As I looked back over my previous blogs and comments, one of the things that struck me the most is how much the process of blogging is about discovery. When writing a blog, I generally start out by stating a strong impression that some aspect of the text made upon me, and then, through the course of expounding upon and explaining that idea, I arrive at an insight by the end of the blog. When I wrote my first blog, “The Fairy Queen” vs. The Faerie Queene,” I was pretty sure I knew where that one was headed, but the two blogs that followed (particularly the last one I wrote, “Shakespeare’s Surprising Villains,”) surprised even me by the turn they took. When I wrote that one, I started listing the similarities I thought I had seen between Othello and Richard III, prepared to do a comparison between Richard and Iago. Closer examination, however, caused me to find similarities between Richard and Othello instead, leaving me with some unsettling, but worthwhile insights into both Shakespeare and his characters.
This process of discovery is also present in reading my fellow students’ blogs, as they often challenge me to reexamine and/or dig deeper into things I have been thinking about, or they bring to my attention things I hadn’t noticed or thought about in a particular way. One of my favorite examples of this is James Kwapisz’s blog, “Human Bonds Based on a Common Enemy,” written in response to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Not only did his ideas about class structure and struggle in the play provide me with a new perspective, but, in going to the text to try to support an idea of my own in response, I was surprised to yet again find that what I would have assumed to be true was not, in fact, the case. I thought that the themes he mentioned with the nobles in the natural world extended to the supernatural world as well, but, upon examination, I actually found them to be a contrast, demonstrating an even deeper layer within the play.
Whether I’m writing a blog post or responding to one, some of the themes that recurrently interest me are Shakespeare’s way of presenting human issues, and the relevancy of his work in contemporary society. One of the greatest stigmas against classic literature is that it isn’t interesting, or that it “no longer speaks to contemporary society.” Looking at works like Shakespeare’s plays, however, I can’t help but be reminded again and again how, despite the way that times change, human nature really doesn’t. Sometimes we get fooled into thinking it does because the circumstances in which the dramas play out are so different, but the central themes that concern the characters are the same ones that concerned people before them, and concern us now.
I think what I value the most about blogging is that it challenges me. It “forces” me to come up with and explore my own ideas about the texts, but, between the comments I make on others’ blogs and the comments they make on mine, it keeps me from becoming too set in one way of thinking. Blogging engages me with the text and with my fellow students in a unique way, and while (I’ll admit!) I don’t always necessarily enjoy doing it, I always discover something that makes it worth my while.