From a Shrew’s Point of View

shrew photo

 

Below is a creative writing exercise I wrote in my university’s Shakespeare class a few years ago.

Journal piece on Taming of the Shrew from Katharina’s perspective in first person. Hope you enjoy.

[Baptista’s house and street]

            As I gaze out of the window onto the cobblestone streets below, there are a gaggle of knaves and gentlemen, all of whom are weak in heart and body.  They fear me, which I take pleasure in because I do not wish to marry if all men in Padua are in this state or manner, nor do I enjoy being forced into marriage.  I will not obey my father in marrying whomever he wishes to join with me into foolish matrimony.   Besides, he favors my delicate sister, Bianca, who has no backbone, who bends her will to nearly every man, believing her obedience is proper and in good female fashion.  Ay, but how does this act serve her in the end?  Will she marry one of the weak fools stumbling eagerly about before our father’s house?  For she bears her tender heart to those knaves, who will lord over her, I suspect.

No man is able to trick me with their trembling knees and wan faces into having me believe they are stronger than I and love me more than a hundred crowns.

Hark, who goes there?  Father is conversing with a rogue who calls himself Petruchio, who is crooning flowery proses and elaborate orations about me.  Oh, but he is relentless, keeping to me like a persistent hunting dog.  How clever he thinks he is!  And grossly tactless in his threatening to strike me if I were to slap him again!  Alas, he says he will marry me next Sunday, and he leaves my presence and my father’s house, giving me reprieve for a time.

I sit in wonder.  He hath the strength of an ox and the cunningness of a fox, flattering, lovely words that elevate my person, whilst at the same moment, spurts forth violent words with his acidic tongue.  He must be mad!  Yet, he is dedicated and determined with the deliverance and appearance of a rogue lord.  I am overcome with confusion and a swelling heart.  Father gives his blessing for us to be married.

The following Sunday, I’m robed in a beautiful wedding gown, but Petruchio not is he here.  Hath he made a fool of me?  After the efforts I’ve produced to be present for this farcical marriage, the brute has no tact, no feelings.

[Enter Petruchio in gaudy garments on a tattered horse]

            He hath arrived in garments meant for a jester, but he is present.  He and I marry before the priest, God, and the townspeople, and my new roguish husband wishes to leave our wedding banquet because of business.  Pray, what business?  He says not what business.  My heart beats obstinately, and I will please myself and stay with family and friends to feast and dance.  But he forbids my staying and carries me out, sets me on a donkey, and we travel to the long trek to his home in the cold, wet day and evening.

When we arrive, exhausted and famished, he gives me no meat, no food, no rest.  My strength has abated, and I am desperate for sustenance, but none is given to me for a day and more.  What knavery, what heartlessness!  Why hath my husband done such horror?  He does not love me as he incessantly declares.

He tears up my dress for my sister’s wedding before we are to leave to go to town.  I am more sorrowful, hopeless than bitter.  But a dress I do at last have.  I realize I cannot get what I want without obeying him.  I must agree with all he says for he, his servant, and I to go to the wedding.  In doing so, he softens a bit, and I, too, have softened my heart…although my heart did become tender toward him in that first encounter in which he visited my father’s house and wooed me in strange, unique ways and declared he was going to marry me.  I am pleased that my obedience has brought about gentleness from Petruchio.

It was fate that brought Petruchio and I together, inasmuch as he’s tamed my stubbornness and pride, I, too, have tamed his.

 

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Required Reading

classic books in book shelf

The other day, my younger son, who’s in high school, informed me that he’d be reading the Hunger Games for his English class. Last semester he read In Cold Blood by Capote.

Times have changed, or it may have, depending on the school.

I’ll tell you the books I had to read (I hated reading when I was in school at any time from 1st-12th grade), but was pleasantly surprised, when I actually did read some of them. I actually liked them very much. Here are some that I had to read from junior high through high school and which ones I actually read (the ones I truly read are bolded):

The Hobbit

Call of the Wild

Romeo and Juliet

The Merchant of Venice (read in class)

For Whom the Bells Toll (didn’t get past the first page. Didn’t care for Hemingway’s simplistic writing)

Huckleberry Finn

A Tale of Two Cities

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Great Gatsby

The Scarlet Letter

Out of the ones I read, the only one I didn’t care for was The Scarlet Letter. I really like detailed descriptions, but Hawthorne took it to the nth degree, and there were portions where he’d go off on tangents, and I’d forget where the characters were and where the scene was taking place.

But as for the others, I loved A Tale of Two Cities, The Hobbit, Huckleberry Finn, and The Great Gatsby.

In college, I had the good fortunate to be able to read all kinds of wonderful classics and interesting literature as well:

The Yellow Wallpaper

Frankenstein 

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (portions)

Metamorphosis

Pride and Prejudice

Lady Susan 

Othello

The Last Man (portions)

Things Fall Apart (portions)

Twelfth Night

Taming of the Shrew

Beowulf (sorry, didn’t like this one!)

And other books from other countries, like the Thirteenth Night.

Lots of great stories. I especially loved The Yellow Wallpaper, Twelfth Night, Metamorphosis, The Last Man, and Frankenstein.

The portions of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were brilliantly written. Stevenson’s words are like reading a psalm. Beautiful.

Mary Shelley’s writing is similar in that regard, as well. Poetic and stunning.

I read To Kill a Mockingbird on my own back in 2010 just because I wanted to. Great book.

So, I’m wondering when my son will be reading any of these or other classics. Perhaps I’m a literature snob, but the classics are incomparable and vital reading material for teens, in my opinion.

I wrote my son’s English teacher to see if he had a list of the books the students would be reading the rest of the semester. I’d like to see if there are any really good books on the list–classics, I mean. I’ve not gotten an email back as of yet. Hopefully, I will.

The previous private Christian school my sons were in in Lancaster, PA, had amazing reading lists with some of the books I mentioned above.

My older son took British Literature and World Literature his junior and senior years, and he read Fahrenheit 451, Wuthering Heights, Things Fall Apart, The Kite Runner, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, to name a few.

Am I being too picky? A literature or book snob? Do public schools not offer the classics anymore? Are In Cold Blood and The Hunger Games considered “classics” now? If the old classics aren’t being offered in English classes anymore, that’s a big disappointment to me.

I may have my son read Frankenstein on his free time over the summer. It’s a short book, and it’s awesome, with lots of important messages.

 

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Best Christmas Movie Ever!

happened on fifth avenue four pic set

Okay, the title is a bit subjective, because this will be my opinion on the best Christmas movie ever, but you probably figured that out, and I’ve wasted your time typing this first line of explanation. 🙂

I’ve actually written on this movie a couple of years ago around this time. But it bears repeating.

If you haven’t seen It Happened on 5th Avenue, your Christmas movie collection is not complete. Yes, it’s an old black and white movie (I personally love b&w old classic films), but so is It’s a Wonderful Life, and it’s one of the most cherished Christmas movies. Although It’s a Wonderful Life is a wonderful movie, It Happened on 5th Avenue tops it, in my humble opinion (as well as my family’s).

So, if you haven’t seen this wonderful movie, you’re probably wondering why haven’t you. Don’t worry. We hadn’t heard about it at all until about five or so years ago when I got a DVD with a collection of four, old classic black and white movies. One of them was It Happened on 5th Avenue, and my family sat down and watched it before Christmas some years back and fell in love with it. We wondered why this wasn’t more popular. Its message is stellar; its storyline, cute and beautiful; its characters, fun, likeable, and realistic.

Picture a middle aged to elderly man with his dog, squatting in one of the top wealthiest men’s homes each winter, encountering people in need, welcoming them to dwell with him in this mansion through the cold and snowy New York City winter.

Here’s a blurb of the storyline via Amazon:

Every winter, Michael J. O’Connor, the second richest man in the world, leaves his 5th Avenue mansion for warmer climes. Every winter, Aloysius T. McKeever, homeless man, moves into the 5th Avenue mansion. This particular winter, McKeever meets Jim Bullock, an army veteran who has recently been evicted from his apartment and offers to share the mansion with him. It’s not long before the mansion has a few more guests, including: Jim’s army buddies and their wives and children; runaway heiress Trudy; and even Michael J. O’Connor, himself.

Watch a short clip from the movie via You Tube. Then find it online to watch or order it on Amazon. You won’t be sorry!

Add this to your Christmas collection, and increase the joy of Christmastime!

 

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