Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Plot By Any Other Name

On Shakespeare's 452nd Birthday
and the 400th Anniversary of his Death
Okay, so how about a new, improved ending?
Courtesy of JibJab ~ Thanks Gerry!

I had to smile when my brother Bruce posted the above synopsis of Romeo and Juliet and asked me how our beloved highschool English teacher would have responded had we used it as an answer in her Shakespeare class?

I can only guess that she would have acknowledged the truth of it and then tell us to focus instead on the beauty of the Elizabethan language, the poetry, the imagery employed by Shakespeare as the story unfolds:
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet
.” (II, ii)

"It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale. Look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east.
Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.
I must be gone and live, or stay and die."
(III, v)

"A greater power than we can contradict
Hath thwarted our intents."
(V, iii)

William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)
As post - Shakespearean dramatist John Dryden (1631 - 1700) points out in "An Essay of Dramatick Poesy," it is often something other than plot that captivates the audience:
" . . . it was already known to all the audience: and the people so soon as ever they heard the name of Oedipus, knew as well as the poet, that he had kill'd his father by a mistake, and committed incest with his mother, before the play; that they were now to hear of a great plague, an oracle, and the ghost of Laius: so that they sat with a yawning kind of expectation, till he was to come with his eyes pulled out, and speak a hundred or two of verses in a tragic tone, in complaint of his misfortunes."
You've got to love that phrase "a yawning kind of expectation," don't you?!

Similar questions have been asked about the plot of Back to the Future and answered hilariously by John Mulaney. For example, how did "Marty McFly, an offbeat but otherwise popular teenager, and Doc, a 60-something failed scientist with a sketchy reputation around town" become best friends? Sure, just like Romeo and Juliet, this movie has plenty of inconsistencies to go around -- but we like it anyway!

Previously on Shakespeare's Birthday,
or thereabouts:
23 April 2010
18 May 2011
23 April 2012
23 April 2013
25 April 2014
29 April 2015

Also
I Changed My Mind
A Rose Can Only Smell So Sweet
Wise Fool
Scary Hair

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