watervole: (Default)
The humour in Shakespeare is often difficult for a modern audience. The language is archaic and what was a joke or pun in Shakespeare's time is not always so in the modern day. I've put a section of text below the cut and added my own thoughts. I'd be interested to know which jokes other people found funny. I'd also be particularly interested in comments from anyone who has read Shakespeare in another language who could tell me how the translator approached this passage in particular and passages with puns in general. Do the translators try and translate the line verbatim (which would usually remove the joke) or do they try and substitute an equivalent joke in their own language)Read more... )
watervole: (Shakespeare - Titania)
Oberon is a bastard.  Discuss.
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watervole: (Shakespeare - Titania)
I'm currently just at the end of the first act of the BBC version of  'A Midsummer Night's Dream'.  If anyone else wants to watch along with me, I'll add more after I've seen the second half.

Who is Hippolyta?  Shakespeare takes it for granted that we know, but although I vaguely recalled that she was Queen of the Amazons, I had to turn to Wikipedia for more about her and Theseus. 

"Hippolyta first appears in myth when she goes with Theseus, who was accompanying Heracles on his quest against the Amazons. When Theseus first arrived at the land of the Amazons they expected no malice, and so Hippolyta came to his ship bearing gifts. They then eloped, and returned to Athens, she pregnant with a child.

Theseus' brazen act sparked an Amazonomachy, a great battle between the Athenians and Amazons. The Amazons made camp in Attica on a hill that has been described as "bare and rocky", the Areopagus"

Further thoughts behind cut tag in case anyone else wants to watch with me (same version or a different one)
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watervole: (Thoughtful)
I went to see Propellor's production of the Taming of the Shrew last night.  A friend had a spare ticket and invited me at the last moment and I leapt at the chance.  Propellor use an all male cast and it was interesting to see how this affected the performance.  At first, the all-male cast added to the comedy effect.  Bianca and Katherine were clearly played by men, right down to the hairy chest visible underneath the dresses.  The actors didn't even wear wigs.  Bianca was effeminate and girlish, and Kate was a vicious bully in her treatment of Bianca.  This actually worked very well with male actors as Kate's rough physical treatment of Bianca seemed funnier than it might have done if female actors were involved.

Kate's treatment of Bianca is so bad, that initially one feels Petruccio's treatment of her is justified.  But as the play develops, he bullies his servants as well as his wife and Kate's pleas for him to spare the servants are as ignored as her requests for him to give her food or rest.  One has the sense that there is a point (where Kate thanks him for food which Petruccio then instructs Hortensio to eat) where if he had shown her kindness, he would have had a chance of winning her heart.  It is clear that she has come to identify with the servants and to see her own cruelty in perspective.  But Petruccio is so keen on gaining total victory that he fails to see what he is also losing.

By the end of the play, Kate is totally obediant.  She is an automaton, moving in a daze.  When she kisses him, there is no emotion in it at all - it is obedience, nothing else.

Petruccio's cruelty has gained him a slave, but he will never have a wife who loves him in any meaningful manner.  He will never have a wife capable of independant thought or a woman who can add anything meaningful to his life.

I found this a very sharp contrast (a very disturbing one - I went to bed very late as it took me time to settle down) to the previous time I saw the play.  It's capable of many interpretations and the previous occasion played it as Kate cottoning onto Petruccio's game and the two of them operating almost as a team and her deliberately aiding him in the bet.

It is quite possible that Shakespeare intended neither of these interpretations, that he really did mean that a man had a right to treat a wife as Petruccio treats Katherine.  And yet - he frames the play within the scene where Christopher Sly is being fooled into thinking he is a Lord.  It is presented as a play to Sly.  Why do that unless Shakespeare himself is saying "This isn't real"?

What do other people feel about the play?  What interpretations have you seen?  What do you think Shakespeare intended?

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Judith Proctor

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