Tag Archives: William Shakespeare

A Cosmic Theory of Literature

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

Posted in Austen (Jane), Rand (Ayn), Shakespeare (William), Sidney (Sir Philip), Terence | Also 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.

Posted in Milton (John), Shakespeare (William), Sophocles | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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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For a Rich Life, Read Widely and Freely

Literature impacts our lives but the influence is best if we read a wide variety of works. Limiting ourselves to just a few authors can warp us.

Posted in Uncategorized | Also tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Can Lit Also Be a Force for Evil? A Debate

The classics are capable to doing great good but can they also do harm? Even as they powerfully open up the mind to new possibilities, can they also close it down? A debate.

Posted in Aristotle, Austen (Jane), Plato, Shelley (Percy), Sidney (Sir Philip) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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.”

Posted in Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

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!”

Posted in Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

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.

Posted in Kipling (Rudyard), Nesbitt (E.), Shakespeare (William), Sir Gawain Poet | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Complex Inner Life of Teachers

Lily King’s “The English Teacher” is filled with literary lllusions, most of them thematically important.

Posted in Beowulf Poet, Eliot (T.S.), Faulkner (William), Hardy (Thomas), Homer, Joyce (James), King (Lily), Poe (Edgar Allan), Shakespeare, Twain (Mark) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

10 Memorable Poetic Pick-Up Lines

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

Posted in Austen (Jane), Behn (Aphra), Donne (John), Herrick (Robert), Marvell (Andrew), Montagu (Lady Mary Wortley), Rostand (Edmond de), Shakespeare (William), Wilmot (John) | Also 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?

Posted in Shakespeare (William), Stoppard (Tom) | Also tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toppling Shakespeare from His Pedestal

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

Posted in Gregory (Rg), Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Marlowe (Christopher), Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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?

Posted in Hawthorne (Nathaniel), McNally (Terrence), Melville (Herman), Pinter (Harold), Shakespeare (William) | Also 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.

Posted in Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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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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.

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

Beholding the Summer Dead before Me

Shakespeare and Swinburne both write powerful poems about autumn.

Posted in Shakespeare (William), Swinburne (Charles Algernon) | Also tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Brown (Margaret Wise), Donne (John), Edson (Margaret), Justus (May), Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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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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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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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Obama Is No King Lear (Thank Goodness!)

Those who want more militaristic posturing in our foreign policy should contemplate King Lear’s posturing.

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Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18–Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day–can be read as a power move.

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Textualist Judges Out of Control

Textualist judges committed the same mistake as formalists in ruling against federal subsidies for citizens who signed up for Obamacare in the federal exchanges.

Posted in Marvell (Andrew) | Also tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments


  • 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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