Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Rape of Lucrece Lines 540-1001


here's what happened next:
Lucrece pleads with Tarquin not to do this. the more she begs, the more aroused he gets. he feeds off of her helplessness. (it's pretty sick, actually.) she goes through these tactics to get him to stop: i was kind to you, think of your friend (her husband), you're not yourself, you'll live with this forever, you're supposed to be a leader, etc. he tells her that the more she begs, the more he wants her. and yet she continues with: you're drowning in sin, you're a slave to lust, you're above this, etc. he repeats his earlier threat about her slave. he's a predator, and nothing but raping her will satisfy his hunger.
so finally, it happens. he rapes her and slinks off, already hating himself. this is when we switch completely to Lucrece's POV. she's devastated. she knows she can't hide this or escape from herself. she talks about how this could only happen at night, but then she hopes the night will kill the day so she won't have to face it. there's a beautiful passage saying that if night were Tarquin, he would violate the moon and the stars too, and then at least she would have someone to relate to. heartbreaking stuff.
Lucrece worries that: everyone will talk about her, her husband will be shamed, she will be ruined, etc. then she gets really pessimistic saying that nothing good and pure can stay. everything becomes corrupted. she thinks it's impossible to have any happiness because it will always be taken from you. sin lurks around every corner. and sin paired with opportunity is evil. (see quote below.) evil will always find you, but virtue's way will always be barred.
now that she's blamed the night, sin, and opportunity, she also blames time. but then she goes on about "time's glory", which is basically that it heals and grows and strengthens. if she could only have changed time the slightest bit, she could've presented this. now is her time to suffer, and her deepest desire is that now time will punish Tarquin.

in this section, we've moved to Lucrece's point of view. it is intriguing to me that the writing from her point of view doesn't seem as strong as it did from Tarquin's. it's much more repetitive, and the journey she goes through isn't as intricate as Tarquin's. it's a bit surface-level. i was disappointed! is it because Shakespeare is still at the beginning of his career as a writer and  doesn't quite get the female POV yet? also, the woman in this story is another simple and pretty type of character. like Venus. she goes through something intense, but she's still this simple, subservient little thing. i'm ready for more of the unruly women we've been talking about in earlier posts!

don't know if these 2 things are connected, but i also had more trouble with this section. there were a few stanzas i just couldn't wrap my head around. like, for instance, the second stanza of this section. is it the POV change? not sure, but i'm hoping to get back to the place i was yesterday. everything clicked.

i love that Shakespeare doesn't really describe the rape itself. it literally happens in like... one stanza. he is unconcerned with the act itself, and focuses on the emotional driving force leading up to it and the emotional devastation that happens afterward. brilliant. why do you think he might do it this way?

so... if you know someone who likes Shakespeare or someone who should like Shakespeare, ask them to check this out. without readers and commenters, doing the blog is pretty pointless. i want to have input and questions from readers every day. that is what will make this worthwhile. spread the word!

quote of the day:
'o opportunity, thy guilt is great!
'tis thou that execut'st the traitor's treason;
thou sets the wolf where he the lamb may get;
whoever plots the sin, thou 'point'st the season.
'tis thou that spurn'st at right, at law, at reason;
     and in thy shady cell, where none may spy him,
     sits sin, to seize the souls that wander by him.'
       -lines 876-882

for tomorrow: lines 1002-1442

-rebecca may


  1. Hey Rmay. Its Andrew. Yours is the ONLY blog I follow, so without this blog, I wouldn't know as much as I thought I did about Shakespeare. You've made me want to go Direct Henry snd I'm not a fan of the Histories. But don't give up on this. Remember, its part of your goal, and you're doing great! Very proud! This is a very interesting piece of poetry too. Pretty hardcore from the man's point of view though..... Keep it up hun! You're doing good! :)

  2. I haven't read the poem, but, based on your description, I think Lucrece's pov is very deep and reflective and beautiful. (In fact, just before I read your comments, I was wondering how Shakespeare had the insight to go there with her in that moment.) If I were to criticize, it would be to doubt a victim could possess the mental coherence and willingness to confront the horrible truth in the immediate aftermath of trauma. However, I know that sometimes a forced break with mundane reality can inspire one to transcendent thought. Also, I generally dismiss such skepticism, while suspending my disbelief, if the work catches me in its spell.

  3. Sweet blog! I wish more people would write about the writing that matters. I love Shakespeare and since I'm performing as Juliet (in Romeo and Juliet) on Tuesday, I'm REALLY into it right now! Keep writing because you do have great interpretations and you blog well. I just might follow this blog!