value before reason.
In the opening lines of his speech, Philo compares Antony to the God of war, ‘those his goodly eyes… Have glow’d like plated Mars,’now weakened by his passion for a lustful gipsy. Previously where his passion would reside only in the ‘scuffles of great fights,’ now they are devoted exclusively ‘upon a tawny front.’
Each sentence in the speech is a vivid juxtaposition between Antony’s position as one of the three triumvirs and his position now that foolish lust has enslaved him.
Philo cannot understand why Antony, a brilliant general and commander has cast aside his virtue and duty to the Roman empire receiving in return sensual gratification.
The speech foreshadows the events to come as Antony submits himself to the great Cleopatra and as a result, puts the entire Roman Empire in danger. In the last statement, Philo invites the audience to sit back and watch as Antony, ‘the triple pillar of the world’ is transformed ‘into a strumpet fool.’
Hi Lily, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your review of Bell’s Shakespeare’s interpretation of Antony and Cleopatra. It was surprising to hear that you thought the adaptation did not capture the true essence of the classic Shakespearean play because the blog post that I reviewed last week spoke very highly of the production. After watching a mediocre 1972 film adaptation of the play and reading your blog post, I have concluded that adaptations of the play will always be highly contested because everyone has differing ideas on how this complex play should be portrayed. One thing I would suggest is proof-reading your blog post before publishing as there were a couple of grammatical errors which could have easily been prevented, thus, improving the flow of your writing. Overall, I enjoyed reading your blog post, and I’m very excited to read more from you in the next couple of weeks.
Joey, I loved reading your blog post this week. In under 350 words you were able to give me a feel of what it would have been like to watch Bell Shakespeare’s adaptation of Antony and Cleopatra had I been able to attend. It was very interesting to hear that the play did not open with Philo’s punchy speech criticising Antony, ‘the triple pillar of the world transformed, into a strumpet’s fool.’
There is not much that I can fault from your blog post as you have a very clear and well-structured writing style making your blog post easy to read and follow. I look forward to reading more of your posts in the coming weeks.
Write an impromptu review of the play seen on Friday night. Make any comments you wish on how you understood the director’s decisions to caste Antony and Cleopatra in the way he did, and maybe why Pompey was caste as a woman.
Bell Shakespeare’s adaptation of the classic Shakespearean play Antony and Cleopatra was outstanding.
That is probably how I would have started my blog post, had I been able to attend the play. Instead, I spent my Friday night seeing Bruno Mars live on his 24k Magic World Tour. While his performance was incredible, it forced me to spend my Tuesday night sitting through all 160 minutes of Charlton Heston’s 1972 film adaptation of the play starring the director himself as Mark Antony and Hildegarde Neil as Cleopatra.
It is evident that Cleopatra is a complicated character to portray. However, Hildegarde’s portrayal of Cleopatra, the mighty ruler and sensual goddess is mediocre at best as she exudes none of the trademark characteristics that distinguish the Egyptian Queen in Shakespeare’s famous play. Charlton Heston’s representation of Antony is slightly better, but not by a long shot. Antony is a great general and a brave soldier. However, it is Antony’s human qualities, qualities such as kindness and compassion that make him the great general that he is and it is these qualities, which Charlton fails to depict.
Where Heston’s new cinematic version of the play does succeed is in its costumes, phenomenal locations and stellar secondary actors.
At his root, Enobarbus is a compassionate character who gets caught in the middle of a power struggle between two great powers, Antony and Octavius. Ultimately it is this power struggle that destroys him, but Eric Porter does an excellent job of portraying the deep complexities of Enobarbus’s character. Another stand out performance is Jane Lapotaire as Cleopatra’s confidant, Charmain. Her energy and wit bring liveliness to the otherwise dull scenes involving Cleopatra.
Heston’s use of period-specific costumes and breathtaking outdoor panoramas make the production visually appealing and aids in highlighting the dichotomy between pragmatic Rome and sensual Egypt.
Overall, I would say that Heston’s attempt at adapting the classic Shakespearean play into a cinematic production fell somewhat short.
Michael Cathcart in ABC Radio’s The Hub on Stage interviews the creative director (Peter Evans) and cast (Catherine McClements who plays Cleopatra and Zindzi Okenyo who plays Cleopatra’s confidant Charmain) of Bell Shakespeare’s modern rendition of Antony and Cleopatra.
Here are 5 things I learnt after listening to the interview:
1. Bell Shakespeare’s version of Antony and Cleopatra, a Shakespearean classic based on the complicated love affair between Roman General Mark Antony and Egyptian Queen Cleopatra takes a more contemporary approach. Director Peter Evans emphasises the use of elegant, modern spaces for the setting of the play.
2. The play monitors the development of Cleopatra. In the beginning, she is characterised as a powerful ruler and a sensuous seductress however towards the end she is transformed as she is stripped of all her trappings.
3. Although both Antony and Cleopatra are in positions of power in their respective countries, Shakespeare highlights the themes of human mistakes and failure as the two characters fall madly in love.
4. Shakespeare during the death scene cuts through the melodrama with comedy as Antony comes to the realisation that even in death he has failed, he has missed his vital organs and he will, in fact, die a slow, painful death.
5. Shakespeare’s play is characterised by rapid changes in geographic location. Bell Shakespeare’s production mirrors the reading experience by using colour changes and lights to emphasise the movement between cold, rational Rome and warm, sensual Egypt (Red, pink and orange for Egypt and Blue for Rome).
The human and artistic concerns of both the Romantic and Victorian ages are similar to our own concerns; the response to those concerns- given by poets, novelists, dramatists and artists- can help us live fuller, more meaningful and creative lives in our own time.
I remember reading the outline for this unit over three months ago feeling overwhelmed by the list of novels, poems and short stories that we would be covering. From Austen to Tolstoy, Dickens and Eliot we were going to explore some of the greatest works of literature over the course of 12 short weeks. But as I type my final blog post, 5 days away from the end of semester, I have come to realise that while the actions of Mr Gradgrind in Hard Times or Emma in Jane Austen’s novel seem farfetched in our context, the underlying concerns and issues of the Romantic and Victorian Era remain relevant centuries on. Thus, the response given by these great poets, novelists, dramatists and artists can help us to live fuller, more meaningful and creative lives.
Over the course of the semester, one of the fundamental concerns in the texts that we studied was the rise of utilitarianism and its consequent impacts on human interactions and nature. This concern is still relevant, if not more prevalent today as people are consumed with wealth, growing industrialism and increasing technologies. Matthew Arnold in his short story The Scholar Gypsy adopts an anti-industrialisation stance expressing strong feelings against modernity and its effect on the condition of England. Arnold suggests that humans can escape the monotonous disease of modern life by reflecting on the beauty and purity of nature. Eugene von Guerard exquisitely depicts the calmness and serenity provided by nature in his romantic artwork Milford Sound. William Wordsworth too, in his poem The Tables Turned articulately describes the importance of nature in overcoming modernisation and its corruption of the soul. He concludes that there is a kind of beauty in nature that cannot be recreated, one only captured when we allow nature to become a part of us.
Class structure and the issues created through a rigid class hierarchy was an underlying concern of the Romantic and Victorian Era and one that remains relevant to some extent in our time. Charles Dickens criticises this class divide and focuses on the plight of the lower class. Dickens challenges the corrupt, self-serving methods of the higher class and their fact-centred approach. Louisa has money. However, she is deprived of something that is worth so much more; she is deprived of emotional connections and the ability to wonder and imagine. Louisa is forced into a loveless marriage with a man twice her age based on social class and economics. In contrast, the world of the lower class circus people is chaotic and disordered, but they exhibit qualities which Mr Gradgrind has so callously robbed his children of, they exhibit warmth, love and compassion.
Similarly, Marner assumes that he has lost everything when his gold; a symbol of wealth and prestige is stolen. But when he finds Eppie, he discovers that the key to living a fuller, more meaningful life is locked in his relationship with his adopted daughter and the community in Raveloe. Both Dicken’s and Eliot condemn the self-serving approach of the higher classes in the Romantic and Victorian Era, concluding that the value of one’s relationships is more precious than any currency or social status.
Overall, all the poets, novelists, dramatists and artists studied during the semester use their work as a means of responding to the concerns of the Romantic and Victorian Era. Centuries on, these responses can help us to live fuller, more meaningful and creative lives in our own time.
Here is a list of web resources that will help one understand the greater context of George Eliot’s extraordinary novel.
Sparknotes on the context of Silas Marnerhttp://www.sparknotes.com/lit/silas/context.html – What would this list be without the inclusion of Sparknotes. This website gives the reader a basic understanding of George Eliot’s personal context.
YouTube video on Silas Marner’s context– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wMFpC7vrYQ – A good YouTube video that gives contextual information on Silas Marner specifically focusing on George Elliot’s critique of the church, the industrial revolution and class systems in England.
Jesse, I thought your blog post this week was very thought-provoking and interesting. I, too agree with the idea that George Elliot uses the Characters in Silas Marner as a way of critiquing the value of material wealth in comparison to true wealth, in which Silas finds in his relationship with Eppie. The inclusion of your discovery of Shakespearean literature was fascinating and something I am yet to experience. One thing I would suggest is proof-reading your blog post before publishing as there were a couple of typos and grammatical errors which could have easily been prevented, specifically the capitalisation of proper nouns such as Silas Marner in the first line and Shakespeare in the last paragraph. Aside from this, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog post this week. Well done!