Category Archives: Drama

Writing about Plays: Othello

By Tracey Thompson

Othello is a classic play written by the famous William Shakespeare.  The play is available to be read in many places, I read a copy from the Hardin County Public Library.  This play was written and first performed in 1604.  In summary of the play, Othello is a general who promotes Cassio. This creates jealousy from Iago towards Cassio and resentment towards Othello.  Othello then marries his love, Desademona.  In an effort to gain revenge, Iago begins a malicious plot against both Othello and Cassio.  As part of Iago’s scheme, he convinces that Othello’s wife (Desademona) is having an affair with Cassio.  Othello begins to get both suspicious and jealous.  Iago continues his plot of convincing Othello that his wife is unfaithful.  Through various acts and schemes by Iago, Othello is finally convinced of an affair between Desademona and Cassio.  Othello returns to his castle to murder his innocent wife because of her believed infidelity.  Emilia (Iago’s wife) finally realizes what Iago has done, and tells Othello the truth.  In anger of Emilia’s betrayal, Iago murders his wife.  In rage, Othello tried to kill Iago, but only wounds him before killing himself.

This play, like many others written by William Shakespeare, is a tragedy.  Othello is actually known today as one of the greatest tragedies ever written.  Othello meets the main characteristic of a tragedy as the hero having a fatal flaw.  The character of Othello actually has a couple of fatal flaws.  One fatal flaw of Othello was his naivety and the other was his jealousy.  Othello was naïve when he believed that Iago was a true friend.  Othello believed that what Iago was telling him about an affair was true, and did not consider that ulterior motive Iago may have.  Othello’s other fatal flaw, jealousy, caused him to be blinded from the truth.  The play of Othello is also considered a tragedy, because of the tragic ending.  The ending of Othello is tragic because he realized that he had killed his innocent wife, whom he loved.  He did this because he was the victim of a malicious scheme by someone he trusted.  Othello decides that because of his own flaws, naivety and jealousy, he now has nothing left to live for.

The plot is based on both the scheme of the antagonist, Iago, and the decisions made by the protagonist, Othello.  The rising action begins with Iago telling the audience of his scheme against Othello and Cassio.  The action continues to rise with a bit of foreshadowing.  The foreshadowing occurs during Othello’s and Desdemona’s speeches about their love, this foreshadows the tragedy and disaster than will ensue.  The play climaxes when Othello vows his revenge against his innocent wife Desdemona.  The resolution of the play is when the murders occur and Iago’s scheme is expressed to Othello.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William.  The Tragedy of Othello.  Thomas Walkley, 1622.

SparkNotes Editors, “SparkNotes on Othello.” SparkNotes LLC. 2002. Web.

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The Indian Emperor

By Taylor Reddin

The Indian Emperor by John Dryden, was wrote during the baroque age. I found information about this play in our text book, The Western Humanities on page four hundred twenty nine, and on the internet on Wikipedia.  Drydens play was about the conflict of love and honor in a kingdom. The Indian Emperor  was first published by Henry Herringman in 1665.

The Indian Emperor is considered to be a heroic drama. The character, Montezuma, in this play refuse to save his kingdom for personal reasons. He then orders Cortez to turn his back on his lover because of his orders. Cortez does so, knowing the kings orders aren’t going to work.

This play takes place in Montezumas kingdom, and fighting with the Spainiards.  The Spainards torture Montezuma and later he commits suicide towards the end of the play. There was some foreshadowing when Cortez first got his orders from his king, and he thought that it wasn’t going to be worth leaving his lover, and he thought that the king’s ideas weren’t going to work.

Dryden brings in another main character Francisco Pizarro to be the villain, he also showed the Spaniards as being mean, cruel, and dangerous.  Dryden made Cortez to be the somewhat hero, he made him to be open-minded, and brilliant.

The Indiana Emperor was wrote as a follow up to Dryden’s, The Indian Queen. Sometimes The Indian Emperor is referred to as the Conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards. On the days of the show Dryden would first introduce his audience members to what had happen in The Indian Queen, and gave them a little bit of insight as to what to expect with The Indian Emperor.

I personally like the idea of this play. In some ways I can see how it applies to stuff that happens in present day. Sometimes we have to sacrifice stuff to do things that we don’t always want to do, and sometimes we loose what’s important to us. And then other times we are the one in charge asking others to part with the people or things that they cherish or love the most, and we then realize we were wrong, but by then most of the time it’s too late.

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By Rondell Lanier

William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet was thought to have been written between 1599 and 1561. Hamlet the main character is motivated to avenge his father’s death. He Finds himself struggling with two opposing forces: moral integrity and the need to avenge his father’s murder. Throughout the play Hamlet debates weather he should take revenge on his uncle for his alleged role in his father’s cold murder. His ambivalence about the authenticity of the apparition of his father delays his plan of action. However, Hamlet mostly delays his revenge because his moral and religious beliefs encumber his courage to take action.

The play is a tragedy with particular traits which are common to all the plays of the genre. The protagonist of the play, Hamlet, is a prince of noble blood. He is shown as a thoughtful and poetic scholar of a peaceful nature. To him no actions are without a shadow of doubt the right action. There is always an uncertainty that any action will produce only good results. This inability to trust his judgment leads finally to his downfall. Throughout the play Hamlet questions everything that has previously been taken for granted. He is readily horrified when the specter of his father rises to claim that his father was murdered by his own uncle. However he is plagued by the suspicion that this may be a false attempt to sabotage him.

Readers can find the language to be very complex compared to what you would read in modern Literature readings.  Written with a linguistic language Hamlet uses plenty of metaphors. There six main characters: Hamlet, Claudius, Gertrude, Horatio, Ophelia and Polonius.  Like most, I found myself having no similar qualities with the main characters. Some of the characters in the play seem to be an antithesis of what’s  right in today society.

To me Hamlet is thoughtful and affected to the point of obsession, your sympathy Will remain with him throughout the play. He is the very last character to die, and with dying honorably, he lived his life. Every tragedy must have a hero, and he possess good traits as well as flaws, which inevitably caused his demise. I felt it was important for the protagonist retain the audience’s sympathy at the conclusion of the play, and Shakespeare has achieved this throughout the structure of the play, making it one of the most prized scripts written.

Works cited

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. Stanley Appelbaum, New York: Dover, 1992

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The Miser (L’Avare)

By Mary Buckner

The Miser (L’Avare) is a play written by Jean Baptiste Poquelin, better known as Molière. I borrowed the play from a classmate named Sam Arnold who is a B.F.A. Theatre Major at Florida State University. I was fortunate enough to see this play live onstage a little less than two months ago when the FSU School of Theatre put on the production at the Conradi Studio Theatre located in Tallahassee, Florida. The Miser was written in 1668 and opened in Paris on September 9, 1668 at the Palais-Royale (Lewis 124). The play takes place in a beautiful house in Paris and tells the story of a greedy, elderly man named Harpagon and the challenge his two children, Cléante and Élise, face when they quickly learn that their father is not going to permit their marriage requests to their beloveds. Harpagon being the selfish Miser he is, only wants companions for his children that will benefit him financially and forbids them marriage with their true loves. The two couples’ (Cléante and Marianne and Élise and Valère) strong passions for each other and determination to get what they desire create an exciting, sneaky, suspenseful, and very interesting plot.

The Miser is a five-act satirical farce that is identified as a comedy. However, many interpretations and presentations of this play have often not been a comedy at all, due to the darkness of the play and its themes of cruelty and loss (Lewis 122).  Moliere did indeed include of mixture of emotions in his plays, as he intelligently “analyzed the foibles of French life in twelve penetrating satirical comedies that had the lasting impact of tragedy” (Matthews and Platt 431).  In The Miser, Moliere highlighted the comedy of dark situations by using all the trappings of farce such as sight gags, slapstick, pratfalls, puns, and mistaken identities.

Moliere often used the period’s social types to create the characters in his plays, “exposing the follies of the entire society” (Matthews and Platt 431). His work The Miser is one of the best examples of this, seeing as the protagonist of the show, as well as the play’s title, is in itself a social type-a miser. “As his own son’s rival in love, Harpagon is the archetypal archetype, the ultimate “blocking” character and violator of the order of “nature.” ( Although labeled as the “blocking” character, Harpagon is certainly an active protagonist, as his decisions and choices are what the rest of the characters actions are based off of. I personally identified with Harpagon’s daughter Élise. I didn’t identify with her for the reasons for that we have gone through the same experiences; but as an actress myself, when I was reading the script I kept finding myself wanting to be cast as her. I love her aura and language, as well as the devoted passion she has for her lover, Valère.

One of the play’s biggest themes is that of greed. Harpagon’s greed for gold and money prohibit him from really ever receiving anything back in life. Through out the play’s entirety, Harpagon just constantly wants more and more money, never being satisfied. And although he is very financially wealthy, “All that glisters is not gold”, as quoted in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (2.7.67). More valuable by far are love, friendship, family harmony, and common decency. In all of these things, Harpagon is poverty-stricken. ( Other themes in the play are the power of true love, loss, and cruelty.

Moliere’s The Miser is a play filled with high, witty, and creative language. The characters speak in a much more sophisticated fashion than I feel most of us in the USA do today. Their jokes and ridicules were even so intelligently written that they come across as proper. However, a lot of the basis for the style of dialogue is due to the time period the play. I didn’t think the language hindered my reading. I think because the language is as heightened as it is, it actually helped bring out certain emotions in me that contemporary way of speech would not have. I will admit sometimes I would have to re-read a couple sentences or two to fully understand what was being said, but it was never anything that caused me great confusion or lack of understanding.

Overall, Molière’s The Miser was one that I thoroughly enjoyed. It is so brilliantly written because one moment within the play could have a certain person laughing, while another could be feeling much sympathy or despite. An example of this would be the very end of the play when Harpagon is alone with his casket of money-one person could find this slightly funny and another could be disgusted that he gave up everything else in his life without thought so he could just have his wealth returned. The Miser not only brings out different emotions in different people, but also brings out various emotions in one person within a very short period of time. I applaud Molière for being creative and intelligent enough to accomplish this. I loved reading the script and I am so fortunate that I got to see this text live on a stage and I highly recommend to any one who can to see Molière’s entertaining play.

Works Cited

Matthews, Roy T., F. Dewitt Platt, and Thomas F.X. Noble. The Western Humanities. abcdef7th Edition. New York: McGraw Hill, 2011. Print

“The Miser: a Study Guide for the Molière Play.” Free Study Guides for Shakespeare abcdefand Other Authors. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. abcdef

Molière, and David Chambers. The Miser. New York, NY: Dramatists Play Service, abcdef1993.

Lewis, D. B. Wyndham. Molière: The Comic Mask. New York: Coward-McCann, 1959.

Shakespeare, William, Burton Raffel, and Harold Bloom. The Merchant of Venice. abcdefNew Haven: Yale UP, 2006

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Romeo & Juliet

By Kristen Stinson

I first read William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, first performed in 1594,  in my middle school English class, then again later in my high school English class. I also watched it acted out as a play at The Indiana Repertory Theatre and watched Frank Zeffirelli’s 1968 adaptation in my middle school English class. In 1996 Baz Luhrmann created yet another adaptation of this classic tale, and this ended up being my favorite version, even if it had not had  Leonardo DeCaprio as the star of the film. In this tragic story of love and hate, Shakespeare demonstrates the consequences of trying to keep lovers apart. Set in the city of Verona, the two families, the Capulets and the Montagues, are in a lifelong feud and when Juliet and Romeo meet and fall in love, the feud between the families no longer matter to them, but the families still try and interfere. A member of the Capulet family, Tybalt, confronts Romeo and Romeo tries to squash the feud, but Tybalt will not accept. Mercutio, Romeo’s best friend, tries to defend him and ends up dying in the process. Romeo then takes revenge on Tybalt, killing him, and is exiled from Verona. In the meantime, Juliet is forced into the arranged marriage, but instead of marrying a man she does not love, Friar Lawrence helps her fake her own death. Romeo does not receive notice informing him of this and hears from another friend that Juliet is dead, so he comes back to Verona to see for himself. When he goes to the crypt to find that she is, in fact, dead, he then kills himself next to her and when she awakens to find him dead, she really takes her life. Consequently, the death of Romeo and Juliet reunites the two feuding families.

I would classify this work a tragedy, because all the characters that we fall in love with die. However, there are elements of comedy in this work, as well. Shakespeare makes Romeo’s friends and the nurse say and do things that make us laugh. This all changes once Mercutio dies at the hand of Tybalt, though, and takes a turn toward the tragedy I have always thought it to be.

In the plot the exposition starts in the beginning with the first fight between the Montagues and the Capulets. It continues up through the part where Romeo is obsessing over Rosaline and Mercutio pokes fun at him and declares that she is not that into him. The climax takes place when Mercutio is killed by Tybalt, because Romeo refuses to fight him and Mercutio, disgusted with his submission, picks up the fight for him and is killed at the hands of Tybalt. Romeo then seeks revenge on Tybalt for killing his friend and in turn kills Tybalt. Romeo is banished from Verona and is distraught, because he can no longer see his beloved Juliet, all of which are also the crises. There are a lot of examples of foreshadowing in this story. The obvious being the prologue; “From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life; Whose misadventured piteous overthrows, Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.” It is telling us before the story even begins that something happens to the lovers and the feud of the two families ends because of it. An example of reversal is when Romeo believes Juliet to be dead and he poisons himself, then Juliet awakens to find Romeo dead.

Both Romeo and Juliet are active protagonists in this drama. They both know exactly what they want, each other, and actively pursue getting just that, although it doesn’t seem to end up working out for them in the end.  Even in the beginning of the story when Romeo is infatuated with Rosaline, he actively professes his love for her and talks about getting her. He then is quite busy through the entire story trying to come up with ways to be with Juliet. Juliet also actively tries finding ways to be with Romeo and escaping her fate of a prearranged marriage to the prince.

Shakespeare uses a few themes in this piece, love being one of the major ones. The whole story is centered around the “two star cross’d lovers,” although, in my opinion, it wasn’t love at all, but infatuation. Even back then, I suspect that people didn’t fall hopelessly in love just by spying each other from across the room. Another theme would be hate and rivalry. It describes the terrible consequences that can arise from such unwarranted hate. Yet another theme was time or fate. All of the events that occurred may not have, had the characters not acted at the particular time that they did. For example, Romeo may not have even seen Juliet had he not gone to the Capulet’s ball at the time that he did, or the two lovers may not have ended up dead had Romeo not acted so hastily and just waited a few more moments before killing himself.

The language used in this play I found to be a little hard to understand the first few times reading it. It became easier to understand and more entertaining the more times that I read it and then even more so when I actually watched it performed as a play and as a movie. Even with the language being a little hard to understand, I don’t think the story would have taken on the same meaning had it been changed to a more modern vernacular. To me, the “Old English” vocabulary and Shakespeare’s use of such descriptive dialect and rhythms work together to make the play more romantic.

When I was first forced to read this piece, I didn’t enjoy it at all. Of course, I was young and didn’t like to be “forced” to do anything, but back then I also did not have an appreciation for such things. It was hard to understand and I didn’t see what the big deal was. However, when I was able to watch it being acted and I started to understand the story a little better, I found it quite enjoyable. Watching it being portrayed in a small theater with the costumes, lights, and most of all, the passion, it evoked a great deal of emotions in me.

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Loves Cure-All By: Moliere

By Kelsey Chandler

Loves Cure All, also called Love is the Doctor, was written by Moliere in 1665. I first read this story during my Fall 2010 semester in my English book, Literature: Intro to Reading and Writing by Roberts, 9th Edition. The story takes place in Paris around 1665. The story revolves around a single father, Sganarelle, who wishes to keep his daughter, Lucinda, single and at home forever to keep from having to pay a large dowry to a suitor. Lucinda is in love but her father refuses to let her marry so the she and her maid, Lisette, set up a plan to let the Lucinda’s wishes come true by way of tricking Sganarelle.  Lucinda fakes an illness and Sganarelle has many doctors attempt to cure her; Lucinda’s suitor, Clitander, dresses as a doctor and explains to Sganarelle that pretending to get married to him will cure her delusions of wanting to get married. The suitor had brought a Justice of the Peace and singers and dancers, has the father sign the papers, and the marriage is actually official. The father, Sganarelle, does not know until after he has already given his daughter away along with twenty million dollars that he was fooled.

The genre of this play is a satire. Wikipedia describes satire as: “vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be funny, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon.” Wikipedia’s definition fits Moliere’s play exactly. The play is a satire in the way of the greedy father and the clumsy, unhelpful doctors. The play often times flat out insults the doctors and the methods of this time. The treatments of this era from doctors were usually what we would consider strange today, such as bloodletting to allow the sickness out. Satires are meant to be light and enjoyable which is exactly what Loves Cure All is all about.

The protagonist of the play is obviously the greedy father. Sganarelle is the father of Lucinda, the love stricken daughter. He has lost his wife and all other children so Lucinda is the last heir left to his fortune. Sganarelle has refused offers of Lucinda’s hand in marriage because he does not want to pay a large dowry to a man who is a stranger to him. In his words, “I’ll keep my wealth and my daughter to myself.” In the beginning of the story he seems very distraught over his daughter’s sadness and willing to do whatever it takes to make her happy. Once Lucinda informs him she wishes to be married, he acts like he didn’t really hear her. When the maid, Lisette, informs him of her wishes he ignores her and pretends not to hear as well. He is a very stubborn man who believes himself to be superior. He comes off this way because in the conclusion of the story when he believes he is fooling his daughter, he keeps saying, “Oh the fool the fool,” believing that he is outsmarting his daughter when in reality it is the other way around. He shows no character development but stays the same arrogant fool he believes all others to be. Without Sganarelle discouraging the marriage and simply seeking alternatives for his daughter’s happiness, he helps to move the story along.  I would expect him to be outraged and try to end the marriage but Moliere ends the story before we can see his reaction leaving the reader, or audience, to their own conclusions.

I believe Moliere wanted the play to be more enjoyable rather than to be a story which taught lessons, but I do believe there are a few ideas and points revealed. The first ideal that I gather from the story is that love prevails. Even though Sganarelle did everything he could to prevent his daughter from falling in love and marrying, a plan was devised so that the two young lovebirds could be united as one. This is an ideal represented in many modern books and movies, but Moliere presents it in a fresh and entertaining way that our modern era tends to lack. Another point I found to be important is that of humility. Sganarelle was so full of himself that he thought he could not be fooled or talked in to doing anything he did not wish to do. If he were a more humble person and believed that not everyone were beneath him, he may have seen the “Clitander marriage cure” for the sly trick that it was. Instead, he was too busy calling his daughter a fool.

Moliere created a very light, entertaining, and enjoyable play in his work of Loves Cure All. By using the comedy of shortcomings of doctors at the time and the greed of wealthy men, we are granted insight into a world that we never knew of personally. We do not come from a time or place where marriages are forbidden and awards are given, but Moliere allows us to see into a time when those things were the standard in an amusing and witty way. In the end, Moliere produced a wonderful story suitable for all ages, classes, nationalities, and genders to enjoy for years to come.

 Works Cited

Roberts, Edgar V. Literature: an Introduction to Reading and Writing. 9th ed. New York: Longman, 2009. Print.

Wikipedia. “Satire.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 10 Mar. 2011. Web. 15 Mar. 2011. <;.

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