The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0103 Wednesday, 14 January 2004
Date: Tuesday, 13 Jan 2004 20:15:49 -0000
Subject: 15.0091 Shakespeare for Kids (Are Shakespeare's plots
Comment: Re: SHK 15.0091 Shakespeare for Kids (Are Shakespeare's plots
thick?) - to Ed
Mr Larque says that "Plot is one of the single most important things
about Shakespeare" I disagree. In fact I refute that there is any such
thing as a "Shakespearean Plot".
Othello is one of his most celebrated plays, but, as many people have
noticed, the plot is decidedly dodgy. I shall take another of Mr
Larque's propositions that 'Shakespearean adaptation' is the same as
'Shakespeare'. Imagine a character like Secretary of State, Colin
Powell being totally unhinged and turned into his wife's murderer by a
vindictive little civil servant without being exposed in approximately 2
hours by the rest of his staff. No-one could imagine Powell being that
stupid. The plot is absurd and quite un-adaptable.
I remember dragging my truck driver father to the Olivier film version.
"No-one could be that jealous," he said afterwards. I really had no
answer. He convinced me by other remarks that he had heard none of the
poetry - but he *had* followed the plot.
Othello is a horrific study of the state of unbridled jealousy. It is
the ghastly poetry of jealousy in all it's blind, imagined hatred. It's
as if Shakespeare didn't care how the jealousy was created - Iago's
motive is never revealed - the handkerchief thing is really quite silly,
and so on. What is remarkable about Othello's speeches is the
frighteningly accurate understanding of that state by the writer and, if
unchecked, leads to catastrophic breakdown. In the Sonnets he describes
himself as a poet - and a poet is what he remained. He was concerned
with the inner workings of the human mind and soul. He could have
adapted "Little Red Riding Hood" and made it into a harrowing, erotic
study of murder and malice - purely by the dramatic quality of the
poetry in the speeches.
Mr Larque rightly states that 'Shakespeare translated' is not 'English
poetry'. However, if every nuance of every line of that gut-wrenching
poetry was translated then it's no wonder Shakespeare has many
And Mr Larque seems to be another proponent of the school that poo-poos
Shakespeare's universality. I do not mean 'what I believe' I mean
'universality'. Shakespeare wrote his drama-poetry about universal
human states - family, love, hate, jealousy, lust, sexuality, justice,
violence and much more. All these things affect all people on this
troubled globe. What is *not* universal are the other things Mr Larque
mentions - feminist / monarchist / Marxist / anti-feminism /
anti-monarchism / Marxism / anti-Marxism, etc. These are external,
social constructs born of social engineering - by definition, decidedly
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