I have witnessed so many people talking about Romeo and Juliet as “star-cross’d lovers” in the sense of their meeting and relationship being their destiny, and that the two were somehow fated to be together.
This couldn’t be more wrong.
The actual meaning of the term becomes clearer if one thinks of it in terms of the stars actually crossing them.
Romeo and Juliet were never meant to be together. The fates were against them, right from the start, and it was never going to work out well.
It’s important to remember that ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a tragedy, not a comedy or romance. In Shakespeare’s tragedies, the main characters always die. There are no happy endings. That’s a convention of the genre, and it is pointless to expect anything else.
Not only that, but Shakespeare gives us the spoilers right there in the prologue, the opening speech of the play, which is where the phrase comes from. They’re going to die, and as they are laid to rest, so too will be buried the feud between their families, which is what made their love forbidden in the first place.
If, as some believe they do, the stars were to control one’s fortunes in life, the last thing you’d wish for is to be “star-crossed” in any way.
Yesterday was abysmal. That’s not even an exaggeration. In my string of at least a month’s worth of rotten days, yesterday hit new lows.
I can’t even pit into words how bad it was. It was a day in which I began to question everything I thought I knew about myself professionally, and some of the things I thought I knew on a more personal level.
It was a day of alternating between being in tears in my office and being in class pretending nothing was wrong.
If the fact that my students have no idea what I have been going through for the past five weeks is testament to my ability as an actor, then yesterday’s performance was nothing short of stellar.
Even leaving work didn’t help: things just kept getting worse.
Today has been better – not because anything has actually changed— it hasn’t at all— but because of the people who told me they believe in me.
It does not change the way things are, but it does empower and encourage me to keep going. For every person who has no faith in me, I have two who do.
So, I’m going to soldier through it and get things done. I’m going to focus on the positives. And if people try to bring me down, I’ll show them what I’m made of, and then I’ll probably put them in a story and kill them gruesomely.
Don’t misunderstand me: I am not being flippant or casual in saying ’Thank God It’s Friday”.
And especially not tonight.
At the end of yet another really sucky week in a succession of variously sucky weeks, I can honestly say I am so thankful for the fact that it’s Friday night and I am free of any obligation to look or sound like I know what I’m doing, stick to a schedule, wear proper shoes, or talk to anyone that I’d rather not talk to, for two whole days.
I’ve come home from work tonight, fed the dog and fed my dad, done the dishes, and consider all my obligations to have been met. I am currently hiding under a quilt in my living room so that the universe might not know where to find me.
And if you see someone poking pins into a voodoo doll that looks like me, do me a favour and take it off them, will you please? Gently? And maybe give it coffee and pizza. Thanks in advance.
I fully agree with it for the most part. And yet, the past three weeks would have been a lot more satisfying and a lot less sucky if my car would quit jerking me around, the garage door would open and close as it’s supposed to, and if the costumer for my show had not done a “no show” on me seven weeks out from putting my school’s musical on stage.
I’m independent. I’m resilient. But golly gosh, sometimes satisfaction does come from outside oneself.
Before dying at the age of 68, Seneca the Younger made vast contributions to the school of philosophy, most notably in Stoicism.
The influence of Seneca’s work, however, would reach far greater than the school of ancient philosophy, and many of his principles and letters have moulded the landscape of the modern self-help world.
During his retirement and not long before his death, Seneca spent his days writing letters to his friend Lucilius, which have since been collated into a series of 124 letters known as ‘Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium’— Moral Letters to Lucilius. (These are summarised in the modern-day translation, ‘Letters From a Stoic’.)
Seneca’s letters detail his innermost thoughts, offloading his lifelong wisdom before passing. These writings contain a wealth of thought-provoking and insightful material…
‘The Lion King’ is on TV tonight and, of course, I’m watching it. I’m singing the songs. I’m totally loving it. If anything is able to make me turn the TV on, it’s going to be a musical.
And Facebook is alive with people proclaiming that it’s basically ‘Hamlet’.
Well, no. It’s basically not. And I’m not even sorry for any disappointment that may cause.
Anyone who believes the two stories are the same either pays too much attention to social media and the popular clickbait theories that abound there, or they have not paid sufficient attention to ‘Hamlet’ at all.
Scar is certainly as evil as Claudius. He’s certainly interested in getting rid of his brother and his nephew and taking over the kingdom, and takes full advantage when Mufasa dies in a situation that he has engineered.
That’s really where the similarities end.
In fact, it’s really only a very tenuous connection. Scar is by no means the only brother of a king ever to aspire to the throne through nefarious means, so that’s hardly a convincing argument for a direct correlation between the two texts. You could use the same argument to suggest that ‘The Lion King’ is based on ‘Richard III’, which it clearly is not.
Furthermore, Sarabi – Simba’s mother – does not enter into a relationship with Scar. The fact that his mother married Claudius, his father’s brother and murderer, is the root cause of much of Hamlet’s angst and misery. Given that this is one of the crucial elements of the play, and there is zero correlation in ‘The Lion King’, that’s fairly conclusive evidence that the two are not the same story.
Sure, the ghosts of the dead fathers both appear and speak to their sons. However, they hardly communicate the same thing, and it’s at a very different stage of the plot. Mufasa tells Simba to grow up and retake his kingdom while Hamlet’s father urges him to get revenge on his brother for murdering him and taking not only his kingdom, but also his wife. “Remember who you are” is a very different message from “Revenge!”
Simba is nothing like Hamlet in character, other than being the son of the dead king. Simba is naturally optimistic, fun-loving and adventurous. Simba runs away thinking he’s responsible for his father’s death. Morose and pessimistic, Hamlet hangs around the castle, feigning madness and overthinking everything to the point where his agonising over what to do actually prevents him from doing anything much at all.
The correlations among the minor characters are, similarly, only superficial.
While both Simba and Hamlet have two friends, Timon and Pumbaa are not anything like Guildenstern and Rosencrantz. Timon and Pumbaa rescue Simba and remain his friends throughout the story. Hamlet’s friends are quite willing to sell him out at Claudius’ bidding, and there is nothing loyal or supportive about them.
Both Simba and Hamlet have girlfriends, but Nala doesn’t go mad and drown herself in a river.
Zasu and Polonius both talk way too much, but that’s about the only similarity between them.
In fact, that’s the difference between the two in a nutshell: ’The Lion King’ is life-affirming and positive. In direct contrast to ‘hakuna matata’, there is no ‘problem free philosophy” in Hamlet, a play that philosophises about death and suicide and which finishes with the main characters and many of the minor ones dead.
So, there you have it. The difference between ’The Lion King’ and ‘Hamlet’ is a matter of life or death. The basic premises are polar opposites, so the two cannot possibly be the same story.
My cats are big Shakespeare fans; in the case of Rocco, who’s been letting himself go a bit, a huge devotee of the Bard–fifteen pounds at his last checkup. We have assembled on the patio for a reading from Julius Caesar. Titus Andronicus was checked out of our local library, and my wife, the family Shakespeare-hater, is out of town.
“This foul deed shall smell above the earth/with carrion chipmunks, groaning for burial.”
I’ve told them the best way to read Shakespeare is that taught to me by Merlin Bowen, my freshman humanities teacher; once through quickly without checking the footnotes, then the second time more slowly, and thoughtfully, looking up the buskins and petards as you go. Easy for him to say since he didn’t have chemistry and social studies and phys ed and French and drugs to take at the same time.
I’ve spent some time over the past few weeks discussing what I like and what frustrates me about different social media platforms. Most of them I’ve ended up feeling quite positive about, but it occurred to me today that I never even thought to discuss Tumblr.
I don’t even know if Tumblr is still really a thing or not.
I have a Tumblr account, and I post there, but it feels a little like shooting into the void. I still feel as though I don’t understand it. And that means I’m probably doing it all wrong.
Does anyone out there use Tumblr? I would appreciate any hints or tips you could give me to make my experience there more satisfying.
Even though I am, like every other teacher, exhausted and keen for that bell to ring at the end of the day, I am still trying desperately to keep the kids on task and get things finished before then.
The problem is, they’ve already checked out. They just don’t care. They’re restless. They’re talkative. They’re twitchy. Their eyes have glazed over with the promise of freedom, of late sleep-ins and no school uniforms or restrictions on their social media life for the next two weeks.
If you’ve ever watched a squirrel running around in a park or a forest, that is the precise image of the mental and emotional engagement in my classroom today. One or two are evolving into chipmunks as I watch.
Except for that one kid at the back, who is working like a champion to get everything completed. I don’t have favourites, but today I really love that kid.