Walking On The Moon

Our love is walking on the moon and I’m an astronaut who’s scared of heights, where each step is like flight and we cannot possibly envisage coming down to reality.

Yet we never fail to return from whence we came, periodically touching solid ground, our soaring ceases and the motionless world of time halts us once more.

Grounded, it seems impossible for us to ever fly again, our glory says have passed, but despite the uneven odds, after an eternity of idleness stuck stationary, wings beaten down, our lightning bottled, we ignite the spark and take to the sky.

We are infinite within our finite step, each instant an eternity of beauty, lifting from the depths of our reality, a jump into the void of cold loneliness, a futile break from freedom before the ground compels us to cage this minute.

Are fleeting glimpses worth the shattering pain of crashing down to stillness, knowing that happiness which is beyond all earthly reckoning can never withstand more than an instant?

J A R O’Sullivan

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This Is Not Love

We do not love. We do not lie
As one in a world falling to
The cosmos of ourselves, by
Cover of darkness we run through
Words whispered with fearless affinity
For the fires beyond our shared infinity.

 

It is not love of fairy-tales,
Nor a highborn lord and lady
Entrapped within, freedom pales
When in sacred hours I see
Beauty impossible; flowers blooming
In the shape of words, fighting the darkness looming

 

Your quiet gift of empathy,
Intuition knows when I need
Your compassion and sympathy
Enveloping me, planting seed
Of trust and contentment to grow and thrive,
Swaddled in comfort your kindness brings to our lives.

Your creativity shows as
A universe within you furled,
Nebulae swirling en masse,
Stars illuminating our world
Radiating colour even in dust
Banishing all darkness from the corners of dusk.

 

We do not share a bed, Hell’s fires
Do not fade, God does not topple
From the sky and we are not one.

 

Tell me now that this is not love.
J A R O’Sullivan

Channel 4’s “Girls To Men”

As a trans masculine person, I felt a morbid curiosity towards Channel 4’s “born in the wrong body season,” but no hope. I was not pleasantly surprised. So here’s my review of the second of the trans trilogy – “girls to men”

Here’s what i liked first:

  • The conversation between Ethan and his fiance about intimacy was really touching and kinda beautiful. I am very glad they showed that side of a trans man’s life in a positive regard, for the first time. Ever. There was no “it’s weird and i don’t like it but i do it for you anyway” from his fiance which is so commonly shown.
  • Similarly, Billy talking to the camera/his hairdresser about suicidal feelings, and how his transition saved his life, was a really important thing to show. Often I feel the importance of medical transition and acceptance for trans people’s mental health is overlooked or brushed under the carpet.
  • Not showing it as a “go in to an operating theatre and come out with an ABSOLUTELY COMPLETELY PERFECT “””SEX CHANGE”””” that is commonly thought of. That said, I have problems with the focus on surgery to discuss later.

What i didn’t like:

  • Why only trans men? Where is our trans women representation? I get that the third part of the series is only trans girls, but they’re all about 12, so there’s gonna no talk of transition post puberty, no talk of what it’s like post surgery, no talk of what it’s like to be a trans woman, rather than a girl.
  • The title. “Girls to men.” Stop. They were never girls.
  • Separate issue with the title: it’s sensationalizing transition and trans people’s lives, as per. This was supposed to be an educational and realistic documentary, not some docudrama created and crafted to catch the eye.
  • Also with the title: trans men are no more “men” post transition. A trans man who is pre-T or pre top surgery or lower surgery, or who can’t have top/lower surgery/T or opts not to is NO LESS a man than one who can have, is having, and has had these things. In a transgender documentary,you should not be pushing the idea that gender is defined by physicality. You should not be telling the public, the uneducated, cisgender public, that trans men are only men once they’ve had surgery.
  • “drastic measures” jesus christ stop. Stop sensationalizing! Stop trying to turn us into something you can pity and go “well at least THATS not me”
  • Similarly, instead of focusing all talk about Billy’s lower surgery on how scared he was – which is understandable good god of course – they could have instead looked at how important it was for him, how much of a difference it was going to make to his life, how it was going to ease dysphoria
  • the word dysphoria wasn’t even mentioned. The biggest hardship trans people face, the hardest thing about being trans, the motivator for hormones, surgery, social transition, the reason so many trans people are so unhappy, the reason we go to “drastic measures” is dysphoria. And it wasn’t even mentioned. Of course it wasn’t; that doesn’t fit with the aim of the show, it would have taken away from their turning our lives into a drama.
  • SO much discussion of being “too young.” At least if you’re going to do that, present it from the perspective of “no, they’re not too young, and don’t you dare tell them they are” rather than constant questioning over it, and showing someone talking to the cameras about how they think a 17 year old is too young.
  • why is the word “dyke” being used on national TV, in a documentary about trans people. Absolutely not. The only context in which this would be okay is if they were saying “i get called these things, and it’s hurtful and wrong. You should never call a trans man these things.” But it wasn’t. They made no comment on it at all. They didn’t dispute the idea that he was “just a dyke.”
  • In the same vein, why did they put in someone saying that it wasfashionable to be trans? Just, y’know, contribute to the masses of people who tell us we’re all fakers on the internet who shouldn’t be believed. Thanks. I’m sure that will really help trans people.
  • Once again, making trans people look at photos of themselves before they came out and transitioned is wrong and unethical. Stop doing it.
  • Stop showing loads of pictures of trans people before transition. We’re not a blue peter project for you to go “before and after!” We’re already haunted by the memories of our pre-transition days, stop showing the rest of the world this bygone time, this person we used to have to pretend to be. Stop defining us by how far we’ve come. Stop pretending we were ever any other gender.
  • WHY always with the “i lost my daughter” ?!?! No you didn’t. Your CHILD is still the same person, they are still right there! Stop crying over the fact that you no longer get to force your gender stereotypes on your kid. What the hell kind of difference does it make anyway. Your child hasn’t change done bit. They have always been like this, they have always been your son,you never HAD a daughter, and you certainly didn’t lose one. Stop acting like your child has died and get on with freaking supporting them.
  • The focus on surgery: Yes, surgery is important to trans people. However, it would have been better to at least talk about how trans people access it. At least mention gender identity clinics. When talking about getting T, explain that there is only 1 GIC in the UK for under 18’s and how it’s in London. When talking about surgery, talk about how the waiting list for NHS funded surgery is about 2 years, on average.
  • They really should have talked about how hard it is to access medical transition for young trans people, how the medical world for us is a literal catch-22, how if we’re not depressed and in constant serious distress they brand us as “not really trans, not in need of intervention” but if we ARE self harming/suicidal/depressed/facing major issues, they brand us as “too unstable to assess whether [we] are truly trans” and “unsuitable for treatment”

I could go on, I really could, but this will do. All in all, I didn’t like it. So here are some alternative things people could/should watch instead:

Anything from Fox’s youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/tigersnack/videos…

Things not to say to trans people: https://www.youtube.com/watch…

Again, anything from JJ, but i especially for a more fun and silly discussionof serious issues: https://www.youtube.com/user/JJFanshawe/videos…

Another transguy youtuber, Alex Bertie is UK and has hundreds of videos, alot of which are important and really good for educational purposes: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheRealJazzBertie/videos…

Jazz is probably one of the most famous young transgirls, because of her being featured in American documentaries https://www.youtube.com/user/jazzmergirl/videos…

Apologies that my links are overwhelmingly transmasculine.

Everyone.

Love is synonymous with pain
Crumpling in on yourself as if receding
Can protect you from the black hole inside,
Kneeling before it for envelopment begging.

 

Pain that was never immaterial,
Fear banishing rest invites inward
Paranoia to tear from you words
Unglorified should ever remain unuttered.

 

Your heart it will render bereft of beauty
Leave it darkened, sickness invaded more
Walls of rot oozing corruption,
Dust upon the lifeless floor.

 

J A R O’Sullivan

When The Winds Blow

The Winds will never cease
For none can halt their passage,
They rumble without head
Unhearing cries from their baggage.

 

In joy they urge you onward;
No matter your resistance
You must be driven forward
For inception of new instance.

 

In the darkness of sorrow
You will forget they are there.
Relearn to feel on the morrow
Let gentle gusts heal disrepair.

 

The Winds can never end
With your words you must take wing,
Ensure the currents you befriend
Embrace the wind and live soaring.

 

J A R O’Sullivan

‘How rare and beautiful is it to exist?’

How rare and beautiful is it to exist?
Stars died, left atoms to roam galaxies
Eternally searching for worthy cause.
They combined to create new wonders,
Nebulae, galaxies and solar beauties.
Remains of stars came together
To create all existence.

 

Particles danced through the universe
Skipped over stars to meet and make you.
Over all else of space and time,
Sunbursts and solar systems,
Planets, moons and comets,
Red dwarves and blue giants.
Clouds of gases, swirling colours,
Pillars of creation, they brought you life.

 

You are special, you are gifted,
You are fashioned from stardust.
When death comes tapping
Know that you will continue on,
The star in you will be born again.

 

J A R O’Sullivan

On Writing

I have lived a thousand lives
But none of them my own.
I don’t wish to be a writer
We are compelled to write.

 

The boy who loves language
The girl who despises it.
Melancholy solitude which permeates
Even the faintest of hearts

 

Casual cruelty contorting humanity
Into a caricature of love,
Joy that can only be expressed by tears
Emptiness charged by a smile.

 

Woman who lost a son
Father who never had one,
The inexorable dissonance;
Time and human existence.

 

The ones who were forgotten
Inexcusable to live; unremarkable to die.
Those who forsook them
Allowing the amnesia of injustice.

 

The rotation of mankind
Content to let truth be blind.
Sorrows of those gone before
Watching lessons unlearnt ignored.

 

Life flees before writer’s embrace
To hold hands with one’s who write,
Sprawls from their souls,
Beats on the page.

 

Wraps ideas around them
Enthroning concepts that comfort and dismay,
Kept conscious by poetry
Until all has bled out of me

 

Twisting the tale free
From the claws of life’s grasp,
Lines of a constellation in vain
Attempt to leave not scars

 

J.A.R. O’Sullivan

A Letter To Remind You Who You Are

Dear you,

 

Get up.

 

Step back, get up son
Get back in the ring, you are not done
This is not the destiny you’ve been spun
You’re not leaving here lifeless
The stars are not ready for your brightness
One more round with the blackness.
Untangle your thoughts, your emotions pull apart
Shatter rocks into pebbles you can outsmart
Let the weight holding you down depart.

 

Break open your magnetic cage
Gravity can’t keep you from your stage
There’s no possibility you can disengage
Because there’s something inside you
That kept you walking true
Not allowing your life to go askew
Through every time you wanted to quit.
Search every cavern of your heart, find it.
Never let it go, hold it, keep it.

 

One day that light will become a star.
Until then the miles to go are far
It is pure, let it be your loadstar
Pedestal it in your heart to cast light
You will see, the tide is turning, the darkness’ flight
You are leading the fight
Against empty space trying to force entry
To your lungs to choke the glee
From your mind, but we will not plea.

 

You are spearheading the onslaught
Of people who won’t take naught
As an answer, we have fought
The absence of light. Darkness is not absolute
There is light on your back do not dispute
You have to shine so life takes root
Behind you it grows in dazzling colour
Each person following after
Covering the land with beauty they spur.

 

Friends are giving you their smiles for
You reminded them how to adore.
Our world has an unlimited store
Of blinkers which to the world they shutoff.
Unleash your sight, reach up and tear them off.
Others are watching you praying you knock off
Shine bright enough to blind them
They will never know your stratagem
Post-vict’ry it is them you will condemn.

 

For years your beauty has been out-shone
By the glare of those who wish it gone
They have been silencers for an aeon
They are well rehearsed at grounding dreams
Cut the line, set them free, into the darkness beam
To brew new days from the darkness reams
For it is known; every day starts with night.
See wonder they kept hidden from your sight
Convert space into time, all black into white.

 

Dear you,

 

Get up.

 

J.A.R. O’Sullivan

The use and abuse of power in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ and ‘The Tempest’

Throughout Shakespeare’s works the use and abuse of power is a leitmotif as the characters make excessive use of their power to the detriment of others in order to further their own ambitions. Shakespeare’s characters abuse many aspects of power in order to illustrate the comedic theme of ‘showing up human folly.’ Shakespeare presents these powers similarly in Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest in order to highlight that abusing power ultimately leads to the downfall of the abuser.

In both Much Ado About and The Tempest, Shakespeare’s characters abuse the power in appearance and deception. In The Tempest, Prospero maintains an appearance of grandeur in order to hold power over Ariel and Caliban, as ‘he who is highly esteemed is not easily conspired against’. He does so through exploiting his magical power to ‘pinch’ Caliban and by reminding Ariel ‘from what…torment’ Prospero rescued him. Shakespeare is drawing a parallel between Prospero and Sycorax, who also ‘confined’ Ariel and used magi, in order to depict Prospero’s villainy. Members of authority in Much Ado use similar methods to maintain power. Don John’ reputation as a ‘reconciled’ man allows him to manipulate others into believing his virtue. Shakespeare’s audience would have recognised that power, particularly in the higher orders of society, was gained and kept through the opinions of others. Borachio depends on his notoriety to ensure that their plan to foil Claudio and Hero’s marriage succeeds. The villains in Much Ado and Prospero in The Tempest both abuse the power of reputation, and ultimately fail. While Borachio initially succeeds, Friar reasserts the order of opinion through Hero’s false death. Similarly, Prospero’s return to his dukedom is a false victory; his ‘ending is despair’ and his strength, while now solely his own, ‘is most faint.’ The lack of true reconciliation between Prospero and his erstwhile opponents suggests that he will once again be usurped. Shakespeare demonstrates that abusing the power of deception will eventually lead to failure, as neither Borachio, Don John or Prospero succeed in their ambitions.

A related theme is the manipulation of others as an abuse of power is a theme throughout Shakespeare’s work. Prospero manipulates Miranda and Ferdinand for his own ends, as Ferdinand will ‘make [Miranda] / The Queen of Naples.’ Prospero, Alonso and Leonato view their daughters as political pawns whose marriages will secure a political goal, so they manipulate their daughters into marriage. The second royal performance of The Tempest was ‘celebrating Princess Elizabeth’s betrothal to the Elector Palatine’ which suggests that Shakespeare’s contemporaries may have viewed Prospero’s actions as the prudent actions of a good ruler and loving father, however manipulative they may be. Similarly to Prospero, Hero abuses the power of deception to manipulate Beatrice into falling in love with Benedick. Both plays question whether love is created by others as a tool for power, whether political or personal. While Miranda and Ferdinand are ‘both in either’s power’, which suggests that love holds power over both of them, Prospero also remarks that he ‘must uneasy make’ ‘this swift business’, which suggests that love has been manipulated by Prospero. Love is portrayed as an illusion to be manipulated for one’s own ends. While the use of power to manipulate others through love is upon first consideration a counterexample to the stated hypothesis, it undermines the characters’ public personas. Alonso is cast in poor light by Sebastian for the miscegenation relationship he puts his daughter in to. Leonato is heavily undermined by his own machinations which cause his son-in-law and the powerful Don John to mock and abuse his authority, despite the apparently successful conclusion to his scheme.

Similarly, the power held by words and the outcome of using this power is one that Shakespeare’s characters never fail to exploit. In Much Ado Benedick and Beatrice have a ‘merry war’ of words that is indicative of their love for each other. Penny Gay is correct in describing their polemical relationship as one in which they ‘talk, and bicker, endlessly, thus displaying for each other their intellects, their energy and their compatibility.’ It is the antithesis of the dance of courtly love that Claudio and Hero engage in and is thus arguably why it triumphs. Courtly love is a facade used by the higher orders of society to mask the battle for power, thus when it is juxtaposed to a love such as Beatrice and Benedick’s this distinction is heightened. It is also juxtaposed to the suffocatingly conventional language of Ferdinand and Miranda’s first meeting, in which Miranda likens Ferdinand to a ‘temple’ and he asks if she ‘be a maid or no?’. This display of courtly love is akin to Claudio and Hero, but by the end of the play they have begun to reflect Beatrice and Benedick by engaging in playfully antagonistic wordplay; ‘you play me false..I would call if fair play.’ The power of a love based on words and wit is ‘past the infinite of thought’ and a force to be reckoned with, as demonstrated by Benedick and Beatrice. This use of the power held in words is far from abuse, which demonstrates that despite the cynicism that surrounds power in Shakespeare’s plays, it is possible to wield it without abusing it.

In contrast to this, Much Ado and Julius Caesar demonstrate that abusing the power of words has dire consequences. Prospero and Mark Antony both abuse the power they hold in their words. Prospero teaches language to Caliban, which grants Caliban the ability to abuse language and humanity in that he is now able to communicate on a level with others such as Stephano and Trinculo which raises him from being a ‘beast’ or ‘fish’ and transforms him into a man. Caliban even uses a higher register than those he is trying to spur into mutiny, as he speaks in verse, while Stephano and Trinculo use prose. Prospero and Don Pedro utilise their rhetoric to persuade the audience of their goodness, highlighted by the fact that Prospero dominates the play through number of spoken lines and an ‘active presence’ of ‘roughly 52 per cent’ of the play, he also ends the play with continued assertion of power over his own narrative; ‘the story of my life…I’ll deliver all’.. whereas the courtly language of Claudio and Ferdinand should be awarded ‘scarce trust.’ Claudio describes Hero as a ‘jewel’ and declares his ‘love’ for her, despite having glanced upon her once. This is an instance of courtly language being implemented, as that which Claudio says is designed to convince other characters of his ‘love’ for Hero, not for the sake of love but for personal gain. In the iconic ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen’ address Antony abuses his superior rhetoric to manipulate a mob of Plebians into murdering the innocent Cinna. With the dichotomy between the use of oratorical power for love and the perversion of rhetoric for personal gain Shakespeare substantiates the view that abusing power will consistently result in failure

At the time Shakespeare was writing, lying ‘was a diabolical trick’ yet lies invariably feature in Shakespeare’s plays as an abuse of the power an individual holds. His original audience would have been shocked and appalled at Borachio and Don John’s lying to Claudio, as society was heavily influenced by the church and morality. A contemporary audience would have held the opinion that lying was a sin, and those who lied were condemned by god. Colin Butler is only partly right when he states that ‘Shakespeare needs three villains, not one’ as Shakespeare utilises three villains successfully where one would suffice in order to highlight aspects of their villainy. Borachio uses trickery and untruth to ensnare Claudio, while Don John is presented as the devil. This would have had significant effect on Shakespeare’s audience, who would have feared the devil due to a deeply religious society. As the name suggests, Conrade is implemented by Shakespeare as a companion villain to Borachio and Don John in order to reflect them and make their villainy explicit. This is done by Borachio and Don John stating their plans to Conrade as a device to inform the audience. The power afforded to the three villains is that as antagonists they are not bound by morality. They have no need for social laws as the intent is for them to be broken. Don John, the devil incarnate, has the unique ability in Much Ado to act as he pleases, unconstrained by morals. In contrast, The Tempest features no one clear villain, and as such different interpretations over time have placed various characters in the role of antagonist. This is partly possible due to colonialism, and partly due to the fact that all the characters abuse power after a fashion. Caliban is an attempted murderer, Prospero is a cruel master and Antonio usurps Prospero and uses his daughter as a political pawn. Each of these abuses of power ultimately lead to the downfall of the abuser.

Shakespeare emphasises the importance of clothes and physical appearance in both plays and how the manipulation of the power held by appearance will lead to a literal or moral downfall. Attention is drawn to Prospero’s cloak – that which gives him magical prowess – as a means of power. Prospero is only ‘ready’ to perform magic once he has donned it. His cloak is not only a source of his power but an outward expression of it. In Much Ado Benedick shaves his beard as a statement that he is ready to marry Beatrice. This is an outward symbol of his relinquishing power, as Beatrice would never marry a man who had a beard, thus when Benedick shaves his he is giving up control of his appearance to her. This is an exact juxtaposition to Prospero taking up his cloak to show that he has power. Shakespeare also focusses on the power of appearance through Claudio and how Hero is ‘the sweetest lady’ he has ever ‘looked on’. This shows that Hero has power over Claudio through her appearance as ‘a modest young lady’ without having to speak. This is a particularly poignant abuse of power because it is an abuse of feminine power, thus challenging the societal stereotype that women do not abuse power. Hero’s femininity and the importance of her appearance, reputation and honour allow her to be denounced by Borachio’s trick. In contrast, Prospero’s abandonment of his cloak, rod and magic physicalize his relinquishment of power and his downfall from a position
of power on the island to one of relative insignificance.

In The Tempest there is significant ambiguity over the sources of power, and thus ambiguity surrounding how they are used and abused. Prospero appears to gain magical power from his ‘study’ of the ‘liberal arts’ and his ‘books’, yet he requires his road and cloak to perform magic, and needed Ariel to create the tempest in I.i. It is also noted that the witch Sycorax used none of these methods to acquire her magical prowess. This is in direct contrast with Much Ado where the power held by each individual has a clear source. Claudio’s power originates from Don Pedro ‘bestow[ing] much honour’ upon him, Leonato and Don Pedro gain their power through wealth and social status and Don John’s power is from reputation.The reason Shakespeare is equivocal with regard to power sources in The Tempest and wholly unambiguous about them in Much Ado is to because in a court setting traditional ideas of power apply whereas when courtly figures such as Prospero are removed from society traditional hierarchy breaks down.

Postcolonial readings of The Tempest ‘place Caliban at the centre of the play’ and view Prospero as having an inferiority complex that causes him to ‘overcompensate and establish himself as the aggressor.’ A postcolonial reading would emphasise the abuse perpetrated by Prospero on Caliban, whereas Shakespeare’s contemporaries would have read Caliban as the abuser of power in his attempting to usurp Prospero. All audiences vilify Caliban because of his failed attempt to rape Miranda and murder Prospero, however it is only a modern audience who would pity Caliban and instead place the title of villain on Prospero. In comparison to The Tempest, there has been little change in opinions of good and evil in Much Ado. Most audiences are in agreement that he who is ‘not of many words’, Don John, is the  villain who will ultimately be defeated, as is the format of a comedy. Arguably, Shakespeare’s plays each follow a trajectory of questioning and then restoring the status quo – with particular regard to the roles of “good” and “evil”. The Tempest does so by questioning Prospero’s right to be duke of Milan and whether it was wrong to exile him and then restoring his position. Similarly, Much Ado challenges the unwritten social rules which govern society and the opinions of women through characters such as Hero and Beatrice, before restoring order through marriage and Benedick’s triumph.

The abuse of the power held by propaganda, ritual and ceremony is explored by Shakespeare extensively in these two plays. At the time of composition, ‘hosting a lavish dance was…a way of displaying social status and wealth’. This type of public display of power is juxtaposed with private power which serves to highlight their differences. Leonato as a father has power over Hero to marry her to whom he sees fit, however he also is the father of the state and must maintain power in that regard. This is done through methods such as dancing and as such the power of the masked dance is abused by Leonato. Leonato uses the dance to assert his wealth and status of power over others. This abuse of public ceremony is mirrored in Julius Caesar when Caesar has Antony offer him a crown for the purpose of being seen to ‘put it by thrice’ in the public eye. Both Caesar and Leonato employ planned public procedure to ensure their status is widely known. The power of reputation is clearly demonstrated here, as it is by reputation that characters such as Leonato and Don John maintain influence. The utilisation of pomp and ceremony is a commentary by Shakespeare on Queen Elizabeth, as she relied on court ceremony to maintain an appearance of power over the state, which was arguably the cause of her excommunication and is a moral downfall as when an authority figure abuses power, particularly one who has a divine right to rule, it is morally reprehensible.

 

Shakespeare raises questions as to the source and use of political power in his plays and how the abuse of such power causes the shortcomings of courtly figures. During the time when Much Ado was written there was upheaval in England over the succession of the throne because Queen Elizabeth had no heir. As a reflection of this, the play questions the right of rule and whether this power is absolute. Leonato is presented as having status and power that is of questionable right to the audience, as he is an ‘old man’ with no heir during an age where primogeniture meant that traditionally the entire estate would pass to the first born. During the shaming of Hero, Leonato is presented as weak by not defending his daughter’s honour and a bad ruler for not listening to the advice of his underlings, Dogberry and Verges. In the eye of the audience, his age has brought him weakness and not wisdom. In the same way, Julius Caesar explores the theme of questionable political rule. Even ‘noble Brutus’, who ‘loves [Caesar] well,’ fears the people ‘choose him as their king.’ Similarly, The Tempest, while not having the backdrop of uncertain succession, questions the power of the state over others and the divine right of kings, and the actions that ought to be taken when this right is abused.

Prospero was usurped from his position of authority over his dukedom in the same way Caesar is ‘extirpated’ from his dukedom and from power, which presents the question of whether they deserved their position and whether it is true that ‘the king is established by the Lord God’ and thus have a divine right to rule. The usurpation of Prospero – a duke for whom his ‘library was dukedom enough’ – and that of Caesar who ‘doth bestride the narrow world / Like a colossus’ are reflective and suggest that the answer to the question of the divine right of kings is that tyranny should not run unchecked, and when it does it is the moral responsibility of citizens to stand against it. Shakespeare supports the sentiment that ‘no man can justly reprehend Brutus…who killed Caesar before his tyrannical a any firm rooting.’ Shakespeare is suggesting through Prospero and Caesar that when an abuse of political power has become tyranny it ought to be removed and that this is ultimately the fault of the tyrant themselves. In this way Shakespeare is once again reminding his audience that power is to be handled delicately.

There are some sources of power that cannot be tamed by even the most cautious. Prospero and Leonato are aged men whose’ ‘every third thought shall be [the] grave’ as the progression of time is inescapable. Shakespeare highlights this in order to remind his audience that natural forces hold the greatest and most irrepressible power over mere men. Yet the influence of time has debatable results. While Prospero laments his age and  Don Pedro patronises Leonato by referring to him as a ‘good old man’, Leonato recognises that he has the ‘privilege of age to brag’. Shakespeare is once more reinstating the archetypal characters that were under scrutiny throughout the play; the wise old man and the hasty young man have been restored.

In Shakespeare’s plays, the wielding of power is a perilous road to tread, and the majority of those characters who attempt it fail to reach a desirable end. This traditional message is at the heart of Shakespeare’s work, as he is a ‘reproducer of the socio-political status quo’ Shakespeare has gone to great lengths to ensure that both Much Ado and The Tempest emphasise that those who seek to exploit power will eventually restore the status quo and meet their demise in the denouement of the play. Only those who do not abuse their power, such as Beatrice and Benedick, will be allowed by Shakespeare to succeed. In this way, these plays contain an important moral warning from their author.

Sources:

Brinda Charry, The Tempest: A Critical Reader (Bloomsbury, 2014)
Mike Brett, Much Ado About Nothing (Philip Allan Updates, 2006)
Colin Butler, Much Ado About Nothing, A masterpiece by design (The English Review, 1998)
Penny Gay, The Cambridge Introduction To Shakespeare’s Comedies (Cambridge University Press, 2008)
Christy Desmet and Robert Sawyer, Shakespeare and Appropriation (Psychology Press, 1999)
Virginia and Alden Vaughan, The Tempest, (Bloomsbury, 2014)
Burton Raffel, introduction from The Tempest, (Yale University Press, 2006)

Attitudes towards nature in ‘After Reading In A Letter Proposals For Building A Cottage’

Clare demonstrates an in-depth knowledge of nature in the poem ‘After Reading In A Letter Proposals For Building A Cottage’ and clearly has no misconceptions about the nature of the countryside. He shows his knowledge through use of specific language, such as naming the plants; ‘woodbines,’ ‘old man’s beard’ and ‘sedge’ and showing that he knows to ‘Leave holes within the chimney-top’ for the swallows ‘To paste their nest between.’ He also references keeping ‘out thieves at night’ which demonstrates that he knows that just because he is away from the cities does not make the countryside perfect. This shows that does not take the attitude that nature is an all-protecting force and environment, allowing for relaxing of basic security measures, but rather mocks the poets who do. He has a realistic view, respecting and appreciating that which surrounds him without idealizing it. Clare litters the poem with plosive alliteration and sibilance, such as ‘spindling sedge’ and ‘Bent bowering’ which also reflects the idea that he recognises the often harsh side to nature. He only writes about summer, ‘build a summer seat,’ which shows that he does not want to live in his ‘shed’ during winter, because all that which he wants to observe and live with, such as the ‘flowers that blossom sweet,’ thus demonstrating that he only wishes to live in this ‘hut’ because of the surrounding beauty, which emphasises his knowledge that it will not be pleasant in winter and his respect and caring for nature.

He shows a certain caring for nature, in that he instructs those building his cottage to prioritise the comfort of the birds over his own, as ‘pulling out the thatch’ will cause rainwater to drip into his house, but allows the sparrow’s to ‘hide their heads.’ This instruction, along with that of the holes in the chimney, show that his upbringing in the heart of the British countryside has left him with a fondness for wildlife. Clare directly states that he ‘loves the sparrow’s ways to watch / Upon the cotter’s sheds’ which directly communicates to every reader how he dotes on every aspect of wildlife. The form of the poem is very similar to that of a ballad of the time; regular, unchanging meter and ABAB rhyme scheme. This shows the regard with which he holds nature as he would write about it with connotations of a great ballad. The deliberate, careful punctuation slows down the reading of this poem, drawing emphasis to every line in the same was Clare observes and notices every aspect of his surroundings in the country, and this forces the reader to consider everything Clare writes. This shows that Clare wants to communicate the reality of nature to his readers, and wants them to notice the details and beauty of the wildlife, which clearly communicates his respect for nature.