Taken out of context, what does the Bard have to say to us today? I guess this started with the priest’s question on Sunday of “What’s in a name? Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?” If we take Shakespeare out of context at church, where else do we take him out of context?
The other day my chiropractor said to me, “Tell me something brilliant.” Well, who can think of something brilliant at a time like that? So, I responded, “Methought I was enamored of an ass.” He looked at me like I had lost my marbles. So I elaborated, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Shakespeare.” He said, “No one has ever quoted Shakespeare to me before.”
That got me to thinking about not only Shakespeare out of context but also of other literary masters from Toni Morrison to Peanuts. Then today at work, I had to use some horsey quotes for what I was writing, and this one came to me. “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.” Ergo, the first “Out of Context” post.
My question is this: What would you give everything for – vainly hoping it would bring you all of the magic? Would I give it all up for a size six? No, but I probably would have once. Would I give it up to have the big house on the hill? No. Been there, done that. Would I give it up for a man. Little dicey there. But no. I wouldn’t give it all up for a man. I haven’t found my thing yet, but maybe you are on your way to finding yours.
This is my other question: What literary characters gave up everything in hopes of a better life? What historical characters did the same. I’d say Alex from A Clockwork Orange gave it all up to get out of jail. So did the creeper Humbert Humbert in Lolita. Huck gave it up to travel with Jim, but then he didn’t have much to leave either. Jim left everything for a chance at freedom when he lost his family.
The Joads gave it up in The Grapes of Wrath and moved to California only to suffer a worse fate. Or did they give it up? They kept each other. Even Rose of Sharon learned how to give life instead of take in the end. I guess the list could go on and even be better researched (or researched at all for that matter).
I don’t think Shakespeare meant all of this with the evil king’s stab at a valiant ending any more than I believe Lord Farquad loves Fiona, but Shakespeare’s words are enduring and they are often worth thinking about.