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Kendra Hefner
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I wouldn't so much say that MND is "realistic" in the same sense as most would consider Much Ado to be rather, it feels more consistent in the world Shakespeare creates for us. I can recognize that marriage was the destined ending, but the characters of Benedick and Beatrice seem to take a very radical shift in perspective with little explanation beyond "the world must be peopled" (2, 3. 213-214) (an issue neither of them seemed highly concerned with prior to their, to use poetry terminology, "turning" moments). There seems to be almost a lack of character consistency in this area (perhaps even a plot hole), something that is filled in both MND and Romeo and Juliet by situational explanations. MND was, obviously, the fairies; almost the entirety of Romeo and Juliet can be accepted as simply youthful nativity (or, as some may say, stupidity). I can accept the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick as either bending to cultural norms or their secret feelings for each other, but I find it difficult to accept that Claudio would believe Don John's claim about Hero's affair. Obviously, even with our studying of the culture that existed in Shakespeare's day, it's difficult to separate from the actions of characters from a present day perspective (for me, at least). It does bring up the question of what these plays would look like if they had been written with the modern world in mind (I can think of a few books that I have read that use similar elements, but none that could really fit as a true "re-telling").
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I find it really interesting that you see the Watchmen to be the heroes! I certainly see your point, although, I find the term "hero" to be rather loose. Depending on how you chose to spin it, even Borachio could be considered the "hero" (as he helped Claudio to see his love for Hero after everyone believed her to be dead). I tend to recognize each character as the hero of their own personal story (yes, even Don John), be it in helping others or through self-serving. Hence, I avoided writing about this question in a post of my own (at least for now). I also agree that many of the characters in the play are "good." The fact that characters like Beatrice and Benedick seem contradictory between their words and actions does not make them untrustworthy; rather, I would argue that it simply gives them more depth as characters. They want to be separate from the crowd, but also desire acceptance.
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Luann, It truly is odd how we romanticize Shakespearian times when, if we were living in that period, we would be living miserably. It's really easy to look at the rich and the royal of the time and accept that as the full truth of that period, so to pull that veil of romanticism away will hopefully help in setting a context for the characters within Shakespeare's plays as well as the audience he was catering to. The superstitious aspect was interesting to me as well. Unless they are explicitly noted, I often don't pay much attention to the elements that drive the characters within the story; to see and recognize just how much the people were ruled by their superstitions may provide a layer of reasoning for any given character's words and actions. However, the question still remains: Why were the people so superstitious? Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these first few chapters!
Toggle Commented Jan 18, 2016 on Shakespeare is Alive! at IWC English ShakespEARe
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I have never actually heard of this controversy before; while I understand the arguments against Shakespeare, I am not inclined to agree with them. To me, the most absurd argument lies within the idea that Shakespeare wrote about people and topics he had never experienced. As Dr. Saccio pointed out in this commentary, it is unlikely that anybody spontaneously broke into blank verse; overall, the plays were not written to be accurate. I will also add that the argument of Shakespeare's experience becomes invalid when we consider fantasy stories, it's unlikely that J.K. Rowling attended a school for wizards. We might even consider work that existed long before Shakespeare, such as Plato's "The Allegory of the Cave." I also find it really interesting, though an easy detail to forget, that language and grammar were major points of focus for the youth of Shakespeare's day; the "average-Joe" back then had a vocabulary that far exceeds that of that of many college-educated individuals today.
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Jan 12, 2016