RiffTrax Forum

General Discussion => Books 'n Readin' => Topic started by: Russell on November 28, 2009, 01:08:09 AM

Title: Shakespeare
Post by: Russell on November 28, 2009, 01:08:09 AM
I finally took a class this semester on early Shakespeare. Honestly, and I know many people are going to find this offensive but I friggin' HATE Shakespeare, and now that i have been forced to read his works consisting of poorly constructed sentences and people talking for hours on end and having to read between the lines just to understand what the hell is going on I swear to God I am going to go frickin' crazy!!! *SCREAMS!*
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: Tripe on November 28, 2009, 05:35:40 AM
his works consisting of poorly constructed sentences
How are they poorly constructed?

having to read between the lines just to understand what the hell is going on
Funny, uneducated groundlings didn't seem to have trouble understanding what was going on for the most part.
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: anais.jude on November 28, 2009, 06:34:46 AM
I think people don't like Shakespeare because they have to work hard to understand it, but that's what I like about it. It's also what I like about Lovecraft and Faulkner though. Anais = ubernerd


Also, you really need to watch the plays performed, and perfromed well, to get the best essence of it
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: Tripe on November 28, 2009, 06:41:19 AM
I think people don't like Shakespeare because they have to work hard to understand it, but that's what I like about it. It's also what I like about Lovecraft and Faulkner though
None of those are difficult to understand.
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: anais.jude on November 28, 2009, 06:44:15 AM
I think people don't like Shakespeare because they have to work hard to understand it, but that's what I like about it. It's also what I like about Lovecraft and Faulkner though
None of those are difficult to understand.

For us laymans they are. People don't like to read things once, let alone multiple times to get the true essence of sentance or story.
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: Tripe on November 28, 2009, 06:45:22 AM
I think people don't like Shakespeare because they have to work hard to understand it, but that's what I like about it. It's also what I like about Lovecraft and Faulkner though
None of those are difficult to understand.
For us laymans they are.
You have a Master's in English Lit.
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: anais.jude on November 28, 2009, 07:11:40 AM
I think people don't like Shakespeare because they have to work hard to understand it, but that's what I like about it. It's also what I like about Lovecraft and Faulkner though
None of those are difficult to understand.
For us laymans they are.
You have a Master's in English Lit.

Despite that Master's I still have to read Lovecraft and Faulkner a couple of times to get it. Lovecraft is easier, read the short story, then read it again. Faulkner, I have to re-read a paragraph couple times before I can move on to the next one
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: mrbasehart on November 28, 2009, 09:13:30 AM
I think in general people can understand Shakespeare, in terms of plot and character interaction, but I think it's his use of language that can sometimes stump people. 

Tripe's a smarty-pants, so he has no problems.  :)

And for the record: I think Shakespeare's awesome.  :)
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: Darth Geek on November 28, 2009, 01:54:36 PM
I finally took a class this semester on early Shakespeare. Honestly, and I know many people are going to find this offensive but I friggin' HATE Shakespeare, and now that i have been forced to read his works consisting of poorly constructed sentences and people talking for hours on end and having to read between the lines just to understand what the hell is going on I swear to God I am going to go frickin' crazy!!! *SCREAMS!*
I agree with you about Shakespeare, I hate it too (except Midsummer's Night Dream, tha one is interesting). I wouldn't call the sentences "poorly sturctured" because it is a totally different type of structure because of the time period. Which is why it's bullshit that highschoolers have to read it in the original language first, it really is virtually a different language. I also think the worst part is that we are told "this is the greatest thing ever written" before we read it, so if we don't like it or can't understand it (both completely reasonable conclusions) then we feel stupid.

My suggestion is to read the Cliff Notes first so you know what is going on. Then read the full Shakespeare to get everything ese. That way you aren't struggling just to understand what is going on. That should help.
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: Russell on November 28, 2009, 02:16:32 PM
having to read between the lines just to understand what the hell is going on
Funny, uneducated groundlings didn't seem to have trouble understanding what was going on for the most part.
Ouch! Why don't you come at me with a pick axe next time? Might be less painful.
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: Tripe on November 28, 2009, 08:46:20 PM
Hey, you're the one saying it's difficult to understand, I'm merely pointing out that a good pottion of the original audience was illiterate and seemed to manage.
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: Darth Geek on November 28, 2009, 09:07:49 PM
The original audience being illiterate is irrelevant, as it was being spoken in the language they were used to.

Also, I hate this nonsense about "hidden meanings" that only come from pretentious professors reading it and re-reading it. Shakespeare was a PLAYWRITE, not a NOVELIST. The only people who were intended to read the text were actors who are studying the role for aspects that can be delivered via performance to a roomfull of people. They were intended to be viewed by people in an uninterupted environment (with possible intermission exception), so if the audience member can't get the meaning behind something when they can't stop, rewind and replay, then it isn't there.
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: Tripe on November 28, 2009, 09:17:19 PM
The original audience being illiterate is irrelevant, as it was being spoken in the language they were used to.
No, not really. More on this in a moment

Also, I hate this nonsense about "hidden meanings" that only come from pretentious professors reading it and re-reading it.

Depends on which "hidden" meanings you're talking about

Shakespeare was a PLAYWRITE, not a NOVELIST. The only people who were intended to read the text were actors who are studying the role for aspects that can be delivered via performance to a roomfull of people. They were intended to be viewed by people in an uninterupted environment (with possible intermission exception), so if the audience member can't get the meaning behind something when they can't stop, rewind and replay, then it isn't there.

I don't think you really have the foggiest clue about the world in which these plays were put on (oh and he was a playwright, not a playwrite, he was also a poet). The meaning in Shakespeare that you think are hidden were fairly apparent, even to the illiterate groundlings. Shakespeare, and indeed other  Elizabethan and Jacobean (not so  much Caroline) playwrights, created some of the most reference dense works ever performed and the great thing is the audiences generally understood those references.

Just because you aren't up on mythology or theology or history and any of other categories of reference used in a play doesn't mean the fault in you not understanding them lies with the plays. Or, for that matter, with people letting you know what those references are.

Oh and Shakespeare was writing in, and indeed contributed to, early modern English, it's really not all that difficult at all except for spelling changes, it's hardly Piers Plowman* for Pan's sake.

* Which is also only really difficult to understand if you convince yourself that it is.
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: Maverick Joe Six-Pack on November 28, 2009, 10:31:20 PM

Also, you really need to watch the plays performed, and perfromed well, to get the best essence of it


As an actor I couldn't agree with Anasi Jude more.  Seeing the plays performed by people that understand what they're saying and can convey the message of the words is what really allows you to see what makes Shakespeare great.  I respect your opinion though, the bard ain't for everybody.  You should check out the movie Titus though with Sir Anthony Hopkins.  It's like a Shakespearean Kill Bill and one of my favorite movies of all time.
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: anais.jude on November 29, 2009, 10:37:11 AM

Also, you really need to watch the plays performed, and perfromed well, to get the best essence of it


As an actor I couldn't agree with Anasi Jude more.  Seeing the plays performed by people that understand what they're saying and can convey the message of the words is what really allows you to see what makes Shakespeare great.  I respect your opinion though, the bard ain't for everybody.  You should check out the movie Titus though with Sir Anthony Hopkins.  It's like a Shakespearean Kill Bill and one of my favorite movies of all time.

Anasi...interesting spelling of my name, lol ;)

Shakespeare was very much a rapper back in his time. Rappers tend to change the pronunciation and spelling of words to make them fit with the beat. Rap music also has a buttload of refferences.

I think the "hidden meaning" Mr Geek was reffering to is things like "Taming of the Shrew is a pro-feminist text because in Act 5 Scene 1, Katherine says 'the'". I also hate it when professors do that.
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: Parturition Squeeze on November 29, 2009, 10:49:06 AM
I don't usually post here, though I read sometimes, but I hate when people do what TripeHound is doing, so I'm gonna.  Shakespeare can be very difficult, but is also EXTREMELY rewarding once you get used to it.  I mean, if it's not your thing it's not your thing, but keep him on hand (Shakespeare, not Tripe) and go back to him every so often.  Never know if it'll click, and when it does, it'll have been worth the wait.



The meaning in Shakespeare that you think are hidden were fairly apparent, even to the illiterate groundlings. Shakespeare, and indeed other  Elizabethan and Jacobean (not so  much Caroline) playwrights, created some of the most reference dense works ever performed and the great thing is the audiences generally understood those references.

Just because you aren't up on mythology or theology or history and any of other categories of reference used in a play doesn't mean the fault in you not understanding them lies with the plays.   
Claiming that the "illiterate groundlings" understood Shakespeare's language and allusions is pretty ridiculous.  In any century you'd require a thorough Classical education,  or at least an extreme love for his work and massive research, to appreciate all of Shakespeare.  Personally, I'm thankful for annotated versions.  Part of his brilliance was that he had plenty of entertainment for all classes -- he didn't seem shy about adding plenty of "kaboom, badow, badow!" for your "groundlings." (I'd apologize for the tone if it wasn't for your own.  In this thread, at least.  Maybe yesterday was just a bad day, I don't know.)   




  Oh and Shakespeare was writing in, and indeed contributed to, early modern English, it's really not all that difficult at all except for spelling changes.
Spelling?  With all the twists and turns and poetry that can be crammed so perfectly into a single paragraph of Shakespeare, I'd put spelling pretty low on the list. 

Then again, you pretty much lost credibility when you claimed Faulkner was not difficult.  It's like you're trying to make people feel stupid. 
Anyone out there trying Faulkner: He is extremely difficult--especially two of his most popular (and best), The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom!--so don't feel bad when you get lost.  Keep going, it will be worth it.  Even if you don't know who is narrating or exactly what they're talking about, keep reading.  Impressionism is a huge part of Faulkner, and the end of a book you thought you didn't understand can hit you like a hammer.


Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: Tripe on November 29, 2009, 11:43:30 AM
I don't usually post here, though I read sometimes, but I hate when people do what TripeHound is doing, so I'm gonna.
What, tell people that they shouldn't try to convince themselves that Shakespeare is difficult just because he's Shakespeare.?

"groundlings."
Groundlings is the actual name for the people who paid to stand and watch the performance. Before you post about this topic, do try to be informed about it, there's a love.

Spelling?  With all the twists and turns and poetry that can be crammed so perfectly into a single paragraph of Shakespeare, I'd put spelling pretty low on the list.
Care to reread that, you missed the point the first time. Here, let me underline it for you.

Quote
Oh and Shakespeare was writing in, and indeed contributed to, early modern English, it's really not all that difficult at all except for spelling changes
The statement is a response to DG saying Shakespeare is almost writing in another language:

it really is virtually a different language.

not about his usage of said language. I'm saying that aside from spelling changes, it's not a different language at all.

You really do need to read things for meaning, it's not difficult if you really try.

Then again, you pretty much lost credibility when you claimed Faulkner was not difficult. 
He's not

It's like you're trying to make people feel stupid. 
I'm saying literature is actually a lot easier to understand than people let themselves think it is. You, on the other hand, are saying that people will inevitably find it hard. I'd say it's you who is trying, nay willing, people to feel stupid. Shame on you.

I think the "hidden meaning" Mr Geek was reffering to is things like "Taming of the Shrew is a pro-feminist text because in Act 5 Scene 1, Katherine says 'the'". I also hate it when professors do that.
Those aren;t Hidden Meanings, they're readings of the text from the view point of a specific school of literary criticism. And yes those are utter bollocks.  "The Death of the Author" is one of the most useless intellectual innovations ever.


Shakespeare was very much a rapper back in his time. Rappers tend to change the pronunciation and spelling of words to make them fit with the beat. Rap music also has a buttload of refferences.
This is a pretty good analogy. He was also quite fond of sampling, and re-purposing "beats", just ask Robert Greene. ;)
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: Pak-Man on December 01, 2009, 11:37:29 AM
Actually I think the Hidden Meaning thing might be closer to the root of the problem. I'm a writer and Tyrant's an artist, and early on in our relationship, we'd go to Museums, and I'd say something to the tune of, "I like this one. What does it all mean?" After years of walking me through the notion of, "It means react to it and see what you think about it." I realized that not all art has a bunch of hidden messages encoded in them.

I think people approach Shakespeare the same way, sometimes. They may read it and get the story, but because it's often put on a pedestal, people assume that there's a bunch of stuff going on that they don't grok because they're not part of that culture.

Shakespeare's easier to swallow when you realize there wasn't a whole lot of hidden iconography or anything like that in it. Sure, there were little parallels, like, "It's stormy outside, which reflects how the king feels right now." but nothing you have to sift through very much to understand. Once you get down with the rhythm, you realize most of his plays are, "Here are a bunch of characters. Here's a misunderstanding/scheme of some sort. Let's watch it unfold."
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: Darth Geek on December 01, 2009, 12:30:22 PM
I always wanted to see a variation on Hamlet where the King's ghost warns Hamlet about his brother usurping the throne, and then gets very frustrated watching his son mope around and do nothing, talking to himself and waxing on and on about existentialism. In the end the King's ghost just decides to haunt his brother instead, scaring the bejeesus out of him and making him confess. End of story. Noone dies except Hamlet, who takes a dive off the castle tower.
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: anais.jude on December 02, 2009, 05:33:41 AM
I always wanted to see a variation on Hamlet where the King's ghost warns Hamlet about his brother usurping the throne, and then gets very frustrated watching his son mope around and do nothing, talking to himself and waxing on and on about existentialism. In the end the King's ghost just decides to haunt his brother instead, scaring the bejeesus out of him and making him confess. End of story. Noone dies except Hamlet, who takes a dive off the castle tower.


That would certainly have made the play a LOT shorter. Although without that, we wouldn't have the line "The play is the thing wherein I will catch the consciousness of the king" (possibly misquoted)
and without that, my fave riff from The Room would not have happened.....
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: Darth Geek on December 02, 2009, 05:38:54 AM
I always wanted to see a variation on Hamlet where the King's ghost warns Hamlet about his brother usurping the throne, and then gets very frustrated watching his son mope around and do nothing, talking to himself and waxing on and on about existentialism. In the end the King's ghost just decides to haunt his brother instead, scaring the bejeesus out of him and making him confess. End of story. Noone dies except Hamlet, who takes a dive off the castle tower.


That would certainly have made the play a LOT shorter. Although without that, we wouldn't have the line "The play is the thing wherein I will catch the consciousness of the king" (possibly misquoted)
and without that, my fave riff from The Room would not have happened.....
True. True. But the line "Who doest one call?" may have made good use as a riff.
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: Pak-Man on December 02, 2009, 11:26:47 AM
"Who doest one call?"

GHOSTBUSTERS!
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: mrbasehart on December 02, 2009, 11:28:27 AM
"Who doest one call?"

GHOSTBUSTERS!

"But soft! What sprite through yonder window breaks?"
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: Nergol on December 16, 2009, 03:57:27 PM
Russell;

You're right, but not for the reasons you think. You should never read Shakespeare. No one should ever read Shakespeare. They're play manuscripts. They're not meant for people to sit in a room and read them. And - surprise - things that were never written to be experienced that way suck when they are experienced that way.

Try to imagine having never seen, say, Star Wars, and trying to enjoy it by sitting in a room somewhere and just reading the script. You get the idea.

So go see a good production of Shakespeare's plays. If you don't have a good Shakespeare company in your town, get some of the better film versions. I suggest the 1967 Taming of the Shrew starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, the 1999 Midsummer Night's Dream starring Kevin Kline and Stanley Tucci, and Branaugh's version of Hamlet to start. Maybe even throw in a reworking like Kurosawa's Ran, which is a remake of King Lear.

Stop reading Shakespeare, and start enjoying him instead.
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: mike5150 on December 16, 2009, 11:41:09 PM
I think people don't like Shakespeare because they have to work hard to understand it, but that's what I like about it. It's also what I like about Lovecraft and Faulkner though
None of those are difficult to understand.
Yeah but you're from England, so you speak English and stuff.
Title: Re: Shakespeare
Post by: Russell on December 17, 2009, 01:35:28 AM
Later this morning I am doing a performance from Hamlet from 2.2.220-2.2.370... I surprisingly have most of it memorized. I frankly am a lot better at acting than I ever will be at writing essays about Shakespeare.