Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Men of Shakespeare

I wrote about Shakespeare a while back, on a different blog.  In case you didn't know, he and I are sort of involved, as much as a 21st century woman and a dead 16th century playwright can be.  I've read all of his plays (even the bad ones) and read most of his sonnets.  I've studied and examined and played out his life and his works, until I know them back and forth.  I swallow up performances of his plays, seeing every one I can, including David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado About Nothing, easily my favorite play, or at least in the top two.  I watched that one tonight, and it struck me what a putz Claudio is.  I mean really. If you don't know the play, basically Claudio falls in love with a girl, proposes to her, is scheduled to marry her in two days, then the day before the wedding, he listens to the newly embraced bastard brother of the prince (who has in the past not proved to be an untrustworthy knave) and thinks he sees his love consorting with another man.  Of course it's not his love, it's her servant, and the man is under the bastard's command.  Instead of asking around, or thinking, "hey this guy might not be above par, I should really get a secondary source here", he believes it and slanders Hero (his love).  What a putz!  Then I started thinking about it.  A lot of the men who are the "main characters" (Romeo, Claudio, Ferdinand, and if I remember correctly Orlando) are pretty wimpy characters who moan and groan an awful lot, and who seem to go along with the first thing that happens without checking up.  Give me a Benedick, or a Mercutio who at least have a bit of jest while they're figuring out their issues.  But it begs the question, why did Shakespeare, a brilliant writer who made up words and phrases still used today, decide that wimpy men were the way to go?  My thought is that he knew that his female characters could carry it.  Granted, in his time, the female characters were played by men, but still.  It's interesting to think about the nuances behind the writing, and really dig down deep into what could be the meaning behind different characters and their actions.  Obviously we don't know, and who knows?  Will could be looking down and going "You stupid ass, it was merely to propel the story! There wouldn't be any climax if he actually thought about what was going on before he acted on it!"  The world may never know.

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