Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ENOUGH with the tragedy!

Just once, I want Hamlet to live. Maybe he could run away with the players and spend the rest of his life writing plays in imitation of Seneca, because that is clearly what he really wants to do. Or he could go back to Wittenburg before Horatio has a chance to tell him about the ghost, and end his days as a professor. Or the pirates could refuse to let him go, and Claudius could refuse to ransom him, leaving him with no choice but to pursue a career on the high seas. Or the mountebank who sold Laertes the poison could turn out to be Cornelius from Cymbeline, so everybody lives, and Hamlet gets to be an awesomely eccentric philosopher-king, with Horatio to save his neck every time he gets into trouble. There could be a whole sitcom about King Hamlet. I'd totally watch it.

Just once, I want Edmund to have his big moment of redemption while there is still time for it to do some good. I like Edmund, dammit. I like Cordelia too.

Just once, I want Othello and Desdemona to have a pleasant and wholly uneventful honeymoon in Cyprus, and Emilia to get a divorce.

Just once, I want Antony's last throw of the dice to succeed, so he and Cleopatra can be emperor and empress of Rome. They could introduce the Romans to heavy drinking, long lazy fishing expeditions, and cross-dressed revelry, and Charmian and Iras could come with them, because Charmian and Iras would totally enjoy Rome. Enobarbus could show them around and flirt with them both at once. It would be great fun.

(Coriolanus, however, can totally die, since he's a jerk anyway and he doesn't take anyone else down with him. Besides, this semester is the first time I've taught this play, so I'm not sick of it yet.)

Can you tell this is SO not my genre? Yeah. The Late Shakespeare class is a bit of a trial.

Two more weeks 'til The Winter's Tale...


Bardiac said...

And Hotspur, I want Hotspur to get better with only a fleshwound.

Bardiac said...

Oh, and Hamlet could become the Dread Pirate Roberts if he stayed with the pirates!

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

This spring, I finally get to teach Shakespeare at Heartland U, which is the class I was hired to teach. It'll be the first time I've taught Shakespeare without teaching Hamlet. I don't think the students "get" Hamlet.

I will be teaching Antony and Cleopatra for the first time, and I'm looking forward to it. However, I worry that the students won't get it either. They are so very black and white about marriage and fidelity that I expect them to hate A&C as characters. But maybe I'll be surprised. Who knows?

Anyway -- I'd take tragedy over comedy any day of the week. I'm just not a big fan of most of the comedies. (The problem plays and romances are more my style.) The comedies are fun to watch, but I hate reading them. Teaching them is even less fun to me. I do find that Winter's Tale is good fun to teach, though. I have never seen it onstage. I would love to!

Fretful Porpentine said...

I love teaching comedy, but I think that makes me a weirdo.

Bardiac said...

I love teaching comedy, too.

And Fie, A&C is so good in a classroom. It's amazing how well it works; I start by trying to get them to see the play through Eno's eyes, and luxuriating in the imagery and then recognizing the orientalism.

My problem is that some of the plays are so much fun to teach that I want to teach a lot more of them than I have time for! Comedies, too!

Flavia said...

I'm teaching comedies & romances this semester, and it struck me, too--for the first time, in my case--that I groove on this course in a way I don't groove on histories and tragedies (which I do love and certainly wouldn't give up teaching, but which resonate differently with me.)

I think it's that the comedies are weird and dark enough on their own that I don't need tragedy. The comedies are truer to my vision of the world--fatalistic in the long term, optimistic in the short term.

Emily said...

I'm an English student and I would love to get more comedies! Too much tragic literature puts me in a dreadful mood.

Ken said...

"Just once, I want Hamlet to live."
One line that describes how I feel. I'm going to embroider that onto a Pillow.