“The fact is, Shakespeare was not sectarian; he pleaded nobody’s mission, he stated nobody’s cause. He has written with a view to be a mirror of things as they are; and shows the office of the true poet and literary man, which is to recreate the soul of man as God created it, and human society as man has made it.” – George Dawson
Green Eggs and Hamlet
I ask to be or not to be. That is the question I ask of me. This sullied life, it makes me shudder. My uncle's boffing dear sweet mother.
Would I, could I take me life? Could I, should I end this strife? Should I jump out of a plane? Or throw myself before a train?
Should I from a cliff just leap? Could I put myself to sleep? Shoot myself or take some poison? Maybe try self immolation?
To shudder off this mortal coil, I could stab myself with a fencing foil. Slash my wrists while in the bath? Would it end my angst and wrath?
To sleep, to dream, now there's the rub. I could drop a toaster in my tub. Would all be glad if I were dead? Could I perhaps kill them instead? This line of thought takes consideration- For I'm the king of procrastination.
I have a hard time finding a more important characteristic to teach a child than honesty. Not being an honest person (internally and externally) sets one up for failure in life. But what did Shakespeare say about this quality in a human being? “If thou be honest and fair your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty.” (Hamlet). Honesty and beauty go hand in hand. Over and again in Shakespeare’s writings honesty is cherished. In tragedy, as well as comedy, Shakespeare emphasizes the importance of honesty. Touchstone, in As You Like It, offers this wisdom “Rich honesty dwells like a miser, sir, in a poor house.” Honesty is wealth and should be guarded in “unfriendly” territory! Honesty is a gift, as Katherine says “A beard, fair health and honesty. With three fold love I wish you all these three” (Love’s Labors Lost). And so that is my wish for you…fair health and honesty, with or without the beard!
TIME TO PLAY: Play a theatre game! “Two Truths, One lie”. This game is played with 2 or more people. One player tells the others two things that are true about himself and one thing that is untrue. The others have to guess which statement is the lie. Statements might be something like “My favorite color is blue. I own two cats. I have a scar on my leg.” If you are playing this with people who know you well, try picking another subject, like an historical event. Give two things that are true about the event and one thing that is a lie. If you play with younger kids, provide them with statements about a subject they are studying or a book they have read. Let them guess which is the lie!
EDUCATION – STUDY IS LIKE THE HEAVEN’S GLORIOUS SUN
It seems only right to begin a discussion of the importance of learning about William Shakespeare, his writings and philosophies, with the subject of education. What did Shakespeare say on this topic? The opening scene of the comedy LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST, begins with several characters discussing the creation of an academy and the rules that should cover the education within. “O, these are barren tasks, too hard to keep,
Not to see ladies, study, fast, not sleep!” Should a good education consist of no food or sleep…just hours devoted to study? Perhaps not for Shakespeare also says “Is not birth, beauty, good shape, discourse, manhood, learning, gentleness, virtue, youth, liberality and such like the spice and salt that can season a man?” (Troilus and Cressida). Education, then, I would say, according to Shakespeare should carry with it some moderation. Not everything you learn in life comes out of a book! The old proverb “All work and no play makes Jack (or anyone) a dull boy” rings true even today!
But when we study, what should we study? What did Shakespeare say? Perhaps the broad knowledge of the liberal arts? In Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare writes “And toward the education of your daughters, I here bestow a simple instrument. And this small packet of Greek and Latin books. If you accept them, then their worth is great.” Perhaps, Shakespeare, as many of his contemporaries, believed in a classical approach to education. Whatever his personal beliefs, Shakespeare did give good advice on the subject. “No profit grows where no pleasure ta’en” (Taming of the Shrew). Whatever you choose to study (or teach)…take pleasure in it! Relish the time and the privilege afforded to you! Stolen moments to increase your mind! And above all – remember: set a good example for others! “It is good divine that follows his own instructions. I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching” (Merchant of Venice).
What will you learn today?