Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare

I read classics not because I "have to", but because I actually LIKE them. But when it comes to Shakespeare I have to admit intellectual laziness. I read some of his plays in high school and college. I´ve watched the movie versions and have seen at least 5 of his plays acted out on stage. But his works are NEVER on my list of books to read.

I can´t make the excuse that it is too complicated in reading plays to remember who´s who. One of my favorite books of all time is Cyrano de Bergerac  which is an extremely poignant and well-written play. And it´s not because Shakespeare does not appeal to me. For my 30th birthday my husband and I saw Kenneth Branagh´s Henry V at the theater and fell in love with it. My husband has watched it so many times that quotes from it are part of his daily vocabulary!

Laziness is my only excuse. Before my recent move I grabbed the thinnest book on my shelf and stuffed it into my purse for the trip. (Does anyone else feel underpacked unless they have at least 3 books to take along on a trip?) It happened to be Shakespeare´s Much Ado About Nothing . As I began reading I was captivated from page one by the rich language (Yes, I know Shakespeare and "rich language" have been synonymous for centuries!)

Leonoto describes his return from a battle with very few casualties with these words: "A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full numbers". Young, handsome Claudio is praised for his military prowess with these words: "He has borne himself beyond the promise of his age by doing in the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion."

The main love story of Claudio and Hero is overshadowed by the love story of minor characters Benedick and Beatrice. Their puns and verbal jabs are superb! My favorite line in the play is in Act 5, scene 2 when Beatrice is upset over her cousin´s problems and tells Benedick she feels ill. His response is, "Serve God, love me, and mend." What a prescription for what ails us!

I highly recommend this short play. My Wordsworth Classic edition came with a helpful glossary of archaic words.

1 comment:

Carol in Oregon said...

Hope. What a timely reminder.

I taught two classes on Shakespeare, and at the time, resolved to read through his oeuvre one bit at a time.

I began...and that's all I can say. I had planned to read one play every two months, six plays a year.

Because what you say is true. Rich language, rewarding reading...

Onward,

Carol

PS - yes, yes, yes!! to being underpacked if I don't have three books. That is the *primary* question before I take a trip: what shall I read?