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Thread: Recommendations of related plays

  1. #1
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    Recommendations of related plays

    I have decided to write my thesis on the marriage of true minds through trangression in Shakespeare's plays. I want to focus on the ideaof companionate marriage, or marriage of equals, friendship within marriage as opposed in Shakespeare's plays.
    I plan to focus on Much Ado, twelfth night/ as you like it, perhaps othello.

    Is there any play you may recommend me that might fit my topic. It could be a negative example as well like when marriages or relationships are not based on that idea of marriage it proves disastrous.

    I have to exclude romeo and juliet as well as antony and cleopatra because I cannot focus on any of the plays We have covered in class.

    I plan to read other plays but have no idea where to start.

    And do you think my thesis topic sounds good? My advisor encouraged me to go with it but I am kind of scared to got with this.

  2. #2
    Registered User Iain Sparrow's Avatar
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    I would consider A Midsummer Night's Dream; thematically it explores, and pokes fun at, love out of balance... opposites and doubles, and ridiculous contrasts, all is in flux... but love conquers all.

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    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    I would check out The Taming of the Shrew for two partners who deserve each other and whose temperaments could only bear one another. My personal opinion is that Shakespeare was subverting the "choice wife" folk traditions he had inherited. The point of the play (beneath all the butt slapping) is that they are equals. You may want to consider the idea in any case. Good luck!
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 02-25-2015 at 01:41 PM.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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    Macbeth and Lady Macbeth for a marriage of truly evil minds.

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Richard II is not centrally about Richard's relationship with his queen, but it is very tender and adds pathos to his fall, which might otherwise seem the self-pity of a loser.

    When Bolingbroke, condemns two of Richard's followers he accuses them of undermining the marriage, but that seems an excuse. The Queen has got on sympathetically with the followers in her first scene and there is no sign of dislike.

    Admittedly, Richard seems considerably more upset to lose his kingship than his wife, so if you're a cynical deconstructionist you could argue they are both more concerned at the loss of status than of each other personally.

    But it might be worth a look.

    Portia and Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice.

    Imogen and Posthumus in Cymbeline start out as a deeply loving couple, before the husband's jealousy gets to work.(Thinks. There are an awful lot of couples threatened by the husband's jealousy in Merry Wives, Much Ado, Winters Tale and Othello at least. The only wife who stands up to it and doesn't suffer, AFAIR, is Mrs Ford in Merry Wives)
    Previously JonathanB

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    They are only a sideshow in Henry IV Part 1 but Lady Percy (Kate) and her insufferable husband, Hotspur, might be worth a look. Hotspur's determination not to sound soppy could be regarded as insensitivity or as a deep affection which refuses to be sentimental.
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    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Oh I'm Glad Jonathan turned up. Here's the guy who knows what he's talking about, Angelus.

    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanB View Post
    They are only a sideshow in Henry IV Part 1 but Lady Percy (Kate) and her insufferable husband, Hotspur, might be worth a look. Hotspur's determination not to sound soppy could be regarded as insensitivity or as a deep affection which refuses to be sentimental.
    I get the feeling that Harry Hotspur is intended to be sexy as hell and that Kate gets a kick out of his theatrical "soldierly" indifference to her, which she doesn't buy anymore than he does. Throughout the play, the married and martial Hotspur is a foil to the other Harry (Prince Hal) with his puerile whoring and pranks with Falstaff. On a psychological level, Hal is appalled by and hiding from his "inner Hotspur"--the man his father needs him to be. And note that by the time the trilogy ends, Hal (as Henry V) has his own Kate and it is he who has become the straight talking soldier. That is not to say that Harry Hotspur is meant to be mature (as Henry V is by the time of his "take a soldier" speech). Hotspur and Kate are just kids, and they are acting like a teasingly cute young couple. To portray Hotspur as just an insensitive husband and "typical man" (in relation to yet another poor victimized woman) destroys not only the humor and energy of their relationship, but the pathos of the resolution of the conflict between Harry Hotspur and the play's other big kid, Prince Hal. (How's that for dodging a spoiler?)
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Despite Pompey's kind words, I didn't read the opening post carefully. I've just been citing equality in marriage. What Angelus is really after is "companionate marriage, or marriage of equals, friendship within marriage as opposed."

    I take it that means equal partnerships which go wrong, hence the inclusion of Othello. I haven't read past Act I of Cymbeline but it would fit the bill. My other examples of jealousy might fit the bill as well.

    Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado strike me as the best exemplars of an equal couple - much more satisfying than Kate and Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew.

    PS I'd basically agree with Pompey about Hotspur. The scene when they cuddle up while Mortimer and his Welsh wife are being soppy together, partly to take the mick from the Mortimers and partly to enjoy a cuddle while not being in danger of being thought soppy themselves fills out the picture.
    Last edited by Jackson Richardson; 02-28-2015 at 12:21 PM.
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    Hi people, thanks for answering I realize I have not entirely been clear so I would like to expand a bit.
    When I say marriage of true minds through transgression:
    I mean through any transgressove act that makes their interaction on a more equal ground. Take As You Like It for example, crosdressing there becomes the transgression (as with Twelfth Night) that provides an opportunity for Rosalind and Orlando to communicate on a more equal basis, something that wouldn't be possible if both remained outside the forest of Arden. For Much Ado the merry war of wits bt Bene and Bea is the transgressive act within their society, they are interestingly like two male friends that are bantering (romeo and mercutio like) as for othello the other status of Othello provides a potential for marriage to be equal, it is certainly out of society's expected lines and in the beginning Desdemona's outspokennes and her going with Othello reminds one of Cleopatra's relation with Antont. In the potential of their relationship they are transgressive, but we see patriarchal idea of marriage creeping up and catching up with othello, bringing him more in line with the patriarchal understanding of marriage, he eventually destroys the potential of an equal marriage.
    At this point I am tentative of my subject but my advisor advised me to take an existential leap and this is what I am thinking mostly.
    Do you think it has potential, or is it stupid?
    (Transgression in this respect becomes sth like not playing by the rules I guess)

  10. #10
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Angleus

    Despite Pompey’s kind compliment, it is a very long time since I was studying academically, even before some bright French spark invented structuralism. So I am probably not on the same wavelength as your tutors or assessors.

    But for what it’s worth, here’s my comments.

    The best example I can think of, of a couple brought closer together by social opposition is myself and my other half, but you don’t want my autobiography.

    Romeo and Juliet can certainly be described like that, as can Othello and Desdemona, but neither of them get passed their honeymoon period, so we don’t know if they’ll develop into companionate marriages. Octavius disapproves of Anthony’s passion for Cleopatra, but I’m not sure it makes much difference to Anthony. Cleopatra doesn’t care a toss what anyone thinks. They may be equal but they sure aren’t companionate. And that’s why she’s a turn on of course.

    I realise cross dressing will appear transgressive in small town America, but I don’t think it would on the London stage in 1600 when all the female roles were played by males. Viola doesn't cross dress in order to be outrageous: she does it for the opposite reason – in order to be inconspicuous.

    Beatrice and Benedick certainly stand out by being more articulate, intelligent and self aware than everyone else, but if that is being transgressive, it seems to me that is stretching the meaning of transgressive so far as to make it almost meaningless.

    As I say your assessor may have a very different approach. Good luck and I hope I haven’t been too discouraging. It’s been very interesting thinking about the issues you raised.

    One Shakespearean couple you might consider are Troilus and Cressida. They start off as lovers on different sides (he’s Trojan, she’s Greek). It all ends in tears with her unfaithfulness (all too obviously not imaginary). But it is a notoriously weird play with little agreement about it.
    Last edited by Jackson Richardson; 02-28-2015 at 10:26 AM. Reason: Spelling, it's always spelling
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    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

  11. #11
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    I've just read As You Like It. There is something a bit non-standard about how she gets Orlando to address her as a girl, although he thinks she's a boy, although she is a girl dressed as a boy, and although she was being played by a boy in any case...

    Viola by contrast in drag "can never tell her love".

    Rosalind is technically transgressive in that she has been banished, but the banishment is obviously unfair. (Funny she never contacts her father although they are both in the forest at the same time.)
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    Ok, so I am modifying a bit. Transgression part might be a bit too much. This time I wanted to focus on seeing female as a subject within a relationship. Crosdressing allows male to interact with female as he would a male friend, so the reduction to petrarchan discourse (were the female only has power through her silent rejection) and the arranged marriage tradition which essentially sees the beloved as the object to be loved/idealized or used for procreation and getting estate is replaced by another mode of relationship, in which the ancient greek love of both type may occur, philia& eros together. The eros part that is essentially connected with seeing female just as sexual object is a bit restrained by philia, the one usually occurs between two males. A relationship combining both philia and eros is the ideal and allows the female to participate in a relationship as a subject, hence equal in some sense. Icrosdressing allows for philia to develop by supressing eros to some extent, and as for much ado, the rivalry between benedick and beatrice allows both to see each other as equal subjects to some degree.

    I will focus on twelfth night, as you like it and much ado of course.

    Do you think it is better or worse?

  13. #13
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    That makes more sense. But as I say, I've not been involved in academic study for years. Good luck. (Being gay I don't think of women as sexual objects at all in any case, for which I could also be accused of being sexist - tales they win, heads I lose. Talking about homoeroticism, what about Sebastian in Twelfth Night? Antonio clearly fancies him. Olivia marries him, having already fallen in love with a woman who looks like him...)
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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