Sunday, 30 March 2014

THE TEMPEST

Risultati immagini per the tempest shakespeare

The Tempest is generally regarded as Shakespeare’s last play, first performed in 1611 for King James I and again for the marriage festivities of Elizabeth, the King’s daughter, to Frederick, the Elector Palatine. 
Scholars attribute the immediate source of the play to the 1609 shipwreck of an English ship in Bermuda and travellers’ reports about the island and the tribulation of the mariners. The period in which it was written, the 17th  century age of exploration, the circumstances of its performance at court, and the context of the playwright’s writing career suggest some of its rich themes and ambiguities.
The play can be read as Shakespeare’s commentary on European exploration of new lands. Prospero lands on an island with a native inhabitant, Caliban, a being he considers savage and uncivilized. He teaches this “native” his language and customs, but this nurturing does not change the creature’s nature, at least from Prospero’s point of view. But Prospero does not drive Caliban away, rather he enslaves him, forcing him to do work he considers beneath himself and his noble daughter. As modern readers, sensitive to the legacy of colonialism, we need to ask if Shakespeare sees this as the right order:  What are his views of imperialism and colonialism? What are our 20th  century reactions to the depiction of the relationship between the master and slave, shown in this play?
The theme of Utopianism is linked to the explorations of new lands. Europeans were intrigued with the possibilities presented for new beginnings in these “new” lands. Was it possible to create an ideal state when given a chance to begin anew? Could humans hope to recreate a “golden age,” in places not yet subject to the ills of European social order? Could there be different forms of government? Would humans change if given a second chance in an earthly Paradise?
The play emphasizes dramatic effects. Because it was performed at court, there is a lot of stage business: music, dance, masque-like shows. The role of the artist is explored through Prospero’s use of his magic, and parallels can be drawn to Shakespeare’s own sense of his artistry.
Finally, knowing that this is Shakespeare’s last play, it is intriguing to explore autobiographical connections. Does he see himself in Prospero? Does he feel somehow  isolated, in need of reconciliation? How is this play a culmination of other themes he has explored? 
Here  you can find the full text of the play.  




Thursday, 27 March 2014

TWELFTH NIGHT


Shakespeare wrote Twelfth Night between 1599 and late 1601. It was originally published in the First Folio  in 1623.
Twelfth Night is the night of Epiphany, 6 January, or, the twelfth night after Christmas. This holiday signalled the end of Christmas merry-making and, more importantly, commemorated the Magi. It is likely that Shakespeare wrote the play to celebrate this occasion and thus gave it this specific title.
Here  you can find the full text of the play.  

Various critics divide Twelfth Night into various types of plots and/or subplots.  Regardless of the exact number of plots and subplots, however, the main thing is that they are all woven together with immense skill to ultimately compose a single pattern or tapestry. There is, first, the group centering around the ducal nobility of Illyria: this group consists of Duke Orsino and his attendants, who open the play, and the Countess Olivia, who is the main topic of discussion of the opening scene. Then there is the group of shipwrecked personages centering on Viola and Sebastian, the twins, and their friends, Viola's sea captain who fades from the action, and, more important, Antonio, who plays a significant role later in the comedy. Both Viola and Sebastian are, of course, later absorbed into the nobility of Illyria. Then there is the merry group of pranksters, gullers, and tricksters, led by Sir Toby Belch and Maria; this group also includes Sir Andrew Aguecheek (who is included because his income supports the other members of this group), Fabian, and Feste, the Clown. Through Feste, all of the groups are connected by his free movement from one group to another as he is equally at home singing for Duke Orsino, or proving Lady Olivia to be a fool for so excessively mourning for her brother, or in planning a trick with Sir Toby. Then outside of all of these groups stands Malvolio, Lady Olivia's puritanical steward. His colossal vanity and egotism get between him and everything that he sees and does. Thus, he has already gotten on the wrong side of Maria, Feste, and Sir Toby, and the plot involving their determination to take their revenge upon him provides the best humor of the play.
Malvolio is socially and sexually ambitious; Maria realizes this and writes a letter purporting to come from the Countess Olivia, making Malvolio believe that his lady is in love with him and wishes to marry him; the letter also asks him to be firm and obstinate with her uncle, Sir Toby, to be arrogant to the other servants, and to dress in yellow stockings and go cross-gartered, and to smile all the time when he is near her. Malvolio finds the letter on the garden path and falls for the trick as he is watched gleefully by the group led by Maria and Sir Toby.
Viola disguises herself as a boy in order to protect herself and to obtain employment by Duke Orsino and quickly finds her way (as Cesario, the youth) into his favor; she is then sent to woo the Countess Olivia, much against Viola's will, for she has fallen in love with Count Orsino herself. Countess Olivia, who cannot love Duke Orsino, falls immediately in love with the messenger, Cesario, thus creating an amusing triangle which produces several complications. The arrival of Viola's twin brother, Sebastian (previously presumed drowned), sorts everything out matrimonially. Sebastian marries Olivia, Orsino marries Viola, and Sir Toby marries Maria for having played such an excellent trick on Malvolio.
This is one of Shakespeare's most popular, lightest, and most musical of all his comedies, and its staging continues to delight audiences all over the world.


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Monday, 17 March 2014

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!





Click here to discover some more surprising facts about Ireland's patron saint. 



Saturday, 8 March 2014

HAPPY WOMEN'S DAY!


To celebrate International Women’s Day, I suggest reading  this article about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban on 9 October 2012 and snatched from death miraculously. 
Malala, who is the outspoken daughter of a devoted schoolmaster who encouraged her love of learning, defied the Taliban’s obscurantist resolve to keep girls in the dark and raised her voice in defence of their education in a country where the illiteracy rate for women is 60 %.
When she was only 11, she started giving  inspiring public speeches; she also began writing a blog for the BBC under a pseudonym, in which she wrote about maltreatment and restrictions imposed by the Taliban and the horrible limitations of life under their reign of terror. 


Thursday, 6 March 2014

HAPPY WORLD BOOK DAY!



World Book Day is a celebration of writers, illustrators, books and, what’s more, it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO  and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.
Here you can read an article about the importance of reading novels. Click here to read Matilda, a funny children's book, written by by Roald Dahl, the most successful children’s writer in the English language. Enjoy! 




Tuesday, 4 March 2014

SHROVE TUESDAY


According to Christian tradition, Shrove Tuesday is the last day before the fasting period of  Lent. It is also known as Pancake Tuesday or Pancake Day.
Here you can read about this moveable feast which  is determined by Easter.


Sunday, 2 March 2014

Saturday, 1 March 2014

MARCH



Dear March - Come in

Dear March - Come in -    
How glad I am -
I hoped for you before -
Put down your Hat -           
You must have walked -
How out of Breath you are -             
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest -
Did you leave Nature well -              
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me -
I have so much to tell -

I got your Letter, and the Birds -     
The Maples never knew that you were coming -
I declare - how Red their Faces grew -                  
But March, forgive me -    
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue -    
There was no Purple suitable -         
You took it all with you -            
 
Who knocks? That April -
Lock the Door -
I will not be pursued -
He stayed away a Year to call           
When I am occupied -               
But trifles look so trivial     
As soon as you have come
              
That blame is just as dear as Praise
And Praise as mere as Blame.

Emily Dickinson