It’s April 23rd, the day we assume William Shakespeare, the great playwright, was born.
Here’s a little from Jeannie and me about everyone’s (well, almost everyone’s) favourite bard.
My First Shakespearean Play: The Tempest.
Every time I reminisce about The Tempest, I am reminded of how naive I was.
For those of you unfamiliar with Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest, at first glance, it appears to be a typical story about revenge, mercy and romance. To the inexperienced reader (which I was at that time), there aren’t many nuances, really. It’s just a plain old story narrated in verse that’s unnecessarily dramatic.
The inexperienced reader is only acquainted with one dimension of the play- the storyline. A play is so much more than just that.
For 12 year old Pallavi , Caliban was the ‘bad guy’. He’s the son of a cruel witch, he’s very rude to Prospero (who can do no wrong), he is described as deformed and he is always cursing.
For Pallavi, who’s 16 now, Caliban is the victim of white colonisation and racial discrimination. He asked for absolutely no invasions, and then this annoying white man with a wailing kid came, killed his mother, stole his land, and made him his slave. Good job, Prospero! Keeping up the tradition of white colonialists turning up at places they were uninvited to.
For 12 year old Pallavi, Miranda and Ferdinand deciding to marry in ten minutes flat was perfectly feasible. After all, love at first sight was something I believed to be true.
For 16 year old Pallavi, Act 3 Scene 1 looked a bit like this:
Ferdinand: omg heavy logs gotta drag this stuff around because angry dad and hot chick
Miranda: omg it’s a MAN!! who isn’t my father!! omg
Prospero: ya lil fool i told you not to talk to him
Ferdinand: hey baby u damn hot wanna get 2gether 😉
Miranda: do u love me bby
Ferdinand: duh yes ur hot
This isn’t even an exaggeration. This is 21st century paraphrasing of a Shakespearean play.
And finally, Pallavi aged 12 used to think that Ariel was ‘so lucky’ to have a sweet master who took care of him and praised him.
Pallavi at 16 now sees that Prospero was, in fact, a complete jerk to Ariel. Listen, kids: just because you’re nice to someone doesn’t mean that they have to do your bidding for the rest of their life. That’s called being predatory.
Maybe I’ll go back to The Tempest and reread it. Let me see how many fragments of my naiveté I can salvage.