This play (and this episode) is squarely centered on the concept of revenge. Most of the players are less motivated by which monarch they feel is truly ordained by God, and more by getting vengeance for any deceased or disgraced relatives who are collateral in the Wars of Roses. Getting even at any cost is upheld as the marker of honor. Any time Henry does the opposite and refuses to act out against his enemies, his supporters and family rebuff him. Retaliation doesn’t lead to anything good in this play, only death and civil war. It’s hard to feel righteous about fighting back if your head is displayed on a pike, you know? Our own acts of retribution for the hurts and wrongs we have suffered tend to be less extreme today (less vigilante king-crowning and murdering), but I wonder if they really do make us feel any better. When is it best to blaze up in righteous indignation, and when is it best to attempt to forgive and forget?Read More
I started a new reading while on a mini-vacation with some old girlfriends. I rarely take time away from my family. And I wanted to travel light. So my Folger paperback copy of the sonnets got to accompany me. It was a lovely break from the plays. I decided to read them as a singular work (realizing full well that may not have been how they were intended to be read), and I’m writing about them as such. It seemed a bit easier than 154 individual mini-posts for each sonnet (even my nerdy self doesn’t want to read that). Besides, it makes for a juicy narrative! These sonnets have now been my companions throughout the end of autumn, which seems oddly fitting. Nights are getting longer as the poems get darker. And it helped me work through a problem that's been nagging me for weeks.Read More
Why This Play?:
If I’m being honest, I read it because this was the next DVD that came up in my Netflix queue. So let’s continue on the late romance trend!
Cymbeline is known as the single play that includes all of Shakespeare's greatest hits -- a woman disguised as a man, a villain who incites jealousy without cause, reunion of family members, war. And that's just to name a few. There's a theme that takes over the entire final scene, with more examples than I've ever seen in any other Bard play -- forgiveness. Repentance/forgiveness happens in many other works (Hero forgives Claudio, Othello is devastated by his actions, etc). But in Cymbeline, we see it in spades. Nearly all the characters get into the game of apologizing and showing mercy. Which of course, gets me thinking about forgiveness in our own lives. Is there some secret formula to letting go of past issues and moving on without malice?Read More