Saturday, December 22, 2012

Courtly Love

So, you think your new romance novel is the greatest love story of all time? I'd have to disagree with you there.I can assure you the world of literature holds more for you than a vapid love story.

Courtly love was a greatly explored topic of medieval Europe, in which a man would pine over a woman for his entire existence, hardly speaking to each other, if the woman even recognized the man at all. The woman was seen as an unearthly being, nothing even comparing to a human form.

Dante and Beatrice (in the yellow).

Dante was a great proponent of this movement. La Vita Nuova centers entirely around Beatrice, the woman whom Dante truly spent is entire life writing and living for. The short book contains forty-two chapters, and was abruptly left unfinished when Beatrice died. Dante discusses their first meeting as children, and it culminates in the grief of her death. Dante sets out to write more of Beatrice than any woman in history.

Is it strange that a man can live his entire life lusting over a woman that he hardly speaks to? I have truly been in debates about this, and as a result formed the Dante Appreciate Club (haters gonna hate). Is Dante a stalker, insane, or just plain wrong?

Well, a much more well known story of courtly love would be that of Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet experienced very much the same instant love, and Juliet even compares Romeo to the heavens in Act 2, Scene 2:

Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die, 
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine 
That all the world will be in love with night 

However, Romeo and Juliet do not pine over each other for the entirety of their lives. They give in. They marry secretly, they rush their passions and defy the wishes of their parents. Is it a coincidence, then, that they both die in the end?

Courtly love is an interesting approach to the chivalry of love in the medieval times. It may seem unusual at first, but what it holds is the most heightened devotion and love in all of literature.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The ULTIMATE Hamlet Playlist (Britney Spears Style)

Because there is a gap in the market for Britney Spears playlists to Shakespeare's plays. 

Hamlet Comes Home: The First Three Seconds of Gimmie More

Hamlet Sees a Ghost: Crazy

Should I really kill the King of Denmark?: I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman

Hamlet tells Ophelia to Join the Nunnery: Womanizer

Hamlet Kills his Girlfriend's Father Thinking he was the King of Denmark: (You Wanna) Piece of Me

Hamlet Jumps into Ophelia's Grave: Hit Me Baby One More Time

Laertes Plans to Kill Claudius (or anyone, really. He's very easily persuaded.): Radar

Laertes Poisons his Sword: Toxic

Hamlet Kills Laertes and Claudius: Oops, I Did it Again    (see Hamlet Kill's Girlfriend's Father...)

Hamlet in Relation to Shakespeare in all of his Protagonists in his Tragic Plays: I'm A Slave 4 U

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I could watch this all day, vote John Green for president of the world.

"I wandered lonely as a cloud" by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed---and gazed---but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

The story being told in Wordsworth's poem "I wandered lonely as a cloud" belongs to the narrator and his experience walking beside a lake. He talks about how the water is beautiful, yet the bright yellow, dancing daffodils outshine all of the scenery combined, as if the daffodils are the sun and everything surrounding it is just the black abyss of space.

Wordsworth wrote in a time where nature was the paramount topic for writing, along with love and time. He compares himself to the cloud in the first line, yet later discusses the human qualities of the daffodils, "tossing their heads in a sprightly dance" and "dancing in the breeze".  Here, the unity between man and nature is expressed, so much so that the human and nature can be interchanged between one another. The poet remarks that his "heart with pleasure fills/and dances with the daffodils," and the two dance together as one being.

The picturesque nature scene being described is what the poet reflects on in his "vacant or pensive mood". He says that just one memory of the day will let his heart fly and truly "dance(s) with the daffodils." He did not know how lucky he was and how overjoyed it made him at the time, but he understands, now, every time he remembers the scene.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hamlet the Goldfish

Me: If I had a goldfish, I would name it Ophelia. And then another one named Hamlet.

Emily: But goldfish die so easily!

Me: Well, so do they.

I didn't mean to. It slipped out.

In other news, I'm enjoying Shakespeare, as always.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hamlet and Britney Spears

During English class today, we were discussing Hamlet's sense of ownership for his actions, in relation to his hesitation to kill Claudius. Someone suggested that this was because Hamlet, only twenty years old, does not want to disrespect an elder like this, because he was not a man yet, and he never has had to prove himself to be one. He was not a boy, though not yet a man. Just like Britney Spears. So, here is the official song for Hamlet.