Monday, December 15, 2014

Tom's Essay for his Shakespeare Course

During our 2012 vacation in England, we visited Shakespeare's House  (it was built in 1470). While there we signed up
Tom at Shakespeare's House in June 2012
for emails from the historic house and museum, and recently they offered a 6 week free on-line course about Shakespeare, so Tom enrolled and took it. Tom enjoyed the course and for the "final" he had to write an essay involving one of Shakespeare's plays. So, you'll see it below!

A creative work influenced by a work by Shakespeare

In this written assignment, we were tasked with illustrating with an example a creative work that has been influenced by a work by Shakespeare.  I have chosen as my example an episode entitled “Mortal Coil” from the American TV series, Star Trek Voyager.  In this episode, the character Neelix dies and is resurrected after 19 hours.  His death experience causes him to question the purpose of life, and his own reason for existing.  This very same contemplation and reflection on the meaning of life occurs in Act V, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

What I particularly appreciate about the science fiction genre is its ability to explore socially sensitive topics in a very meaningful way; topics which are too controversial, and often the cause of much public debate can be explored in this totally innocuous format.  From our course we learned that Shakespeare, in a very similar manner, would use plays to do the very same thing.  

Hamlet was written around the year 1600.  Queen Elizabeth I is near the end of her reign.  There is fear of the unknown.  Who will assume the throne?  It is a time of transition; a time when there will be a transfer of power.  

Shakespeare also uses Hamlet to question the church’s teachings. The character Ophelia commits suicide and yet will receive a Christian burial, an act which is questioned by the gravediggers.  Hamlet observes one of the gravediggers singing as he works, and notes that the job of digging graves is such a miserable way to make a living, how can anyone be singing while they performed such work?  “Has this fellow no feeling of his business? He sings at grave-making.” says Hamlet. 

Other Hamlet missives include Hamlet’s contemplation on the value of life when in the end, a person’s corpse can be treated in such a manner – commenting on the gravediggers tossing up skulls and other bones as they’re digging deeper into the ground.  At one point, Hamlet morbidly asks the gravedigger to tell him how long it takes for a corpse to rot.  In the end, Hamlet’s conclusion is that man comes from dust, and returns to dust, at least dust has a purpose – to fill holes in the wall and block out the wind’s draft.

In the Star Trek episode, Neelix reaches a very similar conclusion and even goes so far as to attempt suicide himself just to be rid of this earthly shell, this “mortal coil” that entwines him and prevents him from escaping an otherwise worthless existence.    

Click here for the story of our 2012 Visit to Shakespeare's House : ENGLAND TRIP: Day 6: Part 6: Shakespeare's House and his Daughter's House/Ghosts


Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next