Coriolanus by William Shakespeare


Coriolanus by William Shakespeare

Genre: Drama
Page #: 339
Published in: 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Rating: [4/5]

Official Synopsis:

Set in the earliest days of the Roman Republic, Coriolanus begins with the common people, or plebeians, in armed revolt against the patricians. The people win the right to be represented by tribunes. Meanwhile, there are foreign enemies near the gates of Rome.

The play explores one reason that Rome prevailed over such vulnerabilities: its reverence for family bonds. Coriolanus so esteems his mother, Volumnia, that he risks his life to win her approval. Even the value of family, however, is subordinate to loyalty to the Roman state. When the two obligations align, the combination is irresistible.

Coriolanus is so devoted to his family and to Rome that he finds the decision to grant the plebians representation intolerable. To him, it elevates plebeians to a status equal with his family and class, to Rome’s great disadvantage. He risks his political career to have the tribunate abolished—and is banished from Rome. Coriolanus then displays an apparently insatiable vengefulness against the state he idolized, opening a tragic divide within himself, pitting him against his mother and family, and threatening Rome’s very existence.

My Review:

This is one of Shakespeare’s later, much lesser known tragedies. I really had no interest in reading this play at first, but it was either this or Henry V and I hate Henry V. What started out as grudging acceptance morphed into pure and unadulterated love for this ridiculous play.

The play features Coriolanus, a Roman soldier with some pretty serious mommy issues. After winning valor for himself fighting against the Volscian rebellion, he tries to get elected consul but some of the tribunes ruin everything for him. Coriolanus is one of the most selfish and childish man-child characters I have ever come across. Seriously, this play is so weird and over-the-top.

Coriolanus is probably one of Shakespeare’s gayest plays too. There’s some really blatant homoerotic dialogue between the two main characters. It’s one of those plays where you can’t help but laugh as things just spiral out of control.

I also watched a bunch of movie adaptations for the same project I read the play for, and the one with Tom Hiddleston is my favorite. That one really captures the humor that I see in the play. Seriously, I really love this play.

One of the only things I don’t like about this play is some of the characters. There are a couple of characters that really serve no function to the story, so it’s kind of pointless that they’re there. Otherwise, I would really recommend it.

As You Like It by William Shakespeare


As You Like It by William Shakespeare

Genre: Drama
Page #: 263
Published in: 2011
Publisher: Penguin

Rating: [2/5]

Official Synopsis:

As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 or early 1600 and first published in the First Folio, 1623. The play’s first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton House in 1603 has been suggested as a possibility. As You Like It follows its heroine Rosalind as she flees persecution in her uncle’s court, accompanied by her cousin Celia and Touchstone the court jester, to find safety and, eventually, love, in the Forest of Arden. Historically, critical response has varied, with some critics finding the work of lesser quality than other Shakespearean works and some finding the play a work of great merit. The play features one of Shakespeare’s most famous and oft-quoted speeches, “All the world’s a stage”, and is the origin of the phrase “too much of a good thing”. The play remains a favourite among audiences and has been adapted for radio, film, and musical theatre.

My Review:

If I had one word to describe this play, I would say boring. I know that sounds really unfair, but I honestly did not really care for this play. Seeing it performed is actually much better than reading; I would recommend watching the most recent Globe Theater staging online.

In this play, Orlando flees to the forest of Arden after his brother takes all of his late father’s estate. Also fleeing to Arden are Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone. Rosalind and Orlando are in love, but Rosalind diguises herself as a man in Arden for safety reasons. While she is disguised as a man, she befriends Orlando and tries to help him with his pining over Rosalind. Like any good Renaissance play, there’s a triple wedding at the end.

I like Rosalind as a character because she challenges a lot of stereotypical gender roles and facilitates a lot of homoerotic tension in the play. However, I literally hated Touchstone. I despised everything that came out of his mouth. Because of this, I was incredibly bored and frustrated by all the subplots.

While there are some good qualities to this play, I would recommend Shakespeare’s other comedies if that’s what you’re looking for.

SERIES REVIEW: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher


I’ve never done a series review before! Step back and prepare to be amazed! Okay not really. But I’ll probably do more of them for things like comics or manga or shorter things like this in the future. Anyway. There are three books in this parody series: Verily, a New Hope, The Empire Striketh Back, and The Jedi Doth Return. My aunt got this series for me at our local comic shop and I saved them for some fun summer reading.

Rating: [3/5]

Reading Challenge: A trilogy

Summary: Basically, this series is exactly what it sounds. It is all three Star Wars movies rewritten and adapted into iambic pentameter and put in play format. Doescher uses traditionally Shakespearean methods to retell the story and really plays on themes found throughout all of Shakespeare’s plays.

Likes: My favorite part of the series was how much Doescher used Shakespeare to adapt the stories. He didn’t just put the films in iambic pentameter. He used a chorus to describe action sequences, had certain characters act as fools, and use prose and poetry to indicate character’s class. Plus, there were several famous Shakespearean speeches that he somehow managed to work directly into Star Wars without seeming too forced.

Dislikes: Plays and iambic pentameter in particular are always tough for me to get into, so I had a hard time reading these books more than an act at a time. But that’s not the book’s fault; that’s my brain’s fault. I’m trying to get more into drama/poetry and more into Shakespeare, so hopefully this won’t be a problem for long.

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare


This is probably my favorite Shakespeare play ever. I’ve seen all the film adaptations and I love every single one of them for different reasons. In high school, I even got the chance to act in this play. So I was really excited when I found out we were reading it in my Shakespeare class. Basically, I think it’s hilarious and Benedick and Beatrice are one of my most favorite fictional couples ever.

Rating: [5/5]

Reading Challenge: A classic romance

Summary: After returning home from war, Count Claudio enlists the help of his friends to win the heart of Hero. Once he is engaged to her, Don Pedro plots a distraction to keep the couple entertained while they wait to marry. They will each trick Benedick and Beatrice, sworn nemeses, into falling in love with each other. While they plan to bring this couple together, Don John, the prince’s bastard brother, has his own plot to tear Claudio and Hero apart.

Likes: Benedick and Beatrice. They are so funny and their chemistry is incredible. Plus, Shakespeare strongly hints at the back story of their relationship, which makes their banter all the more interesting.

Dislikes: Claudio’s treatment of Hero during the end of the play is pretty problematic, and the ending seemed kind of abrupt to me.

TL;DR: This is a great play and I would definitely recommend it.

Henry V by William Shakespeare


I’m actually seeing a production of this at my school tomorrow. I go to a woman’s university, so King Henry is genderbent. While I didn’t really enjoy reading this play as much as I have some of the others, I think I’ll like watching it more. At least, I hope so.

Rating: [2/5]

Summary: In this play, Henry has decided to invade France on the grounds that he’s very distantly related to a French monarch. Because the French government refuses to acknowledge his claim, Henry gathers an army to take control of an important port city despite the ridiculous odds facing him and his men.

Likes: Katherine is basically the only redeeming part of this play for me. Her dirty French puns in the one scene plus Henry attempting to “woo” her at the end were really the only parts of the play that I enjoyed.

Dislikes: For me, this play was very difficult to follow. The historical context of the play needs to be known in order to understand the storyline. I frankly didn’t enjoy it very much at all.

TL;DR: I don’t know if I would recommend this particular historical play.

Henry IV Part 1 by William Shakespeare


This is another play for my Shakespeare class this semester. It’s a part of the second historical tetralogy, which includes Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2, and Henry V. Even though it’s the second of the two historical cycles, it comes first chronologically. Think Star Wars.

Rating: [3/5]

Summary: After securing the throne from Richard II, Henry IV faces a new nemesis in the form of Hotspur, the leader of a new rebellion. While Henry IV has his hands full dealing with the blossoming rebellion, his son, Henry V, spends his days drinking and partying with peasants and outlaws. However, once the battle begins, Henry V has the chance to prove himself to his father and his people.

Likes: I really enjoyed all of the scenes with Henry V and Falstaff. They’re so funny and their friendship dynamic is so interesting to me. The ending with the two of them was especially likable.

Dislikes: It seemed like everyone had a hundred different names that they went by and it took me forever to figure out who they were talking about usually.

TL;DR: Of the history plays I’ve read so far, this one is pretty enjoyable.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare


I only ever watched a minimalist performance of this play. The whole time, I was really confused about where everyone was and who everyone was. Reading it made the play make a lot more sense.

Rating: [2/5]

Reading Challenge: A book you were supposed to read in high school but didn’t

Summary: After a tense battle, Macbeth meets three witches, one of whom predicts he will become Thane of Cawdor and one who predicts he will become King of Scotland. He doesn’t believe them at first, but after he is announced as the new Thane of Cawdor, he and his wife concoct a plan to murder the current king.

Likes: I really liked all the scene with the Weird Sisters. They’re really amusing and were only in the play because King James thought witches were cool.

Dislikes: I personally had a difficult time following the story and getting into it.

TL;DR: I know this is one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays but I’d probably pick up Hamlet if you’re wanting to read a classic where everyone goes crazy and kills each other.

The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller


This was another one of the books on the list my professor sent me for next semester. I personally have trouble reading dramas because of the script format. It’s a little confusing for me. Because of that, I don’t read a lot of plays. In all honesty, I probably didn’t get everything I needed out of it on the first read through.

Rating: [3/5]

Reading Challenge: A play

Summary: Willy Loman is a traveling salesman living from paycheck to paycheck. He has two grown sons, and all he wants is for them to make something of themselves. Lately, Willy has been suffering from dementia-like symptoms: visions of the past and confusion about where and when he is. His wife, worried that he’s going to do harm to himself, encourages her sons to make him happy. If only Willy could work in the city, and if only the sons can go into business for themselves, then everything will be all right.

Likes: This play was vivid and emotional, and very relatable. It dealt with a lot of issues that families really have to deal with, like money problems, infidelity, and mental health. The characters felt like they could be real, and that’s really important to me in drama.

Dislikes: I got confused about who some of the side characters were and about the delineation between vision and reality. Of course, this is more of my own problem reading it than it is with the actual book.

TL;DR: This is a great play, and I definitely understand why it’s a piece of classic literature.