Helena; She Gives All For Love! All’s Well That Ends Well


“Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie, which we ascribe to heaven.”

Helena is going to pursue the count Bertram, although it will be anything but easy. Helena cures the King and asks to be granted one request: the count’s hand in marriage. She accomplishes the King’s restoration with the remedies left her late deceased father who was a physician. She was lucky to have her father’s medicine at her disposal, but that alone doesn’t win her cause. After hazarding her own life against the success of her father’s medicines, she exemplifies a great example of unwavering persistance and courage, pursuing her desires after being scolded by the count for her less than opulent backround.  She is a hero that should inspire us to reach what seems impossible. She decides what she wants and sets out to get it. and finds a way to make it happen;  Helena jumps through some crazy hoops in order to fulfill Bertram’s demands: a child from him [after he has forsworn any association with her] & his invaluable family ring [one that he promises to never part with], yet All is Well That Ends Well, and this play certainly fulfills the suggestion of the title as Bertram agrees, after learning she has fulfilled his contingencies, if she, my liege, can make me know this clearly, I’ll love her dearly, ever ever dearly. It’s nice to know that Bertram plans being to his promise. We remember earlier when he agreed to marriage [just to appease the King] and then fled for war, planning to never return; it made our view of Bertram’s character less than stellar, but in the end, he finally realizes the full bent of Helena’s love & true devotion causeing him to relent; and although there is no official on-stage engagement, he will be her husband. He stays true to his word and presaged the motif from The Tempest echoing Prospero’s philosophy: this swift business I must uneasy make, lest too light winning make the prize light.

Was Bertram perfect, no; he said some very unkind things in Helena and the King’s prescence, yet Helena fancied him and that’s all that matters. Shakespeare sheds light on the notion that when you love someone, you don’t love them because they are perfect, but rather you love them because that’s what your heart feels. To borrow from Midsummer, “Things base and vile, holding no quantity, love can transpose to form and dignity. ” Yes, Bertram verbally agrees to marry Helena and then books it out of town, planning to never reunite, but putting our judgmental hat aside we can look at his character from a sympathetic perspective; he is commanded by the king to marry Helena, and with only one acceptable answer: yes. According to the King, she is young, wise and fair, but these words spoken are by a king just cured of being gravely ill. The King is here at least partially biased. Perhaps Bertram is accustomed to some idiosyncrasies of Helena’s which he just can’t stand; or maybe he just doesn’t like the idea of someone choosing for him. We may be reminded of Portia [in the Merchant of Venice] who laments, “O me, the word choose! I may neither choose who I would, nor refuse who I dislike.” Bertram has no say; the The King puts him in a position where if he fully and absolutely rejected her, he would lose all the honor that he enjoys as a count by disobeying the King; consequentially he gives Helena an impossible quest. The fact that Helena goes through what she does; following him through dangerous war zones, and using the bed-trick to have his child clearly shows there’s more to her love for Bertram than meets the eye. She obviously loves some things about him that no one would be able to understand unless we were her. The fact that he is good-looking just isn’t enough to justify her persistent zeal to win his love. Perhaps Bertrams lesson to Helena was akin to Portia’s father’s counsel: who chooseth me must give and hazard all {she} hath. After the vicissitudes of all her endeavors, we can say with confidence Helena satisfied this.

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How Hamlet Defines What it Means to be Human Part. 2


Shakespeare’s contemporary Montaigne writes, in his essay, “Of The Inconsistency Of Our Actions,” that, “Whoever will look narrowly into his own bosom will hardly find himself twice in the same condition. I give to my soul sometimes one face and sometimes another, according to the side I turn her to. If I speak variously of myself, it is because I consider myself variously; all the contraries are there to be found in one corner or another; after one fashion or another: bashful, insolent; chaste, lustful; prating, silent; laborious, delicate; ingenious, heavy; melancholic, pleasant, lying, true; knowing, ignorant; liberal, covetous, and prodigal: I find all this in myself, more or less, according as I turn myself about; and whoever will sift him to the bottom, will find in himself, and even in his own judgement, this volubility and discordance.” These contraries are most prevalent in our title character throughout Shakespeare’s monumental tragedy. So much so, in fact, that more is written on Hamlet than almost any other subject in existence.

We witness Hamlet’s melancholic side when he says of his mourning black attire, “I have that indeed which passes show, these but the trappings and the suits of woe.” 

We see his creative side when he contrives a scheme to expose the king’s treachery, boldly resolving, “The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” 

We see his charming and affable side when he greets the players come to town, jovially remarking, “You are welcomemasters; welcome, allI am glad to see thee wellWelcome, good friends.” 

His abusive side is made evident through Ophelia’s confiding to her father that Hamlet, “took me by the wrists and held me hard.” 

His conflictive nature is apparent when he denies loving Ophelia, scolding her and claiming, “not I, I never gave you aught,” then later professes, “I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of love make up my sum.” 

We see a satirical side to Hamlet with Polonius in the “words, words, words” scene, when he conjures the sarcastic response, “Yourself, sir, shall grow old as I am, if like a crab you could go backward.” 

We also see a gentle and kind side to Hamlet. In his private conversation with his loyal friend Horatio; he eloquently confides his admiration with, “Give me that man that is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him in my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of hearts, as I do THEE.”

We even see his cruel side; as in the closet scene with Gertrude. He rails at her with a hateful ferocity that vexes her so deeply, she desperately pleads to the son she so dearly loves, “O speak to me no more; these words like daggers enter in my ears. No more, sweet Hamlet.”

 I think we are all as varied within ourselves as the snowflakes that in winter fall. Hamlet is a man of contradictions, and so are all of us; some more than others. He exemplifies the multi-faceted nature of humankind, showing our inherently dynamic essence.

We know what we are but not what we may be.”

Coriolanus


“We had rather be the oppressor than the oppressed.”—William Hazlitt

A pot of boiling water will only boil for so long until it spills over. People only withstand being abused for so long until they take a stand. “There’s no more to be said but he [Coriolanus] is banish’d, as enemy to the people and his country. It shall be so.” Coriolanus was a brilliant warrior and defended his country wholeheartedly, but he had no respect for the common people. He possessed much pride in himself and to an extent rightly so; but Coriolanus took it too far. He saw the people as weak fickle minds and not as citizens of his country he loved and fought for; he didn’t understand or appreciate the value of offering even the slightest sense of cordiality; this is what engendered his abundance of strife. He failed to realize that Pride is an ugly canker that eats up all the rosy joys of Victory. Brutus and Sicinius, two tribunes who were fed up with Coriolanus’ condescending attitude, incite Coriolanus into a tirade which ultimately results in his banishment; a cautionary tale in regards to the importance of the virtue Temperance. Coriolanus offers a poignant remark in solitude that reads, “I shall be loved when I am lacked.” Something that we all hope rings true when we all make our final departure. Although Coriolanus isn’t humble in any sense of the word, I do admire that Coriolanus is genuine with himself. He doesn’t disguise how he truly feels; he puts his true sentiments out there for everyone to discern, and that takes courage. He wasn’t a tyrant trying to make everyone else his pawns; he fought bravely on the front lines and defended his country successfully at Corioli. He may have talked the talk but he had the battle scars and accolades to back it up. He was a cocky soldier that fell victim to prideful anger; the tribunes knew his disposition and exactly how to push his buttons, and they did. It was the tribunes dirty politics of manipulating the already frustrated multitude for their own agenda, and that’s what makes this play so tragic. Rome would have been in a world of hurt if a mediocre soldier that spoke nice to the people replaced our tragic hero. Part of the tragedy in this play is that even after Coriolanus is banished and briefly turns against his own native land, he ultimately presents a strong case for Redemption by signing an official Truce, preventing the ruin of his homeland, and saving the very people that turned their back on him. Coriolanus is murdered as Aufidius deemed his course of action humiliating to his army. The people of Rome turned their back on Coriolanus, but he, in the end, refused to turn his back on them.

Hamlet’s Infamous Question


Hamlet shows his skill for contemplation as this whole speech is concerned with a single question; which is more noble? We get a good glimpse of Hamlet’s pessimism. He goes through an exhaustive seven-fold laundry list of life’s troubles which paint the human existence into a most dark expanse of bleakness. It is no wonder that Hamlet earned the title of The Melancholy Dane. By virtue of his word choice in this most famous soliloquy, he concludes that we either suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or end themNothing in between. But we can keep in mind that Hamlet’s perspective is negatively biased. Just like Shakespeare’s other tragic heroes, he too is fortune’s fool {Romeo}. He has remarkably tough circumstances that distort the way he sees the world. This furnishes his mind to drift most pessimistically; in this most momentous speech, he proffers his deepest darkest & most personal cogitations aloud; ones that haunt us; that after our natural lives there there could be an undiscovered country [that would make us] rather bear those [insufferable] ills we have [rather] than fly to others that we know not of. It’s a trick question that Hamlet poses, for there is no definitive answer. It’s a paradoxical conundrum that has puzzled actors, readers and audiences alike for over four centuries. Perhaps what makes you noble is merely considering the question.

To be or not to be that is the question:

Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles

And by opposing end them? 

Lady Macbeth’s Poison


In Shakespeare’s Tragedy Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is the strongest force of evil. Although Macbeth carries out the regicide and subsequent bloodshed, we are reminded of his stern reluctance when he asserts I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent but only vaulting ambition which o’er-leaps itself and falls on the other. He possessed grandiose aspirations but harbored No Intent on committing acts of treachery in order to achieve them. It was Lady Macbeth that coalesced his intent into a harrowing and damning reality. Macbeth would have proved most noble [just like Hamlet would have] had Certain Things Gone Differently, [but that’s a debate of Fate Vs. Self-Will]. Lady Macbeth manipulates Macbeth to the hilt. When she ridicules his lack of masculinity [after coming back bravely from battle with heaps of honors: go figure] Lady Macbeth makes the utterly shockingly mind-boggling comment about how she would dash the brains out of her own child before she would act as emasculated as Macbeth was in showing hesitation in going through with the killing of King Duncan {I would, while it was smiling in my face, have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, and dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this}. Henceforth, we get a sense that this woman harbors a malevolent and dangerously determined sense of ambition all her own. Lady Macbeth corrupts “the noblest [not Roman] of them all.” Think back in the beginning; when the sergeant lauds Macbeth’s bravery in battle: “Brave Macbeth, well he deserves that name.” Macbeth was doing great; Macbeth was doing wonderfully, but two major things went awry; 1, meeting the weird sisters & 2, writing that infamous prophetic letter to Lady Macbeth which consequently fed her already gormandized thirst for the crown. The “weird sisters” were certainly a legitimate force of evil, but Macbeth had the sense to put regicide into perspective; even after his mind roamed to regal aspirations he reasoned: “If chance will have me king why chance may crown me without my stir.” He even sternly commands Lady Macbeth that he has decided not to go through with the bloody deed. e.g. We will proceed no further in this business. He just wants to enjoy his new title that he rightfully earned, basking in his new honors; but Lady Macbeth is resolute in her wickedness to pollute his mind with her plethoras of perniciousness. Macbeth knows no way to defend Lady Macbeth’s derision and mockery. She knows how Macbeth’s mind operates “to the ‘T’” and knows exactly which buttons to push. He is helpless against her upbraidings and falls victim to her cunningly persuasive rhetoric {who dares receive it other as we shall make our griefs and clamour roar upon his death}, and she knows it full well {just as Eve tempted Adam and caused the fall of man}. She is the Serpent hidden under Macbeth’s very nose, and once bitten; there is no antidote.

A Conjecture


In 1593 Marlowe escaped to Naples to avoid charges of Treason from the High Court. Was Marlowe Shakespeare’s ghost-writer? Could it be that they worked as a team? Just like Rosalind and Celia in As You Like It, they were close to each other—being born the same year and working in the same profession. Note Celia’s lines to her father Duke Frederick; if she be a traitor, why so am I. We still have slept together, rose at an instant, learn’d, play’ed, eat together, and whereso’er we went, like Juno’s swans, still we went coupled and inseperable. Keep in mind that these roles would be played by males in their mid teens (a time when we can infer Shakespeare and Marlowe were especially close). Being reminded of days past with his famous friend Kit Marlowe, I can only imagine the nostalgia Shakespeare felt watching an afternoon performance of As You Like It at the brand new Globe. Fast forward twelve years; the final performance of Shakespeare’s tenure was arriving; Marlowe planned a return, and it was to be made a grand one. Did Marlowe play Prospero? In the epilogue, this Prospero announces that he is hanging up his hat for good; he pleads forgiveness for his misdeeds & deception, because his {life’s} project...was to please.  This is more of an epilogue to Shakespeare’s career than it is for The Tempest. It was certainly a risk for Shakespeare to consort with Marlowe given his less than spotless history & reputation; yet I am reminded of a poignant scripture from the King James Bible which was published the same year as The Tempest, 1611. The following is from the epistle of James, Jesus’ brother:

Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

Prospero, in this same epilogue, asks the audience to play a game; he tells them that they can show that they forgive him by virtue of their applause; as you from crimes would pardoned be, let your indulgence set me free! The audience applauses and little by little he undissembles himself. As the applause culminates into an insurrmountable roar, he is left with looking just like himself; a miracle, someting that the bystanders almost couldn’t believe. What they thought could only happen in a play is now happening in real life right before their very eyes. KIT MARLOWE IS ALIVE?! The audience goes wild as their modern day Pop Superstar is back and I mean undeparted boldly and with style. The transgressor has surely been reformed and all is well. As to Shakespeare’s last dramatic words, we have these ten; enjoy!

Then to the elements be free, and fare thou well!!

Socrates, Mark Antony, Brutus & Truth

444“I shall prove indeed that I am not a clever speaker in any way at all–unless, indeed, by a clever speaker they mean a man who speaks the truth.”–Socrates

Mark Antony: “I am no orator…I only speak right on. I tell you that which you yourselves do know.” [truth]

Every man has his own truth. As intellectual beings that is the paradoxical nature of the meaning of truth. Reason, as a rule, is the fundamental path on how we attain truth. But as every man has a different perception of the world, how do we attain the Truth as opposed to a truth allied to a man’s partialities. Perception is where truth meets roadblocks, and the only way to avoid those roadblocks are to look at things without perception. Well that, for obvious reasons, is not possible. If we can’t perceive anything we are merely shrouded in void. So it has to be  be that we must look at things from every perspective. That’s the only way we can get anywhere near the truth from a human context. That’s why there’s no such thing as error, only lessons in humanity, for there’s a divinity that shapes our ends; rough-hew them how we will.

to err is human. forgive; Divine.


 

Hamlet is a Complex Character: jeeze looeeze


When you peel the layers of Hamlet’s character, you find flashes of genius intertwined with indifference, madness, and ruinous rashness. His advice to the players is dead on. His observation where he comments give me that man that is not passions slave and I will wear him in my heart’s core gives us wonderful insight into the wonders of temperance versus the destructiveness of haste. He sheds light on the fact that we as humans are led by our passions which very often lead us down dangerous paths. Hamlet asserts that there’s a divinity that shapes our ends; rough-hew them how we will. So God abets our destiny, us having an equal share of power, and we mortals oft act careless with monumental decisions. That statement can make us feel quite powerless and ultimately indifferent to our lives. Hamlet feels crippled by the lack of influence that he feels he has on his own existence. He loses all his mirth and refers to Denmark as a prison. Kind of like individuals that loathe living wherewith they abide, but are too comfortable and indifferent to make a change. Such a soul is Hamlet. He simply feels he cannot leave. Even when he escapes execution on his way to England he chooses to come back to his prison. His mind is filled with passion for revenge. The revenge of his father. He is in love with the idea of killing the murderous King Claudius but not actually doing it. He even makes an excuse when he had the perfect opportunity, as when Claudius was on his knees praying. If he truly wanted to do it, he would of done it right then and there. Any possibility of not doing it [for any reason] would have been light years from his thoughts. Hamlet was not resolute. Remember when Hamlet says thy commandment all alone shall live within the book and volume of my brain unmix’d with baser matter. That’s impossible because as we all find out conscience does make cowards of us all. Hamlet can’t prove to anyone that Claudius killed his father. But Hamlet vexes the King’s conscience to such a boil that the King feels like he has no choice but to kill Hamlet off himself. Now Hamlet has a truly just reason to kill the King (regardless if the ghost told him or if it had been witnessed by ten-thousand).  But, even when he gets back from being held captive at sea, he still delays. It’s not till Hamlet realizes that he’s going to die from the poisoned foil, and that it’s now or never, then he does what we thought he could never do. Hamlet’s madness was merely him releasing nervous energy from being privy to the truth of his father’s murder. He couldn’t act normal knowing what he knew. It weighed on his mind to the point of paralyzation. He often over thought things or didn’t not think at all but rarely a happy medium.

King Lear; Lessons Taught and Learned

Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love you according to my bond no more, nor less. In the conclusion of the Tragedy of King Lear, Edgar offers some wise words about how we should Speak what we feel not what we ought to say. We may feel confused as to who Edgar is talking about as Cordelia was frank about her feelings; but the dishonesty sprung from the sisters’ covert flattery, filching the land into their pockets. Their corruption prompted Cordelia to be stingingly curt & short with Lear cuz she was so frustrated with what she knew was going on; odious manipulation. This lavish flattery was beyond hyperbolic. Everything in this world is action and reaction; one thing affects another thing. When in the realm of Shakespeare’s canon, this truth is magnified exponentially. Cordelia after witnessing her sisters’ evil, attempts to teach her father a harmless lesson in credulity, possibly and more than likely comingled with a touch of pride; her honesty was greater than theirs [a gross understatement but a paradox as well]. Cordelia eventually realizes King Lear is in dire straits (and by dire straights I mean wandering around the hills of Dover naked) with flowers around his head. 

However, it is too late; the enemy has grown too strong; King Lear and Cordelia are now at the mercy of their captors which only relent till after Cordelia is hanged. King Lear is reminded of his folly with his dearest Cordelia grasped betwixt his arms and dies fast as the scene is just too much for him to take.

Childishness and Foolishness in King Lear

When we look at the play King Lear, it includes much foolishness and childishness. The two terms at first glance seem to be the same thing, and although they are similar, they are not the same. Childishness is concerned with relying on a maternal figure; a lack of independence coupled with a self-conciousness towards mistakes when consequences appear. Foolishness {as defined by dictionary.com} is, “lacking forethought or [lacking] caution.” At the outset, King Lear acts with a consummate foolishness by disinheriting the only daughter who truly loves him and leaving the rest to the odious pair hight Goneril and Regan. Cordelia also acts foolishly when she refuses to tell her father how much she truly loves him. It loses her share of the kingdom and sends the whole land into havoc giving her malevolent sisters full reign against their most vulnerable father. As the play wears on we see King Lear comsumed by a destructive kind of childishness. He has lost his independence and seems to be searching for some kind of consolement for his mistake against his youngest and True daughter Cordelia; this has consequently left him out in the cold raging against a terrible tempest of the elements. The fool in a certain sense takes on a maternal role to Lear as he is always there to offer his guidance and support along the old man’s heartbreaking journey [coincidentally it is almost certain the role of Cordelia was doubled by the Fool]. Just like a mother, the Fool is never afraid to tell it like it is. He never leaves Lear’s side till his mysterious departure at the end of act 3. King Lear’s initial mistake was indeed foolishness, but his downfall is indeed prompted by utmost childishness. When he is reunited with Cordlia at the conclusion of Act 4, King Lear speaks like a helpless child; he pleads in the name of forgivness [a basic principle of teaching our children] for doing her so much wrong, and Cordelia in turn speaks just like a mother with tenderest consolation. King Lear shows what can happen when we live so long; our minds can make children out of old men.

As F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote:

I think, right there and then, she realized none of us is perfect forever

{Cordelia}