Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare discusses the idea of unconditional love, and how if love is not unconditional, then it is not love at all. This idea can be seen in Hamlet through Hamlet’s love for his father. His love was unconditional because he sought revenge for his father’s death, even though it could cause Hamlet to be jailed or killed himself. Gertrude’s love for King Hamlet is not unconditional because she quickly switched to Claudius. Also, Sonnet 1 discusses the desire for beauty to never die. Hamlet expresses this idea through his interaction with Ophelia because he wants her to go to a nunnery to preserve her beauty/innocence. The attitude in Sonnet 1 is disappointed, which is similar to in Hamlet because Hamlet is often critical of Ophelia at the same time as loving her. He’s disappointed in her loss of innocence.
Shakespeare uses the use of women in Hamlet to make a point about how women are subordinate to men. For example, Ophelia commits suicide, while Hamlet considers it but chooses not to. Therefore, Ophelia is seen in a more negative light than Hamlet because she does not keep persevering. Gertrude also chooses to drink the poison, even of she doesn’t know it’s poison. If she doesn’t know it’s poison, then she appears to be ignorant. If she does know, then she is again weak and a coward like Ophelia.
William Blake was born in 1757 in England. His works are usually considered to be in the Romantic Age. I think it’s interesting that he was known to be reverent of the Bible but critical of the Church of England, which I think is easily seen throughout his poetry. There are many poems in which he includes Biblical allusions yet the attitude seems to be critical or hesitiant of the Church. In 1779, Blake started attending the Royal Academy and then married Catherine Boucher in 1782. Because Catherine was iliterate, Blake taught her to read and write. He published his first set of poetry in 1783. His poetry in the middle of his career seem to be more focused towards secular ideas and movements such as the “free love” movement. However, his later works showed a rejuvenated focus on Christianity. Knowing this background, we can learn have a better understanding of what his poetry could be trying to say through the time it was written in his career.
The stage production opened up with what seemed like an endless silence. It immediately made me think that even from the very beginning, Beckett makes the audience feel the pain of waiting for something. In this case, we were stuck feeling the agony of waiting for the actors to move, speak, or interact. This sense of waiting even from the very beginning was something I did not get from reading the play…so the live version helped get that point across. However, overall, I did not like the live version because it simply drove me crazy. It was almost painful watching Estragon, Vladimir, Pozzo and Lucky interact. From reading the play, I didn’t quite understand why Estragon and Vladimir considered suicide, because to me the situation didn’t seem that bad, but after watching the stage production, I understand. Pozzo seemed even more annoying in the live play because his arrogance can across more than it did when I read it. Another thing that bothered me was the way that the characters walked in the live play. I understand that it added humor to the play but it really annoyed me for some reason. Overall, I think the live version of the play was useful in helping me grasp a better understanding of things in the written play such as the existentialist themes and agony of waiting.
I’m not an artistic person at all…ask anyone who knows me and they’ll testify to that. Therefore, art usually doesn’t stick with me. However, earlier this year someone showed me a video of the strangest performance art I’ve ever seen. It was the most absurd thing I’ve ever watched…and I’m still not quite sure what I think about it. In the performance, people are moving around with poles attached to them and in all honesty it just looks weird. Yet, here I am, months later, still pondering that video. I may not know much about art but I do know that if it leaves the viewer thinking about it for months afterwards, it’s probably worth discussing. I’ve come to appreciate it by comparing it to ballet. From experience, there is nothing more frustrating yet also wonderful than ballet. To be more specific, when you work for years and years trying to achieve perfection, you come to realize how frustrating it is to produce art through dance because not only are you focused on obtaining the best technique, but then you have to also perform it in a way that exhibits emotion and beauty. Add in the whole aspect of comparison with other dancers, bruised toes, and sore muscles and you start to wonder why you ever began the sport in the first place…similar to what Vladimir and Estragon felt in “Waiting for Godot.” Ballet tends to have a lot of that waiting…waiting for the best parts, waiting for the next promotion, waiting to be closer to perfect (all with hard work of course). So how do you learn to be patient in the waiting and move past all the frustrations? Through the hope of provoking emotion in your audience much like the way that strange art video did to me…except perhaps less weird. So from watching that strange video and reflecting on the absurdity of “Waiting for Godot,” I am reminded of the beauty that art can have despite its quirks and despite the frustration that go into it. To tie this back to how I feel about the play, I can truthfully say that I will not forget this play because of the way it made me feel, which to me seems like the goal of art…so I’m now learning to appreciate “Waiting for Godot” as a work of art rather than a meaningless play.
Just for fun…here’s the strange art video
Throughout reading this play, I found myself waiting for Godot, just like the characters in the play. However, I was really just waiting for something, anything, to happen. I can see now how this play fits in the “Theatre of the Absurd” which is characterized by existentialism, because by the end of the play I too was left wondering why Vladimir and Estragon were still living when it seemed as if they had no purpose in life except to wait for someone who was not showing up. After thinking about it, I can also see touches of black humor in the play through the way both characters show some signs of memory loss, which adds somewhat of a comical feel to a seemingly plot-less play. Although I’m still not a huge fan of “Waiting for Godot”, I am impressed by the fact that Samuel Beckett translated most of his works himself. I’m also impressed that Beckett not only got away with writing a play that had very little action, but also became well-known for its success.
1. We chose a video because the scene we chose (Fiesta 1980) required a lot of people and it just made more sense to do a video where we could have more people in the scene than a live performance. In addition to that, we did a live performance for the Laramie Project Project so a video would add some variety to our work history.
2. I think it went well, the finished project turned out (in my opinion) very nice. The video had nice effects and transitions…I thought the editing was pretty great. The video was fun to film also. I feel like we all got into character and at least attempted to look the part.
3. I think we deserve an A. Our video was well thought-out, we had costume/makeup, multiple characters, good editing, etc. We spent a lot of time on it and I think it showed.
4. I learned that filming is hard. Editing is harder. I also learned that there is a reason I’m not an actress…this was a challenge. I also gained a more complete knowledge of “Fiesta 1980” because we reenacted the chapter so of course we know it better now.