Sunday, July 13, 2014

Shakespeare Challenge: Ten Relationships

The final Shakespeare Challenge: finding ten relationships, good or bad, harmonious or dysfunctional.

10. Relationship [1] Othello and Desdemona

Against all societal convention, Othello and Desdemona fall desperately in love and marry. They treat each other as equals—at first. Desdemona makes Othello happier than he could have imagined, and Desdemona deeply admires the experienced Othello. One gets the impression that they would have had a long and happy marriage if everything didn’t go AS BADLY AS IT POSSIBLY COULD.
OTHELLO: Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul
But I do love thee! And when I love thee not
Chaos is come again.

10. Relationship [2] Benedick and Beatrice

Beatrice and Benedick have a long “friendship,” which consists of exchanging barbed insults. They talk about how much they despise one another until, thanks to interfering friends, the two fall in love. Their relationship is one of equals, as they have met their match.
BENEDICK: Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.

10. Relationship [3] Cassius and Brutus

Cassius manipulates Brutus into killing their friend and leader, using his strong moral sense against him. But Cassius relies on Brutus. They conspire together and go through great danger together.
BRUTUS: When I spoke that, I was ill-temper’d too.CASSIUS: Do you confess so much? Give me your hand.BRUTUS: And my heart too.CASSIUSO Brutus! 

10. Relationship [4] Hotspur and Lady Percy


Hotspur and his wife have a, shall we say, fiery relationship. The macho and sexist Hotspur has an equally headstrong wife, Lady Percy, or Kate. But underneath their many arguments lies a true affection.
LADY PERCY: In faith, I’ll break thy little finger, Harry,
An if thou wilt not tell me all things true.

10. Relationship [5] Bottom and the Rude Mechanicals


The enthusiastic, arrogant, and bombastic Bottom is one of Shakespeare’s funniest creations. He and a group of laborers are part-time actors. In spite of his immense stupidity, his confidence inspires the other actors’ admiration. They flee from Bottom when fairies turn him into an ass (get it?), but they reunite to perform in front of the court. Their shenanigans and tragic play are absolutely hilarious, and there is something endearing about their dedication to one another and to the play.
QUINCE: If we offend, it is with our good will. That you should think, we come not to offend, But with good will. To show our simple skill, That is the true beginning of our end.

10. Relationship [6] Mistress Ford and Mistress Page


These two badass ladies run rings around the men in their lives. One husband is super jealous, the other is laid back. One man tries to seduce them both to get their money. They find all this to be hilarious. They’ve known each other since childhood, and when together, they are as mischievous as clever schoolgirls.
Above: their secret handshake in a production I saw at the London Globe.
FORD: I think, if your husbands were dead,you two would marry.

10. Relationship [7] Rosalind and Celia


Rosalind and Celia are very close cousins. When Rosalind is banished, Celia defies her father and goes with Rosalind into the forest. Rosalind dresses as a boy and Celia as a peasant girl. They share secrets about love until their relationship gives way to heterosexual romance.
CELIA: we still have slept together,Rose at an instant, learn’d, play’d, eat together,And wheresoever we went, like Juno’s swans,Still we went coupled and inseparable.

10. Relationship [8] Macbeth and Lady Macbeth


Macbeth admires his wife’s steely resolve. Though Lady Macbeth berates and pressures her husband, one gets the impression that this relationship is fairly equal. They consult and advise one another. They have gone through hardships together. Once the killing starts, though, the two become increasingly estranged until Macbeth is too numb to mourn his wife’s death.
MACBETH: Bring forth men-children only, For thy undaunted mettle should compose Nothing but males. 

10. Relationship [9] Henry V and Catherine


After defeating France, Henry V woos French princess Catherine over a language barrier in a charming scene. However, there is plenty of ambiguity here, considering this is an arranged marriage between conquered and conqueror.
KING HENRY V: O fair Catherine, if you will love me soundly with your French heart, I will be glad to hear you confess it brokenly with your English tongue.

10. Relationship [10] Antony and Cleopatra


Unlike most lovers on this list, Antony and Cleopatra are middle-aged. In spite of their experience, they are rash, dramatic, and passionately in love. But balancing love and work, when it involves running countries and working at cross purposes, can be messy, even for the most formidable historical icons.
ANTONY: Egypt, thou knew’st too well
My heart was to thy rudder tied by th’ strings,
And thou shouldst tow me after. O’er my spirit
Thy full supremacy thou knew’st, and that
Thy beck might from the bidding of the gods
Command me.

That's it. Hope you enjoyed it! :) 

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