Category Archives: Images and Figures

Robin Hood or Duke Senior?

‘ As You Like it Blog Post’

In ‘As You Like It’ Shakespeare compares Duke senior to the heroic outlaw of British folklore: Robin Hood. On the surface this comparison was obvious; they both live in the forest and they both have a loyal group of followers.

“They say he is already in the Forest of Arden and a many merry men with him, and there they live like the Old Robin Hood.” (1.1.100) Continue reading

Why So Angsty? Jaques and the Four Temperaments

Ever hear someone call you “sanguine” to compliment your bubbly personality? Maybe people worry that you become a bit too “melancholic?”

Jaques, one of Duke Senior’s lords In Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” spends his time as a merry-sad follower. He exudes a presence of depression and resignation while chilling in solitude. When characters talk to him, they quickly realize he’s a pretty dismal guy with little ambition in life. Continue reading

Ganymede: From the Gods to Shakespeare

“I’ll have no worse name than Jove’s own page, / And therefore look you call me Ganymede.” (2.1.122-3). In Shakespeare’s play As You Like It, Rosalind utters these lines to proclaim here new undercover identity as she goes to the Forest of Arden. But Ganymede is not just any old name; it has a long history rooted in mythology and is often associated with homosexuality. Also, Rosalind is the daughter of a banished duke and thus an aristocratic figure, yet Ganymede is a “page”, or servant.

This begs the question, why does Shakespeare choose the name Ganymede to be Rosalind’s alter ego?

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Give Me Life

Dressed in his plumed hat and fine clothes while he brandishes a shield on his left arm and a sword in his right hand, Falstaff is worthy of his title as Sir John Falstaff in the 18th century English painter Robert Smirke’s “Falstaff and the Dead Body of Hotspur”. Beneath his left foot lies the body of Hotspur while the Battle of Shrewsbury rages on in the background. Situated in the middle of the painting while his bright suite of clothes and flushed cheeks stand in contrast to both the dark background and Hotspur’s muted red and black clothes, there is no doubt that Falstaff is the hero of this painting. The glaring discrepancy between this image and the actual unheroic scene between Falstaff and Hotspur’s dead body in Shakespeare’s Henry the Fourth, Part I is no accident – it serves as a critique of Falstaff’s self-serving nature and indicates the tension between Falstaff and Hotspur’s attitudes on honor. Continue reading

The significance of the tavern

attributed to David Teniers

Peasants feasting in a tavern attributed to David Teniers

The tavern scenes in Henry IV Part I are set in stark contrast to those that take place in the room’s of royalty and the battlefield. Hal’s lower class friends are not so concerned with the overthrowing of monarchs or war strategy. Pranks and hearty eating are much higher on the list of priorities at the tavern in Eastcheap. Why would Shakespeare include such debauchery in one of his histories praising the rise of the current royal bloodline? Harry’s time in the taverns is important in creating a more dynamic, more relatable depiction of England. It also creates a space removed from the drama of the royals and war where Harry and can temporarily escape to. Just as importantly, when Harry leaves the tavern, the heavy reality and role into which he was born can be fully appreciated. Continue reading

A Pop Culture King

Who is King Henry IV of England? As a lover of European history, I assumed I would know something about him. But I didn’t. I knew absolutely nothing. In fact, I only am familiar with his name because of his presence as the stabilizing protagonist and namesake of two of Shakespeare’s plays, Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2.

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“The poor abuses of the time”: Henry IV’s Strange Temporal Location

They say that “hindsight’s always 20/20”. Knowing what we know in the present, if it were possible to go back then we could “fix” the past—avoid the mistakes we made the first time around. In a similar vein, it is said that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. The past exists as a place defined by the present: we can see where we went wrong, and what we should have done differently. But, the past defines the present as much as it is defined by it.

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A Hip-Hopping, Rapping, and Beat-Boxing Twist to King Henry IV

Ever wonder what would happen if someone were to use characters from Shakespeare and make a musical inspired by them? What if a single person performed all of the roles?

Emerging playwright Matt Sax pushes the boundary of acceptable story content in his one man musical, “Clay,” using an combination of hip-hop, rap, and comedy to tell the coming of age story of Clifford, a traumatized teenager fleeing from a fractured family at home. While many renditions of “King Henry IV” have been acted over the centuries, this modern take on the play loosely fleshes out Prince Hal and Flagstaff’s mentor-student relationship, weaving contemporary struggles of an adolescent musician with a dark childhood.

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What’s the deal with Owain Glyndŵr?

Owain who? Don’t you mean Owen Glendower? Well, not quite. Ask any Welshperson about Owen Glendower and they’ll probably look at you blankly. You see, Owain Glyndŵr is a large part of our history and, well, we’re not too big on the Anglicisation of our country’s greatest heroes.  Continue reading