Shakespeare- the common man’s hero

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The persona of the man we know as William Shakespeare is tough to comprehend. The figure that is Shakespeare is tainted by history, fiction, fame, and politics. Some consider him the father of English literature, some the world’s foremost playwright. But whichever may be an individual’s pick, it is very difficult to understand William, the man.

The film ‘Shakespeare in love’ has attempted to step off a literary pedestal and look at him as a common man- one who had a wife he did not love; one who had to produce lines for a living; one that desired the female company to the extent that he had to visit local brothels; one that drowned his sorrows under the influence of ale; and one who was jealous of his contemporary.

The film traces the creation of Romeo and Juliet and the rise of Shakespeare into the limelight. As is common knowledge, Elizabethan England frowned upon plays. The clergy endorsed only morality plays, performed in the church yards and disregarded any theatre company as the playground of the devil.

Furthermore England had just been hit by another wave of the plague owing to which theatres like the Rose were ordered to shut down. In such a sticky situation, if a young playwright had to leave his mark on society, he had to achieve something extraordinary.

The young Will, not only struggled with writer’s block (which he went to a therapist to resolve), he had to face daily threats of being fired from the owner of the theatre. This man starts out as a village boy trying to make it big in the filth and glamour of London. He fears that he will have to get back to the country to his unloving wife, the marriage to whom was a mere financial contract.

This is a man who is bursting passion. He has a sonnet on his lips for beautiful women and is in search of his muse. The renaissance symbolized rebirth; rebirth of ideas and forming new opinions. It was a world away from the conservative society of the past.

England had a female ruler who drove the country to greatness. She had just won a religious battle against the Vatican and had managed to keep peace between the Catholics and the Protestants in the nation. Furthermore, the common man could finally find means of expression.

Books were being published in the common tongue. Primary education was on the rise. For instance Shakespeare’s generation was perhaps the most literate population England had ever seen.

The classics, that were previously only accessible to the Latin speaking elite, were now available to the masses in English. Theatre was endorsed by the queen herself which is why theatre houses like Rose had survived and people like Shakespeare were employed.

Not only does Shakespeare do things differently in his plays, his complete disregard for the classical rules of drama (like Aristotelian Unity) showed that he was open to experimentation. Due to the lack of props, he had to make do with words and that he did well. Shakespeare was a master of his words. Every sentence he produced did something to the audience.

It was popular belief that all the audience wanted was some comedy (often slapstick), and some fighting as their theatre diet. William changed it. He gave the world a romantic tragedy. He gave the world- Romeo and Juliet.

The story is not just about the relationship between a man and a woman, it is a struggle to find a safe spot in the new world. Although the new thoughts had entered England, the old traditions and believes still existed. Both Romeo and Juliet, face a political divide and yet struggle to find love and hold on to that love despite the protests of their respective families. They end up dying. But the beauty of the story lies in the fact that at the end, they made their own decisions and that Juliet, a woman, had the courage to face the society.

Viola, who was the inspiration for Juliet and also William’s lover, was a very different kind of muse. Unlike previous muses who were overshadowed by the artists, Viola held her own. She, a lady who came from wealth, had the courage to dress like a boy and follow her dreams. She lead a duel life- in one she was Lady Viola full of poise and grace ready to do her father’s bidding, and in the other, she dressed like a boy and played Romeo in front of the audience.

It is the courage and determination of Viola that epitomizes the renaissance. Romeo and Juliet made the audience weep. The queen herself applauded the performance as the first work that got the concept of love right.

Shakespeare’s story is an everyman’s story. It is the attempt to break out of the situation one is born into and make something out of one’s life. Rajnikanth reminds me of William Shakespeare. If the former’s popularity is viewed in context of his background, it is plausible to come to the conclusion that the phenomenon mirrors that of the latter’s.

Shakespeare’s was an all too familiar struggle of the rural against the urban, of the common man against the lords and the mob’s against the regimes. His story resonates with the common man’s and he will always remain their hero.

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To the vitruvian woman

Your lips the color of my womb

bleed words that take me to the moon.

The look in your eyes set fire to my tomb

while your touch comes to me as a boon.

 

Bukowski, you say, is your lover,

you claim to be his bread and butter.

Gertrude has your heart in a cover,

your beauty, if shunned, can lead her to a gutter.

 

Life ‘came a full circle when I first saw your face,

your fire burnt my soul to the depth of my grave.

A Madonna on earth, you weren’t from my race,

had a halo around you, I could see you brave.

 

Your memories taunt me like something I haven’t got,

How I worship your feet and I can help it not.

The editor’s tale

It’s not always that I get to open my laptop and scrutinize the work of others. Today, after procrastinating and coming to terms with the weight on my shoulders, I finally sat down with a cup of black coffee and read the first line of some obscure article.

It made me cringe- not in disgust but in apprehension. Someone out there, at some point in my life, will look at my work with the same hawked eyes and critique every coma that I use. That day, I would be sitting helplessly on the other side of the veil waiting for the verdict like a sinner on judgement day.

But not today. Today was my day of power and authority. I could feel my heartbeat quicken; the writer’s fate was in my hand and in some small way, I was going to make or break his life. ‘Impact it’, if you may. It would either be a crash landing or it would  be a smooth one.

The sadist in me looked at the doc file with glee. It could finally use the virtual red ink on every misspelled word, every misplaced punctuation and every wrong usage- sometimes out of spite, too. If the words are a writer’s baby, it was time to go on a kidnapping spree for the sadist ‘me’.

The more rational part was, however, scared. I would be blamed for any additional coma in the article by people unknown to me. I was transported to the veil again. Only this time, both the writer and I were huddled together like a bunch of scared kids waiting to be reprimanded.

God! What pressure to be faced for one damn article and God what a dilemma to be faced by one small mind- to kill or try not to be killed!

Promises to the world

I solemnly swear to make this minuscule space on the internet, that I claim as mine, a place of refuge for my thoughts and a way of letting all my pent up emotions out. This space will contain magic of all sorts and will not be subjected to morality, ethics or any other masochistic nonsense. It is dedicated to free thought and action.

I am a storyteller and this is how i choose to tell my stories- with pomp and circumstance. My stories will be told through free verse, prose and poetry. It will contain art and through these mediums of expression, I wish to create an imaginary world where thoughts are free and the mind has the strength to take actions in accordance to those very thoughts.

I will challenge tradition, rant when i want and most of all, be honest in the way i think and write. I will show all aspects of the human mind and revel in its complexities. Furthermore, I will take the side of those who are voiceless and less powerful. I promise to not be scared of authority and to ask questions where I deem necessary.

I will be my own master and this space invites all those who wish for a better world and are ready to work towards it. Oh and, I guarantee the reader absurdity for absurdity leads to laughter and a healthy life. My blog will feature crooked men, the girl who looked like a guy, pedestrians, exiled writers and pot bellied artists.

Movie reviews, color of ice cream, beef steaks, depression, LGBT rights, women issues, political jibberish, dreams, etc are my best friends.

So, let the absurdity begin!

Old parchments and cold tea

Imagine a room stripped of dignity;

Now add an old tattered sofa in a corner

and a dead fish tank in the opposite.

It doesn’t have to be fancy- just decaying.

 

Color the walls dirty yellow

and add splash of black smug here and there.

Hang old photos:

laughing faces and embracing arms.

Comfortable isn’t it?

 

Put a rug that has been slept on

and add the musty smell to it.

Don’t forget the old shoes and the coat hanger

with just a lonely coat for company.

Familiar?

 

This room had no windows;

only a wooden door with a broken knob.

A ceiling fan and warm lights

that flicker like the firefly at dawn.

Feeling hot already?

 

The cold tea cup has a grim in the bottom

that smiles across the yellow.

The parchment has ink across it

and the word writer written in bold.

The pen is broken.

 

You can hear laboured breathing.

Now place a man with a protruding belly

sprawled on the couch;

bubbles in his mouth and the stench of smoke about him.

 

He is a writer by profession

and this is his life.

Now try living it and tell me how you feel.

 

 

Interior monologues on a full moon night

 

White is an oppressive color.

3 am and the familiar mental buzzing is all it takes to dissolve the writer’s block.

Caring is good, or so they say.

How about just disappearing? Don’t pack; just run.

Escapism- that is the way to survive.

And we call the symbolists depressing.

Do you my friend see what I see?

The haze and the mist in all its glory; towering on us like Nessie the myth.

Can’t a dragon in the hill ever get forlorn? Or are giants the one without hearts.

Could you and me walk down the beach hand in hand and still be you and me the next day?

Or do we, too, succumb to the great evil of the heart?

Cupid is but a child with a plastic arrow. How is it that anybody takes him seriously?

The rain has a weird relationship with the coffee mug.

They stay close but never touch.

The disgusted hands pour the bitter amrit down the black hole if at all it dares to sneak a kiss.

The moral of the story- look but don’t touch.

The land beckons to the clouds; the clouds tease.

A fortnight later, they break and shower down on the paramour.

A day later, the earth chokes and its fruits die. Moderation is the title of the next lesson.

 

Well at least the house fly sits away from the buttering knife.

Dawn

Midnight- Camera flashes. Music blares from the speakers. Conversation turns into babble.

The vodka and tonic hits. The speed thrills. The lights blur.

Empty. That’s how she feels.

 

Dawn- birds chirp. Head hurts. Stomach growls.

Sleep comes. The mind tickles. Hands tremor.

Darkness. She draws the curtain.

 

Afternoon- Heat prickles. Head pounds. Memory of last night is a big question mark.

Facebook tells her what she has been doing. It’s 3 pm. It’s late.

Rise and shine. What is the use in waking?

 

7 pm- Her twin screams. She sees Virginia Woolf on the table. Head throbs.

Bell rings. The pizza is here. The book beckons.

Sanity. Who does she discuss The Lighthouse with?

 

10 pm- Same fakeness. Same mindlessness. The vodka and tonic again.

Same music. Same lights. Same rootlessness.

Bollywood. Let’s be baby dolls together.

 

3 am- Head pounds. Speed is blah. Lights play checkers in her head.

Mr. Ramsay’s mind is his enemy. Woolf haunts her. The Lighthouse calls.

Laughter. It’s all a show isn’t it?

 

9 am- No sleep. The paper smells good. Words are a visual delight.

The coffee is strong. The light pours in. The bedsheets are spotless white.

Breakfast. Seems like a good idea.

 

1 pm- Mrs. Ramsay loves her husband. She smiles. Time passes.

War starts. Smile fades. War ends. Time passes.

Order. It feels nice when the house is back in order.

 

5 pm- The marmalade tastes good. Lily finishes her painting. James is content.

Smile returns. The incense smells good. Her twin is happy.

Dinner. It’s time to cook some broccoli and pasta.

 

Life is good.