William Shakespeare

If Charles Martel Were Alive Today

Sunday was the 1,276-year anniversary of the death of Charles, King of the Franks. Charles, who won the decisive victory at the Battle of Tours against the Umayyad Caliphate (an Islamic state), gained the nickname “Martel,” meaning “the Hammer.” This battle was the beginning of the expulsion of Islam from, and victory of Christendom over, [...]

The Seven Ages of Man in Shakespeare’s As You Like It

In the famous speech from Shakespeare’s As You Like It that begins “All the world’s a stage, / And all the men and women merely players,” the melancholic Jaques laments the passage of time in the human pilgrimage as a series of sad events that perpetuate the same mood of life’s dreariness that persists from [...]

Medicines in Literature Not All Doctors Prescribe

The modern world approaches many problems with the outlook of a therapeutic society. For every ailment, complaint, or difficulty, it prescribes medication, some drug to change the mind, calm the nerves, stifle the energy, overcome depression, or control the appetite. An overmedicated society that depends on a pharmaceutical industry to provide for its happiness, peace, [...]

The “Divine Comedy” in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale

While the words “Divine Comedy” naturally recall Dante’s classic poem in which the poet descends to the underworld of the Inferno, ascends Mount Purgatory, and rises to the heavenly Paradise, the phrase also applies to Shakespeare’s tragi-comedies (The Tempest, Cymbeline, Pericles, and The Winter’s Tale) that begin with a sudden fall from high to low [...]

The Case for Catholic Shakespeare 

Unlike the conspiracy theory that William Shakespeare was really the more educated Earl of Oxford, the rival Christopher Marlowe, or the polymath Francis Bacon, the story of the Catholic Shakespeare is now a mainstream if not a consensus view among scholars. Stretched to the edge of credulity, using arguments and speculations from scholars both Catholic [...]

The Noblest Roman of Them All? On Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

What is most tragic in tragedies is that everything falls apart. Tragedies are always concerned with fate of a community, and a community cannot fall until its building blocks, individuals, have already begun to tumble themselves. Tragedies often seem inevitable from the their very beginning, and the reason for this is that we arrive at [...]

The Merchant of Venice: Shakespearean Insincerity

Insincerity in people is recognized as a problem, which is why Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice is recognized as the “problem play.” The Merchant of Venice is a play about insincere people and, therefore, it is problematic. It is a drama that has duped audiences for centuries, posing as full of pure lovers, wise women, [...]

Seeing Love: A Reflection on King Lear

What do we see? And what does it matter? As an older father and educator of my youngest daughter, now sixteen years old, I have the joy of truly learning Shakespeare for the first time. In recent months we have tackled two Shakespeare plays, Romeo and Juliet and King Lear. One is billed as the [...]

On Shakespeare’s Hamlet

In the cosmic struggle between good and evil, Shakespeare presents the relentless conflict between two philosophies that shape the human condition. The philosophy of Claudius, the usurping tyrant who secretly poisoned his brother King Hamlet and married his wife Queen Gertrude, assumes that might is right, man is a god, and the end justifies the [...]

Preparing for the Twelve Days of Christmas

About a hundred years ago, the usual jolly G.K. Chesterton can be found lamenting two things that are still a problem today: First, that as a writer, he has to write about Christmas long before Christmas in order for it to be published at Christmas. Second, the rest of the world seems to celebrate Christmas [...]

Shakespeare’s King Lear

Lear’s loyal servant Kent advises the king to "see better," when Lear unjustly banishes his beloved daughter Cordelia for not flattering him with the bombast of her sisters proclaiming they love their father “Dearer than eyesight, space and liberty./ Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare,/ No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, [...]

Shakespeare’s The Tempest

Magic (art) is a part of daily life. Whenever parents raise children, teachers educate students, or rulers govern societies, they require the knowledge of the arts that teach these skills. They become magicians or artists by the masterpieces of their craft that evoke wonder and admiration for the beauty, goodness, or perfection their handiwork achieves. [...]

Shakespeare’s Hamlet

In the cosmic struggle between good and evil, Shakespeare presents the relentless conflict between two philosophies that shape the human condition. The philosophy of Claudius, the usurping tyrant who secretly poisoned his brother King Hamlet and married his wife Queen Gertrude, assumes that might is right, man is a god, and the end justifies the [...]

Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Macbeth portrays the agony of a man’s soul in the throes of temptation as he hears the voices of the witches and the voice of Lady Macbeth luring him to commit murder to gain the power of kingship. After being addressed “Thane of Glamis” and then “Thane of Cawdor” as he rides home victorious after [...]

Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice

A miser gains but never gives. A moneylender gives in order to receive. A friend gives generously and gladly but never charges interest. A lover gives without calculating the cost, takes a risk without any guarantees, and gives without any forethought of reward only to receive more than ever imagined. In Shakespeare’s play Shylock hoards [...]

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Human problems lend themselves to many solutions, some of them with an oppressive heavy-hand and others with a gentle touch. Gravity easily oppresses and complicates problems whereas lightheartedness  simplifies the complex and applies a magical gentleness that Shakespeare compares to the play of the fairies at night that perform their favors in the silence of [...]

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