Friday, January 21, 2011

The Rape of Lucrece Lines 1359-End


here's how Shakes wrapped this thing up:
yesterday we left Lucrece waiting for her husband to receive her message, understandably very anxious for him to come home. while she waits, she stumbles on a picture (perhaps in a tapestry?) which portrays a scene involving Helen, Priam, Ulysses, Paris, Sinon, etc. i think the scene is after Paris and Helen's affair is made known and war breaks out. i am only vaguely knowledgeable about this whole Trojan thing, so i won't even pretend like i am and try to describe it to you. that's not the point anyway. the point is that Lucrece spends her waiting time obsessing over this picture. she examines the sorrowful faces, connecting her pain to the pain of the figures she sees there. she talks about the power of art and verisimilitude. she connects to Hecuba in particular. she feels sad that this painting cannot speak its sadness and wants to be the voice for this lonely figure. she likens their situation to her own, wondering why innocent people have to suffer for the evil and selfishness of others, and cries for them. she notices how honest Sinon's face looks, and connecting him to Tarquin, wonders how a face that looks so sweet can hide such evil. in despair, she claws at the painting.
as she ponders the painting and the nature of empathy, her husband arrives home with some sort of entourage that includes Lucrece's father. he is taken aback by the state he finds her in. he sweetly and gently asks her what is wrong. (great moment.) it is hard for her to find the words to express what happened, but she eventually does, re-capping the whole situation. Lucrece's husband is hard hit by the news, and Lucrece struggles to handle seeing him grieve on top of her own grief.
Lucrece makes everyone swear that they will seek vengence on the person who raped her before she will tell them who it is. she questions whether she could ever recover from this. (see quote below.) they assure her that she can, but it doesn't get through to her. she finally tells them it was Tarquin who raped her and then stabs herself.
this is when things get weird. Lucrece's dad and husband talk about how sad they are. then, they compete over who is more sad. THEN, this random Brutus guy takes the stage. apparently he was pretending to be crazy or something? but now he decides not to? he tells them that crying is letting Tarquin win. if they want to win, they have to seek revenge. they all vow to get back at him. in the very last stanza, they march Lucrece's body into town, tell everyone what Tarquin did, and get him banished. THE END.

i am fascinated by the section during which Lucrece looks at the painting of Troy. Shakespeare explores the emotional nature of art. art can move you, validate you, make you feel you are no longer alone. that's what a great piece of art does for me. i can think of a few books and plays and films in particular that make me feel understood and connected in a way that is beyond words. i could never put it as eloquently as he does here. check it out. but he also explores the idea that no matter what, its still just a painting on the wall. it's not living and breathing. there's still a disconnect somewhere, always a tension there. this passage is gorgeous and much more mature than anything we've read yet, in my opinion.

what the hell is going on with the last few stanzas of this poem?!?!? Lucrece's husband and father fight over who is more sad for her loss? then random guy we've never met, Brutus, gets all this time? he was pretending to be insane or something, and now he's not? he's like... the main player in the last section. this feels weird and unbalanced. i am not feeling that. where did this come from? thoughts?

this poem engaged me. overall, i kinda loved it. it was a pleasant surprise. now i am SO ready to get into another play!

quote of the day:
'what is the quality of my offense,
being constrained with dreadful circumstance?
may my pure mind with the foul act dispense,
my low-declined honor to advance?
may any terms acquit me from this chance?
     the poisoned fountain clears itself again,
     and why not i from this compelled stain?'
       -Lines 1702-1708

for tomorrow: Henry 6 Part 2 Introduction
Sunday: Act 1 (warning: its long)

2 plays, 2 poems down. 36 plays, 3 poems, 154 sonnets to go. rock on.

-rockin' rebecca my


  1. All for Hecuba

    Hamlet and Laertes fight over who loved Ophelia more, too.

  2. good point Susan! in Hamlet, however, there is already a rivalry there that we see. in this, it felt really random. cool to see Shakespeare develop, huh?

  3. We have a history of this sort of drowning in our family. She walked into the Banana River in such despair that with the riverbank just mere yards away, she wsa drowned.

    Sad that such despair exists and is so random that it goes unnoticed.