Preserving Literature

As I browsed through the copies of Othello provided in the links above, I’d like to take a moment to talk about their condition for being such old copies. Though I know very little about the deterioration rate of things like books and plays that are so important to English literature, I do know that these could be in worse condition and it’s interesting to get a different perspective than the usual ones we students get as we read a modernly-typed version of things like Othello and Hamlet. Not to mention, I also noticed how the first word of the next page is always located at the bottom right-hand corner of every page.
Prompted by my English teacher to come up with a reason for such a thing, I think I’ve come up with a sound explanation. If these copies of the play were used to practice said play, one would assume it’s good to know the lines that are coming up next instead of having an awkward pause during the flip of a page. We tend to not do this now, with modern copies of Shakespeare’s masterpieces, and a lot of our formatting is different. As a play is repeatedly printed and edited to make it easier for modern readers, we also lose a lot of that original text and references that Shakespeare is known for putting into his works.
In the end, though, we have managed to keep quite an amazing record of Shakespeare’s plays that can often be found and read online in their original format (like the photos of copies found above). We, as people who appreciate literature, find it important to preserve masterpieces.

Oxymorons and Paradoxes

An oxymoron is a form of paradox that combines a pair of contrary terms into a single expression. This combination usually serves the purpose of shocking the reader into awareness.  Examples include “wise fool,” “sad joy,” and “eloquent silence.” During my reading in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, I’ve noticed a few oxymoron examples popping up within King Claudius’ dialogue. The first I noted happened to be the most obvious, “Have we, as ’twere with a defeated joy, / With an auspicious and dropping eye, / With mirth in funeral, and with dirge in marriage.(Act 1.ii.10-12)

As you may notice, there are several statements that contradict themselves that I have underlined for your easier viewing. The words ‘defeated’, ‘funeral’, and ‘dirge’ are all examples of mourning while ‘joy’, ‘mirth’, and ‘marriage’ would be seen by those who are encountering a joyous occasion. King Claudius (as you may or may not know) is extremely pleased with his position that has been taken over from the late King Hamlet. It’s almost as if he’s taunting young Hamlet with his speech.

A paradox, however, is a situation or action or feeling that appears to be contradictory but on inspection turns out to be true or at least to make sense. Following with my analyzing of Act 1.ii, I noticed a few paradoxes within Hamlet’s words from a quote that I’ve heard quite a few times now. “A little more than kin, a little less than kind.” (Act 1.ii.65) Hamlet’s uncle, King Claudius, has now married his mother and become something more to him than just kin. Now, he is his uncle-father while his mother become his aunt-mother. Now both of them are twice related to Hamlet, as he bitterly speaks of Claudius’ new position. Not only that, but he also makes the joke that “the funeral baked meats / Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.” (Act 1.ii.180-181).

As I have noticed on through, into my reading of Act 2, Hamlet is a master of words and quite the witty card when it comes to bitter humor in a manner such as this. He brings about many paradoxes in his humor, when applied with a bit of meaning to his words.

Leon: The Professional

After browsing the titles on Netflix for what felt like an eternity this Saturday afternoon, I found myself stumbling upon a film I’d heard about from my father. Now, you see, this is a film that is very typical of my dad to watch; it contains action and a twisted ending that most aren’t expecting to hurt you. I didn’t go into this movie knowing what sort of things would happen, and I feel a little bit betrayed by the director and writer of this tale: he had my trust that nothing terrible would happen to Leon.

The movie title is Leon: The Professional. It is the story of a Hitman who lives near a little girl who is far too grown up in her own body, their first true encounter happening when the girl sits on the apartment staircase smoking a cigarette: she is twelve years old. Her father has gotten into some risky business and cheated the wrong man in an attempt to steal 10% of a dope share. In the end, Matilda (the girl) narrowly escapes being killed by the man who brutally wiped out her family thanks to Leon.

The character dynamics in this movie are some of my favorite, I have to say. Leon is an immigrant to the United States, living beneath the roof of an Italian man who smuggled him into the States and whose life belongs to him. He is illiterate, but learning, and his main profession is ‘Cleaning’, which we can assume means wiping the floor with anyone he’s told to kill. However, Leon’s one rule is “No women, no kids” that he reveals to a persistent Matilda. Stubborn and seemingly-fearless, this twelve-year-old girl wishes to be like Leon and learn how to take lives for a lump sum of cash if only to get back at the disgusting man who killed her little brother.

This unlikely duo is forced to move several times due to Matilda’s antics as a young girl with confusing thoughts in her mind or brazen actions, but Leon manages to stick with her until the very end despite her many flaws. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it is an emotional one that you wouldn’t expect out of an action film like this. It certainly touched my heart and I needed to take a mental stroll to relieve myself of what had just unfolded.

The last line is really what hits you, I think, as Matilda speaks to what Leon proclaimed to be his best friend; a house plant that he tended to.

“I think we’ll be okay here, Leon.”