24 June 2011

The Islamic Nation of Beauty by:

The Islamic Nation of Beauty

William C. Chittick, Ph.D.
Mosque Mohammed Ali, Cairo EgyptAnyone with the vaguest knowledge of Islamic culture knows that it has produced extraordinary works of art and architecture—Persian miniatures, the Taj Mahal, the Alhambra. Few are aware, however, that this rich artistic heritage is firmly rooted in a worldview that highlights love and beauty.
The link between love and beauty is clear. We love what we find beautiful. Beauty attracts, ugliness repels. Nor are beauty and ugliness simply physical characteristics. We all know people who are outwardly attractive but personally repellent, and vice versa.

Beauty makes a massive appearance in love poetry like that of Ibn al-Farid, Rumi, Yunus Emre, and countless others. Their verses stir up wonder and delight by evoking the beautiful characteristics of the beloved.

In explaining the relationship between love and its object, philosophers like Avicenna analyzed the universe in terms of a Necessary Being that combined the attributes of Plato’s Good with those of Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover. All contingent things, animate or inanimate, are in love with the absolute beauty of the Good and strive to reach it, hence the ceaseless activity that fills the universe.

Those with a more theological bent preferred to cite the saying of the Prophet, “God is beautiful, and He loves beauty.” They understood both beauty and love in terms of the axiom of tawhid, “There is no god but God.” If God is beautiful, then there is nothing truly beautiful but God. And if God is loving, then no one truly loves but he.

A bit of reflection on God’s love for beauty leads to the conclusion that he loves himself before all else. God as the one true lover perceives his own true beauty and loves it eternally. As for the universe, God loves it because, by loving himself, he loves everything demanded by his beauty and mercy, and that includes an infinity of creaturely possibilities. This view was encapsulated in the oft-quoted hadith qudsi (divine saying), “I was a Hidden Treasure, and I loved to be recognized, so I created the creatures to recognize Me.”

In discussions of God’s love for the universe, theologians and scholars agreed that God loves both the way things are and the way things ought to be. The discrepancy between these two loves has given rise to the never-ending debate over determinism and free will, nature and nurture, science and values.

God loves the way things are because “He made beautiful everything He created” (Quran 32:7). All things are lovable because they make his beauty manifest. Each thing plays its own harmonious role in the infinite web of relationships that the Quran calls God’s “signs.” The signs in turn display the characteristics of what it calls God’s “most beautiful names.”

God loves the way things ought to be because he created human beings with freedom to change themselves. Unique among all things in the universe—so far as we know human beings have the capacity to recognize themselves as works in progress and to intervene in the manner in which they develop. Ghazali and other theologians pointed out that people are “compelled to be free.” The expression points precisely to the creative tension between what is and what ought to be.
God’s love for all things is often discussed in terms of the universal, all-encompassing mercy designated by the name, “All-merciful.” His love for the way people ought to be is then tightly bound up with the particular, responsive mercy designated by the name “Ever-merciful.” The formula of consecration—“In the name of God, the All-merciful, the Ever-merciful”—acknowledges both sorts of love.

To say that God loves all things reiterates the principle of with-ness voiced in the verse, “He is with you wherever you are” (57:4). By means of his all-embracing love and mercy, God tends to the welfare of the universe, including the posthumous realms.

To say that God loves things as they ought to be points to the human capacity to recognize God’s with-ness. In order to live their lives in a manner appropriate to the divine presence within themselves, people must be merciful and compassionate. The fact that God is with them does not mean that they are also with him—that is precisely what needs to be achieved, what “ought to be.”
Not being with God opens the door to the ugliness and evil that are apparent to everyone. To ask then how a beautiful God could create a world full of ugliness is to ask why each thing and each person is uniquely itself. From the standpoint of the role that beings and things play in the cosmic harmony, all are beautiful, but some are more beautiful than others, and the scale of beauty stretches not from “one to 10” but from one to infinity.

Whatever the scale we use to judge the discrepancies among things and people, no two fit exactly into the same niche. There is gradation without limit in categories without limit. The lower a thing may be on the scale of beauty, the more it is apt to appear as ugly.

More simply, the world is ugly inasmuch as we perceive it empty of God, the absolute good. It is beautiful inasmuch as we recognize the divine with-ness, the signs of the most beautiful names that fill the universe. Failure to recognize the signs goes back to ignorance—the “root poison,” as Buddhists call it.
Islam has no notion of original sin, but the Quran does say that Adam “forgot” (20:115). Our inherited forgetfulness provides all we need to bungle the job of being what we ought to be.

18 June 2011

Rahman Baba....... Pushtoo Poet

Rahman Baba

Rahman Baba Momand

At the dawn of seventeenth century, at the age of invasions from the West by Persians and East by Moghols, at the time when Afghans were in the mist of war in every corner of the nation, a the time when education was the last thing in peoples' mind, a legend was born.

In the high hills of the Afghan nation, in the provincial area of Momand, a child was born, by the name of Abdul Rahman. Abdul Rahman Momand would become one of the greatest poets in the history of the Pashto literature. Abdul Rahman was a man of character and great charisma. As a child, he loved to study and always occupied himself in getting a good education, no matter what it took. He spent much time and effort trying to teach himself.

At a young age, he started studying and reading poetry and became fond of it. He had a gift, poetry, which he would not realize, until later in his life. As he grew older, he started having doubts upon what he was doing, which was studying and writing poetry. He felt lost and not sure about what he was writing, why he was writing and to whom he was writing. Because of this, he entirely abandoned material needs of this world and gave himself to the mercy of God.

The 10 best American poems

The 10 best American poems

The list could go on and on, but these are the poems that seem to me to have left the deepest mark on US literature – and me

Walt Whitman
Engraving of Walt Whitman by George C Cox. Image: Bettmann/Corbis
For whatever reason, I woke up today with a list of the 10 greatest American poems in my head that had been accumulating through the night. Every list is subjective, and of course the use of "greatest" even more so - but these are not just "favorite" poems. I've been thinking about American poetry - and teaching it to university students - for nearly 40 years, and these are the 10 poems that, in my own reading life, have seemed the most durable; poems that shifted the course of poetry in the United States, as well as poems that I look forward to teaching every year because they represent something indelible. The list could go on and on, of course. I deeply regret leaving off Roethke's "The Lost Son", Adrienne Rich's "Diving into the Wreck" and "The Asphodel, that Greeny Flower" by William Carlos Williams. But I guess I just sneaked them onto the list, didn't I?

1. "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman
Whitman reinvents American poetry in this peerless self-performance, finding cadences that seem utterly his own yet somehow keyed to the energy and rhythms of a young nation waking to its own voice and vision. He calls to every poet after him, such as Ezra Pound, who notes in "A Pact" that Whitman "broke the new wood."
2. "The Idea of Order at Key West" by Wallace Stevens
Stevens's sumptuous, glittering language takes blank verse and reinvents it. This poem raises to a sublime level what Stevens once called a war "between the mind and sky." The poem celebrates the "blessed rage for order" at the heart of all creative work.
3. "Because I could not stop for death" by Emily Dickinson
A perfect poem, and one of Dickinson's most compressed and chilling attempts to come to terms with mortality. Once read, it stays in the head forever, in part because of the ballad stanza, so weirdly fresh in her capable hands.
4. "Directive" by Robert Frost
This surprising late poem concentrates Frost's lifetime of thinking and working as a poet. "Drink and be whole beyond confusion," he says at the end, mapping out the inner life of any reader. It is blank verse cast in Frost's trademark craggy voice, and it might be considered a local response to Eliot's more cosmopolitan "The Waste Land."
5. "Middle Passage" by Robert Hayden
Hayden was an African American poet who managed, in this brief epic, to bring the slave trade into lyrical focus with a polyphony of voices. The fierce drive for liberty has rarely been so beautifully framed or embodied. It's a haunting poem that operates in complex ways.
6. "The Dry Salvages" by TS Eliot
This is the "American quartet", and it's uneven; but it brings into a single major poem many of Eliot's concerns, rooting his vision in the American landscape, especially the St. Louis of his boyhood and the area off the north shore of Boston. The fifth section contains Eliot's most sublime moments of religious contemplation as he thinks about "hints and guesses", which is all we ever get: "and the rest / Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action".
7. "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop
This villanelle brings to a height the craft and ironic tone of a poet of casual grace. It's a poem about losses, small and big, and it's stunning in the way its power accumulates, stanza by stanza. This is a poem to memorise and repeat in the wee hours of the night.
8. "To My Dear and Loving Husband" by Ann Bradstreet
I can't think of another poem that so beautifully captures the deep love of a wife for her husband. The clarity and force of the poem overwhelm me whenever I re-read it, which I do quite often.
9. "Memories of West Street and Lepke" by Robert Lowell
It's hard to pick among the half-dozen best of Lowell's poems from his groundbreaking volume, Life Studies (1959), but I find myself reading this one over and again, always drawn to the personal voice, at once shaky and firm – the firmness arising from the confident free verse, with its searing portrait of the convict, Czar Lepke, "flabby, bald, lobotomized" who hangs "in his air / of lost connections".
10. "And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name" by John Ashbery
"You can't say it that way anymore," Ashbery declares, ushering into American poetry a fresh way of seeing and saying the world, celebrating "The extreme austerity of an almost empty mind". Ashbery's diarylike poems, collecting American life like flies on sticky paper, draw me to them, irritating me, inspiring me, never more perfectly than in this poem, which plays off a famous phrase from Horace that compares poetry and painting.

American Poets

A
Maya Angelou Maya Angelou
(1928 - present)
Ai Ai
(1947 - 2010)
John Ashbery John Ashbery
(1927 - present)
A. R. Ammons A. R. Ammons
(1926 - 2001)
Louisa May Alcott Louisa May Alcott
(1832 - 1888)
Deborah Ager Deborah Ager
(1971 - present)
Conrad Aiken Conrad Aiken
(1889 - 1973)
Catherine Anderson Catherine Anderson
(1954 - present)
Maggie Anderson Maggie Anderson
(1948 - present)
Ralph Angel Ralph Angel
(1951 - present)
Kelli Russell Agodon Kelli Russell Agodon
(1969 - present)
Julie Hill Alger Julie Hill Alger
(1927 - 1994)
Tiel Aisha Ansari
(1964 - present)

The Poet Speaks of Art

Introductory Remarks on Poets and Paintings

Ever since the Roman poet Horace set down in his Ars Poetica (c. 13 BC) the dictum "ut pictura poesis"--"as is painting, so is poetry"--the two arts have been wedded in the critical mind. Poets and painters sometimes turn to one another for inspiration, and the dialogue has been mutually beneficial. Painters and illustrators have often been inspired by literature, especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The critic Richard Altick says, for example, that between 1760 and 1900 there existed around 2,300 paintings based on Shakespeare's plays alone. These Shakespeare paintings are only one-fifth of the 11,500 paintings on subjects and scenes from literature--and we are talking only about paintings done in England during those years! Sheer numbers indicate the influence of authors on artis

05 June 2011

All Women Become .. ~~Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895


All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.
~Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895

Being a full-time mother~Mildred B. Vermont


Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field, since the payment is pure love.
~Mildred B. Vermont

A Mother is a ~Tenneva Jordan

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.
~Tenneva Jordan

The Child In Him~ Jean Gabor


The Child In Him

I loved the child in him
so innocent and sweet
The mischief in his eyes
the blush upon his cheek
The tender way he spoke
that showed me that he cared
The touch of his warm hand
that gently touched my hair
The smiles that we shared
that filled my life with glee
For when I was with him
I found the child in me


Jean Gabor

04 June 2011

Picture in The Frame

When You Are Mother ~ Sophia Loren

A Poison Tree ~by William Blake


A Poison Tree a poem by William Blake


I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I waterd it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears:
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.

And into my garden stole.
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see,
My foe outstretchd beneath the tree.

19 September 2010

~ Ayya Hay Hur Chadai Kay Baad ~

~ Ghum-e-Ulfat ~

~ Hur Chand Rakhh ~

~ Hum Jinss Agar ~

~ Ess Buut Kaday main ~

Cowards die many times before their deaths


Cowards die many times before their deaths


Caesar:
"Cowards die many times before their deaths, The valiant never taste of death but once."

Julius Caesar (II, ii, 32-37)

Caesar's wife, Calpurnia, has had dreams in which her husband was murdered. At Caesar's request, the priests have sacrificed an animal which, upon being cut open, was discovered to have no heart. And so they sent word to Caesar that he should stay home on this fateful day, the ides of March, which the Soothsayer had already warned him about earlier in the play. Caesar muses, ""What can be avoided /Whose end is purposed by the mighty gods?" In other words, if the gods are predicting that he is going to die, then how will he get around it? He goes on to encourage his wife with the now-famous lines, finding it strange that men fear death so much, when death is inevitable in every man's life. He has been a strong and brave man, and has not wasted precious hours of his life anticipating tragedy.

Shakespeare Quotes::, All that glisters is not gold


All that glisters is not gold

Prince of Morocco:
"All that glisters is not gold."
The Merchant of Venice (II, vii)

Portia is a beautiful, virtuous, wealthy woman who is being wooed by numerous suitors. She is not free to decide on her own whom she will marry because her late father stipulated in his will that she must marry the man who correctly picks the one casket (out of three) that contains her picture. One casket is gold, another is silver, and the third is made of lead. The Prince of Morocco is one in a long line of suitors who tries to win Portia's hand, and he decides that it would demean Portia to have her picture in anything other than a gold casket, and so he chooses that one. As he unlocks it, he is dismayed to find a picture, not of Portia but of Death, with a message written in its hollow eye: "All that glisters is not gold; / Often have you heard that told. / Many a man his life hath sold / But my outside to behold. / Gilded tombs do worms enfold." With a grieving heart the Prince takes hasty leave of Portia, who is happy to see him go, saying, "A gentle riddance."


Shakespeare Quotes::, Nothing can come of nothing


Nothing can come of nothing

Lear:
"Nothing can come of nothing: speak again."

Overview :

Old King Lear has decided to retire and divide his kingdom among his three daughters. They are required to come forward and flatter him. His two eldest daughters, Regan and Goneril, flatter and deceive the old king, and receive their rewards. The youngest, Cordelia, who loves him most, cannot find the words to articulate this love. He asks her to speak up and praise him more than her sisters have just done. When asked 'what do you have to say?' Cordelia responds "Nothing." He repeats this answer as a question. She responds the same. Lear is outraged and tells her that "nothing will come of nothing," and banishes her without money, title, or any part of his kingdom.

Shakespeare Quotes:: If music be the food of love, play on


If music be the food of love, play on

Duke Orsino:
If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.

Overview

Duke Orsino of Illyria, presiding over the merry, mixed-up world of Twelfth Night, opens the play with these festive sentiments, soured though they be by the affected airs of the melancholic lover. He has convinced himself that he's insanely in love with a wealthy and resistant lady, who is in mourning for her brother and only annoyed by Orsino's inappropriate attentions. The duke's idea of a cure for his disease is to stuff himself sick with his own passions.

Orsino's brand of self-indulgent pouting comes in for much ribbing here and elsewhere in Shakespeare, most vividly in As You Like It and Much Ado about Nothing. For melancholic poseurs like Orsino, who are actually expected to make spectacles of themselves, affecting gestures are more important than sincere emotions.

All the Shakespeare Quotes: world's a stage


All the world's a stage

Jaques:
All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.

Overview

The idea that "all the world's a stage" was already clichéd when Shakespeare wrote As You Like It. So Jaques is intended to sound at least a little pretentious here. Jaques (pronounced "jay-keys" or "jay-kweez") is the resident sourpuss in the Forest of Arden, home to political exiles, banished lovers, and simple shepherds. Picking up on another character's stray suggestion that the world is a "wide and universal theater," Jaques deploys the theatrical metaphor for his famous speech on the Seven Ages of Man. The first of these ages, according to Jaques, is infancy (when the babe is found "Mewling [sobbing] and puking in his nurse's arms"), and the last is "second childishness and mere oblivion" (complete senility). His glum epigrams make up a "set speech"; Shakespeare meant them to sound practiced, like a bit of oratory polished off and hauled out on the appropriate (or inappropriate) occasion.

18 September 2010

Shakespeare Quotes:~What's in a name? That which we call a rose~



Juliet:
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet."


Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet meet and fall in love in Shakespeare's lyrical tale of "star-cross'd" lovers. They are doomed from the start as members of two warring families. Here Juliet tells Romeo that a name is an artificial and meaningless convention, and that she loves the person who is called "Montague", not the Montague name and not the Montague family. Romeo, out of his passion for Juliet, rejects his family name and vows, as Juliet asks, to "deny (his) father" and instead be "new baptized" as Juliet's lover. This one short line encapsulates the central struggle and tragedy of the play.

Twelfth Night Summary

Twelfth Night Summary

Twelfth Night Summary provides a quick review of the play's plot including every important action in the play. Twelfth Night Summary is divided by the five acts of the play and is an ideal introduction before reading the original text.
Act I.
Orsino, The Duke of Illyria reveals his great love for the rich Countess Olivia who we learn has decided to veil herself for seven years to honor her recently deceased brother's memory. Profoundly impressed by this, the Duke continues his pursuit of Olivia undeterred...
Viola is introduced to us as a survivor of a shipwreck. Her brother was lost at sea but may not be dead. Viola learns from the Sea Captain of their doomed ship that they are now in Illyria, which is ruled by Orsino. The Sea Captain explains to Viola that The Duke of Illyria is pursuing the fair Olivia, a woman who like Viola has lost a brother.
Identifying with Olivia's grief, Viola wishes to serve Olivia but when she learns this will be impossible, Viola instead has the Sea Captain disguise her as a boy so she can serve Orsino, The Duke of Illyria.
Sir Toby, Olivia's cousin is introduced. We quickly discover that he drinks a great deal, keeps late hours and is generally rowdy by nature. Maria, Lady Olivia's maid makes this clear to us in her unsuccessful attempts to quieten Sir Toby down. Maria also reveals Olivia's annoyance that Sir Toby has encouraged Sir Andrew Aguecheek to court her.

Othello Summary ~Shakespeare summaries provide a quick and easy guide to Shakespeare's most famous plays.~


Othello, the Moor of Venice


Othello Summary provides a quick review of the play's plot including every important action in the play. Othello Summary is divided by the five acts of the play and is an an ideal introduction before reading the original text.
Act I.
Shakespeare's famous play of love turned bad by unfounded jealousy, begins in Venice with Iago, a soldier under Othello's command arguing with Roderigo, a wealthy Venetian. Roderigo has paid Iago a considerable sum of money to spy on Othello for him, since he wishes to take Othello's girlfriend, Desdemona as his own.
Roderigo fears that Iago has not been telling him enough about Desdemona and that this proves Iago's real loyalty is to Othello not him.
Iago explains his hatred of Othello for choosing Cassio as his officer or lieutenant and not him as he expected.
To regain Roderigo's trust, Iago and Roderigo inform Brabantio, Desdemona's father of her relationship with Othello, the "Moor" which enrages Brabantio into sending parties out at night to apprehend Othello for what must obviously be in Brabantio's eyes, an abuse of his daughter by Othello...
Iago lies that Roderigo and not himself, was responsible for angering Brabantio against Othello, Iago telling Othello that he should watch out for Brabantio's men who are looking for him.
Othello decides not to hide, since he believes his good name will stand him in good stead.
We learn that Othello has married Desdemona. Brabantio and Roderigo arrive, Brabantio accusing Othello of using magic on his daughter.
Othello stops a fight before it can happen but Othello is called away to discuss a crisis in Cypress, much to the anger of Brabantio who wants justice for what he believes Othello has done to his fair Desdemona.
The Duke is in council with several senators discussing their enemy, the Turks (Turkish people). Brabantio complains to the Duke that Othello bewitched his daughter and had intimate relations with her.
Desdemona is brought in to settle the matter, Othello meanwhile explains how he and Desdemona fell in love. Desdemona confirms this and the Duke advises Brabantio that he would be better off accepting the marriage than complaining and changing nothing.
The Duke orders Othello to Cypress to fight the Turks, with Desdemona to follow, accompanied by the trusted Iago.
Roderigo despairs that his quest for Desdemona is over now that she is married, but Iago tells him not to give up and earn money instead; soon Desdemona will bore of Othello.
Alone, Iago reveals his intention to continue using Roderigo for money and his hatred of Othello (Othello picked Cassio and not Iago for his lieutenant).
Iago explains that his plan is avenge Othello is to suggest to Othello that Cassio is sleeping with Desdemona (Othello's wife).

King Lear Summary


King Lear Summary


King Lear Summary provides a quick review of the play's plot including every important action in the play. King Lear Summary is divided by the five acts of the play and is an ideal introduction before reading the original text.

Act I.

Shakespeare's dark tragedy, King Lear begins with the fictional King of England, King Lear, handing over his kingdom to daughters Regan and Goneril whom he believes truly love him. King Lear intends to stay with each daughter consecutively, accompanied by one hundred loyal knights.

Angry that Cordelia his youngest daughter does not appear to love him as do Goneril and Regan, Lear banishes his youngest daughter Cordelia, and Kent, the servant who attempts to defend her. Cordelia leaves and is taken by the King of France as his Queen...

Edmund, the loved but illegitimate son of the Earl of Gloucester plots to have his elder brother Edgar's reputation ruined. Edmund tricks his father Gloucester into believing that Edgar wanted to kill him...

The disrespectful Goneril conspires to have her guest and father, King Lear, driven out of her house.

Kent, who has now disguised his identity to serve King Lear, earns King Lear's respect by defending his name. Goneril offends King Lear and dismisses fifty of his knights. Lear starts to realize Cordelia was not so disrespecting. Lear decides to leave for Regan where he is sure to be treated properly...

Lear instructs Kent to deliver several letters to Gloucester. The Fool teaches Lear several riddles.

Act II.

We learn of possible conflict between evil sisters Regan and Goneril. Edmund further manipulates Edgar. Gloucester learns from Edmund of Edgar's plan to kill him and believes it...

Kent and Oswald, Goneril's steward fight. Kent is placed in stocks emphasizing just how little Lear's name is now respected by daughters Regan and Goneril...

Edgar, now alone and disguised, describes his fate of living in hiding.

Showing complete disregard for King Lear's authority, Kent remains in stocks. Lear tells Regan how much Goneril has hurt him. Regan in consultation with Goneril, allows Lear to stay but without a single follower. Lear decides not to stay with either daughter...

Act III.

The King of France may well invade England. Kent sends a messenger to Cordelia to keep her aware of King Lear's plight... Lear braves the elements against a storm, no doubt symbolic of his tortured soul...

Gloucester lets slip to his traitorous son Edmund that the army of France is poised to invade, guaranteeing Gloucester's own future suffering. We learn more of a potential conflict between Regan and Goneril, centering on their husbands...

Lear is brought out of the elements. Lear explains that nature's physical torment of him distracted him from the pain his daughters have given him.

Edgar, Gloucester's legitimate son, makes his appearance, disguised as "poor Tom." Cornwall, Regan's husband and Edmund speak. After implicating his father Gloucester as a traitor against Cornwall, Edmund is rewarded for betraying his father Gloucester by receiving his father's title as the new Earl of Gloucester.

Cornwall tells Edmund to seek out his father saying "he may be ready for our apprehension" or punishment.

Lear and company find solace and safety in a farmhouse. Lear, showing signs of madness, holds a mock trial to punish his daughters addressing two joint stools as if they were Regan and Goneril. Kent leads Lear to Dover where he will be safe...

Gloucester is captured and tortured first having his beard ripped away and later being made blind. Unable to bear Cornwall's brutality any longer, a servant wounds Cornwall...

Act IV.

Gloucester now blind, realizes in his suffering his mistakes, especially about his son Edgar. Gloucester meets "poor Tom" not realizing it is Edgar in disguise. Edgar leads his father to the cliffs of Dover where his father wishes to commit suicide.

The Duke of Albany renounces his wife Goneril, realizing that he has been on the wrong side... The Duke of Cornwall (Regan's husband) is now dead. The rivalry for Edmund by Regan and Goneril intensifies.

Kent wonders how Cordelia can be so good and her sisters so evil. The King of France will not oversee the battle about to begin. Cordelia is saddened by what she learns of King Lear's plight...

Cordelia has her men search for her father... With the battle almost about to start, we learn Albany has switched sides again, supporting Goneril and Regan's forces against the invading French.

Regan worries more about her sister's intentions for Edmund more than the battle that lies ahead... Edgar continues to lead his father to the cliffs of Dover where he tricks him that he miraculously survived his fall. Lear learns of Gloucester's blindness.

Edgar kills Oswald when he attempts to kill Gloucester. Oswald's letter, which comes from Goneril, reveals instructions for Edmund to kill her husband, The Duke of Albany so she may marry him. Cordelia finds her father Lear who deeply regrets how he treated her...

Act V.

Regan and Goneril put Edmund on the spot by demanding he choose for once and for all, which one of them he loves. Albany decides to fight on Regan and Goneril's side but only to fight an invading power (France).

Cordelia's forces lose to Goneril and Regan's and Cordelia and Lear are taken prisoner. Captured, King Lear tries to comfort Cordelia. Albany congratulates his allies but now turns on them. Edgar fights his brother Edmund, mortally wounding him. Goneril kills herself and poisons sister Regan.

Edgar reveals his true identity to Gloucester who dies from a heart unable to take both grief and joy. Albany and the dying Edmund try to prevent Lear and Cordelia being hanged but are too late for Cordelia.

Lear howls with pain his loss of Cordelia. Kent is finally recognized for his loyalty by Lear. Lear, unable to take further pain, dies. Albany is left to restore order following this tragedy...

16 September 2010

Merchant of Venice Summary

Merchant of Venice Summary


Merchant of Venice Summary provides a quick review of the play's plot including every important action in the play. Merchant of Venice Summary is divided by the five acts of the play and is an ideal introduction before reading the original text.
Act I.
The play famous for the expression "a pound of flesh" and the lines, "If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?" begins in Venice with Antonio a wealthy merchant who is not happy since he is worried about his enterprises, namely his ships at sea which could be at peril from rough seas or pirates. His friend Bassanio owes Antonio money but unable to pay his debts, asks Antonio for more money so he may marry the wealthy and beautiful Portia and so pay back his friend. Antonio has no money but tells Bassanio to use his good name to try to get a loan...
Meanwhile Portia laments that she has yet to find her special someone. She famously complains about the faults of all her past suitors and her late father's will which chooses her husband for her. Portia's father will chooses Portia's husband by means of three caskets, one gold, one silver and one lead. A suitor must choose one of the three caskets, a picture of Portia being contained in the correct casket. When a suitor chooses a casket, he makes his worthiness to Portia clear, this devise ensuring that only the right man for Portia will marry his daughter. Though Portia does not like any of her past suitors, she does however, remember one man quite fondly, Bassanio...
Bassanio gets his loan of three thousand ducats from a Jewish merchant named Shylock. The price for not paying the debt back is high, namely a pound of flesh from Antonio, but Antonio is not worried. His ships (and wealth) come back a month before the debt is due...

Romeo and Juliet Summary

Romeo and Juliet Summary


Romeo and Juliet Summary provides a quick review of the play's plot including every important action in the play. Romeo and Juliet Summary is divided by the five acts of the play and makes an ideal introduction before reading the original text.

Prologue

Arguably Shakespeare's most famous play begins with a Prologue which establishes that this play will be a tragedy and that the children of two feuding families, Romeo of the Montague family and Juliet of the Capulet family, will both love and die in the course of this play...

Act I.

Sampson and Gregory, servants to the Capulets and Abraham and Balthasar, servants to the Montague family start a street fight, which is joined by Benvolio (Montague) and Tybalt (Capulet). Escalus, the Prince of Verona who angrily learns of this fight, declares a death penalty for further feuding between the two families. Romeo we learn is lovesick; Rosaline, the object of his affections will not requite (return) his love. His friend Benvolio tells Romeo to look at other girls...

Meanwhile Capulet is keen for Paris to marry his daughter Juliet and plans a party to be held later that night. Romeo and friends decide to turn up uninvited, Romeo hoping to see Rosaline, whom he still pines for...

Lady Capulet discusses the idea of marriage to Paris with Juliet. Juliet keeps her options open. The Nurse wishes Juliet every possible happiness...

Meanwhile Mercutio attempts to cheer a lovesick Romeo up, telling him to be rough with love if need be.

At the Capulet's party, Romeo who is disguised by a masque (mask), falls in love with Juliet on sight. Capulet stops Tybalt from attacking Romeo at his party, telling him there will be other opportunities. Both Romeo and Juliet learn that they are each enemies of the other's family... A Prologue sung by a choir dramatizes the conflict both Romeo and Juliet feel between their love for one another and their loyalty to their respective families.

Act II.

Ignoring the danger, Romeo scales the Capulet's wall to be near Juliet, the woman he cannot forget... Unnoticed in Juliet's orchard, Romeo learns of Juliet's love for him. After declaring their feelings for each other, the two decide to marry. Juliet will send Romeo a messenger in the morning to make plans for their wedding...

The very next day, we meet Romeo's friend, Friar Laurence. He wonders how Romeo can forget Rosaline so quickly but agrees to marry the two since he hopes this marriage it will end the long running Montague / Capulet feud...

Romeo catches up with his friends Mercutio and Benvolio. Juliet's messenger, the Nurse, arrives and the wedding is set for later that day. The Nurse brings Romeo "cords" or ropes which will allow Romeo to climb into Juliet's bedchamber as her husband later that night... Act II ends with Romeo and Juliet's marriage.

Act III.

Benvolio and Mercutio (both Montagues) meet Tybalt (Capulet). Tybalt attempts to provoke Romeo into fighting. Mercutio fights Tybalt and is killed. Romeo then kills Tybalt. Escalus, the Prince of Verona banishes Romeo from Verona threatening death should he ever return. Juliet learns of Romeo killing Tybalt and despite being torn between her loyalty for her family and Romeo, mourns her husband Romeo's banishment.

Romeo learns of the banishment order, realizing he will not be able to see Juliet again. Friar Laurence suggests Romeo go to Juliet's bed chamber to comfort his wife... Capulet, who does not know of Romeo and Juliet's marriage, decides that the marriage of Juliet to Paris must now proceed, bidding his wife to make Juliet aware of Paris' love for her. The day of the marriage has been decided; it will be Thursday.

We learn that Romeo has spent the night with his Juliet. Juliet who is now already secretly married to Romeo, learns that she is to marry Paris. She tries to fight her father's wishes, failing to dissuade him. Juliet decides to commit suicide if all else fails...

Act IV.

Paris reveals that the wedding will occur on Thursday. Juliet is cold to Paris. Friar Laurence tells Juliet to take a potion simulating death, allowing Romeo to take her away, unopposed to Mantua since everyone will think she is dead at the Capulet's ancient vault or burial ground.

Capulet makes plans for Juliet's wedding. Juliet, who has decided to drink Friar Laurence's potion, no longer opposes the wedding, delighting Capulet.

Hearing this good news, Capulet, who is keen to have Juliet marry Paris decides to move the wedding forward. It will now be on Wednesday morning, not Thursday as previously planned...

Juliet succeeds in sleeping alone which allows her to take the potion in privacy. Juliet worries about the Friar's intentions before the potion takes effect and she falls asleep...

Lady Capulet and the Nurse are busy making preparations for the wedding. It is 3 o'clock in the morning and now Capulet hearing music announcing Paris' arrival, tells the Nurse to wake Juliet. The Capulet's learn that their daughter Juliet is dead. The wedding preparations are changed to those of a funeral.

Act V.

In Mantua, Romeo learns of Juliet's death, deciding to risk his own life by returning to Verona at once to see Juliet one last time. Romeo also buys some poison from a local Apothecary.

Friar John explains to Friar Laurence that his letter informing Romeo that Juliet is not dead, did not reach Romeo. Friar Laurence tries again to inform Romeo of his plan and heads off to the Capulet burial chamber where Juliet will soon awaken.

Paris mourns his bride that never was. Romeo arrives, opening Juliet's coffin to look at his love one last time. Paris fights Romeo whom he believes is desecrating Juliet's grave. Paris dies, Romeo placing him beside Juliet. Romeo takes his poison, kisses Juliet and dies. Friar Laurence arrives too late. Juliet, now awakens, asking for her Romeo. Friar Laurence leaves, leaving Juliet alone. Juliet kisses Romeo and stabs herself, dying. The Prince, Capulets, and Montagues arrive, Balthasar and Friar Laurence explaining all. Escalus scolds the two families who finally end their feud. The play ends with the Prince summarizing this tragic love story.

Julius Caesar Summary

Julius Caesar Summary

Julius Caesar Summary provides a quick review of the play's plot including every important action in the play. Julius Caesar Summary is divided by the five acts of the play and is an ideal introduction before reading the original text.
Act I.
Shakespeare's famous Roman play opens to the scene of two Tribunes, Marullus and Flavius scolding Roman citizens for blindly worshipping Caesar. Their conversation reveals deep-seated fears that Caesar is growing too powerful, too arrogant and must be stopped. Hoping to reduce the blind hero worship of Caesar, the two men remove ceremonial decorations off Caesar's "images" (statues) despite the obvious dangers of doing so...
A little later, we see Caesar leading a procession through the streets of Rome. A Soothsayer or fortune teller tells Caesar to beware the "ides of March [the 15th of March]" a warning that Caesar will die on this day. It is ignored. Cassius, who fears Caesar's ever growing power, begins to recruit Brutus, a close friend of Caesar's, towards his conspiracy by implying that Caesar is becoming too powerful... We also learn that Marullus and Flavius, the two tribunes pulling decorations off Caesar's statues have been put to silence for "pulling scarfs off Caesar's images [statues]." Brutus is suspicious of Cassius' motives but tells Cassius that he will think it over... Casca, another conspirator, reveals information to Brutus that suggests Caesar may be getting more ambitious...
Cassius' conspiracy gains momentum when he recruits a suspicious Casca to their cause against Caesar by pointing out that several recent strange occurrences are omens warning them against Caesar... To ensure Brutus joins his conspiracy, Cassius has Cinna place some forged letters where Brutus will find them convincing Brutus to join their cause. Cinna reveals that Brutus' good name will be an asset to their conspiracy...

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark Summary


Hamlet, Prince of Denmark Summary

Hamlet Summary provides a quick review of the play's plot including every important action in the play. Hamlet Summary is divided by the five acts of the play and is an ideal introduction before reading the original text.

Act I.

Shakespeare's longest play and the play responsible for the immortal lines "To be or not to be: that is the question:" and the advise "to thine own self be true," begins in Denmark with the news that King Hamlet of Denmark has recently died.

Denmark is now in a state of high alert and preparing for possible war with Young Fortinbras of Norway. A ghost resembling the late King Hamlet is spotted on a platform before Elsinore Castle in Denmark. King Claudius, who now rules Denmark, has taken King Hamlet's wife, Queen Gertrude as his new wife and Queen of Denmark.

King Claudius fearing Young Fortinbras of Norway may invade, has sent ambassadors to Norway to urge the King of Norway to restrain Young Fortinbras. Young Hamlet distrusts King Claudius. The King and Queen do not understand why Hamlet still mourns his father's death over two months ago. In his first soliloquy, Hamlet explains that he does not like his mother marrying the next King of Denmark so quickly within a month of his father's death...

Laertes, the son of Lord Chamberlain Polonius, gives his sister Ophelia some brotherly advice. He warns Ophelia not to fall in love with Young Hamlet; she will only be hurt. Polonius tells his daughter Ophelia not to return Hamlet's affections for her since he fears Hamlet is only using her...

Hamlet meets the Ghost of his father, King Hamlet and follows it to learn more...

Hamlet learns from King Hamlet's Ghost that he was poisoned by King Claudius, the current ruler of Denmark. The Ghost tells Hamlet to avenge his death but not to punish Queen Gertrude for remarrying; it is not Hamlet's place and her conscience and heaven will judge her... Hamlet swears Horatio and Marcellus to silence over Hamlet meeting the Ghost.

Act II.

Polonius tells Reynaldo to spy on his son Laertes in Paris. Polonius learns from his daughter Ophelia that a badly dressed Hamlet met her, studied her face and promptly left. Polonius believes that Hamlet's odd behaviour is because Ophelia has rejected him. Polonius decides to tell King Claudius the reason for Hamlet's recently odd behaviour.

King Claudius instructs courtiers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find out what is causing Hamlet's strange "transformation," or change of character. Queen Gertrude reveals that only King Hamlet's death and her recent remarriage could be upsetting Hamlet.

We learn more of Young Fortinbras' movements and Polonius has his own theory about Hamlet's transformation; it is caused by Hamlet's love for his daughter Ophelia. Hamlet makes his famous speech about the greatness of man. Hamlet plans to use a play to test if King Claudius really did kill his father as King Hamlet's Ghost told him...

Act III.

The King's spies, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern report to King Claudius on Hamlet's behaviour. Hamlet is eager for King Claudius and Queen Gertrude to watch a play tonight which Hamlet has added lines to.

King Claudius and Polonius listen in on Hamlet's and Ophelia's private conversation. Hamlet suspects Ophelia is spying on him and is increasingly hostile to her before leaving.

King Claudius decides to send Hamlet to England, fearing danger in Hamlet since he no longer believes Hamlet is merely lovesick. The King agrees to Polonius' plan to eavesdrop on Hamlet's conversation with his mother after the play to hopefully learn more from Hamlet. The play Hamlet had added lines to is performed. The mime preceding the play which mimics the Ghost's description of King Hamlet's death goes unnoticed.

The main play called "The Murder of Gonzago" is performed, causing King Claudius to react in a way which convinces Hamlet that his uncle did indeed poison his father King Hamlet as the Ghost previously had told him... Hamlet pretends not to know that the play has offended King Claudius. Hamlet agrees to speak with his mother in private...

King Claudius admits his growing fear of Hamlet and decides to send him overseas to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in order to protect himself. Alone, King Claudius reveals in soliloquy his own knowledge of the crime he has committed (poisoning King Hamlet) and realizes that he cannot escape divine justice...

Queen Gertrude attempts to scold her son but Hamlet instead scolds his mother for her actions. Queen Gertrude cries out in fear, and Polonius echoes it and is stabbed through the arras (subdivision of a room created by a hanging tapestry) where he was listening in. Hamlet continues scolding his mother but the Ghost reappears, telling Hamlet to be gentle with the Queen. For her part, Queen Gertrude agrees to stop living with King Claudius, beginning her redemption....

Act IV.

King Claudius speaks with his wife, Queen Gertrude. He learns of Polonius' murder which shocks him; it could easily have been him. Queen Gertrude lies for her son, saying that Hamlet is as mad as a tempestuous sea. King Claudius, now scared of Hamlet, decides to have Hamlet sent away to England immediately... He also sends courtiers and spies Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to speak with Hamlet to find out where Hamlet has hidden Polonius' body so they can take it to the chapel.

Hamlet refuses to tell Rosencrantz and Guildenstern where Polonius' dead body is hidden. He calls Rosencrantz and Guildenstern lapdogs revealing his true awareness that they are not his friends. Hamlet agrees to see King Claudius.

Hamlet continues to refuse to tell Rosencrantz and Guildenstern where Polonius' body is. Hamlet is brought before the King. The two exchange words, clearly circling each other, each aware that the other is a threat. Hamlet tells King Claudius where Polonius body is. King Claudius ominously tells Hamlet to leave for England supposedly for Hamlet's own safety. With Hamlet gone, King Claudius reveals his plans for Hamlet to be killed in England, freeing King Claudius from further worry from this threat...

Young Fortinbras marches his army across Denmark to fight the Polish. Hamlet laments that he does not have in him the strength of Young Fortinbras, who will lead an army into pointless fighting, if only to maintain honor. Hamlet asks himself how he cannot fight for honor when his father has been killed and his mother made a whore in his eyes by becoming King Claudius' wife.

The death of Polonius leaves its mark on Ophelia who becomes mad from the grief of losing her father. Laertes storms King Claudius' castle, demanding to see his father and wanting justice when he learns that his father, Polonius has been killed. King Claudius remains calm, telling Laertes that he too mourned his father's loss...

Horatio is greeted by sailors who have news from Hamlet. Horatio follows the sailors to learn more... King Claudius explains to Laertes that Hamlet killed his father, Polonius. Deciding they have a common enemy, they plot Hamlet's death at a fencing match to be arranged between Laertes and Hamlet. Laertes learns of his sister Ophelia's death by drowning...

Act V.

Hamlet and Horatio speak with a cheerful Clown or gravedigger. Hamlet famously realizes that man's accomplishments are transitory (fleeting) and holding the skull of Yorick, a childhood jester he remembered, creates a famous scene about man's insignificance and inability to control his fate following death.

At Ophelia's burial, the Priest reveals a widely held belief that Ophelia committed suicide, angering Laertes. Hamlet fights Laertes over Ophelia's grave, angered by Laertes exaggerated emphasis of his sorrow and because he believes he loved Ophelia much more than her brother.

Hamlet explains to Horatio how he avoided the death planned for him in England and had courtiers' Rosencrantz and Guildenstern put to death instead. Hamlet reveals his desire to kill King Claudius.

Summoned by Osric to fence against Laertes, Hamlet arrives at a hall in the castle and fights Laertes. Queen Gertrude drinks a poisoned cup meant for Hamlet, dying but not before telling all that she has been poisoned.

Hamlet wins the first two rounds against Laertes but is stabbed and poisoned fatally in the third round. Exchanging swords whilst fighting, Hamlet wounds and poisons Laertes who explains that his sword is poison tipped.

Now dying, Hamlet stabs King Claudius with this same sword, killing him.

Hamlet, dying, tells Horatio to tell his story and not to commit suicide. Hamlet recommends Young Fortinbras as the next King of Denmark. Young Fortinbras arrives, cleaning up the massacre. Horatio promises to tell all the story we have just witnessed, ending the play.