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Isn't it pretty?

Monday, April 19, 2004

Negative Shakespeare

It really is amazing what some sleep mixed with a lot of sunshine will do for a person's mood. I woke up today with a much better outlook than I have had for the past few weeks. And that is even besides the fact that I am frustrated with SPSS and didn't finish writing a paper over the weekend. But the weather is way too pretty to worry about grades these days. I read King Lear recently and it got me to thinking about some of the themes that Shakespeare commonly uses in his plays. Shakespeare had amazing insight into some aspects of human nature. The problem is, I feel like he really had a very negative view of people. His plays - comedies AND tragedies - are full of deception, misunderstanding, and treachery. Shakespeare has his characters use disguises, act insane and constantly misrepresent themselves to each other. Love is often portrayed as a jealous emotion, one that often leads to the destruction of characters. The only trust shown is usually to those individuals who deserve it the least. Ok, I know that a normal person's life would hardly make good drama, especially during Shakespeare's time when people wanted fights, confusion and a story line that could carry them away from their boring lives. And I don't think we have changed much in that area. The best-selling movies are often those that have absolutely no basis in reality. But I guess I wonder what kind of life Shakespeare actually lived to write such disturbing themes. I wonder if he saw those around him as people who looked out only for number one, who would stab their father in the back if it served their purpose. I think there are people who view those around them in this negative light. Who always expect the worst from those around them. I have heard enough discussions to feel this is the case. I think this is a sad outlook on life, and I am sorry for those who view others as steps to climb over in their quest for power, or money, or whatever they feel is important. But I truly believe that most people do care about more than themselves, and that is why we have families and friends and a social nature. I feel good when I help another person, when I connect with someone else, when I find common interests with a new person. They don't have to necessarily advance my status to be valuable to me. It makes me sad that Shakespeare, with such incredible talent and insight, chose to write plays that are so full of negative themes. Maybe he felt that was what sold, and he had to make a living somehow. But it is sad to me that the legacy he left was such a dark one. It is sad to me that Shakespeare's works are held as some of the greatest writing ever composed, and it shows such a pessimistic side of human nature. I hope the legacy I leave, while certainly not as influential as Shakespeare's, will be positive. I hope that I am remembered for the good I saw and brought out in others. Maybe it won't last as long, but that's fine with me.


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