so here's what i learned about The Rape of Lucrece:
this poem was written around the same time as Venus and Adonis. the two poems have a kind of yin and yang relationship. V and A is about lust and infatuation, while this one deals with the darker and deeper side of love, as you can probably tell from the title.
this poem is also dedicated to the Earl of Southampton, Henry Wriothesley. (if anyone has any more information on this person, do tell!)
both this poem and V & A were widely loved. this poem, however, was the one that gained Shakespeare more acclaim and respect, while V & A was more popular. apparently, plot and character are again secondary in this poem. oh boy. not again. with little plot or character to follow i'm like... zzzzzzz. so what i'm saying is, this is going to be a struggle. there is a full story to this, but Shakespeare chooses to cut away most of the plot and focus on one tiny part of the story. we'll see how it goes.
before the poem starts, we get some backstory. basically, Lucrece's husband is sitting around after dinner with his army guys, and he brings up his wife. he tells them how virtuous and beautiful she is, and for some reason Sextus Tarquinius becomes obsessed with her. this is where the poem starts. i don't know how much of the story will be covered in the poem, so let's just go over it now. Tarquinius steals back to the home of Lucrece and asks for lodging for the night. his social class is above hers, so she is required to let him in and she does so graciously. in the night, he creeps into her bedroom and rapes her. in the morning he leaves and she sends for her father and husband. she makes them promise to avenge her, and after they do so she tells them what happened. before anything else can happen, she stabs herself...in order to save her husband's honor. his honor, after all, is more important than her life. the father and husband are on fire to avenge her and end up getting the family of her rapist exiled from Rome. cool.
in the first 91 lines of the poem, we cover the time period between Tarquinius leaving to go to Lucrece's home and the time when he gets there and starts lusting after her. Shakespeare talks about happiness and how difficult it is to retain it. happiness is something that must be guarded or someone like Tarquinius will steal it away. yeah, that's mostly what i got from it. so far, i am finding this poem surprisingly difficult to read. it's really out there for me. i am concerned. maybe tomorrow will be better. AH!!!
quote of the day:
'this earthly saint, adored by this devil,
little suspecteth the false worshiper,
for unstained thoughts do seldom dream on evil;
birds never limed no secret bushes fear.
so, guiltless, she securely gives good cheer
and reverend welcome to her princely guest,
whose inward ill no outward harm expressed.'
for tomorrow: lines 92-539