Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's best known tragedies. It is packed with malicious acts, death, and power struggle, and in the end those who had been seen as good are those who lose their lives because of their evil-doing. One interesting aspect of this play was gender roles, because Lady Macbeth, rather than being the meek, delicate woman she was expected to be, was ruthless and the dominant figure of the scheming of the play. A passage from the play that captures this is the following:

O, never
Shall sun that morrow see!
Your face, my thane, is as a book where men
May read strange matters. To beguile the time,
Look like the time. Bear welcome in your eye,
Your hand, your tongue. Look like th' innocent
But be the serpent under 't. He that's coming
Must be provided for; and you shall put
This night's great business into my dispatch,
Which shall to all our nights and days to come
Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom.

We will speak further.

Only look up clear.
To alter favor ever is to fear.
Leave all the rest to me.

This passage shows Lady Macbeth taking the reins from her husband and essentially assuming what should have been his role. She immerses herself in his scheme to become king, and, doubting Macbeth's strength and dedication, she names herself the orchestrator of the entire operation. In making herself the controller of the murders of the king and his escort, as well as the person who cleaned up the mess afterwards, she establishes herself as the ruthless killer that one would have assumed her husband would be. Macbeth, a valiant killer on the battlefield, had the good in his heart that one would have expected, stereotypically, from a woman, and because of his inhibitions Lady Macbeth took over as the driving force of her husband's plan. It is interesting how she orders her husband around, asks him to be the distracting entertainer, all while she prepares for the murdering of the two men. The entire gender role reversal is interesting and unexpected, and with Lady Macbeth ending with "Leave all the rest to me" she solidifies the fact that she is the leader of the relationship.

Macbeth is a tragedy, not only because of all the death that occurs, but because of who it is that dies. Shakespeare takes two people, who prior to the play had been good, respectful people, happy with their status, and turns them into killers. It is tragic that Macbeth, a war hero, turns from his heroics and goodness of heart to an overwhelming desire for power. This play showed the weakness of man, and how giving in to temptations would always backfire in the end. It was as though Macbeth, by resorting to manipulation and murder to climb his way to kingdom, had sentenced himself to death. Once his wife joined him and took over for him in his journey for authority, she as well was doomed to die. The tragedy of this story is inevitable once the three witches reveal their prophesy for Macbeth, and the entirety of the play is watching Macbeth's downward plummet, a very difficult thing to witness. Shakespeare made this play tragic through the gradual decline into evil of his characters, as well as the deaths of the many characters of the play.

As a whole, I did not really enjoy Macbeth. I found the gender roles fascinating, the diction was superb, yet I could not get drawn into the entirety of the play. I will always remember the scene with Lady Macbeth washing her hands in her sleep, and the ghost scene of the play, but I did not find myself as captivated with this play as I had been with others. I had difficulty becoming an active reader of this play, but perhaps that was my problem: I may have appreciated the play more had it been acted out in front of me. I recognize its strengths, I really liked Shakespeare's character development, and still I could not get into the play. One day, at another time, this play is going to be reread by me, and I am going to see if maybe I just read too much Shakespeare in one sitting. Or hopefully I will have the opportunity to see it acted out, but at this point in time, Macbeth is not my favorite Shakespearean play.


Richard III

Shakespeare, the author of some of the most widely known works in modern literature, wrote his plays in such a way that they were divided into three categories. There is history, tragedy, and comedy. An example of a historical work by Shakespeare is Richard III, a story of a man who deceives and murders his family in order to rise to the throne.

One passage from Shakespeare's Richard III that I found particularly interesting was the following:

Welcome, dear cousin, my thoughts' sovereign
The weary way hath made you melancholy.

No, uncle; but our crosses on the way
Have made it tedious, wearisome, and heavy
I want more uncles here to welcome me.

Sweet prince, the untainted virtue of your years
Hath not yet dived into the world's deceit
Nor more can you distinguish of a man
Than of his outward show; which, God he knows,
Seldom or never jumpeth with the heart.
Those uncles which you want were dangerous;
Your grace attended to their sugar'd words,
But look'd not on the poison of their hearts :
God keep you from them, and from such false friends!

God keep me from false friends! but they were none.

This passage, although seemingly harmless and normal from the Prince's point of view, is an ironic and hateful conversation in the reader's perspective. When Richard speaks of deceit and attempts to decipher who a man is on the inside, he is, in reality, speaking of himself, and his ulterior motives. It is horrifying as the reader sits and pictures the scene, as Richard takes on the persona of a harmless, deformed uncle, when we know what really is on the inside of the man. When he speaks of outward appearances being deceiving, he is speaking directly about himself, and yet turning his nephew away from thinking him to be a threat. The irony of this passage, as well as the play on words that Richard utilizes to convince Edward that he is the safe uncle, create the type of scene that, even just being read, makes the reader stir with a sense of foreboding, yelling at their book as they realize what is going to happen. I think it is the manipulation and cruelty that Richard demonstrates throughout the play that makes this passage more effective, because the audience can only sit in anticipation, predicting the main character's next move.

This play, aside from its dialogue, also had some historical value. Shakespeare, in a combination of tyranny and history, took the story of Richard III and made it into a little chunk of English history. I think that, although history can be boring at times, Shakespeare found a way in which it could appeal to his audiences. The intertwining of tragedy and history, was, in my opinion, an archetype of typical royal happenings. The fight for power, the desire for status, the ruthlessness to reach those goals, it all works not only in the play, but in reality. Even today, there are still constant power struggles not only amongst governmental figures, but also average people. Although history was a large part of the play, Shakespeare was able to create an interesting plot that was related to everyday life.

Richard III, in my opinion, had its greatest strength in its language. Shakespeare knew what to write in order to make the work more impacting, show Richard as the dishonest, manipulative man that he was underneath his physical guise of weakness. I loved how Shakespeare took Richard's character, and rather than keeping him in the seemingly weak state that he was physically, made Richard's character into one of extreme power. The extremes of this play were shocking, and the pure cruelty of the situations was frightening. To take a deformed man, and transform him into a deceptive, power-hungry man requires great skill, and this play showed Shakespeare's mastery of the English language just as every other one of his plays has. The play appeals to audiences, has the death, and drama, and the emotional pull that a play requires in order to be a success. The sheer number of deaths in this play is frightening, but even more frightful is how Richard succeeds with his scheming, and does become King, even if for a short while.

Taming of the Shrew

Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew is one among the many plays that Shakespeare wrote during his lifetime. What makes this play unique is how Shakespeare creates the story, using word play, puns, and some very laughable situations. One passage from this play that I found myself laughing about was the following:

Verona, for a while I take my leave,
To see my friends in Padua, but of all
My best beloved and approved friend,
Hortensio; and I trow this is his house.
Here, sirrah Grumio; knock, I say.

Knock, sir! whom should I knock? is there man has
rebused your worship?

Villain, I say, knock me here soundly.

Knock you here, sir! why, sir, what am I, sir, that
I should knock you here, sir?

Villain, I say, knock me at this gate
And rap me well, or I'll knock your knave's pate.

My master is grown quarrelsome. I should knock you first,
And then I know after who comes by the worst.

Will it not be?Faith, sirrah, an you'll not knock, I'll ring it;
I'll try how you can sol, fa, and sing it.
He wrings him by the ears

Help, masters, help! my master is mad.

Now, knock when I bid you, sirrah villain!

This scene was hilarious, not just because of what it could potentially lead to, but because of the circumstances. One missing word completely altered the meaning of what Petruchio had said, leading to a near violent situation. As horrible as that is, it has a level of humor to it that is captivating. I had to keep reading, just to see if the pair would actually come to blows or someone would come to the rescue before the fighting occurred. The situation was so believable, so ridiculous, and the way the men spoke to one another was very humorous. The threats, the insults, the fear, and the miscommunication all made this passage into the little comedic scene that it is. Situations such as this happened throughout the play, between Kate and other male characters, between servant and master, even between father and son. Despite the sections of less active dialogue, this play kept the audience paying attention with scenes such as these, that capture the true comedy of humanity.

This play was a comedy throughout, taking all the miscommunication, exaggerations, and puns made by the characters and turning them into an entertaining story. Shakespeare knew not only how to entertain his audience, but also how to make them laugh. A play based on taking a feisty young woman and "taming" her has to have some humor, otherwise the audience would be upset at seeing their own behavior portrayed. Shakespeare seemed to be making a jab at the actions of the men around him who, rather than accept a woman for who she is, found it necessary to make her into a meek, pristine housewife. Had he made that spear the main focus of the play, and not woven those comedic scenes into the work, it would have been quite difficult for him to maintain a happy and captivated audience. With his comedy Shakespeare was able to provide entertainment to the masses, and mask his actual thoughts on the situations that he was portraying.

Taming of the Shrew, as humorous as many of its sketches were, left me feeling sad. To think about how women in Shakespeare's time were treated in the manner of horses, seen as something to break into their wifely duties, made me somewhat angry. Not at Shakespeare, just at society as a whole, viewing women as objects because people were too ignorant to recognize that women had their strengths along with their weaknesses. All that was seen was weakness, strength and individuality were stolen from these women, and I just can't understand it. of course, I am from an entirely different time period, but it still bothers me. I found it interesting how Shakespeare used comedy to depict the plight of women. This play was one where I would be laughing, and suddenly realize that I was laughing at the inhumanity of man as they dehumanized women. I definitely felt like I was being toyed with in those situations, being made to laugh, then realizing the hypocrisy of my laughter. Overall, I enjoyed the play, but some aspects of it left me feeling bothered.


A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Identity and individuality are a major theme of James Joyce's novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, in which Stephen Dedalus, the main character, takes us through his life as he matures, trying to find himself. I think that throughout the novel, Stephen could never quite find that group of people that he completely fit into and could enjoy being in company with. This separation from others is what fueled his growth into the independent young man that he eventually allowed himself to become. In the beginning, his goal seemed to be to fit in in any way possible, and the please and be accepted by as many people as he could possibly find. It was this striving for excellence, and the feeling of emptiness even when he had achieved that excellence that nurtured his passion for language, and his development into a poetic and philosophical man. He reminisced of the days of old, when Parnell had kept Ireland's old ways alive and well, but he also knew that he could not change the past, and came to realize that although he couldn't change the past, perhaps he could affect the future. I think the growth of Stephen is an integral part of this novel, and it allows the reader to examine their own lives as they read it, and decide what they truly desire out of life.

My favorite quote from this novel is: "The snares of the world were its ways of sin. He would fail. He had not yet fallen but he would fall silently, in an instant. Not to fall was too hard, too hard: and he felt the silent lapse of his soul, as it would be at some instant to come, falling, falling, but not yet fallen, still unfallen but about to fall"(175 Joyce). This excerpt struck me with its poetic, repetitive nature, and its meaning. The repetition of fall made it clear that Stephen could not figure out what was going to happen to him eventually, but he knew that something was coming. The fall that Stephen is considering is one from his current status in the novel to a level that many would probably disprove of because of what it would no longer involve. At the point when this is said in the novel, Stephen is considering becoming a priest, but he suddenly realizes that it is not his heart that is keeping it on that path, it his his fear and his familial expectations of him that are making him feel obligated to the Church. His fall is eventually one from a very highly religious state, to one of searching and self-analysis, that, as difficult as it was for him to do, is leading him to a better place in life. He knew that staying as a priest would make him dissatisfied with many things in life, and Stephen knew it was necessary for him to find out what he needed for himself. I think that is why this quote appealed to me so much, because it is about doing what you feel is right for your life, despite the potential pain and discomfort it may cause at first. Knowledge of self is more important than a false serenity in a state of illusion about who you are.

I have found that in this class, the overwhelming trend with our latest novels has been that they require a deeper analysis than some, and cannot be fully appreciated until they have been completed and left to simmer in your mind for awhile. I really enjoyed this book because it had a very obvious growth of the main character's identity, and it had a philosophical basis to it that many books do not. It was reminiscent and revolutionary and confused and amazingly insightful all at once, and the stream of consciousness of the writer, as well as his increasingly poetic tendencies throughout the novel made it all the more enjoyable.

278. The Fly by Karl Shapiro

This poem is told from the perspective of the disgusted and irritated human, discussing the everyday activities of the fly, and the eventual death of the fly at the hands of the speaker. This perspective, although not from the point of view of the fly, offers a fairly apt idea of what flies do in their usually quite short lifetimes. It is through this point of view that the poet allows his readers to further connect with what he is saying, because Shapiro is aware that all people have had at least one less-than-enjoyable encounter with this gross flying insect. He appeals to the readers' memories in order to create a more interesting, impacting poem, and has a loathing, disgusted tone that also connects with the reader. Along with his choice perspective, Shapiro utilizes a creative rhyme scheme, with six, eight-line stanzas, each of which ends in an A-B-B-A pattern. it is the first and third lines that are interesting, because they do not have any rhyme connection, while the second and fourth lines do, however, the non-rhyming lines have a metric quality, with the same number of syllables in each line, which in turn forms a sense of rhythm. Although the first half of the stanza does not follow a rhyme scheme as does the second half, Shapiro successfully creates a rhythm that is reminiscent of a fly coming closer and then leaving and then returning again with the back and forth nature of the rhyme and meter of the poem.

The literary devices that Shapiro uses in this poem are that of simile, and his diction. The similes that Shapiro employ add to the general sense of disgust in regards to the fly, for example, in line 16 the speaker says "And inlay maggots like a jewel," to describe how the flies utilize the dead as their personal breeding ground. He also compares the fly's noise to "Sounding your buzzer like an urchin toy"(line 12), which gives the reader a sense of how, just as a child's toy, the fly is extremely irritating. Then Shapiro utilizes similes to describe the destruction of the fly by the speaker: "Knock your head sideways like a drunkard's hat,/Pin your wings under like a crows"(Line 37-38), which procures an image of a fly with a crooked head and useless wings. Shapiro's word choice is the main strength of the poem, because without many of the adjectives "The Fly" would not have the same affect. The first line of the poem "O hideous little bat, the size of snot" is an immediate clue that this poem is not a friendly portrayal of the fly, and then he emphasizes the disgusting character of the fly with his other word choices. From lines 29 to 32 it is written: "You glue yourself to death. Where you are stuck/ You struggle hideously and beg,/ You amputate your leg/ Imbedded in the amber muck." The word hideous is repeated , and the struggle of a fly dying in a sticky trap is given an almost war-like tone, showing the fly's slow trek toward death with the words struggle, beg, amputate, amber, and muck.

As gruesome as this poem was, I liked how it gave such a disgusting little creature a part in a poetic thought. It made the various ways that the flies died, and what happens to the flies after death seem extremely repulsive. The last lines say: "I sweep. One gyrates like a top and falls/And stunned, stone blind, and deaf/Buzzes its frightful F/ And dies between three cannibals." This is a chilling view of how the fly, once it has been killed, is simply devoured by its fellow insects, who face the same fate as it met. The fly was killed by horses, killed by men, killed by wives and children, killed by its own fellow insects. The poem has a transition point to arrive at these various forms of death, where the first two stanzas of the poem are about the life of the fly, and the final six stanzas are about the fly being killed, which I found interesting because it shows that more happens to kill the fly than to keep it away. It is made out to be the hated insect of the living population, a fascinating perspective that allows for the reader to see just how the annoying little bane of their summer is annihilated.

265. Getting Through by Deborah Pope

The perspective in this poem is from the point of view of a person who is feeling hopelessly in love with someone who they cannot tell that they are in love with. It is a poem of sadness and frustration, as the speaker tries to describe how their love is built up within them, dying to get out, but they know that it will fall upon deaf ears. The poem has no rhyme scheme, and is essentially one very lengthy stanza, without a parallel structure and no breaks in the stream of words that the speaker lets out. Despite its lack of rhyme, and its lack of separation, this poem is rhythmic and allows the reader to experience the stream of consciousness that the speaker is portraying. It is effective, although it is not particularly long, in creating a sense of silent desperation as the reader experiences, through words, the pain of the speaker.

The literary devices that the poet utilizes are imagery and diction, which contribute to the overall meaning and tone of the poem. In terms of imagery, Pope appeals not only to visual images, but also to that of auditory, because sounds play an important part in this poem. The first instance of imagery is the first three lines of the poem: "Like a car stuck in gear,/ A chicken too stupid to tell/its head is gone." These images are of movement and of a feeling of ridiculousness, seeing as a car stuck in gear is going to move unless the brake is pressed, and a chicken with its head cut off continues to run in circles despite its lack of a head. This sense of movement contributes to the speaker's desire to say more, but feeling stuck and ridiculous whenever they try to say anything. Some of the auditory images of this poem include: "...sound ratcheting on/long after the film/ has jumped the reel" and "...a phone ringing and ringing." These add to the never ending, urgent tone of the poem, and reflect how the speaker knows that they have to say something, but their thoughts are not coming out the way that they would like them to. Some of the word choices that I found particularly important were "blundering,""spilling," and "hurtling," which make the poem seem a little more chaotic, and add to the feeling of fright that the speaker seems to have. The final piece of imagery that Pope utilizes is the comparison of her words to a train that is going to a decrepit "boarded-up station,/closed for years" which helps to describe the fear the speaker has about professing their feelings.

I liked this poem because, as sure as I am that I do not entirely understand what Deborah Pope is saying, I connected to the scattered, fearful urgency of the speaker. It seemed like a situation that anyone has experienced in their life, where they want to tell someone how they really feel about them, but they convince themselves that it is not worth telling the person because they won't care anyway. I felt as though the poet was trying to show how, as difficult and stressing as being in love with someone is, if you never say it you are wasting a beautiful moment by worrying about it so intensely.

235. The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy

This poem has a speaker who is wandering aimlessly through a barren winter landscape, describing the sheer desolation of the season. With this perspective Hardy allows for a human narration on the sad natural state of the winter season. in addition to the human aspect of this poem to contribute to its melancholic tone, Hardy uses an ABABCDCD rhyme scheme that creates a rhythm for the speaker's words. He also implements the technique of making the lines of the poem follow an eight syllable-six syllable scheme that makes the poem more melodic than it would be with merely rhyming end words. With the parallel syllabic structure of the poem, the connection to a bird's song is strengthened, and it contributes further to the sense of bleakness in the poem.

The main literary devices that Thomas Hardy uses in this poem are personification and language choice. This poem personifies winter, and offers the thrush a few human aspects as well. To emphasize the personification of winter and its various components, Hardy capitalizes the first letter of Frost, Winter, Century, and Hope to heighten their human relation by making them out to be actual names. He describes Frost as "specter-gray" which, as well as personifying, is a good choice of words. Winter is made out to have "dregs" and "The land's sharp features seemed to be/ The Century's corpse outleant"(Line 9-10), and the century's grave is a "cloudy canopy," "the wind his death-lament." These descriptions, as well as choices of words, all contribute to the overall sense of sad and grayness of the poem. The change in the poem occurs when the thrush begins to sing, and Hardy writes "An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,/In blast beruffled plume,/ Had chosen thus to fling his soul/ Upon the growing gloom"(Line 21-24). This flinging of the soul is another excellent choice of diction because it is showing how the bird is putting his entire being into his joyful song, to balance out the bleak season.

I liked this poem a lot because of its natural, melancholic depiction of winter, as well as the little bit of "Hope" that is seen at the end of the poem. The piece captures the cold bleak grayness that winter seems to always have, and with the human perspective shows how nature sometimes knows best. The bird is a sign to the man that as miserable as the winter is, it will one day be over, and the warmth and soft breezes of spring will be upon them. I found that although the poem was generally sad in tone, the final two stanzas showed that faith had to put into nature that one day things would be happy and comfortable for all again.