The best part of teaching this play is watching students figure out who Oedipus really is. I look forward to it every year, and it never disappoints.
A...moreThe best part of teaching this play is watching students figure out who Oedipus really is. I look forward to it every year, and it never disappoints.
Also, this is just an awesome play.
Fall 2012: It occurred to me this year that I am super-lucky to teach a class where I basically set the curriculum. What this means is that I choose all the literature, and then I only have to choose the stuff I like.
I love this play, even having read it maybe 25 times. It never grows old. It never loses its appeal. It is always interesting and, somehow, always new.
Ivan Denisovich Shukhov's life is depressing, yet uplifting. Serving a ten year sentence in a gulag, he's found a way to make it livable, even if it s...moreIvan Denisovich Shukhov's life is depressing, yet uplifting. Serving a ten year sentence in a gulag, he's found a way to make it livable, even if it sucks. That he ends the day satisfied and (more or less) happy says a lot about the adaptability of the human spirit and the effect of a (somewhat) positive attitude.(less)
2013 - I had to take a second after the closing lines of the play because GOOD GRIEF. All my emotions are right at the surface these days, and they ca...more2013 - I had to take a second after the closing lines of the play because GOOD GRIEF. All my emotions are right at the surface these days, and they came tumbling out on my face.
Note: Biff Loman's speech in Act II breaks my heart. Cracks it right in two. I just want to love him back to whole.
**** Biff Loman is my boyfriend. Sure, he's a dime a dozen, and he only makes a buck an hour, but he's figuring his stuff out and he won't lie to me.
Also, he's fictional, so: win-win, I say.
In other news, Happy Loman needs to be kicked in the junk on a regular basis, and I always cry through Charley's speech at the end of the play. (less)
2013: I started crying during Emily's big speech. Right there at my desk. Like a real human. Something is wrong with me.
I think it surprises people th...more2013: I started crying during Emily's big speech. Right there at my desk. Like a real human. Something is wrong with me.
I think it surprises people that I love this play so much. It doesn't have mummies, or violence, or, really, much of anything.
It's so simple that some people find it boring, but I find it refreshing. The lack of cynicism is something sorely needed in this day and age, and I go to Our Town for a reminder of what it means to have faith in humanity, to believe that everyone is really good on the inside, or to appreciate the small everyday acts that have huge consequences.
POTENTIAL SPOILER Last year, I saw a production of Our Town, and George did NOT throw himself at Emily's feet in the 3rd act (as specified in the stage directions, thank you). That is my favorite, FAVORITE moment in the play--maybe my favorite moment in all of theater--and the fact that the director left it out ruined the whole production for me. You can see it affected me, since I'm still mad about it a year later. Bah.(less)
Five stars for the writing + three stars because I hate all the characters = four stars as the average
I recognized a lot of quotes attributed to Wilde...moreFive stars for the writing + three stars because I hate all the characters = four stars as the average
I recognized a lot of quotes attributed to Wilde as I read this book; I hadn't known their origin or context, but it was good to run into familiar quips.
Dorian Gray is a jerkface; he is first consumed with vanity and next consumed with corruption (his own as well as others'). At no time does he take responsibility for his actions, and why should he? Since there are no physical signs of his misbehavior, it's easy to pretend it never happened. Even as he contemplates the lives that he ruined and/or ended, he never thinks, "Ooh, my bad." Instead, he blames the victim, which is so attractive, isn't it?
Sir Henry, also, is quite the douche, and his influence on Dorian is large and far-reaching. What happened to him to make him into such a cynic? There's mention of a book, but its title isn't given. Probably Wilde's audience would have known what it was. It had to have been some sort of philosophical discourse, something about how men aren't truly what they seem, because Dorian Gray sure took it to heart, even more than Sir Henry did. Did Sir Henry ever look at Dorian and think, "I created a monster?" Did he view him with pride or regret? Hmmm.
I wondered, as I read, if I would have the same reaction. Would I, if given the opportunity, use the veneer of perfection to hide my own evil? Or would I attempt to rein in my baser nature, in hopes that my physical appearance would match my soul's appearance?
Sadly, I would probably become a villain too. I'm not proud of myself.(less)
Usually my theater class reads Oedipus, but I was tired of that, so I chose Antigone for our Greek unit.
It's not that I don't like Antigone, but more...moreUsually my theater class reads Oedipus, but I was tired of that, so I chose Antigone for our Greek unit.
It's not that I don't like Antigone, but more that I didn't really like anyone in this play. Maybe if I read it a million times? Because Oedipus, for all his ego, was still likeable (at least to me).
I thought Creon had a completely different temperament in this play than he did in Oedipus Rex, and I thought Antigone had a stick up her ass. Creon's son, ol' What's-his-face, was pretty cool, I guess.
Once again, I'm reminded that I respond far more to characterization than I do to plot or language.
Fall 2012: My class read this with Oedipus this year, instead of by itself, and I think that made a difference. For whatever reason, the stars have aligned so that I have a bunch of history and military nerds in my class, so the discussions were amazing and thoughtful and full of allusions and political theory.
My god. It changed my whole opinion of the play. I mean, I'm still not in love with it, but at least I don't hate it. That's a pretty big step. (less)
On the one hand, I don't like the play because of its unrelenting pile-up of crap: here's something bad, then here's some more, then h...moreI don't like it.
On the one hand, I don't like the play because of its unrelenting pile-up of crap: here's something bad, then here's some more, then here's some more, oh yeah try some more, we're not done yet, have some more. Good grief, Charlie Brown.*
On the other hand, the story's realistic in that redemption doesn't necessarily mean a happy ending. I GET that; I even LIKE it. I just don't WANT it, because I'd gotten so beaten down by the aforementioned crap pile that I needed something--ONE GOOD THING--to happen, but it didn't. There's not really even the hope of a better tomorrow (to get all cliche and folk singer-y on you). Nope. Tomorrow will probably suck too.
As almost always happens, the villains are more interesting than the heroes. This might be because the heroes are few in this play, but it could also be because they are bland. Being good is boring, you guys.
Even Cordelia, the fulcrum on which this whole thing spins, or balances, or--whatever, she's the catalyst for the action, and I am bad at metaphors--even Cordelia is so boring she only shows up in two scenes. And she is capital letter B-O-O-O-O-R-I-N-G both times. I understand that I'm supposed to root for her, but it's difficult, because she's so duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuull.
Generally, when I don't like the characters in a story, I don't like the story as a whole. I'm conflicted, though, because I love Shakespeare more than any other dead person, and it feels disloyal to criticize, especially because there are some people who think King Lear is his tragic masterpiece.
So I'm opting out of the star rating, giving credit for the writing (because my strong reaction just proves that this is some potent stuff), and staying mad for the rest of the day, so there.