Close Reading: Friends, Romans, Countrymen

Today I’m going to do an analysis of one of the most famous speeches in all of Shakespeare: Antony’s Funeral Speec in Act III, Scene ii of Julius Caesar, commonly known as the “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” speech.

I. Given Circumstances

Antony is already in a very precarious position. His best friend Julius Caesar was murdered by the senators of Rome. Antony wants vengeance, but he can’t do so by himself. He’s also surrounded by a mob, and Brutus just got them on his side with a very convincing speech. They already hate him and Caesar. His goal- win them back. Here is a clip of Brutus (James Mason) speaking to the crowd from the Joseph Mankewitz movie version of Julius Caesar:

So the stakes are very high for Antony: If he succeeds, the crowd will avenge Caesar, and Antony will take control of Rome. If he fails, he will be lynched by an angry mob.

II. Textual Clues

If you notice in the text of the speech below, Antony never overtly says: “Brutus was a liar and a traitor, and Caesar must be avenged,” but that is exactly what he gets the crowd to do. So how does he get them to do so, right after Brutus got them on his side?

Antony. You gentle Romans,— 1615

Citizens. Peace, ho! let us hear him.

Antony. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

The evil that men do lives after them;

The good is oft interred with their bones; 1620

So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus

Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:

If it were so, it was a grievous fault,

And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.

Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest— 1625

For Brutus is an honourable man;

So are they all, all honourable men—

Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.

He was my friend, faithful and just to me:

But Brutus says he was ambitious; 1630

And Brutus is an honourable man.

He hath brought many captives home to Rome

Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:

Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?

When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept: 1635

Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:

Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;

And Brutus is an honourable man.

You all did see that on the Lupercal

I thrice presented him a kingly crown, 1640

Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?

Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;

And, sure, he is an honourable man.

I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,

But here I am to speak what I do know. 1645

You all did love him once, not without cause:

What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?

O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,

And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;

My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, 1650

And I must pause till it come back to me.

First Citizen. Methinks there is much reason in his sayings. Julius Caesar Act III, Scene ii.

A. Verse

The greatest gift Shakespeare ever gave his actors was to write his plays in blank verse. It not only tells you which words are important to stress, it gives you clues about the character’s emotional journey; just as a person’s heartbeat can indicate their changes in mood, a subtle change in verse often betrays the character’s pulse and state of mind. Antony uses his own emotions and his powers of persuasion to manipulate the crowd, so his verse helps show how he changes the pulse of the Roman mob.

I could write a whole post on the verse in this page, which I don’t need to do, since The Shakespeare Resource Center did it for me: http://www.bardweb.net/content/readings/caesar/lines.html What I will do is draw attention to some major changes in the verse and put my own interpretations on how Antony is using the verse to persuade the crowd:

  1. The first line of the speech grabs your attention. It is not a standard iambic pentameter line which makes it rhythmically more interesting. In the movie version, Marlin Brando as Antony shouts each word to demand the crowd to just lend him their attention for a little while. He uses the verse to emphasize Antony’s frustration.
  2. “The Evil that men do, lives after them”- Notice that the words evil and men arein the stressed position. Antony might be making a subconscious attempt to accuse Brutus and the other evil men who took the life of Caesar.
  3. If it were so..” Again, Antony might be making a subtle jab at the conspirators. Brutus said Caesar was ambitious and Antony agrees that ambition is worthy of death, but he also adds an If, to plant the seeds of doubt in the crowd’s minds. To drive it home, the word if is in the stressed position, making it impossible for the crowd to not consider the possibility that Caesar wasn’t ambitious, and thus, didn’t deserve to be murdered.

B. Rhetoric

One reason why this speech is so famous is its clever use of rhetoric, the art of persuasive speaking. Back in ancient Rome, aristocrats like Antony were groomed since birth in the art of persuasive speech. Shakespeare himself studied rhetoric at school, so he knew how to write powerful persuasive speeches. Here’s a basic breakdown of the tactics Antony and Shakespeare use in the speech:

Ethos, Pathos, and Logos

The three basic ingredients of any persuasive speech are Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Ethos is an appeal to the audience based on the speaker’s authority. Pathos is an appeal to the emotions of the crowd, and Logos is an appeal to facts and or reason. Both Brutus and Antony employ these three rhetorical tactics but Antony manages to not only appeal to the audience, he manipulates them away to mutiny and mob rule.

Logos Antony has very few facts or logical information in his speech. His major argument is that again, since Caesar wasn’t ambitious, (which is very hard to prove), his death was a crime. Antony cites as proof the time Cæsar refused a crown at the Lupercal, but since that was a public performance it’s hardly a reliable indication of Caesar’s true feelings. As scholar Andy Gurr puts it,

You see logos as a rhetorical technique all the time whenever you watch a commercial citing leading medical studies, or a political debate where one person uses facts to justify his or her position. If you look at Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Presidental Debate, she frequently cited statistics to back up her political positions

Ethos-

Ethos is an argument based on the speaker’s authority. Brutus’ main tactic in his speech is to establish himself as Caesar’s friend and Rome’s. He says that he didn’t kill Caesar out of malice, but because he cared more about the people of Rome.

BRUTUS: If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Caesar’s, to him I say, that Brutus’ love to Caesar was no less than his. If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer:

–Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. JC, III.ii.

Antony employs the exact same tactics, establishing himself as Caesar’s friend and telling the crowd that, as Caesar’s friend, Antony believes that Caesar did not deserve his murder. His use of Ethos therefore, helps Antony refute Brutus’ main claim.

Again, the 2016 debate is another excellent way of showing ethos in action. Hillary Clinton and Brutus frequently cited their political experience and their strength of character to justify their views. There’s an excellent article that examines Hillary’s use of Ethos in her political rhetoric: https://eidolon.pub/hillary-clintons-rhetorical-persona-9af06a3c4b03

Pathos

Pathos is the most frequently used rhetorical tactic: the appeal to emotion. Donald Trump uses this constantly, as you can see in this clip from the 2016 debate:

https://youtu.be/wMuyBOeSQVs

Pathos is bit more of a dirty trick than Ethos and Logos, which is why Brutus doesn’t use it much. As scholar Andy Gurr writes:

Brutus is a stern philosopher and thinker. His faith in reason fails to secure the crowd from Antony’s disingenuous appeal to their affections, which uses sharp sarcasm and some twisted facts.

Antony’s major appeals to emotion:

  • His grief over losing Caesar
  • His painting Cæsar as a generous, faithful friend
  • Shaming the crowd for not mourning Caesar’s death
  • Appeal to piety by showing the body funeral reverence.
  • His use of Caesar’s bloody body and mantle to provoke outrage from the citizens.
  • His use of Caesar’s will to make the crowd grateful to Caesar, and furious at Brutus.

Rhetorical Devices

If Ethos, Pathos, and Logos are the strategies of rhetorical arguments, rhetorical devices are the artillery. If you check out the website Silva Rhetoricae, (The Forest Of Rhetoric), you can read about the hundreds of individual rhetorical devices that politicians have used in speeches and debates since ancient history. I will summarize here the main ones Antony uses over and over again in “Friends, Romans, Countrymen.” For another more compete analysis, click here: https://eavice.wordpress.com/2011/02/05/jv-rhetorical-devices-in-antonys-funerary-speech-from-shakespeares-julius-caesar/

  • Irony The way Antony keeps repeating “Brutus is an honorable man,” is a particularly sinister form of irony, which here means to imply the opposite of what you have said to mock or discredit your opponent. The irony is that the more Antony repeats this idea that Brutus is honorable, the more the crowd will question it. If Brutus were truly honorable, he would not need Antony to remind them. Of course, Brutus can still be honorable whether Anthony mentions it or not, but this repetition, coupled with Antony’s subtle rebuttals Of Brutus’ arguments, manages to shatter both Brutus’ motives, and his good name, at least in the eyes of his countrymen.
  • Antimetabole is the clever use of the same word in two different ways. Antony manages to work it in twice in this speech:
  • “If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
  •     And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.”
  • “You all did love him once, not without cause: What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?”
  • Rhetorical question This is the most famous rhetorical device which by the way in Antony’s day would have been known as Erotema. Antony asks a series of questions designed to refute the notion that Caesar was ambitious, from his mercy to his captives, to Caesar’s tenderness to the poor, and of course his refusal to take the crown during the Lupercal. Each question calls Brutus’ claims into question and seeds doubt in the crowd.III.

Performance Notes with link to Globe performance

https://youtu.be/1RL8Wg-b8k

Unlike most Shakespearean plays, with Julius Caesar, we have an eyewitness account of how the play was originally performed. Swiss student Thomas Platter wrote a long description of watching the play at the original Globe Theatre in 1599. This is a translation that I found on The Shakespeare Blog:

On September 21st after lunch, about two o’clock, I and my party crossed the water, and there in the house with the thatched roof witnessed an excellent performance of the tragedy of the first Emperor Julius Caesar, with a cast of some fifteen people; when the play was over they danced very marvellously and gracefully together as is their wont, two dressed as men and two as women…

Thus daily at two in the afternoon, London has sometimes three plays running in different places, competing with each other, and those which play best obtain most spectators.

The playhouses are so constructed that they play on a raised platform, so that everyone has a good view. There are different galleries and places, however, where the seating is better and more comfortable and therefore more expensive. For whoever cares to stand below only pays one English penny, but if he wishes to sit he enters by another door, and pays another penny, while if he desires to sit in the most comfortable seats which are cushioned, where he not only sees everything well, but can also be seen, then he pays yet another English penny at another door. And during the performance food and drink are carried round the audience, so that for what one cares to pay one may also have refreshment.

The actors are most expensively costumed for it is the English usage for eminent Lords or Knights at their decease to bequeath and leave almost the best of their clothes to their serving men, which it is unseemly for the latter to wear, so that they offer them for sale for a small sum of money to the actors.

Thomas Platter, 1599, reprinted from: http://theshakespeareblog.com/2012/09/thomas-platters-visit-to-shakespeares-theatre/

So the conclusions we can draw based on Platter’s account include that Antony was standing on a mostly bare stage with a thatched roof, raised slightly off the ground. We can also guess that, since the merchants were selling beer, fruits, and ale, that the audience might have been drunk or throwing things at the actors.

As Platter notes, and this page from Shakespeare’s First Folio confirms, there were only 15 actors in the original cast, so Shakespeare’s company didn’t have a huge cast to play the gigantic crowd in the Roman street. In all probability, the audience is the mob, and Antony is talking right to them when he calls them “Friends, Romans, Countrymen.” I believe that the audience was probably encouraged to shout, chant, boo, cheer, and become a part of the performance which is important to emphasize when talking about how to portray this scene onstage. A director can choose whether or not to make the audience part of the action in a production of Julius Caesar, which can allow the audience to get a visceral understanding of the persuasive power of politicians like Brutus and Antony, or the director can choose instead to have actors play the crowd, and allow the audience to scrutinize the crowd as well as the politicians.

In conclusion, the reason this speech is famous is Shakespeare did an excellent job of encapsulating the power of persuassive speech that the real Antony must have had, as he in no small way used that power to spur the Roman crowd to mutiny and vengeance, and began to turn his country from a dying republic into a mighty empire.

For a fascinating look at how a modern cast of actors helps to create this scene, check out this documentary: Unlocking the Scene from the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production in 2012, with Patterson Joseph as Brutus, and Ray Fearon as Antony:

◦ Interview with Patterson Joseph and Ray Fearon RSC: https://youtu.be/v5UTRSzuajo

And here is a clip of the final scene as it was performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company:

References

1. Annotated Julius Caesar: https://sites.google.com/site/annotatedjuliuscaesar/act-3/3-2-57-109

2. Folger Shakespeare Library: Julius Caesar Lesson Plan: https://teachingshakespeareblog.folger.edu/2014/04/29/friends-romans-teachers-send-me-your-speeches/

3. Silva Rhetoric http://rhetoric.byu.edu/

3. Rhetoric in Marc Antony Speech

https://www.google.com/amp/s/eavice.wordpress.com/2011/02/05/jv-rhetorical-devices-in-antonys-funerary-speech-from-shakespeares-julius-caesar/amp/

4. Shakespeare Resource Center: http://www.bardweb.net/content/readings/caesar/lines.html

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Was Shakespeare Racist?

Was Shakespeare racist? When reading Othello by William Shakespeare, the only play he wrote where the hero is explicitly black, I truly feel like the Shakespearean student as opposed to the Shakespearean teacher. it’s a play that I find very difficult to get into, and very difficult to understand. Above all, the question I have is whether Othello is a positive or negative portrayal of a black man. So I am going to analyze the play, the prevailing views about race from Shakespeare’s time, and try to draw some conclusions about the play and its creator.

Disclaimer: I don’t advocate trying to speculate about how Shakespeare felt about anything. My real point in this post is to determine if the play Othello and its portrayal of people of color, has merit in today’s society, which is important to establish given the culture in which Shakespeare wrote it.

Part I: Black People And Shakespeare

By our standards, Shakespeare was probably racist. If you look at the ways black people are mentioned in documents of the period, the writers frequently describe black people with an air of otherness and superiority that shows little interest in the humanity of other races. In fact, one reason why the word “moor” is so problematic is that it basically referred to anyone not born in Europe. It could refer to people from Northern Africa, the Middle East, and even parts of Spain. Clearly, Europeans at the time weren’t interested in the particulars of their non-Caucasian neighbors’ culture and herritage.

“Portrait Of An African Man,” by Jan Mostaert, c. 1520

This is not to say that Shakespeare never knew any black people. Michael Wood in his book In Search Of Shakespeare estimates that there might have been several thousand black people in London alone. City registers mentions not only black people employed in the city, but even some of the first inter-racial marriages. Therefore, the notion of Othello marrying Desdemona would not have been unheard of even in 1601.

As an important note, the black people living in Europe at the time weren’t slaves. The transatlantic slave trade didn’t really get started in and America until the 1650s, and slavery was illegal in England at the time. Wood mentions that there were black dancers, black servants, and other free black people living in and around London (Wood 25). Dr. Matthieu Chapman wrote an excellent thesis back in 2010 about the possibility that some black people might even have been actors in Shakespeare’s company. Furthermore, scholars have wondered for centuries if the Dark Lady of the sonnets was Shakespeare’snon-Caucasian mistress.

In any case, it is likely based on what we know about the growing multiculturalism of England in the 17th century, that Shakespeare knew some black people, and might have worked along side them. Though Shakespeare probably knew black people though, it is impossible to know if they influenced his play Othello.

https://youtu.be/NsUoW9eNTAw

Though black people were allowed to live and work without bondage, their lives were highly precarious, and far from easy. In 1601, Sir Robert Cecil, Queen Elizabeth’s chief counselor, presented a plan to explel all black people from England (Wood 251). The Cecil Papers at Hatfield House details that:

The queen is discontented at the great numbers of ‘n—‘ and ‘blackamoores’ which are crept into the realm since the troubles between her highness and the King Of Spain, and are fostered here to the annoyance of her own people.

Cecil mentions that a great deal of black people living in London were former slaves freed from captured Spanish ships. Spain of course was Catholic and their king Phillip II had sent a vast armada against the English which helps underscore a major reason for the hostility against these formerly Spanish moors; the fear that, even though these people were baptized English Christians, they might secretly be traitors, sympathetic to the Spanish or to the great numbers of Muslims living in Spain. The English weren’t the only ones concerned. In 1609, the Spanish king expelled the Moors from Spain entirely, probably due to the high levels of Muslims in Spain. With this in mind, you can see how topical Othello was for its time, since it touched on many contemporary issues of race and politics.

One important thing to remember about Othello is that he is not only a black man in a predominantly white country, he is in all probability a converted Muslim who helps the Venetian army fight Muslim Turks. With this in mind, you can imagine how hard it must be for the people of Venice to trust him, and how hard it makes it for Othello to feel like a true Venetian.

A very high profile example of the mixture of admiration and anxiety towards Moors comes from 1600. Ambassador Abdul Guahid from Morocco, (himself a Moor), came to visit London to discuss a military plan to take the East and West Indes away from the Spanish. He stayed at the court for several months during which time, Shakespeare’s company performed for him and the court. To commemorate the visit, a writer called Leo the African presented the ambassador with a book called A Geographical History Of Africa, and he himself posed for a portrait, shown below.

Most scholars cite Guahid as one of the likely inspirations for Othello’s character. Some even suggest that Othello’s original costume and appearance might have been taken from Guahid. Although he was honored publicly, according to the documentary Shakespeare Uncovered, in private, courtiers were whispering about Guahid, hoping that he would leave England soon. Whether Guahid was Shakespeare’s inspiration for Othello, it is worth noting the admiration and anxiety that he put into the hearts of the English courtiers he visited, including probably, Shakespeare. Account of the plays performed at court in 1605, including Othello

So when Shakespeare wrote Othello, the black population was growing, a noble moor was getting attention at court, and he might have been living and working around black people in his company, so he might have been trying to present a black character in a positive light based on his experiences. So what does the text of Othello say about black people, and what Shakespeare might have thought about them?

The dilemma anyone reading or performing Othello faces is the fact that he is both a noble general who loves his wife, and also a jealous savage murderer. As I have mentioned, Shakespeare might have known black actors and some claim that he had a mistress of color, but that doesn’t guarantee that he was aware of the oppression and degradation of the African people. So why did he choose to make the character black in the first place?

Part II: What does the play say about race?

Shakespeare’s source for Othello was an Italian short story by Giovanni Battista Giraldi. It has some small differences in plot, but Othello’s character is identical to Shakespeare’s, though he is never referred to by name; instead he is only called “The Moor.” Still, Giraldi mentions The Moor’s bravery, skill in battle, and initial reluctance to believe the devilish ensign who deceived him. Therefore Shakespeare emphasized all the positive qualities of his original source.

https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/cinthios-gli-hecatommithi-an-italian-source-for-othello-and-measure-for-measure

Othello is not presented as a savage person; we see him as somebody who comes from somewhere else. It is impossible to pin down exactly where he comes from because his descriptions of his past are very vague and sometimes seemingly contradictory. As they mentioned in the TV documentary Shakespeare Uncovered, what we do know is that he definitely assimilated into Venetian culture, presumably converted to Christianity from whatever religion he had, and rose through the ranks by fighting the Ottoman Turks. This means Othello is waging war against Muslims. What I am trying to construct here is to determine based on what we know about black people from Shakespeare’s time and what we know about stereotypes of foreigners and others and the journey of Othello, is his murderous jealous behavior, as a result of nurture, (which is to say Iago‘s devilish manipulation), or by nature. In other words, did Shakespeare write a racist play that condemns interracial marriages due to the barbarous nature of Moors?

Othello is not the only jealous character in the Shakespearean cannon; Claudio in Much Ado, Postumous in Cymbeline, and Leontes in The Winter’s Tale all accuse their wives of infidelity and all of them threatened to kill those unfortunate (and innocent women). This means that Shakespeare is not implying that jealousy is inherently connected to race. Looking at the text of Othello, one interpretation I can offer is that it is less about black people and more about how white people perceive them. Just like in Shakespeare’s source, very few people in the play call Othello by his name, they call him a term that defines him by his race. In addition, though Othello never talks explicitly about his race and is very cryptic about his life, plenty of characters make assumptions about what being a moor means:

“To the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor” – Iago 1.1.126)

“An extravagant and wheeling stranger / Of here and every where” – Rodrigo 1.1.136-137). [Scene Summary]

[Brabantio speaking to Othello] “To the sooty bosom / Of such a thing as thou — to fear, not to delight” (1.2.70-71).

One reason Iago is able to manipulate the people close to Othello is because he can manipulate the prejudices that they have about black people. He knows that they will believe anything he says, as long as it falls in line with their preconceptions. In addition, since Othello isn’t a native Venetian, Iago can manipulate Othello’s inexperience with Venetian society:

      IAGO

197   Look to your wife; observe her well with Cassio;

201   I know our country disposition well;

202   In Venice they do let heaven see the pranks

203   They dare not show their husbands; their best conscience

204   Is not to leave’t undone, but keep’t unknown.

OTHELLO

205   Dost thou say so?

IAGO

206   She did deceive her father, marrying you;

207   And when she seem’d to shake and fear your looks,

208   She loved them most.

OTHELLO

208                      And so she did.

IAGO

208. go to: An expression of impatience.

208                                 Why, go to then;

209. seeming: false appearance.

209   She that, so young, could give out such a seeming,

210. seal: blind. (A term from falconry). oak: A close-grained wood.

210   To seel her father’s eyes up close as oak,

211   He thought ’twas witchcraft—but I am much to blame;

212   I humbly do beseech you of your pardon

213   For too much loving you.

OTHELLO

213. bound: indebted.

213                     I am bound to thee for ever.

IAGO

214   I see this hath a little dash’d your spirits. Othello, Act III, Scene iii.

Plenty of actors, scholars, and directors have made the case that Shakespeare’s plays aren’t racist, but they do have racist elements. In Othello’s case, the racism of other people destroys an otherwise honorable man.

https://youtu.be/gMZRP9hrbY4

The Murder: As a counter argument, though Othello is not the only jealous hero in Shakespeare, he is the only black one, and he is the only one who kills his wife onstage. Therefore, even if Othello is a positive black figure at first, his behavior at the end of the play does give an impression of a man who has become a savage murderer, and it is important for the audience to question how watching a white woman being murdered in her bed by a black man makes them feel, especially when everyone else in the play has said he is a barbaric, lustful, foreign beast.

Part III Production History

Although there’s a decent argument that Othello isn’t a racist play, it’s production history has been harrowed with racism. For 250 years the role wasn’t even played by black actors. Even on film, the first black man to play Othello was Laurence Fishburne in 1995.

Going further back, the first genuine black actor to play Othello was Ira Adrige, an African American who moved to England in the mid 1800s. Above is a copy of the playbill for his celebrated touring performance of Othello in 1851, which inspired very powerful and polarized reactions: https://youtu.be/92Z-4eJj7Wo

Audiences have had incredibly powerful reactions to seeing real black actors in the role. Some have expressed disgust and racist hatred, (especially in the scenes with Desdemona), some have expressed praise, sometimes they have ignored the race issues entirely. Reportedly Joseph Stalin loved the play and participated enjoyed Othello’s strength and stoicism (Wood 254). Ultimately the context of a production often determines more of the audience reaction than the actors’ performances.

To end where I began, I’m well aware that it’s impossible to truly tell whether Shakespeare was racist, and it’s equally futile trying to pin down what he was saying about race when he wrote the part of Othello, but it is worth considering how the part is connected to changing views of race and racial relations. Ultimately it is up to the actors and director to decide whether Othello is a good man, a racist stereotype, or anything else. That is the beauty of Shakespeare’s complicated and compelling characters, they can translate beyond time, and maybe even race.

For an excellent discussion of this complex topic, click the link below: https://youtu.be/puMpPNtYxuw

: https://youtu.be/puMpPNtYxuw

◦ Sources:

Books:

TV:Shakespeare Uncovered: Othello

Magazines:

BBC News: Britain’s first black community in Elizabethan London. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-18903391

Web:

http://www.blackpast.org/perspectives/black-presence-pre-20th-century-europe-hidden-history

http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/619

https://allpoetry.com/The-Dark-Lady-Sonnets-(127—154)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/william-shakespeare/9758184/Has-Shakespeares-dark-lady-finally-been-revealed.html

http://www.peterbassano.com/shakespeare

https://www.matthieuchapman.com/scholarship

The Fashion Is The Fashion 2: Clothing and Twelfth Night 

In doing my research for Twelfth Night, I came across a fantastic production from Shakespeare’s Globe in 2002. It used what is known as “original practices,” meaning that the actors tried to replicate everything we know about the way Shakespeare’s actors performed.

The play was performed in the great Globe Theater, which is itself a replica of Shakespeare’s original playhouse, which means that it was outdoors, using mostly natural lighting, and minimal sets. https://youtu.be/qtoUeVjP_rs

In addition, all the women’s roles were played by men, and the actors played multiple parts, which were all accurate stage practices from Shakespeare’s era. Most exciting of all, the actors all wore authentic 17th century costumes designed by veteran costume designer, Jenny Tiramani:

/https://prezi.com/m/zef_cpurcfsl/jenny-tiramani/


Few things determine how an actor moves or looks more than the clothes he or she wears, and watching these actors wear doublet and hose and real Jacobean dresses really fires up my imagine and makes me feel that I’ve truly been transported through time. The production is available on DVD, as well as several clips on YouTube, and I urge you to take a look at it. In the meantime, I’d like to comment a little on how the costumes from this production inform the audience about the characters that wear them.

Some Info On 17th century fashion

* Men

  • Tight pants or hose, and stockings designed to show off the legs
  • Tight jackets made of wool or leather called doublets
  • By the 17th century, starched ruffs were being replaced with lace collars.
  • Starched collars called ruffs around the neck.

  * Women

Longer skirts, often embroidered with elaborate patterns

  * Servants- Servants like Cesario (who is actually the Duke’s daughter Viola in disguise), would typically wear matching uniforms called liveries, a sign of who they worked for and their master’s trust in their abilities. People judged the aristocracy by how well they trained and controlled their servants, so wearing your master’s livery meant he trusted you to represent his house.

In her first scene as Cesario, a servant named Curio remarks to her that Orsino has shown favor to “him” from the very beginning. This might explain the rich garments that Viola wears in this production, which resemble a noble gentleman more than a servant.

A higher ranking servant like Malvolio would be able to wear a higher status garment, which is why you see Steven Fry as Malvolio dressed in a handsome doublet.

3. Character notes:

* What are they wearing?

* Why are they wearing it?

* How do the clothes inform the movement?

1. Viola (Eddie Redmane) Viola, the star of the show, begins the show as the daughter of a duke, who has just been shipwrecked in a foreign country, so her clothes must look bedraggled and worn, yet appropriate to her status. As I said before though, for the majority of the play, Viola is disguised as the servant Cesario

2. Malvolio (Steven Fry)

  • Malvolio wears dark colors since he’s a Puritanical servant.
  • He mentions that he has a watch. The first ever wristwatches ever came into being around this time.
  • Most productions give Malvolio a Gold chain and/ or a staff of office to show his status, and his prideful nature.
  • In Act III, Malvolio is tricked into wearing yellow stockings with cross garters.
    • 3. Maria the Countess Olivia’s maid, (who has an appetite for tricks and pranks), Maria’s job is to dress and help Olivia with her daily routine. This might include tying up her corset, putting on her makeup, and helping her with the elaborate gowns that nobles wore during this period. In the video below, you can watch a dresser help get an actress into an elaborate costume for another Globe theatre production. Just think of the amount of time and hard work it would take for a servant like Maria to dress Olivia every day!

      In the play, Viola momentarily mistakes Maria for her mistress because she wears a veil. This also suggests that, rather than wearing a livery like Cesario, maybe Olivia let Maria wear some of her older clothes, which was a common practice for high level servants. A lot of the costumes Shakespeare’s company wore were probably hand me downs from their aristocratic patrons.

      4. Olivia (Mark Rylance)

      In this production, the countess and all the female roles were performed by men, just as they were in Shakespeare’s Day. Mark Rylance, who played Olivia, was also the Artistic Director of the Globe Theatre.

      • Olivia is mourning her lost brother, which is why she’s traditionally dressed in a black dress and veil
      • The dress is black silk with elaborate embroidery, as you can see from this actual sampler of the real fabric used in the show. You will also notice the threads holding the fabric together with metal points at the end. Olivia’s gown was hand sewn into many different pieces and tied together with these points. One nickname Shakespeare gave servants like Maria was “One who ties [her] points.”
      • The dress is large and has a long train, making it hard for the actor to move: https://youtu.be/dcSNTspXGYk
      • Costumes like these offer a tantalizing glimpse into history. Just as Shakespeare’s words help an actor bring to life the thoughts and feelings of his age, The type of clothes his company wore helps the actor embody the moiré’s and desires of Shakespeare’s society, whether a mournful countess, a dazzling gentleman, or a reserved Puritan.

        References

        Feldman, Adam

        “Q&A: Mark Rylance on Shakespeare, Twelfth Night and Richard III” Time Out Magazine. Posted: Tuesday November 12 2013

        Retrieved online from https://www.timeout.com/newyork/theater/q-a-mark-rylance-on-shakespeare-twelfth-night-and-richard-iii

        Minton, Eric. Twelfth Night: What Achieved Greatness was Born Great.

        Posted May 22, 2014 to http://shakespeareances.com/willpower/onscreen/12th_Night-Globe13.html.

        https://thepragmaticcostumer.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/through-the-keyhole-a-peek-into-a-17th-century-ladys-wardrobe/

        Why Mechant Of Venice is the Perfect Play For the Holidays 

        The Merchant Of Venice is unquestionably Shakespeare’s most controversial play- it covers such topics as anti-semitism, religious hypocrisy, racism, slavery, and the meaning of justice and mercy. As I have written before, few people read this play in school, but I believe that it has many lessons to teach our children. I also believe its lessons are also very much a part of the Christmas/ Hanukkah/ Kwanza holiday season, and here’s why:

        Short summary

        Famous quotes

        • All that glitters is not gold.
        • Hath not a Jew Eyes
        • The quality of mercy is not strained

        You may very well wonder why this play about greed and prejudice reflects the warm holiday spirit. I would argue that, like cold winter snow, this play emphasizes the importance and the need for compassion, humanity, and generosity because without it society becomes truly frigid.

        Merchant Of Venice takes an unflinching look at greed, prejudice, and religious hypocrisy, while at the same time retaining a hope for peace on Earth and goodwill towards men.

        One of the best ways I can justify the connection between Merchant and the holidays is by comparing it to the quintessential Christmas story, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. In terms of tone, themes and especially characters, these two classics are very close indeed. Shylock is an ancestor of Scrooge- in addition to both being money lenders, both men are miserly, cold, and willing to destroy lives for wealth. Shylock even has a ghost that comes back to haunt him. Shylock mentions a ring that he got from his late wife Leah, similar to how Scrooge lost his only love, Belle. Just as Scrooge is a counterexample of everything that Christmas stands for, Shylock’s greediness, cruelty, and hatred of the people around him make him a figure to avoid, no matter what holiday you celebrate.

        Merchant also raises questions about materialism, which we should all consider around the holidays. Shylock especially mentions this in quotes like: “You take my life when you take the means whereby I live.”

        The themes of Merchant also reflect a modern multicultural holiday season. In one example which I wrote about before, The Prince Of Morocco has a great speech that calls to mind the concept of kuchijagulia, or self determination, one of the 7 principles of Kwanzaa. According to the official Kwanza website, kuchijagulia means, “To speak up for oneself,” and Morocco definitely does that:

        Mislike me not for my complexion,

        The shadow’d livery of the burnish’d sun,

        To whom I am a neighbour and near bred.

        Bring me the fairest creature northward born,

        Where Phoebus’ fire scarce thaws the icicles,

        And let us make incision for your love,

        To prove whose blood is reddest, his or mine.

        I tell thee, lady, this aspect of mine

        Hath fear’d the valiant: by my love I swear

        The best-regarded virgins of our clime

        Have loved it too: I would not change this hue,

        Except to steal your thoughts, my gentle queen. Merchant Of Venice, Act II, Scene I.

        Moracco’s unwillingness to change who he is makes him a model of the kind of pride African Americans celebrate during Kwanza. In addition Shylock, the Jewish moneylender, is also very proud of his heritage. His famous quip: “Sufferance is the badge of all our tribe,” expresses perfectly the resilience of the Jewish people, which of course is the central point of Hanukkah.

        When it comes to Christmas, Antonio demonstrates a Christ- like self sacrifice, when he lets himself be arrested and nearly killed by Shylock.

        Bassanio. Good cheer, Antonio! What, man, courage yet!

        ▪ The Jew shall have my flesh, blood, bones and all, 2045

        ▪ Ere thou shalt lose for me one drop of blood.

        Antonio. I am a tainted wether of the flock,

        ▪ Meetest for death: the weakest kind of fruit

        ▪ Drops earliest to the ground; and so let me

        ▪ You cannot better be employ’d, Bassanio, 2050

        ▪ Than to live still and write mine epitaph.

        While Antonio’s actions mirror Christ’s sacrifice. Portia’s famous “The Quality Of Mercy Is Not Strained,” speech, goes to the heart of the reason why Christ came to earth; to grant mercy to the sinners who would be damned otherwise

        Portia. Do you confess the bond?

        Antonio. I do.

        Portia. Then must the Jew be merciful.

        Shylock. On what compulsion must I? tell me that.

        Portia. The quality of mercy is not strain’d, 2125

        ▪ It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

        ▪ Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;

        ▪ It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:

        ▪ ‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes

        ▪ The throned monarch better than his crown; 2130

        ▪ His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,

        ▪ The attribute to awe and majesty,

        ▪ Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;

        ▪ But mercy is above this sceptred sway;

        ▪ It is enthroned in the hearts of kings, 2135

        ▪ It is an attribute to God himself;

        ▪ And earthly power doth then show likest God’s

        ▪ When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,

        ▪ Though justice be thy plea, consider this,

        ▪ That, in the course of justice, none of us 2140

        ▪ Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;

        ▪ And that same prayer doth teach us all to render

        ▪ The deeds of mercy. Merchant Of Venice, Act IV Scene I.

        Shakespeare no doubt wrote these characters to reflect the Christian values many people celebrate at Christmas. Meanwhile the play’s comic subplot with Bassanio and Portia teaches Christians about generosity and mercy. As I have written before, the character Bassanio is the moral center of the play, and his journey mirrors many characters in classic Christmas stories who learn about giving and receiving, the true meaning of Christmas.

        In Act III, Scene ii, Bassanio participates in the highest stakes Secret Santa gift exchange ever: three boxes of gold, silver, and lead are set before him.

        If Bassanio picks the right gift, he will be rich, powerful, and married to a beautiful woman, but the winning box is inscribed with a warning: “Who chooses me must give and hazard all he has.” Bassanio wins the gift auction, which means he may marry the beautiful Portia, but he gives her the choice to marry him or not: https://youtu.be/6IFSMgggS8k

        [Music, whilst BASSANIO comments on the caskets to himself]

        Bassanio. So may the outward shows be least themselves: 1440

        The world is still deceived with ornament.

        ▪ In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt,

        ▪ But, being seasoned with a gracious voice,

        ▪ Obscures the show of evil? In religion,

        ▪ What damned error, but some sober brow 1445

        ▪ Will bless it and approve it with a text,

        ▪ Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?

        ▪ There is no vice so simple but assumes

        ▪ Some mark of virtue on his outward parts:

        ▪ How many cowards, whose hearts are all as false 1450
        Look on beauty, 1455

        ▪ And you shall see ’tis purchased by the weight;

        ▪ Which therein works a miracle in nature,

        ▪ Therefore, thou gaudy gold,

        ▪ Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee;

        ▪ Nor none of thee, thou pale and common drudge 1470

        ▪ ‘Tween man and man: but thou, thou meagre lead,

        ▪ Which rather threatenest than dost promise aught,

        ▪ Thy paleness moves me more than eloquence;

        ▪ And here choose I; joy be the conseque

        [Reads] 1500

        ▪ You that choose not by the view,

        ▪ Chance as fair and choose as true!

        ▪ Since this fortune falls to you,

        ▪ Be content and seek no new,

        ▪ If you be well pleased with this 1505

        ▪ And hold your fortune for your bliss,

        ▪ Turn you where your lady is

        ▪ And claim her with a loving kiss.

        ▪ A gentle scroll. Fair lady, by your leave;

        ▪ I come by note, to give and to receive. 1510

        ▪ Like one of two contending in a prize,

        ▪ That thinks he hath done well in people’s eyes,

        ▪ Hearing applause and universal shout,

        ▪ Giddy in spirit, still gazing in a doubt

        ▪ Whether these pearls of praise be his or no; 1515

        ▪ So, thrice fair lady, stand I, even so;

        ▪ As doubtful whether what I see be true,

        ▪ Until confirm’d, sign’d, ratified by you. Merchant of Venice Act III, Scene ii.

        Like the story The Gift Of the Magi, Bassanio prizes Portia’s love, and is willing to give her all he has in return, which is what separates him from the other suitors. Bassanio also understands it’s not the physical gift that is really the gift, it’s the love that it represents that really matters, which allows him to look past the outward appearance of the lead chest. Having gratitude for the gifts we receive and pledging our love to others is something that everyone should remember at Christmas and all festive occasions.In Conclusion, it isn’t cheery, and it is not as hopeful as most holiday stories, but in the season when people of all faiths celebrate together, Merchant Of Venice is a great reminder of our shared humanity and how we can show love and mercy to our fellow people.

        Resources:
        Merchant Of Venice Website: http://www.themerchantinvenice.org

        Book– Will in the world by Steven Greenblatt- An amazing analysis of Shakespeare’s life and career. The chapter “Laughter At the Scaffold,” traces the link between Merchant Of Venice and the real life treatment of Jews in the 16th century
        Book/ TV- Playing Shakespeare by John Barton.

        MovieMerchant Of Venice 2004 Movie starring Al Pacino. I like the way the director films the drama documentary style, using a single handheld camera in most of the shots. Pacino is very good at playing Shylock as a bitter, cynical old man who is trying to survive in a powerful Christian country.

        Official Kwanza website: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/NguzoSaba.shtml

        http://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/m/lifetimes/plays/the%20merchant%20of%20venice/mershylock.html

        How “Hamilton” is like a Shakespearean History Play

        If you have two ears, you’re probably familiar with the Broadway Musical Hamilton. It swept the Tonys, has opened up touring productions across the country, and there’s already talk of a movie.

        This historic American musical was the brainchild of writer Lin Manuel Miranda, who also originated the role of Alexander Hamilton.

        The show is incredibly smart, creative, and delves into the seminal moments of American history.

        What’s really exciting to me is that Hamilton also has a depth and complexity that mirrors some of Shakespeare’s greatest plays, specifically the history plays.

        Between about 1590 and 1613, Shakespeare wrote 10 plays about the lives of English kings, from the vain Richard the Second to the heroic Henry the Fifth, to the diabolical Richard the Third. Here is a list of Shakespearean history plays, with links to online study guides, listed in chronological order by reign, not publication date.

        1. King John
        2. Richard the Second
        3. Henry the Fourth, Part I
        4. Henry the Fourth, Part II
        5. Henry the Fifth
        6. Henry the Sixth , Part I
        7. Henry the Sixth , Part II
        8. Henry the Sixth , Part III
        9. Richard the Third
        10. Henry the Eighth

        Are these Shakespearean history plays historically accurate by our standards? No, not by a long shot, though Shakespeare is only partially to blame for that. While Lin Manuel-Miranda had Hamilton’s own essays, his letters from friends and loved ones, and of course, every American history book at his disposal, Shakespeare’s sources were few, and mostly propaganda. They were, (to paraphrase Napoleon and Benjamin Franklin), “A series of lies, composed by winners, to excuse their hanging of the losers.”
        Shakespeare’s genius however, was to turn these two-dimensional propaganda stories into three dimensional characters with which we can all identify. Miranda did the same thing in reverse- distilling his wealth of historical information into a universal story of a man’s quest for the American Dream. Hamilton went from being an immigrant, to a soldier, to a pioneer in American law, government, and finance and the musical reflects his struggle to achieve his dreams through each stage of his life. It is also a love song from America to a man who dreamed of a future for America, one not dissimilar to the ode Shakespeare wrote to his “Star of England,” Henry the Fifth. The greatest compliment I can give Miranda is to say that he created an American musical, with the scale and breadth of Shakespeare.

        Part I: War and Peace

        In Shakespeare’s histories, particularly the first tetracycle of plays that include Richard the Second, the three parts of Henry VI, and Richard, III, there is a constant shift between war and peace, as scholar Robert Hunter observes. These plays cover the 200 year period of Wars of the Roses, and the end of the Hundred Years War. In all of these plays there are some very violent and very opportunistic young men who see war as an opportunity to rise above their stations. In war, they win glory in death, honor, respect, and status in life. However, in peacetime, they have “no delight to pass away the time,” as Richard III observes, and they struggle to survive in the political landscape of peace.

        Hamilton is a man of this same mold: When we first meet him, he is a poor immigrant from the West Indies with no title or money to improve his status. He spends the first third of the musical wishing he could become a commander in the Revolutionary War, especially in the song: “My Shot”


        Once Hamilton joins the revolution, his fortunes start to improve; he becomes George Washington’s aide-de-camp, becomes a war hero in the Battle of Yorktown, and marries Eliza Schyler, daughter of one of the wealthiest men in America.

        Hamilton in war bears similarities to Shakespearean characters like Hotspur, Richard Duke of York, and even Richard III; people who see war as a chance to either die in glory, or become honored, wealthy, and powerful.

        Unfortunately for Hamilton, he fares less well once the war ends. Even though he becomes Washington’s first Secretary Of the Treasury, his success and closeness to now-President Washington makes him a walking target to his political adversaries. Even worse, his ambition and inability to compromise makes Hamilton equally vulnerable to people who see him as a loudmouth, an elitist, and a would-be demagogue who wants to control America’s finances and live like a king, similar to the way the British Prime Minister controls England’s finances.

        The character Hamilton resembles most in peacetime is Cardinal Wolsey in Shakespeare’s Henry VIII.
        I happen to know a lot about this character since I played him back in 2008. Wolsey controlled Henry VIII’s finances and was hated by most of Henry’s court because he was the son of a poor butcher in Essex, and became the king’s right-hand man. Just look at the faces of the people of the court in this painting of the king and Wolsey by Laslett John Pott; they are clearly jealous of Wolsey’s closeness to the king.

        Potter, Laslett John, 1837-1880; The Dismissal of Cardinal Wolsey
        Laslett John Pott, The Dismissal of Cardinal Wolsey, 1874 

        In both plays, Washington and Henry are treated like gods- invulnerable, aloof, and completely above reproach.

        In both plays, whenever anything bad happens, the legislature blames Wolsey and Hamilton, not the King or the President. Also, once Henry or Washington no longer supports their right-hand-man, each one falls from grace and is destroyed by his enemies.
        Wolsey and Hamilton both fall because of their position as the financial advisor, which makes them a target to their enemies. Both are accused of using their country’s finances to enhance their personal wealth, which leads him to scandal and disgrace.

        In Henry the Eighth , Wolsey is certainly guilty of conspiring to use his country’s wealth to line his own pockets- he pays the cardinals in Rome to influence their vote in the hopes that he will become the next Pope!

        Pettie, John, 1839-1893; The Disgrace of Cardinal Wolsey
        John Pettie: The Disgrace of Cardinal Wolsey, 1869

        CARDINAL WOLSEY

        What should this mean?
        What sudden anger’s this? how have I reap’d it?
        He parted frowning from me, as if ruin
        Leap’d from his eyes: so looks the chafed lion
        Upon the daring huntsman that has gall’d him
        Then makes him nothing. I must read this paper;
        I fear, the story of his anger. ‘Tis so;
        This paper has undone me: ’tis the account
        Of all that world of wealth I have drawn together
        For mine own ends; indeed, to gain the popedom,
        And fee my friends in Rome. O negligence!
        Fit for a fool to fall by: what cross devil
        Made me put this main secret in the packet
        I sent the king? Is there no way to cure this?
        No new device to beat this from his brains?
        I know ’twill stir him strongly; yet I know
        A way, if it take right, in spite of fortune
        Will bring me off again. What’s this? ‘To the Pope!’
        The letter, as I live, with all the business
        I writ to’s holiness. Nay then, farewell!
        I have touch’d the highest point of all my greatness;
        And, from that full meridian of my glory,
        I haste now to my setting: I shall fall

        Like a bright exhalation in the evening,
        And no man see me more. Henry the Eighth Act III, Scene ii.

        Again, though Wolsey is guilty, like Hamilton he also used his financial genius to bring England into a new age of prosperity after centuries of war. The Tudors were some of the richest and most powerful monarchs in British history, and Wolsey helped establish their dynasty, but thanks to his enemies, he is turned out of court in disgrace:

        O Cromwell, Cromwell!
        Had I but served my God with half the zeal
        I served my king, he would not in mine age
        Have left me naked to mine enemies. Henry VIII, Act III, Scene ii.

        Hamilton is also accused of embezzling his wealth by his enemies, including James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson


        Hamilton’s enemies argue that his banking system benefits New York, where Hamilton was part of the House Of Representatives, as well as the Constitutional Convention. The main difference between Wolsey and Hamilton is that he didn’t embezzle America’s money, he is actually guilty of a far worse sin- adultery. Hamilton is accused of having an affair, and embezzling funds to keep it quiet, which he denies in a spectacular fashion:

        In both plays, the moment where the main character begins to fall is dramatized in a stirring, metaphor-rich soliloquy. Wolsey compares himself to the Sun, who, once he reaches the zenith of the sky, has nowhere to go but down to the west, and set into night.

        Hurricane, From Hamilton: An American Musical. Reprinted from DeviantArt.com

        Hurricane From “Hamilton: An American Musical. Reposted from Deviant Art.com

        Hamilton compares his situation to being in the eye of a hurricane, a particularly apt metaphor, since the real Alexander Hamilton’s house was destroyed by a hurricane in 1772. In addition, Lin Manuel Miranda‘s parents come from Puerto Rico an island that has, (and continues to be,) ravaged by hurricanes.

        In the song, “Hurricane,” Hamilton remembers that when he lost everything as a boy in 1772, he beat the hurricane by writing a letter which was published in the newspaper, and inspired so much pity that the residents of the island raised enough money to send Alexander to America.


        Later in the song, Hamilton decides to try to soothe the political hurricane that has engulfed him by writing a pamphlet, admitting the affair, but denying any embezzlement. Eventually the scandal destroys Hamilton’s career, but it doesn’t destroy his life; for that we have to look at the Shakespearean rivalry between Hamilton and Aaron Burr.

        Part II- The Duel: Hamilton and Burr V Henry and Hotspur.
        Aaron Burr and Hamilton keep meeting at important moments in the show, as if their fates are intertwined like gods in some kind of Greek tragedy.

        Hamilton and Burr appear as polar opposites in the musical. Hamilton is fiery, opinionated, uncompromising, and highly principled. He ruffles feathers, but his supporters know where he stands. Burr is the opposite. He keeps his views to himself, and waits for the most opportune time to act on anything. Throughout the play, Hamilton and Burr hate and admire different things about each other. Hamilton admits that Burr’s cool practicality helps him to practice the law and succeed in politics, while Burr admires Hamilton’s energy and his ability to work and write as if his life depends on it, especially in the song “The Room Where It Happens.”


        After Hamilton endorses Jefferson in the election of 1800, Burr loses the race, and the job of Vice President. In the musical, he blames Hamilton, and their grievance grows into a deadly conflict.


        The rivalry between Hamilton and Aaron Burr mirrors many characters in Shakespeare, but the two I want to focus on here are Hotspur and Prince Hal from Henry the Fourth Part One

        As this video from the Royal Shakespeare Company shows, these two combatants meet only once in the play, but they are constantly compared to each other by the other characters, who talk about them as if they were twins, (they even have the same first name)! Even the king remarks that his son could have been switched at birth with Hotspur.

        Prince Henry (known as Hal in the play), is the heir to the throne. Like Burr in Hamilton, Hal is methodical, cool, keeps his feelings to himself, and is known by some as a Machiavellian politician. Hotspur, (or Henry Percy), is his opposite. Like Hamilton he is fiery, eloquent, and not afraid to die for his cause, which in Hotspur’s case is to supplant the royal family and correct what he believes is an unjust usurpation by Hal’s father, King Henry the Fourth.

        In the scene below, the two men seem hungry to not only kill one another, but to win honor and fame as the man who killed the valiant Henry. Whether it’s Henry Percy, or Prince Henry who will die, is something they can only find out by dueling to the death.

        HOTSPUR

        If I mistake not, thou art Harry Monmouth.

        PRINCE HENRY

        Thou speak’st as if I would deny my name.

        HOTSPUR

        My name is Harry Percy.

        PRINCE HENRY

        Why, then I see
        A very valiant rebel of the name.
        I am the Prince of Wales; and think not, Percy,
        To share with me in glory any more:
        Two stars keep not their motion in one sphere;
        Nor can one England brook a double reign,
        Of Harry Percy and the Prince of Wales.

        HOTSPUR

        Nor shall it, Harry; for the hour is come
        To end the one of us; and would to God
        Thy name in arms were now as great as mine!

        PRINCE HENRY

        I’ll make it greater ere I part from thee;
        And all the budding honours on thy crest
        I’ll crop, to make a garland for my head.

        HOTSPUR

        I can no longer brook thy vanities.

        They fight, HOTSPUR is wounded, and falls

        HOTSPUR

        O, Harry, thou hast robb’d me of my youth!
        I better brook the loss of brittle life
        Than those proud titles thou hast won of me;
        They wound my thoughts worse than sword my flesh:
        But thought’s the slave of life, and life time’s fool;
        And time, that takes survey of all the world,
        Must have a stop. O, I could prophesy,
        But that the earthy and cold hand of death
        Lies on my tongue: no, Percy, thou art dust
        And food for– Dies. 

        Hamilton’s duel is also a matter of honor; Alexander wants to defend his statements against Burr, while Burr wants to stop Hamilton from frustrating his political career. Here is how their duel plays out in the musical Hamilton:


        Just like Burr, Prince Hal feels remorse after killing his worthy adversary.

        PRINCE HENRY

        For worms, brave Percy: fare thee well, great heart!
        Ill-weaved ambition, how much art thou shrunk!
        When that this body did contain a spirit,
        A kingdom for it was too small a bound;
        But now two paces of the vilest earth
        Is room enough: this earth that bears thee dead
        Bears not alive so stout a gentleman.
        If thou wert sensible of courtesy,
        I should not make so dear a show of zeal:
        But let my favours hide thy mangled face;
        And, even in thy behalf, I’ll thank myself
        For doing these fair rites of tenderness.
        Adieu, and take thy praise with thee to heaven!
        Thy ignominy sleep with thee in the grave. Henry IV, Part I, Act V, Scene iv.

        III. The Times

        Yorktown battlefield plaqueIn both Hamilton and all of Shakespeare’s history plays, the characters know that they are living during important events and their actions will become part of the history of their country, and none more than Washington. In the song, “History has its eyes on you,” he warns Hamilton that, try as one might, a man’s history and destiny is to some extent, out of his control, which echoes one of King Henry the Fourth’s most bleak realizations:

        Henry IV. O God! that one might read the book of fate,
        And see the revolution of the times
        And changes fill the cup of alteration
        With divers liquors! O, if this were seen,
        The happiest youth, viewing his progress through,
        What perils past, what crosses to ensue,
        Would shut the book and sit him down and die. Henry IV, Part II, Act III, Scene i.

        Washington is keenly aware of his legacy and does his best to protect it. In Shakespeare’s Henry IV,the king also lies awake trying to figure out how to deal with the problems of his kingdom, which is why Shakespeare gives him the famous line “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” Likewise, Richard II, makes a famous speech where he mentions how many kings have a gruesome legacy of dying violently:

        As we see the whole story of Hamilton’s life progresses, his fate changes constantly and his legacy shifts in every scene of the show: immigrant, war-hero, celebrated writer, Secretary of the Treasury, but then, once he published The Reynolds Pamphlet, Hamilton went from famous to infamous. After After Burr murdered him in the duel, Hamilton might have been utterly forgotten, in spite of all his great accomplishments. This is a key theme in all history and tragedies, the universal desire of every man to transcend mortality by trying to create a lasting legacy for himself.

        The women who tell the story


        Fortunately for Hamilton, the women of his story also help to preserve it. Historically, most of Hamilton’s archives were preserved by his wife Eliza Schyler, and she and her sisters help shape the story from the beginning to the end of the show. Hamilton’s sister in law Angelica sets up this theme by literally rewinding the scene of her first meeting with Alexander, and then retells how she and Hamilton met from her own point of view.

        Once Eliza decides to marry Hamilton, she asks to “be part of the narrative.” She knows she married a important man and that his life will someday become part of American history. Eliza wants to be a part of that historic narrative.

        When Hamilton commits adultery and writes the Reynolds pamphlet though, Eliza is so hurt and scandalized that she rescinds her requests. In the song “Burn,” she destroys her love letters from before the affair, and all correspondence she had with Alexander when he revealed it. Lin Manuel Miranda explained that he wrote the song this way because no records during this period survived, so he invents the notion of Eliza destroying them as a dramatic device, to heighten her estrangement from her husband. Though this is a contrivance, it does re-enforce how, when part of the story is lost, it twists and destroys part of our impression of a person. Henry Tudor went to great lengths to destroy the legacy of his predecessor Richard the Third, and literally repainted him as a deformed tyrant, which haunts Richard’s legacy to this day.


        At the end of the play though, Eliza changes her mind yet again, as the final song I placed earlier shows, Eliza spends the last 50 years of her life to preserving and protecting her husband’s name, as well as Washington, all the founding fathers, and children who can grow up knowing that story at her orphanage. This song illustrates clearly that in the end, a man’s story is defined by the people who tell it, and Hamilton is fortunate to have such a creative, energetic and talented writer/ actor in Lin Manuel Miranda, and the cast of Hamilton, to preserve the story in such a Shakespearean way.

        Bravo.

        img_4003

        Educational links related to Hamilton:

        Books

        downloadHamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeremy McCarter. A complete libretto of the show, with notes on its creative conception. download (1)

        download (2)Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. This is the book that inspired Lin Manuel Miranda to create the show. It is a stirring, well-researched historical biography.

        TV: 

        “Hamilton’s America” PBS Program. Originally Aired 2016. Official Webpage: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/episodes/hamiltons-america/ You can watch the full documentary here: http://www.tpt.org/hamiltons-america/

        Web: 

        Biography. Com- Alexander Hamilton:https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.biography.com/.amp/people/alexander-hamilton-9326481

        Founders Online: The Papers of Alexander Hamilton: Columbia University, accessed 11/12/17 from https://founders.archives.gov/about/Hamilton 

        House Of Representatives Biography: Alexander Hamilton- IIhttp://history.house.gov/People/Listing/H/HAMILTON,-Alexander-(H000101)/

        Resources on Shakespeare’s History Plays:

        Books

        1. Shakespeare English Kings by Peter Saccio. Published Apr. 2000. Preview available: https://books.google.com/books?id=ATHBz3aaGn4C 
        2. Shakespeare, Our Contemporary by Jan Kott. Available online at https://books.google.com/books/about/Shakespeare_Our_Contemporary.html?id=QIrdQfCMnfQC  
        3. The Essential Shakespeare Handbook
          The Essential Shakespeare Handbook
        4. The Essential Shakespeare Handbook by
        5. Leslie Dunton-Downer and Alan Riding Published: 16 Jan 2013. 77ace26dfdee4259bf48d6eed1a59d57

        6. Will In the World
          Will In the World by Robert Greenblatt
        7. Will In the World by Prof. Steven Greenblatt, Harvard University. September 17, 2004. Preview available https://www.amazon.com/Will-World-How-Shakespeare-Became/dp/1847922961

        henries.HP_.CarouselScreens-480x270TV: Shakespeare Uncovered: Henry the Fourth. Originally Aired February 1, 2013. Available at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/shakespeare-uncovered/episodes/

        Websites

        Shakespeare on Ghosts

        Since Halloween is right around the corner, and since this is a huge topic in Shakespeare, I would like to talk a little bit about Shakespeare’s treatment of the living impaired, specters, spirits, in a word GHOSTS.

        Ghosts appear in five Shakespearean plays: Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Richard the Third, Macbeth and Cymbeline. In all but one of these plays, and in many other Elizabethan and Jacobean dramas, a ghost is a murdered person who needs someone to avenge their deaths. Their function is to warn the hero of the play to revenge their deaths, and/ or to torment their murderers.

        Ghosts have been part of western drama almost as long as there have been ghost stories. After all, the Greek and Roman plays that Shakespeare emulated often mention ghosts as warnings from above and below the world is in some kind of chaos. Most of the time, the kind of play in which you see a ghost is a Revenge Tragedy, plays like The Spanish Tragedy, Locrine, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and even the Disney movie of The Lion King.


        The most potent example of a Shakespearean ghost is definitely  the ghost of Hamlet’s  father. I actually played this role and, rumor has it, so did Shakespeare himself! Hamlet’s father appears as a ghost two months after his death, and soon after his brother Claudius marries his widow Gertrude. The ghost’s purpose in the play is to get his son’s attention so that he can correct the terrible regicide that Claudius committed, allowing the Ghost to Rest In Peace.

        Shakespeare describes the ghost as a pale, sorrowful figure, dressed in full armor. The ghost only speaks to his son in the play, and he begins with a strange and terrifying description of the afterlife:

        Ghost: I am thy father’s spirit,

        Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night,

        And for the day confin’d to fast in fires,

        Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature

        Are burnt and purg’d away. But that I am forbid

        To tell the secrets of my prison house,

        I could a tale unfold whose lightest word

        Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,

        Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,

        Thy knotted and combined locks to part,

        And each particular hair to stand on end

        Like quills upon the fretful porcupine.

        But this eternal blazon must not be

        To ears of flesh and blood Hamlet Act I, Scene v.

        Many scholars believe that the tormenting realm of fire that the ghost describes is actually Purgatory, an old Catholic concept that explains where the souls of the dead go if they are neither evil enough for Hell, or good enough for Heaven. It’s also the place where people go who didn’t confess their sins before death, which was the ghost’s fate since Claudius poisoned him while sleeping.

        Though neither Hamlet nor his father explicitly say it, there is a strong implication that Hamlet must avenge his father by killing Claudius, which will presumably release the Ghost from Purgatory allowing it to ascend to Heaven.

        Some suggest that the ghost is a manifestation of Hamlet’s superego:

        Ernest Jones in his book Hamlet And Oedipusbelieved Hamlet had an unresolved Oedipus complex and couldn’t bring himself to revenge because Claudius had achieved the very goals Hamlet himself secretly desires to kill his father and marry his mother

        Faced with his guilt and lack of moral integrity Hamlet could have created a supernatural superego to spur him to revenge. As Freud describes it, the superego

        The superego is the ethical component of the personality and provides the moral standards by which the ego operates. The superego’s criticisms, prohibitions, and inhibitions form a person’s conscience, and its positive aspirations and ideals represent one’s idealized self-image, or “ego ideal.”

        In essence, since (in Jones’ view), Hamlet is too morally corrupt to be an effective avenger for his father, Hamlet imagines the ghost to help justify his revenge to himself. This is of course, only one way of interpreting the ghost and Hamlet as a whole. There is no right or wrong interpretation for any of Shakespeare’s characters, but it is a testament to Shakespeare’s genius that, 400 years after his own death, his ghostly writings helped inspire one the architects of modern psychology.

        Ghosts Of Torment

        The ghost of Banquo in Macbeth and the ghosts that plague Richard the Third the night before his battle help quicken the murderous kings’ his downward spiral. Macbeth becomes more and more paranoid, and therefore easier for his foes to defeat.

        When Julius Caesar’s Ghost appears to Brutus, he does so the night before his final battle- the battle of Philippi, where Brutus was defeated and committed suicide.

        When Richard III sees the ghosts of all the people he murdered, it not only terrifies him, it splits his soul in half! According to Sir Thomas More, Richard couldn’t sleep the night before his final battle at Bosworth Field. Shakespeare gives Richard a strange soliloquy where the ghosts awaken his conscience and awaken him from a fearful dream:

        [The Ghosts vanish]

        [KING RICHARD III starts out of his dream]

        Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Give me another horse: bind up my wounds.

        Have mercy, Jesu!—Soft! I did but dream.

        O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me!

        The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight.

        Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.

        What do I fear? myself? there’s none else by:

        Richard loves Richard; that is, I am I.


        Is there a murderer here? No. Yes, I am:

        Then fly. What, from myself? Great reason why:

        Lest I revenge. What, myself upon myself?

        Alack. I love myself. Wherefore? for any good

        That I myself have done unto myself?

        O, no! alas, I rather hate myself

        For hateful deeds committed by myself!

        I am a villain: yet I lie. I am not.

        Fool, of thyself speak well: fool, do not flatter.

        My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,
        And every tongue brings in a several tale,

        And every tale condemns me for a villain.

        Perjury, perjury, in the high’st degree

        Murder, stem murder, in the direst degree;

        I shall despair. There is no creature loves me;

        And if I die, no soul shall pity me:

        Nay, wherefore should they, since that I myself

        Find in myself no pity to myself? Richard III, Act V, Scene iii.

        In these plays, the ghosts are a form of spectral punishment; the punishment of a guilty Conscience.

        Shakespearean Friendly Ghosts

        The only friendly Shakespearean ghosts appear in Shakespeare’s play Cymbeline and these ghosts are the ghosts of posthumous’ ancestors. They appear before the God Jupiter to plead for their descendant. Posthumous Leonidas. They beg Jupiter, the most powerful Roman god to end Posthumous’ suffering.

        Like the witches in Macbeth, ghosts in Shakespeare are mysterious and sometimes frightened- the are sort of a mirror for how we see ourselves, our lives, and our hopes to be remembered after death; the final words Hamlet’s father utters before disappearing into the morning mist are: “Adieu, adieu, remember me.”

        https://www.bl.uk/shakespeare/articles/ghosts-in-shakespeare

        https://www.bard.org/study-guides/ghosts-witches-and-shakespeare

        Animated Richard III, 20:00 the ghosts appear:

        References:

        Greenblatt, Steven Hamlet In Purgatory 2001. Princeton University Press. Link: file:///Users/jrycik/Downloads/Hamlet-in-Purgatory-Princeton-Classics.pdf

        Jones, Earnest, Hamlet and Oedipus. 

        https://people.ucsc.edu/~vktonay/migrated/psyc179d/HamletOedipus.pdf 

        Open Source Shakespeare, Cymbeline: 

        https://www.opensourceshakespeare.org/views/plays/play_view.php?WorkID=cymbeline&Act=5&Scene=4&Scope=scene&LineHighlight=3243#3243

        http://www.markedbyteachers.com/gcse/english/which-version-of-the-hamlet-ghost-scene-act-1-scene-5-was-the-most-effective-and-why.html

        Pearlman, E. Hamlet: Critical Essays: The Invention Of the Ghost. https://books.google.com/books?id=jdfWAQAAQBAJ&pg=PA71&lpg=PA71&dq=ghost+that+shrieked+hamlet+revenge&source=bl&ots=KY68gIrh2V&sig=MjEr2NxLQ7T4c2xW1QscrmdeMkc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiR5o6M4I_XAhUK0oMKHQIJBeAQ6AEIKDAA#v=onepage&q=ghost%20that%20shrieked%20hamlet%20revenge&f=false

        https://www.shmoop.com/hamlet/ghost.html

        https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/456606.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3A3f62aed88fb9e9b9a8f8e462186ff95c

        Creepy Shakespearean Poetry For Halloween/ Friday The 13th

        http://www.louvre.fr/oeuvre-notices/lady-macbeth-somnambule

        Ghostly greetings everyone!

        Since it’s the month of all things spooky, and we have a rare Friday the 13th today, I thought I would share some of Shakespeare’s scariest lines!

        First, from the tragedy of Macbeth, the famous Dagger Speech:

        Macbeth.

        Is this a dagger which I see before me,

        The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.

        I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.

        Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible

        615

        To feeling as to sight? or art thou but

        A dagger of the mind, a false creation,

        Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?

        I see thee yet, in form as palpable

        As this which now I draw.

        620

        Thou marshall’st me the way that I was going;

        And such an instrument I was to use.

        Mine eyes are made the fools o’ the other senses,

        Or else worth all the rest; I see thee still,

        And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood,

        625

        Which was not so before. There’s no such thing:

        It is the bloody business which informs

        Thus to mine eyes. Now o’er the one halfworld

        Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse

        The curtain’d sleep; witchcraft celebrates

        630

        Pale Hecate’s offerings, and wither’d murder,

        Alarum’d by his sentinel, the wolf,

        Whose howl’s his watch, thus with his stealthy pace.

        With Tarquin’s ravishing strides, towards his design

        Moves like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set earth,

        635

        Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear

        Thy very stones prate of my whereabout,

        And take the present horror from the time,

        Which now suits with it. Whiles I threat, he lives:

        Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives.

        640

        [A bell rings]

        I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.

        Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell

        That summons thee to heaven or to hell. Act II, Scene I.

        Hamlet. Angels and ministers of grace defend us!

        Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn’d,

        Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,

        What may this mean

        680

        That thou, dead corse, again in complete steel,

        Revisits thus the glimpses of the moon,

        Making night hideous, and we fools of nature

        So horridly to shake our disposition

        With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?

        685

        Say, why is this? wherefore? What should we do? Hamlet, Act I, Scene v.

        Puck. Now the hungry lion roars, 2220

        And the wolf behowls the moon;

        Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,

        All with weary task fordone.

        Now the wasted brands do glow,

        Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud, 2225

        Puts the wretch that lies in woe

        In remembrance of a shroud.

        Now it is the time of night

        That the graves all gaping wide,

        Every one lets forth his sprite, 2230

        In the church-way paths to glide:

        And we fairies, that do run

        By the triple Hecate’s team,

        From the presence of the sun,

        Following darkness like a dream, 2235

        A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V, Scene I.