PTS 06/036: Losing My Religion

BH old man yells at cloud

Titus Andronicus, Act IV

Secular authorities had (and still have) every investment in discouraging revenge.  If citizens perceive that the law no longer serves them, then we get the kind of situation that Francis Bacon famously warned of:

‘Revenge is a kind of wild justice’

And this is a point that Jonathan Bate develops, quoting Fredson Bowers:

Private action undermines the authority of the state:  Elizabethan law felt itself capable of meting out justice to murderers, and therefore punished an avenger who took justice into his own hands just as heavily as the original murderer.  The authorities, conscious of the Elizabethan inheritance of private justice from earlier ages, recognised that their own times still held the possibilities of serious turmoil; and the were determined that private revenge should not unleash a general disrespect for law.

Act IV however adds the dimension of the breakdown of DIVINE justice to the individual’s decision to subvert the legal process.

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PTS06/033: Thou Shalt not Suffer A Queen To Live

(Ponytail Shakespeare read-through) Titus Andronicus:  Act I

My experience of Shakespeare’s Rome is the city where Cinna the Poet is torn apart by the mob for his ‘bad verses’ (Julius Caesar, III.iii), and the antagonistic opening to Coriolanus. So, what first struck me as the play opened was just how thin the veneer of civilisation proved to be.

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Quote of the Week: 28 August

BH macaulayMACAULAY, Thomas Babington: The History of England from 1485 to 1685 (ed. Peter Rowland) (The Folio Society: London, 1985)

Before we look at Macaulay, let me give you one of mine from the classroom.  It’s always an attention-grabber – you can see students falling into a few different categories:

a) people who clearly haven’t considered the issue before but are now thinking rapidly;

b) those who panic at the agency I’m potentially giving them; and

c) the ones who get a twinkle in their eye and would like to test my theory but daren’t.

I hardly ever get a d) can’t be bothered or not listening …

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Quote of the Week: 24 July 2017

BH The-Princes-in-the-Tower-by-Alison-Weir

Alison Weir, The Princes In The Tower (London: The Folio Society, 1992)

A slight rearrangement of this section.  Instead of one huge sticky post, it’s easier to post as and when I come across something worth sharing.  You can see the previous mega-post by clicking here.

This week’s quotation is attributed to Elizabeth Wydville, widow of Edward IV.  She was, at this stage, in sanctuary with her youngest son, and determined to preserve their lives – and hers – by keeping the two boys separated.

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Who would Shakespeare vote for?

BH polling station
Something for your dog to ponder as you leave him outside tomorrow

[SPOILER ALERT] There’s a UK General Election taking place tomorrow …

Setting aside my own lefty, ‘soft’ eco-warrior credentials, and using mostly contextual information or material from the plays (because, as Bill Bryson gently reminds us over the course of 200-odd pages, we know next to nothing about the man) I thought it would be fun to see how Shakespeare might have voted.

And, regardless of my – or your – political beliefs, for the love of God, please VOTE tomorrow, if you’re entitled to.  Never mind the hackneyed cliché: ‘people died so you could‘ argument – you have absolutely no right to complain about what happens over the next 5 years if you didn’t even make the smallest effort to effect a change

Anyway, I visited isidewith, and tried to answer the questions as someone who died 401 years ago … here’s a selection of the conundrums I was faced with, plus the (firmly tongue-in-cheek) result …

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PTS 03/017: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes …

BH DavidBowie-portrait
Is it me, or would Bowie have made a terrific Richard?

Henry VI part III, Act III

RICHARD: ‘I can add colours to the chameleon,

Change shapes with Proteus for advantages’  (III.ii.191-192)

I’ll come back to Bowie’s song when I finally hit Richard III in August, because when I revisited the lyrics, I couldn’t avoid staring thoughtfully for a while.  I will remind Richard that:

‘And every time I thought I’d got it made,

It seemed the taste was not so sweet.’

Like Bolinbroke in RII, like Macbeth – like almost everyone in Shakespeare, let’s face it – the anticipation, the chase, is far better than the conquest, when it comes to the crown.

In the meantime, nothing seems to stay the same in Act III …

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PTS 03/014: Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable …

BH Blanche Dubois
“Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable.  It is the one unforgivable thing in my opinion and it is the one thing of which I have never, never been guilty.”  (BLANCHE:  A Streetcar Named Desire (scene 10), Tennessee Williams)

Henry VI part III: Act I

So …

Part III begins, as Part II ended, with Warwick, perhaps reinforcing his role as ‘kingmaker’, and with the suspicion – to be dealt with later, maybe – that Henry is a ‘Jonah’ on the battlefield.  Whoever’s side he appears on (note I don’t say ‘fights’ on) he seems to suck the fighting spirit out of the army like a Dementor whose puppy has just been killed in a hit-and-run accident …

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