Category Archives: Shakespeare (William)

A Cosmic Theory of Literature

My attempt at an overarching theory of literature and its place in human history and human progress.

Also posted in Austen (Jane), Rand (Ayn), Sidney (Sir Philip), Terence | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Johnson: The Bard Instructs by Delighting

Although today we are sometimes suspicious when literature seeks to instruct us, Samuel Johnson considered this to be literature’s primary aim. He held up Shakespeare as proof.

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Jeb! Agonistes: An Unsettling Parallel

Does Jeb Bush resemble at the moment Samson Agonistes? His rivalry with Marco Rubio also resembles any number of Shakespeare tragedies. There’s an Oedipus parallel as well.

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The Bard Does Halloween

In honor of Halloween, check out what Shakespeare had to say about ghosts. When his graves yawn and yield up their dead, they produce apparitions that are genuinely frightening.

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Sacks & the Bard’s Midsummer Madness

The late Oliver Sacks’s observations on the mind sometimes sound a lot like Shakespeare in “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Tempest.”

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All the Devils of Hell Unleashed by Katrina

The panic of New Orleans 9th Ward residents ten years ago is reminiscent of the passengers on board the ship in Shakespeare’s “Tempest”: “Hell is empty and all the devils are here!”

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The Bard Endorsed Same Sex Marriage

In “Twelfth Night,” 400 years before Obergefell v. Hodges, Shakespeare dreamed of same sex marriage. He would have been celebrating Friday after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same sex marriage.

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Puck’s Summer Magic

“Midsummer Night’s Dream” dips into ancient British legends about the mystical aspects of midsummer.

Also posted in Kipling (Rudyard), Nesbitt (E.), Sir Gawain Poet | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Memorable Poetic Pick-Up Lines

10 memorable pick-up lines from poetic greats. Try them at a bar near you.

Also posted in Austen (Jane), Behn (Aphra), Donne (John), Herrick (Robert), Marvell (Andrew), Montagu (Lady Mary Wortley), Rostand (Edmond de), Wilmot (John) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hamlet Instructs the Class of 2015

Our commencement ceremonies included a reading of Hamlet’s advice to the players.

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The Real Victims of Deflategate

Two characters from “Hamlet” have been invoked in Tom Brady’s deflategate scandal. Can you guess which ones?

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Toppling Shakespeare from His Pedestal

“Bardolatry,” the worship of William Shakespeare, can get in the way of truly appreciating him.

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Lear: Finding Love in Adversity

Both “Doctor Faustus” and “King Lear” teach us the silver lining in adversity, “Faustus” in a negative way, “Lear” in a positive.

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Political Consultants Should Read Lit

Which literary works would you recommend to a political consultant to stay in touch with his or her soul and avoid becoming lost in the dark side? How about Hawthorne, Melville, Shakespeare, Pinter, and Terrence McNally?

Also posted in Hawthorne (Nathaniel), McNally (Terrence), Melville (Herman), Pinter (Harold) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Robert Durst’s Iago-Like Soliloquy

How to interpret suspected murderer Robert Durst’s enigmatic words on “The Jinx”? Shakespeare’s villains point the way.

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Violating Political Norms Exacts a Price

Those who break political norms must keep in mind the lessons of Bolingbroke’s rebellion in Richard II.

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Lear’s Lesson: Dividing Leads to War

The politics in “King Lear” are currently being played out in attempts to sabotage negotiations with Iran.

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Gaga Feminism & 12th Night

“Gaga feminism” is a playful challenge to conventional social definitions. Shakespeare can be seen as writing “Twelfth Night” in the spirit of gaga feminism.

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Old Lit as a Transformational Experience

The power of a “King Lear” passage is a refutation of Scott Walker’s attempt to redirect higher education to “work force needs.”

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Twelfth Night and the End of Carnival

Twelfth Night in New Orleans, as in Shakespeare’s play, seems to be about carnival time winding down.

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The Peace of Wild Things

My Intro to Literature class explored how a disconnect from nature leads to existential anguish while opening themselves up to nature provides spiritual nourishment.

Also posted in Berry (Wendell), Clifton (Lucille), Coleridge (Samuel Taylor), Euripides, Kingsolver (Barbara), McCarthy (Cormac), Oliver (Mary), Silko (Leslie Marmon), Sir Gawain Poet, Wordsworth (William) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bechdel Uses Lit to Understand Her Life

Alison’s Bechdel time and again turns to literature in her memoir to understand her upbringing.

Also posted in Bechdel (Alison), Fitzgerald (F. Scott), James (Henry), Stevens (Wallace) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beholding the Summer Dead before Me

Shakespeare and Swinburne both write powerful poems about autumn.

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Can Donne Help Us Cope with Death?

Meditations on Margaret Edson’s “W;t”–with further reflections on whether Donne’s poetry can help us handle death.

Also posted in Brown (Margaret Wise), Donne (John), Edson (Margaret), Justus (May) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

10 Famous Fetish Objects in Lit

Literature is filled with fetish objects that take on outsized significance to various characters.

Also posted in Dickens (Charles), Fielding (Henry), Poe (Edgar Allan), Pope (Alexander), Proust (Marcel), Rushdie (Salman), Sir Gawain Poet, Wycherley (William) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Colossus Bestriding the World (Series)

Sports Saturday What a world series it was for San Francisco Giants pitcher Martin Bumgartner! On Sunday he threw 117 pitches for nine shutout innings to win game five and then on Wednesday he returned to throw another 68 pitches for five shutout innings to preserve a 3-2 lead in the deciding game seven. And […]

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KC Royals Storm into World Series

The way the Kansas City Royals upended conventional wisdom in making it to the World Series is not unlike the chaos caused by Ariel in “The Tempest” to restore another royal to power.

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Marc Antony for the Prosecution

Federal court judge Thomas Thrash, Jr., drawing on years of experience as a trial lawyer, explains why Marc Antony makes a better case than Brutus does.

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Literature as a Social Experience

Sharing newspaper clipping about Shakespeare is one way to share one’s love for the Bard.

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Are Liberals Killing the Arts? Uh, No

A “New Republic” article attacks liberals for killing the arts. I disagree.

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Can Fed Keep Going? The Bard Weighs In

I fear that, in the upcoming U.S. Open, Roger Federer will be like Gremio in “Taming of the Shrew.”

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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