Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Peer Review

Brooke Randell:
1. 19 posts
2. I think most of Brooke's posts are adequately substantial. She employs thoughtful analysis, does a good job linking, and refers to a lot of outside sources. I think her blog is excellent.
3. A strength I noticed is her ability to interest her audience. Her subject matters are very unique, in comparison with other blogs within our class, such as costume design. Her language and humor make it very accessible. It doesn't feel like work to read her blog, and I'd say that's a very good thing.
4. One of the only things I noticed that Brooke could do to improve her blog is to refer more specifically to the learning outcomes. Maybe she could create tabs for each post and label it as a particular learning outcome (And I feel like a hypocrite saying this because this is something I could do better as well).

Midterm Evaluation

1. I am meeting a few of the goals I've set for myself, but most of them are overshadowed by the goal of achieving breadth within my reading. In addition to breadth I'm delving into textual and contextual analysis by reading the introductions to each play found within our textbook and keeping an eye out for formal devices and then blogging about my findings.

2. I have read Henry V, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, and The Tempest. In addition to the original text, I've looked up critical essays on the BYU library website. I've also researched the web, of course, and have founds a lot of informal, yet useful information.

3. I do make reference to other texts, but I could do better with linking to other learners and blog posts.

4. I am noticing a trend within my studies, though it's a bit general. I'm noticing that when I read a play I tend to focus on lessons and themes that directly apply to my life, and then try to find some sort of application. For example, when I read a Romeo and Juliet, I focused on the idea of light and darkness and the virtues and vices of Romeo's two loves, Rosaline and Juliet. This is because I was currently trying to decide between two opportunities I had in the dating world, and I was hoping Shakespeare's words on love could provide some sort of counsel. So, my interests vary from play to play, but I find consistency in that I want to learn lessons that apply to my life. And it isn't hard to find those lessons because at the core of Shakespeare's plays is timeless human experience.

5. What I've done best so far, sadly, is just reading the plays. Now, I need to focus on going deeper or expanding my modes of learning and connecting.

6. Rebecca Ricks: She made an amazing comment on my latest post and gave me some useful information.
Brooke Randell: She makes good comment in class, as well as on my blog.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Light vs. Dark

I wanted to try and answer my own question of whether or not Shakespeare was advocating this idea of young, swift love or not. And I attempted to answer it through the motifs of light and darkness found within the play. In the beginning when Romeo is pining over Rosaline, his life is full of darkness. He wanders around before the sun comes up and his father explains:

Away from light steals home my heavy son
And private in his chamber pens himself,
Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out,
And makes himself an artificial night.

In opposition to this permeating darkness, Romeo meets Juliet, whom he describes as a "bright angel". She is the light seeping through his chamber, which causes Romeo to ask, "what light through yonder window breaks?" The fact that Shakespeare created this metaphor of Juliet being an angel and Rosaline only creating darkness in Romeo's life is a clear message that the love between Romeo and Juliet is real, even divine.

Now, it's easy to mock this idea that two strikingly young people could really fall in love so instantly. However, maybe we should reconsider. In the movie Bright Star, the character John Keats says to his friend who is mocking his feelings for a girl, "There is a holiness to the heart's affection which you know nothing about!" This goes along with what Romeo utters just before he sees the light from Juliet's room, "He jests at scars that never felt a wound." Could it be that these emotions of love, infatuation, or whatever you want to call them, are in and of themselves valid? And that you can't mock them until you've felt them yourself?

I have one last question. Why did Romeo seek after this darkness in the beginning? When thinking about this my mind went to a little insight from Nietzsche in his book The Gay Science:

"Those who seek rest. -The spirits who seek rest I recognize by the many dark objects with which they surround themselves: those who want to sleep make their room dark or crawl into a cave. -A hint for those who do not know what it is that they seek most, but who would like to know."

With this in mind, how can we make sense of Romeo welcoming darkness and even creating for himself "an artificial night"?

Questions about Romeo and Juliet

To all of you who are reading Romeo and Juliet, I found a very useful website in regards to study helps (click here). This website asks a lot of questions concerning the different themes within the play. After viewing this website and considering my own curiosity, I came up with a few questions of my own that might get your wheels turning. Let me know if you have any input.

1. Is there any evidence that Romeo and Juliet's love transcends mortality?
2. Do the motifs of light and darkness send a message about love and its transience?
3. What is Shakespeare's message about young love? Is he supporting it or bashing on it?
4. What makes this play a tragedy? Is tragedy really within the bounds of destiny? Are these lovers really "star-crossed"? Because tragedy to me is something terribly unfortunate happening that could've been prevented. With this definition destiny doesn't play as big of a role.
5. What are the flaws of Romeo and Juliet that lead to tragedy? Is it mostly unawareness/miscommunication? If so, that is truly tragic!
6. What is the point of catharsis in this play? What would an audience member decide to avoid after viewing this play?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Real World vs. Green World

Movies like Inception, illnesses like schizophrenia, theories like postmodernism, and plays like A Midsummer Night's Dream cause you to ask the question, "What the heck is real?" I've thought about this question a lot this week as I read through this Shakespearean comedy. Something I found interesting as I was reading some background on the play is that in some productions the same actors who play Theseus and Hippolyta also play Oberon and Titiana. This blurs the distinctions between the "real world" and the "green world" as well as the concept of reality.

Along with this, I also thought about the movie Dead Poet's Society in which A Midsummer Night's Dream is performed. So, we go from a play within a play to the level of a play within a play within a movie. This surreal set up runs along side one of the messages of the movie. Neil, the boy who goes against his father's wishes and performs in the play, is ripped away from his dreams of becoming an actor and hits a brick wall of "reality". Instead of conforming to his father's demands he kills himself. This abrupt gun shot swiftly chases away any dream-like aspirations Neil or his friends once had. Neil was attempting to act in a play which takes place in the summer, yet it was winter outside and lightly snowing and by morning the snow had covered everything. So, what could be the message of such an event? Is it dangerous to mix the real and green worlds? Maybe the idea of chaos breaking loose once people venture into the wilderness is something to beware of.