Sorry Bill I just Don’t Get It!

Troy Clements

So I’m not sure about you guys but Shakespeare is F ing hard to understand right?! I mean I just can’t seem to get my head around some of it. Especially if you are a fella coming from the maritime provinces where ya got lots of different kinds of fish spears but no Shakespeares unless you’re just trying to get the fish off your spear. I suppose you could call that shake spear?

I mean com’on, did people really talk like this??

A man may, if he were of a fearful heart,
stagger in this attempt; for here we have no temple
but the wood, no assembly but horn-beasts. But what
though? Courage! As horns are odious, they are
necessary. It is said, ‘many a man knows no end of
his goods:’ right; many a man has good horns, and
knows no end of them. Well, that is the dowry of
his wife; ‘tis none of his own getting. Horns?
Even so. Poor men alone? No, no; the noblest deer
hath them as huge as the rascal. Is the single man
therefore blessed? No: as a walled town is more
worthier than a village, so is the forehead of a
married man more honourable than the bare brow of a
bachelor; and by how much defence is better than no
skill, by so much is a horn more precious than to want.

– As You Like It, Act3, Scene 3

Haha ahh insert WTF emoticon here…I mean, Christ, feels like I’m talking to Steven Hawking about the origin of the universe. Isn’t this stuff supposed to be about like love, lust and other normal people shit?

I mean I get it. Everybody likes to show off and use “smart words” but cut us some slack Bill: either ease back on the drugs or come down off your pedestal and drop the “smart words.”

We get it, you talk good!

So if you feel the same way as I do, but still wanna get to the most outta Shakespeare… fuck it, just cheat!

I found a simple audio book app that has many Shakespeare ditties.

There are a few that break down entire plays in 15min, written in a way even children can understand. Well, to be honest, its still a little complicated at times as it was written for children who lived in the early 1900’s…I guess kids were smarter then? Makes me wonder what happened to the baby boomers?

What did I learn from ole Nesbit’s approach that I didn’t learn from Eric Jean you ask?  An example would be from Two Gentleman of Verona, a play of platonic love and fidelity where the character Speed – who I really enjoy – says,

O jest unseen, inscrutable, invisible,
As a nose on a man’s face, or a weathercock on a steeple!
My master sues to her, and she hath
taught her suitor,
He being her pupil, to become her tutor.
O excellent device! was there ever heard a better,
That my master, being scribe, to himself should write
the letter?

Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 2, Scene 1

This scene is about Silvia asking Valentine to write a sort of love letter to a friend of hers cause she doesn’t have time to do it herself.  But in truth she wants Valentine to actually write the letter to her…(big communication issues if you ask me).  Valentine, who is smitten with love and not thinking clearly, doesn’t pick up on her obvious nuances and writes some half-ass letter that falls short and Silvia kinda gets pissed off.  When Silvia leaves the room Speed pipes up, poking fun at Valentine, pointing out that she clearly wanted him to write the letter to her.

Nesbit doesn’t really explain the entire scene but does bring Speed’s lines down to earth a bit.  She references the weathercock on a steeple jab, meaning that its very obvious as to what Silvia is up too.  This is what made things clearer for me, allowing for the entire scene to make sense.

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/audiobooks/id311507490?mt=8

Anyway…if you are looking for the easy way out check out the app Audiobooks and download Edith Nesbit’s Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare  (or buy the real, live printed book form. Remember those?) and if you still don’t understand…well, blame your parents.

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