What Fools We Mortals Be

By:  Sydney Vollmer

Rackham, What Fools These Mortals BeWe all remember Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  What a little imp.  Well, actually, he isn’t quite an imp.  He’s more of a hobgoblin.  In fact, Puck is less a name than a species.  Throughout mythology, “Puck” is interchangeable with “Robin Goodfellow.”  The names come in different forms among various languages, but they all translate roughly to either “pixie” or “hobgoblin.”

Throughout A Midsummer Night’s Dream, poor Puck is given orders to put spells on people he doesn’t recognize and things go awry.  His willingness to perform, and then correct, shows his true obedience to King Oberon.  However, if you aren’t King of the Fairies, a puck may not be as obedient.  Pucks have a knack for being temperamental.  It’s said that they’ve been known to do some minor household chores if they take a liking to you, but the helpfulness stops as soon as you offend them. Continue reading What Fools We Mortals Be

Dealt a Similar Hand: An Analysis Between Macbeth and House of Cards

By:  Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

With our political choices today, we wish we could pretend that what’s going on is some twisted, comedic version of House of Cards.  Unfortunately for all of us, it’s completely real.  There’s no use in dwelling on it, so let’s just pretend it doesn’t exist by diving back into House of Cards while we (patiently) await the fifth season.

Macbeth and Frank Underwood

I’m not a big HOC buff, but I saw the majority of episodes each time my dad monopolized the couch after every season’s release.  The series magnifies brutality and corruption, somehow getting its audience to root for unlikeable characters.  Truly, there is no one on the show that you can look at as the underdog, or the person who deserves their prize.  When you think about it, the show is a complete extension of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, if his characters hadn’t died at the end.  I’m certainly not the first person to make this comparison—not by a long stretch—but I did come up with this realization without external influences.  That means that the comparisons are so strong that multiple people individually have stood up and said “Frank Underwood is the modern-day American Macbeth.”  And there is plenty of evidence to back this up; I’ll show you what I mean. Continue reading Dealt a Similar Hand: An Analysis Between Macbeth and House of Cards

Joe Should Respect the Throne in Scotland, PA

By Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

Do you remember when I thought there were a lot of film adaptations of Hamlet?  Well, it turns out that number is nothing compared to the number of films made on Macbeth.  The adaptations started as early as 1916 and are still running strong.  Over the past 100 years, more than 15 film adaptations have been created.  That number doesn’t even include the amount of television shows based on the play, episodes with Macbeth as their title, or all of the times the play has been filmed for television. (See full list below.)  Many of these films are direct adaptations, but a few are creative twists on the traditional story.  These twists include: Joe MacBeth (1955), Throne of Blood (1957), Men of Respect (1990), and Scotland, PA (2001).

Joe MacBeth film poster

 

Joe MacBeth
1955
1h 30m

In this adaptation, we no longer are traipsing through dark castles in Scotland, but ducking through the alleyways as Lily MacBeth urges her husband to take down the top mob boss.  Starring in this movie is Paul Douglas as “Joe MacBeth” and Ruth Roman as “Lily MacBeth.”

 

Continue reading Joe Should Respect the Throne in Scotland, PA

Greed Makes Ghosts in the Scottish Hills

By: Sydney Vollmer

MacbethActors have this weird superstition about the name “Macbeth.” I know you’re not supposed to say it inside a theater unless you’re actually rehearsing the play, but I wonder if there is an official rule on saying it outside before the show starts. My reason for asking is that this summer the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has chosen to add Macbeth to their list of free Shakespeare in the Park performances along with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Romeo and Juliet. Continue reading Greed Makes Ghosts in the Scottish Hills

I’m Insulted We Haven’t Talked about This Sooner

By: Sydney Vollmer

When the stupid *$&@___ in front of you in line can’t make up their *@($-ing mind, don’t you just want to pull out your hair and tell them what an %*$%&*! they’re being? But you can’t. Why? Because there are children around. And because we live in a “civilized” society where doing such things would get you kicked out. After all, you just want your #$*(-ing coffee! Four letter words won’t save you this time. You’ll have to get more creative.

William Shakespeare Continue reading I’m Insulted We Haven’t Talked about This Sooner

Tales from the Rare Books Room

By:  Sydney Vollmer

GhostWhat’s more chilling than a good book? Perhaps the ghost that guards them. It’s been awhile since my encounter…but I decided that the world needed to know about our much rumored ghost.

Whether it is a he or she, we cannot say. For the sake of time and space, let’s call it a “he.” He resides in our rare books room here in the Archives & Rare Books Library in Blegen—one level above the library space that is open to the public. Some background on the rare books room:  it’s cold (necessary for preservation), it’s dark, (again, necessary), and it’s spooky (necessary for Ghost and Internpreservation?).  When you get up the stairs and open the massively heavy door, all the lights are off. Each individual row of book shelves has its own light. Last year, one didn’t. Continue reading Tales from the Rare Books Room

Jonesing for Some Good Illustrations

By:  Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

Winter's Tale CoverIt’s always a surprise what you’ll find when you go up to the rare books room. Last week, Kevin (our head here in the Archives & Rare Books Library) asked me to go find half-a-dozen beautiful Shakespeare volumes for a presentation given to the dean’s advisory committee. I went upstairs. There were the Charles Knight editions. They’re nice, but we’ve done so much with those already. I pulled the Rackham, Dulac, and Thompson volumes, because they’re classic illustrations that everyone enjoys seeing. I still needed at least three volumes…

Winter's Traces, Act 1, Scene 2 Continue reading Jonesing for Some Good Illustrations

Hunting the Bard

By:  Sydney Vollmer

Do you like games? Are you good at finding things? (We’re looking at you, Hufflepuffs!) Know any Shakespeare? GREAT! Join us in our Shakespeare Quote Scavenger Hunt!

On Tuesday, March 29th, we hid 5 Shakespeare Quotes around campus. They could be anywhere! Here’s the idea: You follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get the most up-to-date clues. You find one of the quotes we hid. You bring it to the Archives and Rare Books Library on the 8th floor of Blegen. You tell us the Shakespearean work the quote is from. We give you a prize! (And these are good prizes. You want it. Yes. YOU.)

Here are the clues we’ve given so far…Each number corresponds to a different quote and location. Continue reading Hunting the Bard

What IS-A WSC?

By:  Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

rackham-title-1ISA, a much friendlier acronym than another “IS” we know, stands for the International Shakespeare Association. Why wouldn’t the world have an ISA? It’s one of those organizations I always assumed exists, but in that unspoken sort of way. As it turns out, I was incorrect, as this organization is very much established.

The idea was conceived during a World Shakespeare Congress (more on that in a bit) held in Vancouver in 1971. Since then, the organization has evolved with the mission of:

Offer[ing] an opportunity for individuals and institutions to join together to further the knowledge of Shakespeare throughout the world… The ISA’s central commitments are to advance the education of the public by furthering the study of Shakespeare’s life and work by such means as the Trustees determine, including by:

  • Organising, holding, and promoting participation in the World Shakespeare Congress and disseminating the learning from that event;
  • Offering advice and assisting in the establishment of national or regional Shakespeare associations. (WSC 2016).

Continue reading What IS-A WSC?

It’s Hard to be a Woman: Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroines

By:  Sydney Vollmer

Cordelia, Desdemona, Juliet, Lavinia, and Ophelia: What do these strange names have in common? For one, they are all women in Shakespeare’s plays, as you might have guessed. More specifically, they are all characters from his tragedies. Based on their individual circumstances, it’s easy to see that Shakespeare was not kind to his women—but to be fair, he wasn’t very kind to the men in these plays either. Even so, I’d like to point out that none of these women died because they did something wrong. Most of these women died as a result of men acting irrationally. Most of them were pawns in games of power Laviniaor revenge. At least the men died because they were the ones that did something stupid, so some of them kind of deserved it. It’s hard to discern the order in which to rank these undeserved tragedies, but I’m going to go ahead and let Lavinia take the crown.

Poor Lavinia, from the devastating tragedy of Titus Andronicus, is the daughter of the play’s namesake. Her father deals in some shady business about who he is going to have her marry, and it ends with her being dragged through the woods by three men. It’s pretty easy to guess what they wanted to do with her in the woods. After they each had their fill, they cut off her hands and slit her tongue out of her mouth so she couldn’t reveal what had happened. Eventually, she was able to write out what had become of her by holding a stick in her mouth and writing in the dirt. Enraged, her father took revenge on the men. Then he realized that since his daughter was no longer innocent and this had happened out of wedlock, she was not fit for life. He then killed his daughter whom he had just worked so hard to avenge. Feel free to argue that another woman on this list had it worse, but I’m pretty sure we’re all in agreement on this one. Continue reading It’s Hard to be a Woman: Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroines