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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Pieces of Paradisiacal Prose

butterfly beauty

We all know and enjoy the written beauty that is found in poetry.  I know we readers also appreciate beautiful prose in fiction (and in creative nonfiction). When I come across such glorious text, I have to read it at least three times, drinking in the imagery, language, and writing style of the author’s work.  I’ve read a few books in the past two year mostly for my World Literature and Romantic Literature classes, and some of the writing really struck me at how stunning and masterfully written it was.  So, I’m going to share with you a few excerpts from three books.

plain truth book

First is a more contemporary piece.  It’s a piece of lovely writing from author, Jodi Picoult, in her novel, Plain Truth, that I read in my free time and finished a couple of weeks ago.  One of the main characters has been longing to have a child for the past several years, and she finds out she’s pregnant, which is a total surprise to her.  Here’s what the text says:

In the past five years, I had wanted a baby so much I ached. I would wake up sometimes beside Stephen and feel my arms throb, as if I had been holding a newborn weight the whole night. I would see an infant in a stroller and feel my whole body reach; I would mark my monthly period on the calendar with the sense that my life was passing me by. I wanted to grow something under my heart. I wanted to breathe, to eat, to blossom for someone else.

As a mother of two sons, I can not only relate to these words of hope, longing, and love, but also admire how she wrote it.

 

dr. jekyll & mr. hyde book

I read excerpts from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for my World Literature class several months ago, and I fell in love with Stevenson’s writing style.  It was beautiful.  Beautiful prose about the struggle of good and evil within a person.  I do plan to read the whole story one of these days!  The excerpt I’m going to share is the evil side that possessed the doctor as Hyde whenever he drank that nasty potion!

Instantly the spirit of hell awoke in me and raged. With a transport of glee, I mauled the unresisting body, tasting delight from every blow; and it was not till weariness had begun to succeed, that I was suddenly, in the top fit of my delirium, struck through the heart by a cold thrill of terror. A mist dispersed; I saw my life to be forfeit; and fled from the scene of these excesses, at once glorying and trembling, my lust of evil gratified and stimulated, my love of life screwed to the topmost peg. I ran to the house in Soho, and (to make assurance doubly sure) destroyed my papers; thence I set out through the lamplit streets, in the same divided ecstasy of mind, gloating on my crime, light-headedly devising others in the future, and yet still hastening and still hearkening in my wake for the steps of the avenger. Hyde had a song upon his lips as he compounded the draught, and as he drank it, pledged the dead man. The pangs of transformation had not done tearing him, before Henry Jekyll, with streaming tears of gratitude and remorse, had fallen upon his knees and lifted his clasped hands to God. The veil of self-indulgence was rent from head to foot, I saw my life as a whole: I followed it up from the days of childhood, when I had walked with my father’s hand, and through the self-denying toils of my professional life, to arrive again and again, with the same sense of unreality, at the damned horrors of the evening. I could have screamed aloud; I sought with tears and prayers to smother down the crowd of hideous images and sounds with which my memory swarmed against me; and still, between the petitions, the ugly face of my iniquity stared into my soul.

Nearly all of Dr. Jekyll’s confession at the end of the book is like a psalmody.  Amazing and glorious writing style.

 

the last man by mary shelley

Lastly, I read The Last Man by Mary Shelley for my Romantic Literature class and absolutely fell in love with Shelley’s poetic, beautiful, flowing prose.  I was so moved by it, I read it at least five times, and to my husband, son, and friend.  It has to be some of the best writing I’ve ever laid eyes on!  Here are three excerpts of her aesthetic work:

The laughing morning air filled them while sun-light bathed earth, sky and ocean–the placid waves divided to receive our keel, and playfully kissed the dark sides of our little skiff, murmuring a welcome.

Behold us now in our frail tenement, hemmed in by hungry, roaring waves, buffeted by winds.  In the inky east two vast clouds, sailing contrary ways, met; the lightning leapt forth, and the hoarse thunder muttered.

I thought I saw Adrian at no great distance from me, clinging to an oar; I sprung from my hold, and with energy beyond my human strength, I dashed aside the waters as I strove to lay hold of him.  As that hope failed, instinctive love of life animated me, and feelings of contention, as if a hostile will combated with mine.  I breasted the surges, and flung them from me as I would the opposing front and sharpened claws of a lion about to enfang my bosom.  When I had been beaten down by one wave, I rose on another, while I felt bitter pride curl my lip.

 

Unbelievable talent!  I hope these pieces of paradisiacal prose made your day and life richer and more beautiful. 🙂  I’d love to see your favorite excerpts of aesthetic writings.  Please feel free to share them below. 🙂

 

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