Tuesday, August 1, 2017

To Be Or Not To Be

I'm reading Harold Bloom's 'Shakespeare, The Invention of the Human' and finding it fascinating. Bloom has a chapter on each play, grouped by category but also chronologically. This allows him to compare characters to previous characters and, in part, charts how Shakespeare's progress developed. I'm hugely enjoying it, and (once again) am thankful that I read all of the Bard's plays last year.
One very interesting idea that Bloom uses has to do with the Shakespearian soliloquy. He believes that the character, while talking to themselves, overhears what they are saying and then reacts to that. In turn, they develop their character based on what they've learned. In effect, they ideas that they lay out are not fully developed. They may even come as a surprise.
I'm imagining Hamlet's famous line then as something like this: "To be or not to be, that (?!?) is the question?" Hamlet is surprised that he has come to a question of suicide as a way out. He then weighs the pros and cons and continues.
Frankly I love this idea.

Bloom is also in love with Falstaff, especially of Henry IV, part 1. He loves Falstaff's vitality and life force. I can't blame him. Bloom also says that we are wrong to see Falstaff as a coward and I can't quite read that version out of what the text tells me. Which isn't to say that Bloom is wrong. Merely that I need to reread the play.

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