Medea: Women can be wicked.

It’s slightly shameful how much I respect Medea for killing her kids. Or rather, I can fathom her. I understand her.

Although this play was not written with pro-feminism intension, this play does display a dynamic woman taking revenge. In Oedipus Rex, a different greek mythology play, we saw Jocasta kill herself in order to escape her sorrow after learning that she married her son. This is the typical reaction that we expect from women in plays, that they drown themselves in their own personal hell until it consumes them. However, Medea chooses to drag everyone else into her hell. I respect this play for humanizing Medea (and women) through showing that she is capable of the darker side of humanity too, — anger, revenge, and envy. Medea is not a good person by any means, but I can’t help but respect her for choosing to hurt Jason in the most vicious way possible. We love to hate the villain, but I can’t help to love it even more because the villain so happens to be a woman.

Source: Medea

Fate only works if we believe in it.

While Oedipus is often taught as a story about fate, the story could be reinterpreted today as a story about how we are able to gaslight people into guilt without proper evidence. Although we like to believe that the Gods are all powerful and knowing, the story begins with the Oracle defeated the Sphinx, a powerful God that was attacking Thebes. From the beginning of the story, we see that the Gods can be outsmarted and defeated. Therefore, the prophesies are not evidence enough to show that Oedipus is the son of Jocasta because the Gods are flawed.

Furthermore, Fosso is able to show other inconsistencies between the death of the old King and Oedipus’s narrative of how he killed a wanderer. In our translation of the play, it is mentioned that “Chorus 5: He was the victim of an ambush. Many men it seems, came and slaughtered him.” However, in Oedipus’s narrative of events, he alone killed the man and his men. This inconsistency is vital because it is sound proof evidence that is neglected. Rather than compare narratives, Oedipus and Jocasta focus on what the Gods have said to them.

In “Oedipus Crux: Reasonable Doubt in Oedipus the King”

 

Source: Fosso, “Oedipus Crux: Reasonable Doubt in Oedipus the King”

Greed

Oedipus: The reason that Teiresias drove me mad was that he reaffirmed a prophecy given me in my youth – Not only that I would kill my father but far, far worse. That I would marry with my mother and seed her children.

Young Jocasta: He saw, he said, curled in the womb, a killer. This child would kill its father. I ran away from the place as far and as fast as I could.

Both Oedipus and Jocasta were aware of their futures since they were young, and yet did not consider it while they were getting married. As my last blog post discussed, Oedipus married Jocasta out of his desire for fortune, not love. Therefore, it is his sin of greed that caused this dilemma. However, Jocasta is not blameless either. As she chose to save her child from death, she too was greedy in wanting him to live rather than let him die.

Source: Oedipus Rex (2 of 2)

Oediups the Fortune Hunter

Chorus 9: (J) The Queen asked Oedipus to remain.

Chorus 4: And he said yes, for he was seeking his fortune.

Chorus 8: (C) A fortune hunter.

Chorus 7: He took the crown and he watched the queen.

Due to the Oediups Complex, we like to think Oediups fell in love with the queen, his mother because of the psychology theory that sons are attracted to their mothers while developing. However, according to this translation of the play, it is more evident that Oediups decided to marry the queen because he “was seeking his fortune” and she represented power and wealth. Here we see that Oedipus was a “fortune hunter” and that he “took the crown and he watched the queen.” Through indicating that he took the crown before he watched the queen,  it shows that his interest lies in the power of being royal and then his future wife.

During their first interactions, we see Oediups interested in owning the queen, rather than being interested in her personality. As Chorus 5 states: “And the young man looked at the city. And the young man looked at the people. And the young man looked at the Queen, like a man who might choose the fruit from a market stall.” In this simile, it is indicative that Oediups is interested in possession rather than love. As a side note, this fruit simile could be an allusion as forbidden fruit in the Bible.

In addition, it’s interesting to see the amount of foreshadowing. While there are moments during the Oracle and prophesies, the Chorus also plays a role in showing how the play will end.

Oedipus: I will rid the city of this Sphinx.

Chorus 8: (C) Beware young man. The Sphinx will devour you.

Oedipus: I will rid the people of this Sphinx.

Chorus 4: Beware young man. The Sphinx will destroy you.

Oedipus: I will rid the Queen of this Sphinx.

Chorus 9: (J) Beware young man. Beware.

During the Chorus 9’s line, the repetition of mentioning the Sphinx stops. When he mentions that he is going to get rid of the Sphinx for the Queen specifically, the Chorus only repeats “beware,” indicating the strength of the Sphinx is not his only tribulation. In the first act of this play, we can see foreshadowing of how is Oedipus’s desire for fortune will lead to his demise.

 

Source: Oediups Rex (1 of 2)

Aristotle on Tragedy (Summary)

By watching the hero suffer, we feel emotions usually translated to English as “pity” and “fear” — we pity the other person’s suffering, and we fear that something like that could happen to us.

In the Cherry Orchard, the comedy is seen through the dialogue but the tragedy is the reality of the situation and how we fear that we may too lose power someday. In the story, Lyuba and her family have to see their ancestral cherry orchard become chopped down so that they can afford their other properties. Although the family is spoiled and did not come up with a plan to save their orchard, the audience feels pity for them as they have to watch their precious orchard get killed. In that moment, the audience worries that if they too are not careful and discard old ways, they too will have to endure lower but courageous people working and reaching higher places than them.

 

Source: Aristotle on Tragedy (Summary)

Zubarev and Chess

In chess, the focus was on the step-by step improvements of the position directed toward small advantages. The accumulation of those advantages was important for growing a future combination within the position; it was also a mighty antidote against the competitor’s combinations and a great chance to survive unexpected outcomes.

Similarly, Chekhov writes his comedic plays as small moments of comedic times. While at large the Cherry Orchard could be confused as a mere tragedy as Lyubov and her family watch their orchard be cut down, the dialogue between characters switches between funny and dark. For example, Gaev basically deeply converses with inanimate objects, such as a bookcase. However, this scene is also a metaphor for how learning and education is being replaced with courage and raw passion for change. These double meanings and moods create this show to be comedic.

Source: Zubarev

Weblog Portfolio

This is my blog used to express my various viewpoints and insightful observations about the texts read in the SEL 263 01 Topics: World Drama class. In this class, different plays and musicals have been read from around the world from different time periods. My objectives of this class were to expose yourself to a broad range of dramatic literature and gain experience recognizing and interpreting basic dramatic elements. Through my blogposts, it is evident that I achieved these goals through engaging with the text and supported my claims with evidence.

  • Depth: In order to write with “depth,” it is important to provide detailed and varied textual evidence to support a claim. In my blog, two blog posts that demonstrate depth are “Close Reading: the Language used in Trifles” and “Humanizing the Soldiers.” In my close reading of Trifles, I discuss how the language change from using the individual identity of “I” to a collectivist identity of “we” signifies that the women in Trifles believe that there is a joint womankind experience. In my blog article about York’s Crucifixion, I discuss the dialogue used by Jesus and the soldier to support the idea that the story does not intend to show the soldiers as the villain but rather people performing a duty. In both of these posts I analyze text from the stories and embed quotes into my argument. In addition, I wrote with depth when I compared the different texts between each other. For example, I wrote a post about how both Lopakhin from The Cherry Orchard and Shylock from the Merchant of Venice go through a moment of pure karma as they both attempt justice within the law.
  • Riskiness: A “safe” post demonstrates that I read and understood the text. It is the bare minimum for a reading and demonstrates only comprehension. However, a post with “riskiness” shows that I can create theses with evidence and analyze texts beyond the basic meaning. A safer post that I made would be after reading  Everyman by Anonymous. Every reader should be able to see that each of the friends were the personifications of their names: Good-deeds, Knowledge, etc. However, a riskier post that I made was analyzing how in Capek’s RUR, the scientists turn from wanting to be God to actually praying. Likewise, the robots go back to the humans when they can’t create new robots. In addition, I compare the similarities between how God created man in his own image and how robots were created in man’s image. With these textual evidence, I claimed that our relationship with God is similar to the robot’s relationship with us in that we ask for help only to turn our back against God when we are safe. This shows riskiness because I compared scenes in the story and found connections through analyzing the two groups: scientists and robots. In addition, I took a risk in my post about Nine. The play had reminded me about a quote about how women can be categorized in four ways: mothers, virgins, sluts, and bitches. Through using a simplified lense and examining all of the women in Guido’s life, I was able to see how this play objectifies these women into simple roles and how when they go against their mold, they become dynamic characters. This blog post demonstrates riskiness because it uses intertextuality between a film quote and a musical to show how women are dumbed down in the musical. Likewise, another risky post that I made was about the American Dream and Lopakhin. In the post, I discuss how Lopakhin’s drive to buy the very property that his father and grandfather were practically slaves on is the embodiment of the American Dream, to reach farther in life than one’s parents did. These posts are risky because they compare the plays to other texts and concepts with textual evidence.
  • Intertextuality: Intertextuality is the ability to compare and contrast ideas across different texts, whether it be between plays, articles, between different people’s blog posts. When I responded to an academic article about the true murder that inspired Trifles, I compared the characteristics of the actual killer to the characteristics of Mrs. Wright. Through doing so and reading in the article that this woman may have been a model for Mrs. Wright, I was able to conclude that both woman coldly were aware of their actions when they killed their husbands. The article provided great insight into the background of the play. In addition, I was able to compare ideas between plays of the same author when I examined women in Chekhov plays and saw how their relationship with marriage was similar. Through comparing texts, common themes and messages become evident.
  • Discussion: When I first read Nine, I saw Guido as a selfish womanizer, who simply categorized women. This is seen through my post about Nine that showed how Guido saw men. However, after reading and listening to Josh Reardon discuss about how Guido isn’t just selfish but is fighting for his films, I gained perspective on the difficulties of being a suffering artist. When I saw Nine, I began to actually sympathize with the charismatic Guido. Luisa’s song “My Husband makes Movies,” is her lament over his strong passion. In my reaction post to Nine, I wrote about how Josh’s commentary on Guido made him less of a jerk and more of a honest artist. However, most of the discussions took place inside of the classroom rather than on the blog.
  • Timeliness: When reading The Merchant of Venice, I blogged about how Portia represents how “all that glitters is not gold” because while she is rich, she is a racist judgmental character. However, I came back to this moment in another post after she finally ends up with Bassiano and she is happy that he can see her for who she is. This moment was rather ironic because she cannot get past Morocco’s complexion or Shylock’s Jewish background. In addition, I wrote about American Dream and Lopakhin after our class discussion of how the Cherry Orchard could have taken place during the Southern Belle time period. I wrote timely blogposts after class discussions because they inspired me.
  • Coverage: I have blogged consistently and on time. Although there were times that I did not blog with much length, I always attempted to share some deep thought with evidence on the stories that intrigued me, such as The Merchant of Venice and Trifles.

Through my blog posts, it is clear that I have tried to interpret and engage with a broad range of plays through always attempted to analyze text with depth, risk, and timeliness. However, I need to work creating more discussion with other students and using intertexuality to compare different text. In the future, I am going to try to comment on people’s blogs more and write more posts based on discussions in class.

Source: Weblog Portfolio

The American Dream and Lopakhin

The cherry orchard is mine now, mine! [Roars with laughter] My God, my God, the cherry orchard’s mine! Tell me I’m drunk, or mad, or dreaming. … [Stamps his feet] Don’t laugh at me! If my father and grandfather rose from their graves and looked at the whole affair, and saw how their Ermolai, their beaten and uneducated Ermolai, who used to run barefoot in the winter, how that very Ermolai has bought an estate, which is the most beautiful thing in the world! I’ve bought the estate where my grandfather and my father were slaves, where they weren’t even allowed into the kitchen. (3.151)

Although I already commented on quote in my last blog entry, I can’t help but comment on why did Lopakhin succeed as a peasant who socially climbed to riches and owning the land his father was a slave on to Gaev, the educated man who was left behind to die. In class, we discussed how this story is very similar to a Southern Belle story where class is similar to race. Likewise, Lopakhin’s rise to success is do to his motivation to do better than his parent, just like poor immigrants who try to rise above in their social class to achieve the American Dream (to do better than your parents). I can’t help but think about my own parents who probably felt the same joy when they moved to America and just bought their first house with indoor plumbing and such. This story is about the changing times of Russia and the rise of the peasants while the aristocrats remain stagnant about their problems, however, this narrative is repeated throughout history. Those who are rich and comfortable will be forgotten and those who are motivated to break ancestral bondage will rise and the dynamic will switch.

Source: The Cherry Orchard (Acts 3

Seeing Nine Reactions

After watching Nine, suddenly it’s easy to see how charming Guido really is. Although it’s written in the script that Guido is a “Casanova,” it isn’t until you watch the show in person where you realize how easy it is to fall for Guido. There’s a line in the story where minor characters who are fawning over Guido say how he makes you feel like you’re the only woman for him and the only person there.

Then, when you watch the wife and mistress watch themselves in a meta play within a play, you can see the magic spell become broken. Suddenly he’s not Mr. Charming, he’s a player. I absolutely loved watching the women see themselves in the play ask they just seem so betrayed and ashamed. These women then stare at each other, seeing not “the other women” but just another person who is a victim to Guido’s art. Suddenly it becomes evident that the only true love in Guido’s life is not any of the women, it’s his art and passion to create movies. Suddenly I understand Josh’s perspective, as he wrote on his blog that Guido is not simply selfish. If he was, perhaps he would have just continued his affair with all of the women and he would quit the film he was working on. Instead, you see him suffer for his art because he wants to create good films. The facial expressions and the charisma, these are things that no amount of writing can fully portray.

Lopakhin and Shylock: Karma feels amazing.

The cherry orchard is mine now, mine! [Roars with laughter] My God, my God, the cherry orchard’s mine! Tell me I’m drunk, or mad, or dreaming. … [Stamps his feet] Don’t laugh at me! If my father and grandfather rose from their graves and looked at the whole affair, and saw how their Ermolai, their beaten and uneducated Ermolai, who used to run barefoot in the winter, how that very Ermolai has bought an estate, which is the most beautiful thing in the world! I’ve bought the estate where my grandfather and my father were slaves, where they weren’t even allowed into the kitchen. (3.151)

Talk about a dramatic moment. Suddenly, Lopakhin’s true character is seen as he clearly sees himself as different than Lobov and her children. This isn’t their friend or Varya’s potential future husband, this is a man who bears his ancestral woes and climb the social ladder to make his dead father proud. No wonder why he doesn’t marry Varya, he sees himself as different from them. They were the family would even “allow [his grandfather and father] into the kitchen.” And here, he finally buys that land legally. In a way, that moment of ugly pride for being able to win within the system must have been the same way Shylock felt when he thought he won in court against a Christian. Karma is finally served and it feels amazing.

Source: The Cherry Orchard (Acts 3