At 5:30 this morning I was suddenly so excited. My mind was flooded with the joyful realization that Monday was here! It was my big chance!
Chance for what, you might ask?
Funny you would ask…. Why would you sit there ASKING the computer all these questions while you’re reading a blog? Are you aware how this technology even functions, because, Hello!, I’m not sitting inside your computer right now typing this out and listening for any questions you might have. No. I’m writing this way before you’re reading it and like several miles away, and I can’t hear you! So stop asking questions. Especially about my morning routine. It’s creepy.
Anyway, what I was excited for was to read Act 3 of Othello and Hamlet. You see, act 3 in any Shakespeare play is where a lot of stuff starts happening. Characters finally understand the truth and begin to see their fateful path ahead of them more clearly. Or, characters decide for once and for all that something they suspected-but-didn’t-know is true, and make dramatically ironic plans to act on that knowledge. Anyway, there are usually a lot of events, and all the work that Shakespeare does before that is to give the dramatic events a major emotional punch.
Anyway, today we started off by going over Quotes and Notes from last time, connecting different ideas and characters as students investigated them in their notes. I learned a lot from students’ quotes and notes. I tend to ask a lot of questions that have no known answer during these discussions. Sometimes this confuses kids who are used to being asked questions that DO have known answers, but I find that, after they get over that initial confusion, they often come up with pretty damn good answers.
For example, during 5th period, I asked a student why Hamlet chose the specific words he uses in his letter to Ophelia:
Doubt thou the stars are fire
Doubt that the sun doth move
Doubt truth to be a liar
But never doubt I love
Now, this letter is far from clear. In fact, the more I think about it the more it boggles my mind. For example, did Shakespeare KNOW that the sun doesn’t move? Did he assume his characters would know that? Or is this just a pun–Ophelia should read it as “doubt that the SON (Hamlet, Jr.) doth move”? And suspecting “truth to be a liar” is a self-referential paradox that can make your head spin. It’s like the paradoxical sentence:
This sentence is a lie.
Don’t think about that one too hard.
Anyway, I asked a student who had written about this letter in his Quotes ‘n’ Notes what it all meant, and his answer was simple and lovely: Hamlet is sending a message to Ophelia to try to trust him, but he’s using images of things that are beautiful and too big to be denied (the sun and the stars), but are too far away to touch.
My friends, we’re going to keep doing Quotes and Notes.
After that, we spent a few minutes creating Dumb Shows of act 3. These dumb shows were made rather painful by the fact that, with so many events occurring in this act, there are a ton of characters, which means I spend a lot of time sitting around waiting for volunteers. Come on people–this is art school! Get a little crazy!
Most classes then went on to read the beginning of Act 3 of Hamlet and Othello, respectively. And that was our day.