“How happy some o’er other some can be.” The spectrum of happiness within the human race is vast. We all have potential to do great things and desire to feel contentment, but the gap between the fulfillment of these things in any two individuals can be staggering. It’s really telling to the fact that we have the power to positively influence our own lives no matter where we come from or hardships we’ve faced. The very nature of the human race is our unique desires and pursuit of them. When we don’t get what we want, we can either dwell on it and stagnate or move on to something that is helpful to us. Helena dwells on the fact that Demetrius doesn’t love her but Hermia, “Through Athens I am thought as fair as she; but what of that? Demetrius thinks not so.” I think because she chooses to be so dotingly and stubbornly stuck on Demetrius is why Shakespeare ends up playing with the plot to give her what she wants all too well. Demetrius becomes so overly love-struck on Helena that it draws doubt on her view of his constancy creating Helena’s utter confusion. Even when she gets what she had proclaimed to want, she doesn’t know what to make of it. She says that it must be a joke. She can’t accept good happening to her. She’s stuck in her past of discontentment and can’t transition to happiness even when things go her way. Demetrius has proclaimed his love for her and then because of Lysander saying the same thing she says, ” I see you all are bent against me for your merriment.” She again dwells on what’s not helpful to her: the fact that Lysander is now showing love to her which she approaches as if it were going to cause her harm. Ideally she should embrace Demetrius’ love and stand indifferent to Lysanders, but she does neither. She focuses on what it not helpful to her and this is why she struggles with attaining happiness. Some people, like Helena at times, just refuse to be happy, but it is their own choice.
“I had rather be a toad, and live upon the vapor of a dungeon, than keep a corner in the thing I love for others’ uses.” Shakespeare is shedding light on the jealous nature of the human species. As Iago says, “O beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” In Othello it plagues the moor especially because all the evidence against his wife Desdemona is purely circumstantial. He finds her infidelity hard to accept, and the sense of doubt that pervades his person tortures his existence. He pleads with Iago to rest his mind and “give me the ocular proof.” Initially he has the sense to not accept circumstantial evidence as cold hard proof, but ultimately he relents and gives over to Iago’s malevolent persuasions. He doesn’t give in only because of Iago’s convincingness but because of the jealous emotion mingled with it. It would seem that even if Iago was half as convincing, the sheer magnitude of Othello’s jealousy would over-daub any reason there present and confirm the notion that jealousy in humans reaches the confines of superfluousness all too quickly.
“There be some sports are painful, and their labor, delight in them sets off; some kinds of baseness are nobly undergone, and most poor matters point to rich ends.” Everything we do depends on our perspective. As Hamlet states, “there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” When Ferdinand is moving the log, he says, “I had rather crack my sinews, break my back, then you should such dishonor undergo while I sit lazy by.” We get a glimpse of Ferdinand’s virtue in this statement. He sees that his role as the man makes it only appropriate to do the physical labor, and he holds laziness in ill-esteem, something that points to his nobleness. Although he doesn’t enjoy his taxing task, he looks at it in a way that empowers him, “The mistress which I serve makes my labors pleasures.” He looks at his situation with felicitate motivation. No matter how menial a task may seem, keep your mind focused on why it’s necessary to be done and the delight it may bring others.
It seems that no matter what we get in life, there is always something that we wish was different. Ingratitude seems to be a specialty of the human species. Oftentimes we say if only this had happened, everything would be great—not realizing that there are unforeseen consequences to every situation. When Macbeth is told that, “Fleance is ‘scaped,” he replies, “Then comes my fit again; I had else been perfect.” We know this is complete misinformation as Macbeth’s world, at this stage of the story, is in a world of hurt. Macbeth is already plagued by guilt; killing a child wouldn’t help that cause any. It might ease his mind briefly to know that the “seed of Banquo” couldn’t succeed him, but it certainly wouldn’t of made things perfect or in his own words, “whole as the marble, founded as the rock.” Macbeth looks for shortcuts at every turn. Sorcery to know his future, murder to capture it, and murder to secure it. Then he complains that if one thing had been otherwise everything would be “perfect.” It takes more than just one good move to win the game. Much more than that if the enterprise at hand has been preceded by a multitude of horrendous mis-steps. Would someone please: let Macbeth know. Thanks.
“So may the outward shows be least themselves, the world is still deceived with ornament.” Says Bassanio—Don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t assume valor just because he wears upon his chin, “The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars.” Portia’s father designed the test of the three caskets to prove a point: sometimes what is prized by the multitude—silver and gold, prove dangerous commodities to possess. Whereas lead, being unvalued economically, can carry special worth not susceptible to the pilfering of moneygrubbers, secure in the realm of hidden worth and sentimentality. What can’t be stolen from you should be valued the most: knowledge, health, family, memories. Money should be a secondary thing and way too much emphasis is put on it in our society, not to mention it oftentimes just masks the debased qualities of the thing it mingles upon.
“Beseech you sir be merry, you have cause so have we all of joy, for our escape is much beyond our loss.” This reminds us that no matter how bad things get, we can always come up with something to be happy about. Gonzalo from the Tempest presents himself as an incessantly inspiring optimist. The one that brings everyone up when everyone else is down. He is the glimmer of hope in a world of darkness. Prospero says,”first noble friend let me embrace thine age, whose honor cannot be measured or confined.” Poetically speaking his honor is as “boundless as the sea,” and among the King’s ship, he stands out as “the noblest of them all.” The sea that washed him away in the Tempest allowed him to teach everyone that when you’re patient and show enough gratitude for the good things, “calm seas and auspicious gales” are sure to make their way home.
“Where Caliban’s lust is an attempt to break through his servitude, Ferdinand’s love, his willingness to carry wood, represents an acceptance of servitude within freedom.” —Norman Holland. We all have responsibilities no matter how much freedom we enjoy. It seems the more responsibilities we fulfill, the more we enjoy our freedom. It’s much easier when we embrace this part of our lives rather than resist it. Also the more restraint we exhibit, the more virtue we build. Virtue is one thing that money cannot buy and is prized above riches. Prospero’s reason for raising his enemies to the shore was for retribution, but ultimately he relents,”The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance. They being penitent, the sole drift of my purpose doth extend not a frown further. Go, release them, Ariel.” It would have been easy to have exacted revenge on his enemies, but once he realizes they are truly sorry, he sides with the nobler action: forgiveness.
“Therefore it is meet that noble minds keep ever with their likes; for who so firm that cannot be seduced?” This quote from Julius Caesar carries two meanings. One: how people can be deceived and Two: how people people can be metamorphosed. In Othello we see the Moor manipulated into believing untruths. In Macbeth we see the title character descend from a noble and valiant warrior to an evil and reckless tyrant. If Othello would have been privy to Iago’s nature, he would of avoided tragedy, but he kept with an ignoble mind, unbeknownst to him until it was too late. He thought Iago was a good man, as he on multiple occasions terms him honest Iago. He is aware of the importance of only keeping noble people around him, as he ostracizes Cassio when he shows dishonorableness. Knowing to only keep around the noble ones doesn’t help much if you assume nobleness in everyone like Othello, “that thinks men honest that but seem to be so.” Macbeth’s character is corrupted as opposed to Othello, where it is his marriage. By being conjoined with the evil Lady Macbeth, he is persuaded into regicide which catapults him deeper and deeper into tyranny as his paranoia of being overtopped runs rampant.
“Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious, loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man: the expedition of my violent love outrun the pauser, reason.” This is Macbeth’s justification as to why he killed the sleepy grooms of King Duncan’s chamber. In reality, he kills them to prevent the pleading of their innocence if they remained alive. He realizes that they had no motive to murder the king and that such an accusation would be vehemently denied. In spite of this, his offing of them seems to draw more suspicion than it saves. Macbeth is trying to right his wrongs in an imaginary world where the chamberlains committed the bloody act. He doesn’t want to believe he did what he did, so he pretends he didn’t by his sanguine quasi-retributive actions. I think adding an instantaneous double homicide is a little too pungent for the palate. He regrets the regicide, “wake Duncan with thy knocking, I would thou could’st,” and doesn’t want to be reminded by their denying of the murderous accusation, but he goes too far. By Macbeth killing them and so hastily, it intimated that he perhaps had something to hide, and Lady Macbeth senses the suspicions all around her and faints in a flash.
“Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” When Macbeth promises to his wife by writing his letter of regal ascension, [“These weird sisters saluted me, and refererred me to the coming on of time, with Hail King that shalt be.”] He cunningly attempts to camouflage the obvious boastfulness of his letter by writing in closure “This have I thought good to deliver thee, that thou might’st not lose the dues of rejoicing by being ignorant of what greatness is promised thee.” He tries to make it look like the only reason he is writing to her is so she’s not left in the dark as to what going on, but he is flat out boasting. He’s proclaiming to know the future, that it is favorable and Regal, and that he wants Lady Macbeth to prepare for the festivities or as Macbeth puts it ‘the dues of rejoicing’. Newsflash: Macbeth doesn’t know the future, and the only festivity that is going to be taking place is the one celebrating Macbeth’s declension from Pompous King to a mere trunk with a dissevered head. Towards the end he laments, “Out, out brief candle. Life’s but a walking shadow.” Yes life is brief, but being self-glorifying, boastful and murderous cuts it much shorter. As in Macbeth’s case, “The candle of evil was put out, and there was no reward to the villainous man.” Although Macbeth does become King, it wasn’t a reward; it was the begininng of his end.