I have noticed in my posts that I usually write about characters in the plays we are reading in order to explore the themes discussed in class.
The first post I did on The Merchant of Venice I focused on Portia and Shakespeare’s choice to put her in man’s clothes to give her power in the court room. The aspect of power is so important in that play, and the juxtaposition of power within the different characters in the play is fascinating, especially because women were supposed to be the weaker sex. I chose to write about Portia because she is one of my favorite characters in the play and she exemplifies the power dynamic in Merchant. As I wrote in my blog “Portia is clearly a strong female character in the first acts, but her gender allows her to be controlled. When she puts on the male clothes she takes control of the courtroom as soon as she enters it”, I focused on the transformation of her character in this post as I do in my other posts. I think Shakespeare’s character development is amazing; he can illustrate a whole theme of a play through one character’s growth. Portia’s power when she is dressed as a man is so different from her powerlessness when she is forced to endure the suitors and powerlessness vs. having power is a central theme throughout Merchant.
I looked at the different character relationships in Richard II as well to explore the idea of Richard being a bad king. In this post I used the footnote in the Norton to explore the idea of a familial pride since Lions are supposed to be the symbol of the king. I combined Shakespeare’s imagery with his interesting character dynamics in Richard II. I think I was struck by the Pride image so much because I like animals and the lines in Richard II about the lions and the leopards made me think about the actual animals Shakespeare wanted his characters to represent. I thought this would be fun aspect to explore. As in the post about Portia I focused on the characters to not only keep them all straight (because there were several in the history plays) but because Richard’s transformation in the play is amazing. He goes from a king abusing his power to a powerless man who realizes that he is not any different any other man. He needs to lose all his power to become human. After re-reading my blog about Richard II I realized that there is a definite theme of transformation in this play as well as in Henry IV.
Again I focused on the characters in the play to explore the main themes Shakespeare presented. I looked at the relationship between Prince Harry and his father King Henry. Transformation is a huge theme in this play; Hal must transform himself from frivolous prince to someone who deserves to be king. In my blog I focus on the difference of relationships between Harry and Henry and Harry and Falstaff; the characters’ relationships illustrate Harry’s own character in the first part of the play. He seems closer with Falstaff and closer to the Tavern world, but his character is drastically changed in the next play. Harry’s transformation is chronicled through his relationships with others.
I think I like to write about characters to explore the themes in Shakespeare’s plays because he has such rich and true to life characters. They really do jump off the page and come alive for me and I understand the themes more when they are discussed in terms of the characters and their actions. Portia and Kate both represent the struggle of women and the powerlessness surrounding them because they are both strong and witty characters. I relate to them both, and I can access both of their plays because of their portrayal. Richard II and his cold calculating nature is such a contrast to the Pride of lion’s image that I saw in my head so it makes it much easier to see the themes of power abuse and what happens when the crown poisons a ruler’s mind. This makes Richard’s fall even more monumental and I can understand how he must feel when he suddenly realizes that even a king is merely a man. Harry’s seeking of approval of his father was totally relatable to me and that’s why I latched onto that. What kid doesn’t want their parent’s approval? And Harry’s promise to redeem himself to his father is the catalyst for his character’s transformation which is a huge theme in Henry IV and Henry V. Shakespeare uses all his characters as vessels for his themes, and his characters are so awesome they can’t be ignored. They practically demand to be blogged about.