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Showing posts from June, 2011

Satire in the English Renaissance Pastoral

Pastoral literature from the English Renaissance may remind today's reader more of fairy tales and fables than pieces of great literature. Examples from this period could be relegated to the world of kitsch alongside porcelain shepherd and shepherdess salt and pepper shakers or the mediocre oil paintings of impossibly idealized bucolic country sides, second cousins to oil-on-velvet paintings of sad clowns and Elvis Presley. At first glance, the pastoral's ruffle-clad shepherdesses and pan-flute-playing shepherds generally fail to garner much literary respect or stir much interest; however, "first glance" may not be a worthy inspection of this particular genre. These seemingly quaint fables may not be what they first seem; the very fact that pastorals occupied some of the greatest poetic minds of the English Renaissance could imply the form at one time spoke to something deeper and more substantial than a pan flute, courtly shepherd, or velvet Elvis ever could. The Eng

Cinematic Narration and Shakespeare's Plays

Many of the limitations William Shakespeare faced in the technical facilities of the Elizabethan stage are answered in the nature and abilities of modern film. Where Shakespeare seemed to yearn for a way to express the true colors of his vision through words, film offers a ready palette and the ability to "show" what Shakespeare could only "tell." Shakespeare's theater, with its lack of technical resources, painted verbal pictures of battlefields and fantastical places, scenes and exchanges in a span of places from the underworld to the heavens, and snapshots of a character's inner thoughts and feelings, entirely through words. By its nature and technical abilities film has a broader visual vocabulary available to it than Shakespeare's theater could ever access. In Henry V the chorus laments the limitations of Shakespeare's Elizabethan stage: . . . Can this cock-pit hold The vasty fields of France? Or may we cram, Within this wooden O, the very cas

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Gilbert and Sullivan Characters

The bulk of Leone Cottrell-Adkins' opera troupe had been performing together for years, but opera was a new experience for the fledgling small-town community theatre who now hosted them, and for me. As an eighteen-year-old stage manager I was actually a little intimidated by the whole thing. I had managed to sit through their production of Mozart's  Cosi fan tutti, but the finale brought welcome relief. However, their production of the Gilbert and Sullivan mainstay operetta,  The Mikado , was another story entirely. I had never been exposed to the sublime ridiculousness of G & S before then, but I melted each time the lead soprano sang  The Moon and I and thrilled at each performance of the Act I finale. I laughed at all the little jokes interspersed through the dialogue, and even vaguely understood a bit of the social and political satire. If it weren't for herding around that chorus of ancient singers, the experience would have been a dream. In fact, as I became mor

How Obscure Clarity Can Improve Your Writing

In On Writing , Earnest Hemingway says, “I try always to do the thing by three-cushion shots rather than by words or direct statements. But maybe we must have direct statements too.” E.B. White is often quoted with, “Be obscure clearly.” Hemingway's three-cushion shot and White's obscure clarity could be seen as extensions of the “show, don’t tell” advice often given to fiction writers, but the implications of both techniques could mean added texture for a story, allowing the reader to fill in the blanks from his own experience. Case Studies for Obscure Clarity Utopian and dystopian literature have long been strongholds for the imaginative use of obscurity. Inventing new societies, new governments, and new social norms have been the hallmark of these genres. In the process they have specifically capitalized on the use of satire, symbolism and euphemism. Utopian and dystopian authors have utilized White's obscure clarity through the names assigned to characters, locations,

The Female Gothic in Emily Bronte ' s Novel, " Wuthering Heights "

Emily Bronte ’s Wuthering Heights may find its roots in the Female Gothic , but this novel builds the genre’s typical “female coming of age” theme into a powerful narrative of broader scope and appeal. It takes the basic elements of the genre and expands upon them in a new and unique way. While it could be argued much of the purpose of Wuthering Heights is similar to others within the Female Gothic genre, its treatment of the basic themes has allowed the novel to transcend the limitations experienced by lesser works within the genre. Typical to the Female Gothic there is a castle, and in Wuthering Heights it is no less symbolic than earlier predecessors such as the fortress in Elizabeth Bonhote ’s earlier novel, Bungay Castle . In Female Gothic, images of a castle and its related structures are said to symbolize both the patriarchy and the feminine body. As such, on a symbolic level the female protagonist’s experiences navigating these challenges allows her to move from innocence to