Apr 04, 11
Read in March, 2011
“Serve God, love me, and mend.”
Just finished Much Ado About Nothing here in Maruata, Mexico. So wonderfully refreshing to sit down with my main man William Shakespeare again, even if this play is obviously not his best. There were many product of his time themes that served as the foundation for the play, but there were some interesting topics which were raised as well. Also, crickey, I have to ask what the deal is with masks back then? They must have been hilarious and made you totally incognito, for they make an appearance here. I guess they just loved masks back then, kinda like Mexicans love balloons.
I could ramble on about the misogyny in the play or the presentation of women as weak, feeble, emotionally driven beings in an austere tone so you would know how upset I was. I could chuckle at the love at first sight predictability of the plot, or other short comings of this play, but I would prefer to focus on its strengths. One of the things I found most impressive about the play was its perspective into emotional suffering.
In this play, as in life, characters suffer, and their suffering is unique to themselves. No one outside of them can understand their suffering. Granted they will try to provide words of encouragement or intellectual remedies to pain but they do not feel the burn of suffering and therefore their words ring hollow. Important insight, poetically expressed in Shakespearian splendor.
Another interesting thing I`m starting to notice in his plays are gender roles and the characters who challenge them. Strong female characters tend to be the ones who lament outloud their subservience. The darlings rarely do, but the rebels often rightly point out their frustration with their place. This vocalization of inequality must have been pretty important, especially coming from strong female characters. Let me put it this way – challenging social conventions would mean less if they were coming from characters who you are meant to laugh at. By making his strongest female characters the ones who challenge subservience I think Shakespeare legitimizes their complaints and makes the audience think about it.
Finally, the perspective taken on law and order is rather interesting. I bet if I could have a beer with Will and I asked him what he thought of police he would say they are necessary for maintaining peace but you can basically laugh at them, don`t take them too seriously. The police in this play are bumbling idiots, but they end up catching the bad guy anyway. I think he´s saying, look, the police exist, we need them so don´t be mad, they´re ok, just chill. Something like that.
There`s a skirmish of wit between them. 1.1.50
Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my simple judgment? Or would you have me speak after my custom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex? 1.1.243
He that hath a beard is more than a youth; and he that hath no beard is less than a man; and he that is more than a youth is not for me; and he that is less than a man, I am not for him. 2.1.57
Friendship is constant in all other things
Save in the office and affairs of love.
Therefore all hearts in love use their own tongues;
Let every eye negotiate for itself,
And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch,
Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.
This is an accident of hourly proof,
Which I mistrusted not. 2.1.320
I may chance have some odd quirks and remnants of wit broken on me, because I have railed so long against marriage; but doth not the appetite alter? 2.3.300
Everyone can master a grief, but he that has it. 3.2.24
O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the market place. 4.1.58
Men can counsel and seek comfort to that grief which they themselves not feel. 5.1.12
I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in they eyes. 5.2.312