On some Shakespeare Twaddle

This is a note about some pompous twaddle concerning Shakespeare. Scroll down (or as needed, click the orange link above) to the next article to see the Shagspaherian play, “The Well-Hung Election”

“the way in which the content of his verse expressed universal truths by finding magnificently appropriate analogies for them, is what has got him recognized as one of the greatest poet/dramatists of all time.”

ZZZZZZ…Gee, no wonder kids hate Shakespeare.

Where do I begin?

First of all, what would it even mean to be “magnificently appropriate”. When was the corporate foot soldier known to arrive at work, dressed today in Gap monkish style, or in my day, in a suit and tie, to be complimented simultaneously on both the magnificence and appropriateness of his attire? I tried with flash chap ties and failed, since the sober yet elegant ties were not considered appropriate to my station in life. There’s no such thing as being magnificently appropriate.

Second, did S express “universal truths”? Can
we transform his plays into copy book maxims? Let’s try!

“Don’t listen to your parents, marry a hot guy, and commit suicide if
that doesn’t work out” (Romeo and Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter)

“Kill Caesar but realize you done him wrong” (Julius Caesar)

“Kill your uncle for doin’ all those smelly things with your
Mom” (Hamlet)

“Cause your commanding officer to suspect his wife of infidelity, driving him batshit and getting her killed” (Othello)

“Usurp the usurper. Eventually it’s bound to come out all
right.” (History plays)

“Drink like a fish, steal from honest tradesmen, and sleep on benches until noon. Run from battle. Run from Sir Walter Blunt; pretend to have killed Harry Percy. Cheat a good woman. Promise marriage to two rich women. Everyone will love you and you will be saved.” (Henry IV 1,2: Merry
Wives: Henry V)

“Kill the sons of Tamara, Queen of the Emo Goths. Then when her other sons rape your daughter, cutting off her hands and tongue, you and your darlin’ daughter need to cook those boys into a pie and serve them to Tamara and Aaron. Loads of laughs for the entire family.” (Titus Andronicus)

Houston…we have a problem.

It is that Shakespeare wasn’t a Platonist, interested in “universal”
truths true all the time. Those are the people who express “universal truths” such as “if you fall in love with your son in law, you are a ho-bag whether you like it or not” (Racine, Phedre).

Shakespeare was an Aristotelean, who saw God and the Divine only in the fleshly world. His characters are people enmeshed in flesh. They have no lessons for us, not even cautionary tales, unless we are the sort of people with something of Shakespeare’s gentleness and capacity for “suffering” (a word which was closer to “experience” in Shakespeare’s time, probably because life sucked more). It is only then can we feel empathy for them.


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