Sunday, October 20, 2013

Responding to Oakridge's Post on Dreams

At Hockaday, we had a fun, in-depth discussion thanks to to Oakridge's post about Richard's dreams in Act V. We considered their questions:

"Is he haunted by his past in his dream in Act 5? Or is he plagued by fears about the future? Does Richard show signs of remorse and guilt? Or does he simply fear the possibility of defeat and loss of power?"

We felt that, yes, to some degree, he probably feels remorse and guilt when we examine his speech in Act 5 Scene 3. However, it is more like he's afraid of his conscience coming to haunt him. It almost seems as if he has a dual personality (Natalie made a good point that the speech reminded her of Gollum), so we never really got the sense that he did feel remorse, only that he nearly did and that he is struggling to reconcile his two identities. We found it interesting that he said that no one would pity him because even he doesn't pity himself. At this point, he seems almost resigned that "no creature loves [him]."

We tried to use this speech to contextualize one of the more famous lines: "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!" We thought that this quote had one of two implications: either Richard is willing to trade his wealth and power for a simple horse (in which case he only wants to survive) or he already recognizes that he has lost and he is simply lamenting that he lost his entire kingdom for lack of a horse. We felt that it was the latter case because of how frazzled he was just before the battle and because he seemed almost resigned to his fate.

When examining the speech, it is interesting that he doesn't think he is worthy of pity. Yes, he committed many terrible deeds, but he probably could have found a way to blame others for shaping his identity through their treatment of his deformity. However, we never get the background story as to why he wants power, and Richard never blames anyone for his actions, only telling us that he is determined to be a villain. Does this mean that Richard takes responsibility for his actions? Could we see him as a tragic hero, or is he truly a villain?

- Emily Z.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Discussing Dreams with Greenhill - Oakridge Fifth Period Responds - Working Title: Inception part 2

Below is a video that Oakridge Fifth Period put together after discussing dreams in Shakespeare’s Richard III. We first want to thank The Greenhill School for directing our discussion on the matter with their previous video in the posting here.
So here’s what we put together, enjoy!

We wanted to end this post with a question regarding Richard. Is he haunted by his past in his dream in Act 5? Or is he plagued by fears about the future? Does Richard show signs of remorse and guilt? Or does he simply fear the possibility of defeat and loss of power?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Responding to Hockaday's Interpretation and Performance of Act 3 Scene 4 - Oakridge 7th Period Ponders the Scrivener's Words

This post started as a discussion inspired by Hockaday’s interpretation of scene 4 of Act 3. We watched their video on the same day we were discussing the Scrivener’s words in Act 3 scene 6. We first focused on Hockaday’s interpretation of Hastings, and we could not help but acknowledge the grossness of his character (lines 11-12 of the Scrivener scene). Could the Scrivener’s words apply to all characters of the play? We also focused on the character of Stanley (a.k.a. Derby) who also was featured in the Hockaday video. Following the Scrivener, he struck us as a character who - while not gross - might be characterized as less than bold (we went with the Folger edition's word choice here for line 13 of the Scrivener scene: Yet who so bold but says he sees it not?)
The discussion gave birth to the following reflection:

-Shanna L. reading Act 3 scene 6
In Act 3 Scene 6 of Shakespeare’s Richard III, a Scrivener says, “Who is so gross that cannot see this palpable device? Yet who so bold but says he sees it not?” The Scrivener is one of the few characters in the play to realize Richard III’s plan. This one short speech given by the Scrivener is so important that it could possibly change our view on the rest of the play. Going back to Act 1 scene 2 where Richard manipulated Lady Anne, our original thoughts were that Richard eventually “wooed” Lady Anne into marriage with only his words. However, the Scrivener’s comments make us think twice: maybe instead of wooing her, it was Lady Anne’s lack of courage to stand up to him.  Or perhaps she’s “gross” in the Shakespearean sense. Maybe Richard doesn’t have as much power as is presumed; maybe the people are scared of him and don’t know how to act or don’t know how to react, and Anne is one of our first examples of this.

-Paul DF
The Scrivener asks the reader to note the sequence of events, making clear it was just five hours ago that Hastings was an innocent man, free of charge. The Scrivener is basically asking who is so stupid that they can't see the games being played, or if they do see the games, who is so self-centered that they will lie or remain silent to protect themselves? I think this shows the essence to Richard’s power. He holds influence over people and gets away with schemes even if they see through his façade; most characters are too worried about themselves to do anything about it. The noblemen of the play – due to ego or grossness – fail to see Richard's true self, thus allowing his influence to remain dominant. Clarence and Hastings, however, thought Richard loved them and didn't listen to the warnings given to them. Hastings and Clarence in this instance could be characterized not as cowardly but as simply “gross.” Hastings, though, seems to best fit the category of “grossness” the best of all; he’s like the horror movie character that goes in the dark basement alone even with the obvious knowledge that the killer is on the loose.

-Angelique S.

With the video above, we wanted to emphasize this notion that Hastings may be the quintessential “gross” character, for he egregiously ignores several signs that might have been able to save his life: signs such as Stanley’s dream and his horse stumbling 3 times as he headed towards the tower. Through his naivety and joy from finding out that Rivers and others were executed, he also misses one key point: Rivers, Dorset, AND Hastings, himself, were all cursed by Margaret to die early deaths. However, Hastings ignores these signs, until the very end, just before his execution. Buckingham could be considered “gross” as well; although he collaborates with Richard III, he is unable to see that from even the slightest ‘betrayal’, Richard is ready to backstab Buckingham. This is later confirmed when Buckingham hesitates to kill the young princes, prompting Richard to refuse to give him the title of earl of Hereford.

-Jason N.
Ok, so what about characters that do see through Richard’s machinations but are “less than bold” to say so? Does this accurately describe Stanly of Derby for instance?
Stanley is a character that sees through Richard's plots and “dangerous inductions,” but does not challenge him because he fears what Richard could do to him. We can see in scene 2 of Act 3 that Stanley is aware that Richard is evil when he sends a messenger to Hastings to warn him after he had a nightmare involving Richard. Another instance where we see Stanley encouraging someone to run away and hide from Richard is in scene 1 of Act 4 when he is talking to Queen Elizabeth saying, "Take all the swift advantage of the hours / You shall have letters from me to my son / In your behalf, to meet you on the way / Be not ta'er tardy by unwise delay" (4.1.49-52). Again and again we observe Stanley worrying about what is to become of him when Richard ascends to power, but he never mentions anything about it in public. Some of us interpret Stanley as trying to go unnoticed by Richard in an attempt to save himself and at the same time not be on Richard's side. Therefore, Stanley is "less than bold" as we see him sneaking around and warning people about Richard while being discreet so not to raise suspicion from Richard.

Another character who proves “not so bold” is the Mayor, and this is seen best in his dealings with Richard and Buckingham on the matters of Hasting’s death and the supposed bastardy of Edward IV in scenes 5 and 7 of Act 3. Interestingly, the common people may be boldest of all as they “spake not a word” in scene 7, refusing to hail Richard as the new king. One thing is for sure, the commoner are anything but gross.

-Meagan, Lexi, and Chase
We wanted to end this post with a question: if the Scrivener’s dichotomy of grossness and cowardliness explains the reactions of most characters in the play, how do we explain the women such as Margaret and the Duchess of York who do see Richard’s evil AND do have the boldness to say so? Why does it fall on deaf ears?
Thanks Hockaday for inspiring this discussion by directing our attention to the behaviors of Hastings and Stanley of Derby!

            -Oakridge Seventh Period

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Deformity and Social Pressures

                This past Friday, we in Literature and Philosophy discussed how deformity and monstrosity play a part in Richard III. We approached this discussion through the lens of several other works we’ve read over the past week, including pieces such as WEB Dubois’ “The Souls of Black Folks” and Linda Charnes’ “On Reading the Monstrous Body in Richard III,” as well as the general ideology of Aristotle.
                We took the idea of deformity as a sign of immorality and extrapolated it further into what its impact might have been on Richard’s life before the play begins.
                Even within the short time span of the first three acts of Richard III, Richard is called devilish and hellish many times. Furthermore, he is frequently insulted for his deformity. Considering his society’s views on the meaning of deformity, perhaps both insults were telling Richard the same thing: you are evil.
                Now contemplate what Richard’s life must have been like before the play begins. It is unlikely that those around him started their taunts and insults only within the action that we see. Rather, it is far more likely that Richard has been dealing with these insults, with these declarations of his ill character, for his entire life. Moreover, due to society’s influence, it is likely that he believes in the superstition the rest of his society holds: that deformity signifies inherent evil. As he has lived with deformity his entire life, he may have internalized the belief that he is inherently evil and has no choice but to prove a villain.
                To complicate the matter a bit, we looked at Richard’s character from the perspective of WEB Dubois’ “The Souls of Black Folks.” In this work, Dubois speaks of a dual-consciousness within blacks, a double image of themselves. One comes from what society thinks they are, the other comes from who they believe they are. He also goes on to describe the conflict between the two consciousnesses—how it can cause a great deal of strife within the mind of afflicted.
                It is hard to argue that Richard displays a dual-consciousness within the play itself. He seems confident in his actions, never hesitating to murder even his own brother. However, we discussed the idea that all that we see of Richard’s dual-consciousness is within his opening monologue. That all the conflict that occurs within Richard, the entire battle between what society expects and what he believes himself to be, takes place before the play begins. We speculated that perhaps Richard’s opening monologue is his capitulation to society’s expectations: he cannot prove a lover, as he believes himself to be, so he will prove a villain, as society desires.
              Despite this capitulation, however, we believe that a part of Richard’s self-generated consciousness is displayed through his incredible eloquence in his rhetoric. The deformed were evil and monstrous within Richard’s society—they were certainly not well spoken or charismatic. These traits were far more likely to be attributed to handsome, romantic characters like Romeo. As such, we consider Richard’s rhetoric to be something that he cherishes within himself, something that he cultivated as a part of his own identity, and something that remains despite his concession to society’s whims.

To read more on deformity, see "Deformity as Clarification" and "Deformity and Feminization"

By: Jessica C., Hockaday School 

Deformity as Clarification

                This past Friday, we in Literature and Philosophy discussed how deformity and monstrosity play a part in Richard III. We approached this discussion through the lens of several other works we’ve read over the past week, including pieces such as WEB Dubois’ “The Souls of Black Folks” and Linda Charnes’ “On Reading the Monstrous Body in Richard III,” as well as the general ideology of Aristotle.
We next considered another view on deformity during Shakespeare’s time, as well as his society’s view on villainy. In “On Reading the Monstrous Body in Richard III,Linda Charnes states that during this time, outward deformity was considered a sign of inward moral deformity. Any sort of deformity signified vileness and malignance in the heart and soul of a person.
We set aside that definition for a moment to consider the society’s view on villainy. In our society, we can immediately see the Richard is villainous, evil. Killing on any scale is, in general, not socially acceptable at all. We consider it a flagrant sign of immorality. However, during Shakespeare’s time, this may not have the case. Shakespeare lived in an era where men dueled to the death for their honor, where executions were public entertainment, where the Black Plague raged. For those who were watching Shakespeare’s plays, death was simply a part of life. Killing may not have had the same moral significance for them as it does for us.
Furthermore, there is a great deal of killing that goes on in the play, many of which originates from different characters. How, then, could the audience know who was the most evil. The villain. 
In light of both perspectives on Shakespearean life, we discussed that perhaps Richard’s deformity was not solely metaphorical. Perhaps it was meant to clarify to the audience that Richard is, in fact, the villain. While scheming to kill might not have alerted the audience to Richard’s malignant nature, his deformity certainly would have.

To read more on deformity, see "Deformity and Feminization" and "Deformity and Social Pressures"

By: Jessica C., Hockaday School 

Deformity and Feminization

This past Friday, we in Literature and Philosophy discussed how deformity and monstrosity play a part in Richard III. We approached this discussion through the lens of several other works we’ve read over the past week, including pieces such as WEB Dubois’ “The Souls of Black Folks” and Linda Charnes’ “On Reading the Monstrous Body in Richard III,” as well as the general ideology of Aristotle.
                We first considered the fact that, during the time of Shakespeare and Richard III, deformity was thought to be very feminine. In fact, women were the epitome of deformity, as the ideal person was not just white, not just free, but also, and primarily, a man. Furthermore, women’s deformed bodies reflected their inherently deformed souls. According to Aristotle, women were, by their very nature, unable to reach the higher Truth and reason that was so valued.
Because women represented the epitome of deformity, we considered the idea that any other deformed person was thereby associated with femininity, feminized by their deformity. We took this idea from something that we commonly see in our society: when someone appears to be weak or acting ‘cowardly,’ we tend to taunt him for acting “girly” or “like a girl.”

And we found that this idea carries over to Richard III as well. We see Richard’s deformity and weakness prominently in the play through his mangled hand. Due to his hand, Richard cannot do many things that men are traditionally meant to do in his society. It is likely that he cannot fight adequately and, as Richard admits, he cannot prove a lover either. Because of this weakness, Richard is, in a sense, feminized. He is simply not as masculine as his brothers and the other members of the court. And from the perspective of his opening monologue, when he says that because he cannot prove a lover he will prove a villain, this deficit and feminization of Richard may very well have been the driving force behind his descent into villainy.

To read more on deformity, see "Deformity as Clarification" and "Deformity and Social Pressures"

By: Jessica C., Hockaday School

Friday, October 4, 2013

Horror conventions and dreams in/from Richard III

Fellow learners and lovers of Shakespeare, Recently, Greenhill's AP lit class filmed two impromptu conversations--one on horror movie conventions echoed in Richard III and another on dreams in Richard III. Talk back please!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Act 3 Scene 4 Interpretation

Our interpretation of the scene focused on emphasizing two crucial aspects of the play: Gloucester’s constant facade masking his sinister nature and Hastings’ naivety. As Gloucester enters the scene, we purposefully depicted him as overly cheerful, blatantly contrasting with his subversive nature during his subsequent conversation with Buckingham. Even though Richard is only making a grandiose pretense of pleasantness, we portrayed Hastings as truly falling for Gloucester’s facade because he says: “with no man here [Richard] is offended; / For, were he, he had shown it in his looks,” (3.4.58-59). This interpretation aligns with our earlier understanding of the play, for it shows a continuation in Gloucester’s ability to manipulate people in order to achieve his goal and his lack of empathy for anyone who gets in his way.

In terms of Buckingham, we attempted to portray his subtle, seditious nature which we first see in Act 2 when he suggests to Richard that they not stay behind but rather go themselves to get the prince so that they may better influence and control him, “part[ing] the Queen’s proud kindred from the Prince,” (2.3.155). Here, in Act 3, Scene 4, we interpreted Buckingham to be attempting to fortify his own facade when he tells the rest of the company gathered around to discuss the coronation that he knows only Richard’s face and not his heart (lines 11-13). We interpreted this as an attempt to distance himself from Richard even though in reality he knows exactly what Richard’s intentions are, and is even facilitating and supporting his goals.

By: Shreya A. & Natalie N., Hockaday School