Well, to begin, I must note that these blog entries are certainly a beneficial exercise in analyzing, interpreting, and understanding the works of William Shakespeare. By putting myself to the test every other week, focusing on particular elements of Shakespeare’s rich plays, I have been learning more from this class than I would have ever imagined. Equally effective are the responses to our peer’s blogs. By reading others’ perspectives, I realize elements of the plays that I would have otherwise completely missed. Sometimes, one of my peers will expand on a notion that crossed my mind, and they see it in a different way or at least pay mind to something I would have discarded. Of course, commenting thoroughly and adequately requires analysis of the analysis, and often, even more new information is brought to the table.
I find my own blog posts to be quite insightful, especially the last two. I am becoming more consistent in using textual evidence to support my claims. I prefer, and enjoy, focusing my attention on a singular aspect of the text—a word, theme, motif, language—and “beating it to death,” so to speak. Elaborating on every conceivable nuance of a particular element can be exhausting but rewardingly revelatory, as our class discussions prove. I plan to continue focusing on very particular aspects of the plays we read in my future blog posts and hope that I can fascinate my audience and myself with what I discover.
Looking back at my first post, entitled “Why have a play within the play?” I see how I broadly described my reaction to reading the rude mechanicals’ “Pyramus and Thisbe” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I did not use any textual references and failed to make clear connections between the works I was comparing (The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, and Hamlet along with A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and, therefore, it resulted in a quite incomprehensive posting. As I wrote it, I remember feeling like I bit off more than I could chew, as the topic seemed better suited to an essay instead of a succinct blog. I was also nervous trying to figure out how to post on the PBworks site due to my confusion caused by Hawkmail’s incompatibility with everything. I was pressed for time and, therefore, hastily conceived the entry. Nevertheless, re-reading it, I found this particular post to raise some really insightful points, as well as a compelling essential question: why have a play within the play? Though I did not answer the query adequately myself, I would like to examine it further someday.
My second post, “When it comes to Shakespeare, nothing is unworthy of noting,” is an ideal entry and one I am quite proud of. I wrote it concisely and precisely, focusing simply on the play on the name Hero in Much Ado About Nothing. The post, noticeably shorter than my first, examined Shakespeare’s cleverness in naming Claudio’s beloved Hero of all names. The word itself connotes innumerable possibilities, and its usage in this particular play is especially remarkable. In my entry, I examine one particular scene, a pivotal one at that, where Shakespeare, in his writing, plays on the name, word, and concept of “hero.” I was trying to accomplish two things: highlighting Shakespeare’s wit in general and giving the audience and myself a deep understanding of the wordplay in this particular scene and how closely scrutinizing it gives us a better appreciation of little details in the text.
In my third and most recent post, “Iago’s true motive?” I wrote a nearly essay-length entry that delves into Iago’s motive for being so villainous. Though certainly not an original idea, I found the prospect of Iago harboring homosexual feelings for Othello which drive his evildoings a tantalizing subject to examine. Though it may be a very twenty-first century perspective, if one looks at Iago’s character as a frustrated gay man, his thought, words, and actions do seem to make more sense. I am not saying that I truly believe he is gay, but since we do not have a definitive answer to the question of Iago’s motives, we cannot rule out the possibility. Also, looking at Iago through such a lens gives his character an entirely new meaning to modern readers. I am not sure myself how homophobic Elizabethan society was (I know that some activity, to a degree, was accepted), but I would assume that if it was known to the play’s other characters that Iago was homosexual, they would not have a favorable opinion of him. From a modern perspective, that sort of negative, discriminatory judgment would make Iago seem more of a sympathetic character, one whose feelings we can understand a whole lot better, and so it changes the way we view him entirely. I found that possibility intriguing, so I built my post around the proposition, “well, what if?” Though I do not believe I found the answer to Iago’s villainy, I think I brought to attention something worth considering and definitely revisiting later in my studies, should the opportunity arise.
Overall, I find the experience of maintaining a weekly blog very rewarding for reasons that transcend our Shakespeare I class. As a Secondary Education major, I am always looking for ways to incorporate technology, namely the Internet, into the classroom, most importantly, in ways that benefit students and enhance their learning. This blog has inspired me to use a site like PBworks to engage my students in their studies. Its user-friendly format is appropriate for students of all ages, and it allows a forum for them to share perspectives which would otherwise be seen only by the instructor to evaluate with a grade. Each and every student’s perspective is rich and helpful, and a forum in which thoughts can be shared is truly helpful for all. On a more micro basis, prompting students to focus on a specific aspect of a work using textual evidence to support their claims is a useful exercise that can only improve their abilities as writers and critical thinkers. That is what this blog does for me, anyway. I believe I am becoming a better writer as I continue blogging, and hopefully, I can do the same for my students someday by making blogging an essential part of my teaching strategy.