Friday, March 23, 2012

Shakespeare Series: Much Ado About Nothing

Many classify "Much Ado About Nothing" as Shakespeare's romantic comedy. The play begins when native of Messina, Leonato, invites Prince Don Pedro and his mission to stay a month in celebration of their heroic work. Upon receiving the invitation, Count Claudio falls for Leonato's daughter, Hero. Instantly, Hero and Claudio love each other. On the contrary, the head of the household's niece, Beatrice, finds herself in the repulsive presence of Claudio's comrade, Benedict. This duo uses their equally matched wits against one another. Beatrice and Benedict repetitively entertain the whole company with their public arguments. Don Pedro speculates the possibility of Beatrice and Benedict falling in love, and he hatches a scheme with Claudio to trick them into performing this action. The prince and count find Benedict eavesdropping on them from afar, and they pretend not to notice. Claudio and Don Pedro trick Benedict into thinking Beatrice adores him, and Margret and Ursula, Beatrice's waiting ladies, do the same to her. Later, Hero and Claudio agree to wed each other. The prince's less fortunate brother, Don John, utilizes their marriage as a way to carry out his own evil plan. Don John hires Borachio to frame Hero for cheating on her fiancé. The rest of the play includes Benedict and Beatrice denying their consensual love and the hilarious watchmen lead by their incompetent master, Dogberry.

Unlike my last endeavor with a Shakespeare comedy ("Taming of the Shrew"), "Much Ado" frequently made me laugh out loud. I often feel Shakespearean comedies start off with a very clever part and exposition, and they conclude in a witty way that provides closure to the audience. On the contrary, I find the middle of these comedies lacking luster, for the characters either repeat their punchlines. In this play, the middle of the play contains a number of funny moments. Throughout the third act, Dogberry and his watchmen make humor out of the play. As Don John dramatically ruins Claudio and Hero's wedding day, the watch comes to investigate. Akin to many members of Shakespeare's working class, the watchmen's uneducated nature causes a hilarious sequence in the core of this play. Of all the comedies, the text of "Much Ado" surpasses that of "Comedy of Errors" and "Midsummer". This play's themes touch a reader on a deeper level, yet they entertain as much as Shakespeare's other lighter works. Speaking from experience, I greatly enjoyed acting in this play. In performance, the play emits this aura forces the audience to smile, relax, and enjoy watching Beatrice and Benedict bicker over the most trivial matters.

I highly recommend "Much Ado About Nothing" for anyone at least slightly interested in Shakespeare. I find the plot easier to comprehend than some of Shakespeare's other comedies. "Midsummer" requires a higher level of understanding the characters as Puck begins to mismatch their love interests for one another, and even experienced Shakespeare readers confuse the twin protagonists in "Comedy of Errors". Even though this play reads very well, I recommend seeing the play in performance as a supplement to the text. Some of these lines stand humorous on their own, yet the expressions and inflections actors bring to each part further increases the magnificence of this play. To fully experience the goodness of "Much Ado", one must imagine a stage and the scene on it while reading. For those who like Shakespeare and a decent laugh, "Much Ado About Nothing" appeases both cravings.

Friday, March 02, 2012

My Dear Friends

My Dear Friends,
I write this today to chastise all of you. Humans, as a species, make social interaction an incredibly unreasonable trouble. We label one another as “awkward”, “weird”, and “creepy”, yet we fail to recognize how these adjectives affect those around us. I know these terms hurt greatly, leading to great doubt in myself. Martin Luther King Jr. prayed for a society in which people judged people not only by the color of their skin but the content of their character. On the contrary, I desire to live in an age where society accepts all characters; strange, unique, and indifferent. I write today not to seek pity, but I want to share my observations. I hope these thoughts change how we deal with social situations, freeing ourselves of negative judgment and letting people reveal their entire persona.
At the beginning of time, nobody played social “games” with each other. We developed ways to conceal our emotions, and we established a system of social conventions and restrictions. One day, humans decided to humiliate those who fart in public. All over the world farting embarrasses people, yet everybody performs this bodily function. Stop criticizing others for their infrequent mistakes. Once somebody farts in public, they immediately conceal their embarrassment. Our peers teach us to suppress emotions in order to prevent a comeuppance. Humans love to hear applause and admiration. Naturally, we adapt to fit into this narrow, likeable spectrum. Some individuals rise above such pressures, but many cede into what others’ idea of a friend. This week especially, people continually laughed and complained about my idiosyncrasies, and I questioned why they refused to let me live as I want to live. People blend like chameleons, constantly scarifying their special qualities to blend in a crowd. I attempt to exist as the person I see in my mirror, but everyone around me tears this individual to shreds. I stand among many others who suffer this same reoccurrence. Even the most confident men and women in the world doubt themselves due to this so-called “peanut gallery”. Last week, I discussed accepting the exterior beauty of every individual. Though impossible to request we like every individual we meet, I plead that we tolerate those we dislike and respect every quality of those we deem our friends.
To a realist, my wish seems but an impossible dream. However, skeptics criticized Gandhi’s movement for India and Obama’s chance at the presidency. A few quick principles propel this dream into a very firm future. Our lives consist of four types of friendships; strong ones, desired ones, undesired ones, and undiscovered ones. To strengthen strong, desired, and undiscovered bonds, we must seek out individuals who accept our entire being. A particular friend is a temporary friend. Once we find an accepting person, we necessitate honesty and trust. Without these important virtues, a friendship remains bound to crumble. Trust takes time to build between individuals, but friendships immediately needs honestly. People too often regress from sharing their feelings, ultimately resulting in the weakening in the friendship. While one must sustain their accepting nature, raise concerns about a problem within the relationship. Wednesday, I made a comment that truly hurt a friend’s feelings. Apparently, my sarcasm came across too weak. I wish the friend immediately told me the joke went too far. Instead, I found out an hour later, for the friend merely laugh along with the others in the situation. Finally, loyalty stands among the most important qualities one deserves in a friend. Like a puppy, a friend needs to nurture their counterpart. Puppies require daily attention and communication. To some, a loyal friend jumps in front of a car just as it hits us. However, daily acts of love and kindness make the same difference. By celebrating each other’s birthdays and carefully listening to one another, we build indestructible bonds. Loyalty stands as the difference between a friend and an acquaintance. Therefore, I hope you learned how I think about you, my dear friends.
Yours truly,