Henry VI Parts 1, 2, and 3

Monday, January 16, 2017

Henry VI Part 1, 2, and 3
By William Shakespeare 

Shakespeare’s histories have always felt less accessible to me than his other work. But I realized the other day that it’s probably because I’m not that familiar with the people involved. What is the musical “Hamilton” if not our version of Shakespeare's histories? It’s a theatrical show based on our own country’s history. Shakespeare's histories are not as easy for us to understand because we they are covering a time period that we don’t always learn about. But during Shakespeare's time everyone knew who those dukes and kings were, just as we know names like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Anyway, all of that to say that these three plays worked much better for me than some of the other histories of his I've tackled and I think it’s because I finally made that connection. It was also incredibly helpful to me to watch the Hollow Crown series before reading the plays. It covers all three of these plays although it's called Henry VI Part one and two, it's really a combination of parts 1, 2 and 3.They are so well done and watching those first helped me picture a face with a name while reading the place, which helped me keep all the characters straight.

These plays are part of the eight plays that make up the War of the Roses. Henry VI Part 1 includes the original scene where the characters pick a white or red rose to declare their allegiance. From there it’s a constant stream of battle and betrayal as they all fight for the thrown. Poor King Henry VI is thrust into his role as monarch when he’s only a baby. The death of his father meant a life time watching others attempt to steal his throne. Almost everyone in the plays comes to a bloody end by the final curtain. 

A few thoughts:
Margaret was such a bad ass. She was conniving, but she was strong where her husband, King Henry VI, was weak. I have to admire her and she certainly has some of the best lines. 

We meet the infamous Richard in these plays. I'd read and seen Richard III before, so reading these gave me a better understanding of his character's background. He’s a delicious villain and one that I loved getting to know.
“Why, I can smile and murder whiles I smile,
And cry 'content' to that which grieves my heart,
And wet my cheeks with artificial tears,
And frame my face for all occasions”

BOTTOM LINE: I ended up loving them. I was surprised by how hooked I got on the War of the Roses drama, but it’s like a soap opera. It’s amazing to see how power seems to corrupt all the touch it. Even those who are not driven with a desire for power are often the easiest to steal power from, because they aren’t as vicious as others. I would definitely read part 1, 2, and 3 back-to-back because they work better as one continuous story. I also highly recommend watching the Hollow Crown series first, but just dive into the plays and enjoy them! 

“Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind.”

“For where thou art, there is the world itself,
With every several pleasure in the world,
And where thou art not, desolation.”

“Unbidden guests are often welcomest when they are gone.”

The Trial

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Trial 
By Franz Kafka


“The term "Kafkaesque" is used to describe concepts and situations reminiscent of the author’s work, particularly The Trial and The Metamorphosis. Examples include instances in which bureaucracies overpower people, often in a surreal, nightmarish milieu which evokes feelings of senselessness, disorientation, and helplessness. Characters in a Kafkaesque setting often lack a clear course of action to escape a labyrinthine situation.” - Wikipedia

Considering the fact that this novel inspired the term “Kafkaesque” it’s an understatement to say it’s hard to follow. A man, K., is arrested at the beginning of the book. Throughout all of the twists and turns that follow, he never learns why he is arrested or what any of the charges against him are. He fights through one bureaucratic line of red tape after another, but with no success.

It’s a strange book, full of weird encounters, unexplained conversations, and surreal situations. But at the same time, can’t we all relate to the mind-numbing experience of trying to understand something the government has decided? We’ve all felt helpless while trying to deal with an insurance company’s absurd rules or a simple misunderstanding turning into a huge problem because a corporate entity has gotten involved.

BOTTOM LINE: I didn't love it, but I appreciate that Kafka perfectly highlighted the absurdity of bureaucracy. It was weird, but I’m glad I have a better understanding of what it mean for something to be “Kafkaesque”.

My Word for 2017

Friday, January 6, 2017

Quality time. Quality things. Quality over quantity. Quality books and movies. Quality experiences. This word just keeps popping up when I think about what I want from the upcoming year. 

The past year has been a whirlwind. A new baby definitely changes your priorities and makes some things much trickier. It's harder to spend time relaxing and watching a movie or grabbing a beer with a friend. Definitely still possible, but harder. Your time is limited and you want to make sure you are finding some sort of balance between home/friends/work, etc. 

With that in mind I find myself once again thinking about QUALITY. I want to do all of those things, but it might be less often than before, so I want each moment to count. I feel the same way about things. Having a baby brings a whole lot of stuff into your house. You quickly realize that your home can be filled with plastic junk if you aren't careful. 

I've purged so much in the past year and a half and it's so freeing! When I bring something into our home I want it to be something that will last for years. Whether it's wooden blocks for Sydney or a new pair of shoes for me. I'm done with buying junk.

So that's my 2017 goal. Quality in every aspect of life. Do you have any goals for the new year?