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The Assassination of Julius Caesar: Controversial retelling of the fall of the Roman Republic Nominated for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize, there is a lot to dissuade the serious reader of Roman history in Michael Parenti's "The Assassination of Julius Caesar". A radical commentator on contemporary society and historical memory, Parenti applies a "Marxian-lite" analysis of the late Republic. In hearing a talk he once gave, one comment he made stands out; "One of the great pleasures of learning history is not the learning it but the unlearning of preconceived notions". To that end he has an axe to grind with historians of the era and, in the first chapter, he names names and takes few prisoners. The effect of all this is to put the reader off a bit. I was taken aback as Parenti railed against the "gentlemen historians" and the class based prism that they have used to interpret the assassination of Caesar. The question Parenti sets out to answer is not who killed Caesar, that is well established, but why. His answer is that the conspirators were representative of the most reactionary elements of a conservative Senate and the wealthy class interests they defended. To Parenti the domestic policies of the late republic were the politics of class warfare. Landed interests expropriated land from citizen-soldiers away on war, voted themselves subsidies and lowered their own tax burden. Lower class citizens were denied a majority of the wealth flowing into the Republic (the result of new conquests) and deprived of their small farms with little but the tribunes to protect their interests. Attempts by reformers such as the Gracchi were seen as a usurping of the republic's institutions, most importantly the Senate. To Parenti the senatorial exhortations to uphold the "rule of law" were natural; the Senate passed...
pages: 4 (words: 894)
comments: 0
added: 08/26/2012
The Assassination of Julius Caesar: Sincere and Heartbreaking Historical Document Critics who fail to see through the very blindnesses Parenti challenges throughout this book are just proving his point. It is not, as "L.C" Robinson asserts above, that Parenti thinks everybody is wrong. Parenti's interest is not in some puerile (and typically American) debate over who is right and who is wrong, but rather a very fair and disinterested discussion about the consequences of crippling class stratification in ancient Rome and, as it turns out, throughout much of the history that followed. People like Mr. Robinson speak from precisely the privileged perspective Parenti works so tirelessly to challenge here. It is unfathomable to people such as himself that there are those for whom education is a pipe dream, an unattainable aspiration prohibited by the financial situations into which they were born. From the days of Sallust, Seutonius and Polybius on down to Edward Gibbon, education was a privilege reserved for the wealthy. Literacy rates in ancient Rome were horrific; the vast majority of the population could neither read nor write. This insurmountable disadvantage persisted over thousands of years and continues even today, when there are only two ways by which an American kid gets a good education: rich parents, or a willingness to plunge oneself into tens of thousands of dollars into debt (I myself owe $57,000 in student loans, which will not be paid off for 30 years). In less developed nations, literacy rates remain as bad as they were in Caligula's day. Still, though, America's own literacy rate ranks just 48th in the world (see Morris Berman's "Twilight of American Culture"). Of course, some of us are lucky enough to land a scholarship or grant, but that is too often like winning the lottery. People like Seutonius and...
pages: 4 (words: 898)
comments: 0
added: 12/18/2011
THE CHANGING ROLE IN VIOLA/CESARIO INThe Twelfth Night In Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night", it is clearly evident that the fluctuation in attitude to the dual role and situation and tribulations imposed upon the character of Viola/Cesario ends up in a better understanding of both sexes, and thus, allows Viola to have a better understanding for Orsino. Near the opening of the play, when Viola is adopting her male identity, she creates another self, like two masks and may decide to wear one or the other while swinging between the two identities in emotion and in character. She decides to take on this identity because she has more freedom in society in her Cesario mask, which is evident when she is readily accepted by Orsino, whereas, in her female identity she would not be. Thus, a customary role in society and to the outlooks of others is portrayed. Orsino sees Cesario, as a young squire just starting out in the world, much like himself as a young, spry lad, so he has a tendency to be more willing to unload onto her with his troubles and sorrows, seeking a companion with which to share and to teach. Thus, Viola grows in her male disguise to get a better feeling for his inner self, not the self that he shows to the public, or would reveal and share with Viola in her true female self, but rather his secret self, as he believes he shares with a peer. So, she grows to love him. But, Orsino's motivation is actually not love for Viola, but rather he seems to be in love with love itself. His entire world is filled with love but he knows that there might be a turning point for him, like when he says: If music be the food of...
pages: 4 (words: 1023)
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added: 10/02/2011
1.Introduction Characters have always been and still are the focal point of every play. This is not surprising, since it is they who make up the whole story. Judging by the way they talk and gesticulate, they do not only determine their own personality but they also develop the plot, the social context, the atmosphere and the theme of the whole play. Language is the most important factor, when it comes to identifying and analysing a certain character type. The picture that we, as the reader, get of a character is, on the one hand, a reflection of what he says, and, on the other hand, of how he says it. This will become clear if we look at the opening scene of As you like it. Here, Orlando complains in an inexorable stream of words about his upbringing - if he has had one at all -, in which he was treated like the black sheep of the family. He keeps me rustically at home, or, to speak more properly, stays me here at home unkept...His horses are better bred, for, besides that they are fair with their feeding, they are taught their manage. (1.1. 6-11) This extract from Orlando's first speech is 'a shout of protest.' (Doebler, 111) In twenty-three lines Orlando gives vent to his wrath, a wrath he has choked back for much too long. He tries to portray himself as an uneducated and foolish person, a person who has been kept like a menial. Yet, it is made quite clear to the reader that this is not the case at all. Orlando draws a parallel with his brother's cattle, thus, becoming aware of the fact that even the horses and oxen are superior to him, for 'they are taught their manage.' (1.1. 11) Orlando chooses...
pages: 15 (words: 3877)
comments: 0
added: 11/13/2011
Most of the 127 sonnets Shakespeare wrote to one of his close male friends are united by the theme of the overwhelming, destructive power of time, and the counterbalancing power of love and poetry to create and preserve beauty. Sonnet 73 is no different, but it does present an intriguing twist on this theme. Most of these sonnets address the youth and beauty of his male friend, as well as poetry's power to immortalize them, but number 73 addresses the author's own mortality and the friend's love for him. Also, subtly woven into this turning inward is a lament that the creative vitality represented by the poems themselves is fading away, along with Shakespeare's own life. Shakespeare seems to mourn most not his own mortality, but the fact that the creation of his love poems must itself one day cease, and this is a "death" more keenly felt by Shakespeare than mere mortality. As usual, the sonnet breaks into four convenient sections, the three quatrains and the ending couplet. Each segment presents a new image to drive the point home. The first quatrain begins "thou mayst in me behold," then the second "In me thou seest," and the third also "In me thou seest" again. This repetition lends unity to the theme, and helps convey ideas from one segment to the next. What follows in each stanza is a new image of decay and death. The sequence and relationship of these metaphors shows a conscious effort at continuity, showing the death of the creative power in various guises. The first quatrain uses one of the oldest metaphors for approaching age and imminent death there is, the coming of autumn. A couple of inventive images make the metaphor work in an especially apt way, however. In the first couple of lines,...
pages: 6 (words: 1436)
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added: 10/27/2011
The Life of William Shakespeare The life of William Shakespeare, unquestionably the world's most renowned playwright and poet, is based mostly on conjecture and inference, with the exception of documented facts acquired from his works, and surviving church and legal documents. Although the actual date of William Shakespeare's birth was never recorded, accounts from Holy Trinity Church verify that he was baptized on April 26, 1564. Because infants were traditionally baptized within 3 days of birth, it is generally accepted that he was born on April 23, 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. The third of eight children, Shakespeare was the first son of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden, who were married in approximately 1557. John Shakespeare, a glover and leather merchant, was well respected in Stratford, where he held many civic offices, including High Bailiff, the equivalent of a city Mayor. Throughout William's early childhood, John was considered a solid, successful citizen, but for reasons unknown, at some point during the late 1570's his fortunes began to decline, and he ceased participation in local government affairs. That Shakespeare actually attended grammar school is unknown, but it is likely that he was educated at The King's New School, given his father's status as a prominent citizen of Stratford. There, Shakespeare would have studied Latin and possibly Greek, and been exposed to such literary greats as Ovid and Plautus. While we know that Shakespeare did not attend a university, the events of his life between adolescence and early adulthood remain a mystery and have become the topic of much debate. The next documented event in Shakespeare's life is his marriage to Ann Hathaway on November 28, 1582. At 26, Hathaway was eight years older than Shakespeare, and three months pregnant at the time of their nuptials; it is probable that the two were...
pages: 3 (words: 690)
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added: 09/12/2011
In the 16th century, Jews were discriminated against especially in England and Venice. Christians believed that the Jewish race was inferior to them and that Jews should not be accepted into their society. The following paragraphs will explore the sufferance of and discrimination against the Jews through Shylock's speech in act one, scene three, lines 102 to 124. Firstly, the Jews are often 'rated' by Christians 'in the Rialto, as seen from the first two lines of Shylock's speech: "… many a time and oft/ In the Rialto you have rated me". 'Rated', in this context, means to berate, or, in other words, to criticise. Shylock was probably reminded of this issue through the word 'rate' in his previous speech: "…… then let me see the rate". Hence, we can see that the Jews are probably so constantly berated that this issue could create such an impact in Shylock's mind. Also, Jews of that time were probably accustomed to stoical endurance, wearing it like a 'badge', as seen in line 106: "For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe." They are called names such as "misbeliever" and "cut-throat dog", spit upon ("spit upon my Jewish gabardine"), and kicked ("foot me as you spurn a stranger cur") by Christians. This shows that they have been suffering because they collect interest for the money they lend out, as seen from line 109: "all for use of that which is mine own." This shows that Jews in Venice during the 16th century are abused mentally and physically due to the fact that they collect interest for the money which they lend out. Despite this abuse by the Christians, the Jews do not complain about their sufferings. They could only"borne it with a patient shrug". This shows that they have no human rights...
pages: 2 (words: 439)
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added: 02/03/2012
It is interesting how social norms change over time. The Merchant of Venice was written in either 1596 or 1597. The audience of that era had a different set of social standards that we do toady. During the period in which Shakespeare writes the play, it was common for the Jew to be looked down upon. There is no proof that Shakespeare was an anti-Semite, however, he was just writing something to create humor. The humor and actions that take place in this play are construed much differently than 400 years ago. In the play the villain is a man named Shylock the Jew. He lives in Venice, Italy and works as what in the modern day would be a loan shark. There are many references to Shylock being persecuted for his religion. Shylock and Antonio (the protagonist) become enemies and Shylock says to Antonio, "You call me misbeliever, cutthroat dog, and spet upon my Jewish gabardine" (Shakespeare 35). This is just one example of the actions that occurred during that time. However, this play is supposed to be a comedy. It qualifies as a comedy solely because there are many jokes about Jews and in the end the only person who loses is the Jew. In some cases in the play characters go as far as to say that "Certainly the Jew is the very devil incarnation" (Shakespeare 47). In the play there definitely is a sense of anti-Semitism. However the play produced by the People's Light Theatre really enhanced the fact that Shakespeare was writing about a hatred of the Jews. Though, there is an underlying story completely, a main focus of the production was to make the audience understand how low the Jew was viewed compared to everything else. There are multiple examples of anti-Semitism in the...
pages: 2 (words: 361)
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added: 12/23/2011
In Much Ado About Nothing, most of the characters had interesting relationships with each other. For example, Hero and Claudio, were deeply in love. Also, Don Juan, and Don John were fighting with each other. Another example was the close friendship between Benedick, Claudio, and Don Juan. But the relationship between Benedick and Beatrice was different than the others. In their relationship, they hated each other, that brought them together. Their personalities were so similar, that it made them sick of each other, but the similarities in their personalities is also what brought them together. Benedick was a smart, good-looking, and funny guy. He was very witty, and always had a response to anyone's comments. For example, when he was talking to Beatrice, he always had a comment to finish of the conversation. He also didn't like the idea of marriage. Benedick thought that marriage led to the trapping of men. When he heard about Claudio getting married, Benedick thought that Claudio was crazy, because Benedick felt that marriage was going to change the way Claudio lived. Benedick was also very stubborn. He never wanted to give into other people's ideas, and that was why he didn't want to give into the idea that marriage could be a good thing in a person's life. Beatrice was a character very similar to Benedick. She was a very independent person, and didn't want to rely on anyone for support. She also was very smart. She enjoyed reading poetry, and thought about things a lot. She also was against marriage. During one conversation, she even said that she would rather die than get married. Another characteristic of Beatrice was that she was very emotional. She often changed her mood all of a sudden for no apparent reason. Also, Beatrice kept many of her...
pages: 3 (words: 610)
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added: 10/10/2011
In Shakespeare's comedy, "The Taming of the Shrew," one of the main ways that the theme is shown is by mistaken identity. The main theme of this play is that what a person is really like is more important than how they appear to be. This is shown by Petruchio's relationship with Katherine; the changing roles of Tranio, Lucentio, and Hortensio; and the true characters of Bianca and Katherine. All three of these situations help to enrich the theme. The first predicament that supports the theme is Petruchio's relationship with Katherine. When we first meet Petruchio, he is only after the money of Katherine, and accepts her harshness as simply a goal he must overcome. He is mistaken for a person who is only after money, not love at all. Yet when he meets Kate, he begins to fall for her. While he still argues and attempts to train her, it is for his own benefit. He wants her to be less harsh so she can fall in love with him. Petruchio ends up truly caring for and loving Kate, despite the front he puts up having his true identity revealed. As a result of this Katherine, whom we thought would never love anyone, at the end of the story is the only wife who comes when she is beckoned. The other wives only make up excuses. This shows how Kate has a mistaken identity becuase she appears rude and insolent. This situation is one of the ways Shakespeare uses mistaken identity to display theme. Another part of the theme is that when a person changes outfit's and roles, their personalities and attitudes stary the same. The first and most prominent role change is the one between Lucentio and Tranio. Lucentio, in order to marry Bianca, exchanges outfits with his...
pages: 3 (words: 784)
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added: 11/07/2011
People are jealous of others' success, others' looks, and even others' race. Tragic playwright William Shakespeare proves, in immense detail, just how far jealousy can drive a human being. His tragic play Othello, encases this statement made by critical essayist D.R. Godfrey, "Jealousy, once awakened, becomes self-perpetuating, self-intensifying, and where no evidence for it exists, the jealous person under the impulse of an extraordinary perversity will continue to manufacture it"(Godfrey 418). Through characters, plot and racism, Shakespeare proves that jealousy is the root and driving force of all evil. Jealousy first shows its ugly face when we meet Iago. He is the voice of jealousy in its entirety, giving way to the evil deeds that drive the play. Initially, Iago is jealous of Cassio's placement over him in the government, however a sexual jealousy enters the plot when Iago suspects his wife is involved a romantic relationship with Othello or Cassio. Iago succumbs to this newly found jealousy when he proclaims: Divinity of hell! When devils will their blackest sins put on, They do suggest at first with heavenly shows, As I do now. (2.3.345-348) Iago not only allows his jealousy to control him, but he also allows it to change him. Critic D.R. Godfrey opens our eyes to this control when he suggests that, "He [Iago] becomes jealous, embittered, and vengeful, viciously repudiating the honesty and loyalty that have led him nowhere"(Godfrey 421). Othello, as we quickly learn, is like Iago in the sense that he has a great sexual jealousy over his new bride Desdemona. The jealousy, placed in Othello's thoughts by Iago, is easily seen when Othello states, "If she be false, O, then heaven mocks itself,/ I'll not believe it"(3.3.278-279). Othello not only becomes jealous of Desdemona's sexual affairs, but of love and all of its...
pages: 3 (words: 817)
comments: 0
added: 12/16/2011
Twelfth Night, by Shakespeare: Analysis of Fools A fool can be defined in many meanings according to the Oxford English Dictionary On Historical Principles. The word could mean "a silly person", or "one who professionally counterfeits folly for the entertainment of others, a jester, clown" or "one who has little or no reason or intellect" or "one who is made to appear to be a fool" (word originated from North Frisian). In english literature, the two main ways which the fool could enter imaginative literature is that "He could provide a topic, a theme for mediation, or he could turn into a stock character on the stage, a stylized comic figure". In William Shakespeare's comedy, Twelfth Night, Feste the clown is not the only fool who is subject to foolery. He and many other characters combine their silly acts and wits to invade other characters that "evade reality or rather realize a dream", while "our sympathies go out to those". "It is natural that the fool should be a prominent & attractive figure and make an important contribution to the action" in forming the confusion and the humor in an Elizabethan drama. In Twelfth Night, the clown and the fools are the ones who combine humor & wit to make the comedy work. Clowns, jesters, and Buffoons are usually regarded as fools. Their differences could be of how they dress, act or portrayed in society. A clown for example, "was understood to be a country bumpkin or 'cloun'". In Elizabethan usage, the word 'clown' is ambiguous "meaning both countryman and principal comedian". Another meaning given to it in the 1600 is "a fool or jester". As for a buffoon, it is defined as "a man whose profession is to make low jests and antics postures; a clown, jester, fool". The...
pages: 5 (words: 1293)
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added: 12/08/2011
The Jews were a group of proud people who were unfortunately discriminated against, humiliated and harassed by Christians mainly during the Middle Ages. Hostility or injustice directed at Jews is called anti – Semitism. There were many examples of anti – Semitism, including a famous playwright called William Shakespeare who wrote, embarrassed and made the Jews appear evil in his works. An issue that he brought to life was the fact that Jews are violent and practice usury (which can be observed in the Merchant of Venice when Shylock demands a pound of Antonio's flesh). Anti – Semitism was widely accepted and practiced by Christians, and this affected almost all of the Jews. They were blamed and criticised for many things such as usury, bringing bad luck, and for most uneventful happenings. Anti – Semitism further went on, and Jews were restricted to having jobs of low profession, and thus, some became considered to be socially inferior. However, there were a few who had successful jobs in being money lenders. Christian law decreed that money lending for interest was a sin, and therefore Christians were unable to take up this career. On the other hand, Jews weren't bound to this law, and were free to do as they pleased. Another issue was that the Christians were vandalised nearly all of the Jews' property. The synagogues, schools and houses were burnt as well as the prayer books. Soon after, the Jews were forced to live separate areas, called ghettos. These ghettos have been regarded as prisons, but Jews have also been able to practice their religion safely. In 1290, King Edward banished them from England, and only a few remained behind either because they converted to Christianity or because they received special protection for the services that they had previously provided....
pages: 3 (words: 625)
comments: 0
added: 04/17/2012
Life is a play. You can choose from right and wrong, but either way the decisions that you make will alter someone else's future. Macbeth has a great deal of trouble deciding the difference between honest and dishonest decisions during his rise to power. Macbeth's character reaches many questionable decisions that there for lead to his overthrowing. First Macbeth becomes overwhelmed with greed, and would stop at nothing until what he felt was his own. Next he betrays his loyal friends and superiors while trying to reach his goals. Finally Macbeth shows that he is gullible. These three traits are what I think caused Macbeths downfall, not only as king but to end his life. Macbeth's first glimpse of greediness flickered after his first conversation with the three witches. The witches spoke about what would happen for him into the near future. This small act awakened Macbeth's first sighting of greed that he had always possessed whether he knew it or not. Then Macbeth thought he deserved to be crowned king, and nothing would stop him while he tried to reach his goal. That was the first sign of Macbeth losing control of reality. He was a dreamer. Macbeth also showed much greed after honorably accepting the title Thane of Cawdor, but he was still not satisfied. Macbeth then plotted to murder his best friend Banquo and his son Fleance just to secure his position to become king. Macbeth's greed then fogged his mind even more when he planned to kill Macduff's innocent wife and children. Macbeth's hunger began to control his life, and forced him to make executive decisions. This obviously expressed his evil ways and was killed because of it. Disloyalty is Macbeth's second flaw in his character. Macbeth expresses this when he kills his king and good...
pages: 3 (words: 660)
comments: 0
added: 09/20/2011
Simply stated, students should study Shakespeare's works in school because of the incredible value within them. In addition to exposing students to a multitude of literary techniques, Shakespeare's plays challenge the student with difficult language and style, express a profound knowledge of human behavior and offer insight into the world around us. William Shakespeare is recognized by much of the world as the greatest of all dramatists. The intricate meanings, extensive vocabulary, and powerful imagery contained within his works demonstrate the phenomenal story telling ability of the English playwright. "Shakespeare's use of poetry within his plays to express the deepest levels of human motivation in individual, social and universal situations is considered one of the greatest accomplishments in literary history." School programs offer students the opportunity to study Shakespeare at length and provoke a greater appreciation of his literary ability. Analyzing his work enables students to recognize, understand and respect the playwright's true genius. Evident in Shakespeare's plays is the broad use of irony, imagery, rhythm and other literary devices. Through these devices, he establishes atmosphere and character, and intrigue. Exposure to these devices provides students with a broad knowledge of literary style and technique, while serving to develop and improve writing skills. Also, because much of the modern literary ideas and writings allude to and can be traced back to Shakespeare, familiarity with his works can only be an advantage to the student. Shakespeare wrote his plays to appeal to Elizabethan audiences. Much of the text is dated or archaic and is initially unknown to the typical student. Yet upon thorough study, the student will gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of Shakespeare's words and the English language. Despite the difficulty that dated text presents, the passions and emotions described by Shakespeare touch the hearts of his readers and...
pages: 3 (words: 587)
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added: 01/18/2012
The domination of women through patriarchal expectations is common throughout Shakespeare's works. An examination of Ophelia, Hero, and Desdemona portrays their victimization through male centered forms of power. These patriarchal power structures classify women as walking wombs who must remain virtuous until marriage. The pressure from these expectations leaves women weak and vulnerable. As long as they appear subservient to men, they are considered good. However, the more women try to represent modesty, chastity, and loyalty, the more they are victimized. Male domination causes the women to remain childlike rather than attain maturity. Because of the passive ideals placed on women, they become unable to act and think for themselves and cannot fully understand intimacy. As Dusinberre believes, 'The struggle for women is to be human in a world which declares them only female.'1 Through Shakespeare's depiction, woman are confined and deprived into submissive obedience. Most people believe Hamlet's Ophelia to be 'the most static and one-dimensional' character.2 She has been labeled as innocent, defenseless and helpless due to her dominating father and brother. Dreher states, 'She has been alternately pitied and condemned,'3 others have classified her, 'a helpless victim,'4 who 'must seek to hear her own voice,'5 and who 'obeys the commands of her brother and father.'6 Although these critiques are based on the text, a feminist's glance shows that Ophelia is more than what superficial analysis allows her to be. 'Traditional readings'portrayed her as a simple, pretty girl of flowers whose mad scenes were artfully sung and danced.'7 These representations ignore the pain beneath Ophelia's innocent shell. The tragic events of her life should be given more attention and consideration. Instead of attempting to understand her motive, readers create a repressive role for her, which parallels her experience with her father. For instance, Ophelia expresses her love for...
pages: 13 (words: 3543)
comments: 0
added: 12/27/2011
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