Today, I continue to add one of my older Shakespeare research papers from my first term in Mr. Jensen’s class. By the end of the term, I was feeling quite good about my success in the course. This paper was a little indulgent on my part, but it still received another A+. This paper was the first one that came in at the required 2 pages/double spaced (most of my papers have been in the 5-6 page range). Now that I have completed the entire ENG201-203 series, I still feel the same as my first term paper reflected. I will be spending this weekend writing my last research paper for this instructor. I have every confidence that I will end up with a perfect record of all 12 papers for this class earning A+ grades. I’ll be posting the last couple of papers later this week (after final exams! I have 3 this term…) This journey as a Non Traditional Student returning to college after 35 years is really becoming one of the big successes of my life!
Reflections on Early Shakespeare “The Bard through New Eyes”
I feel compelled to look back on my studies of the early works of William Shakespeare with a new-found understanding and appreciation of his plays for what they truly are, literary genius. As a “theater person”, mostly in the technical realm, I was never able to read a play for pure pleasure. How would I get my actors to exit stage left? How will the sound effect be cued? How many flats would I need to build an Elizabethan tavern for The Merry Wives of Windsor? Every script was more of an exercise in logistics and design versus the wonderful stories and dialogue.
What I have learned over the past ten weeks has allowed me to see the Bard’s plays through new eyes. As a History Major, I was drawn to the historical tidbits in lectures about 16th century England. The study of these works became more than reading a play. Richard III led me down a path of discovery about two young princes, lost in the Tower of London. Shakespeare’s histories came to life in the study of how King Richard manipulates and schemes his way into the crown. Having the background of how Shakespeare was able to fit history onto the stage was a highlight in my enjoyment of the play.
Information about Shakespeare’s poems involving his dedications to Henry Wriothesley sparked my interest as I read the words. Who was the Bard referring to here? How does this possibly relate to the “dark lady”? I was reading a poem for both pleasure and clues at the same time. This is what is so exhilarating about seeing this literature through my new eyes. The theories about the symbols of Venus and Adonis and various codes that were popular in Renaissance England will be a theme I will follow throughout my study of Shakespeare.
I cannot possibly convey how wonderful it is to enjoy Shakespeare’s comedies on a literary and historical basis. It really helps when you get the jokes! The use of various mythological characters mixed into one story is fascinating when you learn how they were weaved together so artfully. Again, my love of all things Historical allowed me to learn about medieval herbalists and the use of many botanical references all through Shakespeare’s works. Further study of these references and Will’s country upbringing will be forthcoming.
Love and Hate, romance and war, the juxtaposition in the Tragedy Romeo and Juliet is another joy to behold. And to think, only a few years ago, all I could think of was how to build that crazy balcony! I originally planned to write this paper comparing West Side Story with this play. As I watched, furiously taking notes, I finally realized that I was seeing something through this wonderful filter of literary awareness. It did give me pause. Where will these “new eyes” of mine lead me next? I hope that you will allow me this one indulgent paper. I liken it to the catharsis of the climax of a Greek tragedy. Not since I played the role of Banquo in the 4th grade (with rave revenues on the playground I should add) have I been able to really enjoy my studies of William Shakespeare. For this gift, I must thank you.