Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Caesar is one of William Shakespeare’s best plays. It not only portrays the friendship of two major characters but also describes how democracy, instead of tyranny, is the best way to govern a nation and protect the rights of its citizens.

In this post, I would like to explain why, Brutus, in my opinion, is a patriot instead of a traitor. First, he killed Caesar because he thinks that it is the only way to save Rome from a dictatorship. Signs of corruption and power in Caesar warns Brutus that a tyrant is in sight. Therefore, he killed Caesar for the common good and to ensure democracy.

Another reason why killing Caesar can be justified as a way of patriotism is because the benefit equal representation in Senate brings outweighs the loss of Caesar. The plebeians do not know how the government operates, and therefore, they don’t know Caesar’s selfish plans and his personality. Hence, it is Brutus’ responsibility to assure that the Roman citizens’ rights are not taken away. If Brutus is already aware of others will accuse him of murdering his best friend and be entitled to that of a traitor, yet he still chooses to do it, this proves that he is a person who values his country above his personal relations.

-Coreen C. 

Julius Caesar is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The Three Theban Plays: Tragedy, Tragedy, and more Tragedy!

Image courtesy of Britannica.com/biography/Sophocles

Oh, Sophocles–the man, the myth, the legend. According to my English teacher, he’s arguably one of the greatest playwrights of all time (don’t worry, Shakespeare, we haven’t forgotten you either). But personally, I kind of…yeah, okay, I have to admit it…despise plays (insert drop the mic gifs here). I mean, reading about two people yammering on in verse to one another for three hundred pages, versus being immersed in a totally epic duel between Harry Potter and Voldemort? I think the choice is obvious here, but who knows, maybe it’s just me.

So how do you get an anti-play person to read one? Answer: assign it for English homework! Now, English Honors as a freshman is pretty fun; I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying it so far. Then, well, the tables turn big time when the teacher straight up announces, “Class, we’re going to reading Oedipus Rex from Sophocles’ Three Theban Plays!”

English took a pretty big plunge down the “Favorite Classes List” after I heard that one.

I’d started dreading going to class, and all because of one dumb play. When you start enjoying Honors Algebra 2 Trig more than English, you know you’ve run into a serious problem, because I was always sort of a bookworm (where are my Percy Jackson fans at? Just checking).

Anyways, we started doing some background learning about Greek plays, especially tragedies. The Greek part interested me a little, since I’m a total mythology fan, but the Theban Plays looked pretty boring to me. I’d never read tragedies before–again, the awesome sword-fighting stuff in fiction books literally kills me, no pun intended.

So anyway, I pretty much figured out (with a considerable lack of enthusiasm, may I add) that the main characters of the play were this guy named Oedipus, who’s king of Thebes, his wife Jocasta, a blind prophet named Tiresias, Jocasta’s brother Creon, a Shepherd, a Messenger, and friends. So yep, boring.

I figured Greek tragedies, how tragic can they get? Probably a lot of death and stuff, but super tragic, as in “oh nooo, what a poor guy!” sort of thing? No way.

Ha…ha…nevermind.

I’m not really going to go into detail about what exactly makes Oedipus Rex tragic, because it’s, um, really tragic. But if you do read it, whether for fun or for school, let this be a warning that this sort of tragedy is unexpected. You might expect to feel sad or something along those lines (at least, that was what I was anticipating), but I ended up being…disgusted. Revolted. The whole, “WHAT?!” moment.

I know this is infuriating, but no, I simply cannot tell you the crux of this tragedy. If you’ve already read this particular play, good for you! We can be mildly–or highly–disturbed together! Just a side note, though: I’d only recommend this play for older readers, as the content gets pretty icky as the play goes on.

So after this whole ordeal? I actually think the Theban Plays are a pretty good read (collective gasp). I think I was too stuck up on my own definition of tragedy–the whole cliche, feeling depressed afterward, stuff like that. Nah, Oedipus Rex was more, “WHAT NO WAY DID HE JUST–NO, EW, ARGH, THAT’S NOT POSSIBLE, HOW COULD–NO, STOP RIGHT NOW!”

But anyways, Sophocles himself wrote one rollercoaster of a play, which, yes, I would like to commend him on. The use of dramatic irony, keeping the audience in suspense as Oedipus’s life unravels and chaos falls upon the city of Thebes, is incredible. And, I have to admit, interesting.

Besides, Greek tragedies–despite all their horror–reveal important life lessons through the Chorus, our a group of singing, chanting men who represent the city’s citizens. Again, read the play for yourself to discover the ultimate moral; I’ll have to keep you in the dark again.

So if you do decide to read the Theban Plays, well, I wish you the best of luck. But for now, I’ve got a character analysis on Oedipus I’ve got to write, which I’m totally looking forward to…but anyways, happy reading!!!

-Katherine L

The works of Sophocles are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

I read this play last year and had my own thoughts on there. I did like the characters despite their overdramatic characteristics. Moreover, the plot was generally not tedious and did offer some twists which I like such as Juliet faking her death and Romeo not receiving the letter explaining all of it in time.

Through this play, I also learned how family feud can lead to very bad results. If both families would just allow this pair of young lovers to unite then nothing of this sort would have occurred at all. It also shows how distant and nonchalant are parents toward the psychological activities of their children. All they possibly think about is the reputation of their standing in society and who they think upon marrying their child with will bring them the most benefit. Nonetheless, I was touched by the avid love between Romeo and Juliet and how they were willing to sacrifice everything for each other’s sake.

One of the other things that I find interesting is the duel scenes. Originally, Tybalt might not have hated Mercutio and Romeo so much if it wasn’t for the fact that they are rival families. So again the theme of family feud plays a part where blinded hatred caused the two to break the probable peace between them since Romeo and Juliet were already married. So overall, my opinion on this play is that although it can be overdramatic and a little unrealistic in our life, it teaches the fact that parents should give enough attention to their children to prevent any suicidal thoughts.

-Coreen C.

William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Mountaineer Jon Krakauer had a long-lasting dream, ever since he was a little boy: to climb the world-famous Mount Everest.

Into Thin Air is, as Krakauer puts it, not exactly an autobiography but merely his own account of what really happened on the peak of Everest in the terrible tragedy in 1996.

Many people died on the expedition to Everest, like renowned guides such as Rob Hall and Scott Fischer. It appalled me to see the harsh conditions in which the climbers labored through, the various health conditions they had to endure, and just how difficult the fact of breathing was at such a high altitude.

I really enjoyed reading this book; usually autobiographies are not my favorite genre, but this one blew me away. Krakauer is very meticulous in detail, and he describes everything that happened on that mountain very specifically. I really appreciated that; I felt like I was there on the mountain with him and the other climbers, and knew exactly what he was experiencing.

The way he also described the feeling of being stranded and blinded in the middle of the snow storm on top of the world was superb. I mean, I was grabbing the book and frantically flipping through the pages, wanting to see if everyone made it out okay. They didn’t, to my horror.

In fact, in this book, I learned quite a lot of things that I had never known about mountaineering before, like these spikes on a climber’s boots known as crampons to help grip the ice, or how the climbers had to do acclimatization exercises before actually attempting to ascend the mountain.

Throughout the book, many brave climbers prevailed, and the cost of sacrifice and loss was sorrowful. Even though I had not known these people previously, I felt bad for their untimely fate. But many were brave and loyal enough to go back and and try to save their fellow climbers, and many that are alive today from the incident of 1996 thank those courageous climbers.

I’d highly recommend this book to everyone; this is one of my favorite reads! From action-packed to intense scenes, horrifying terrors to unthinkable grief, and courage and loyalty of many climbers on Everest in 1996, this book is truly excellent.

-Katharine L.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Othello by William Shakespeare

Image result for othello cover

Let’s get this out of the way: this play is one of Shakespeare’s many tragedies, and as always, everyone dies at the end. I did write about one of Shakespeare’s other tragedies, Hamlet, which is my favorite Shakespeare play. However, although it is not my favorite, Othello is also a very good play, full of jealousy, lost love, and has a way better love story than Romeo and Juliet or Twilight.

We meet Othello, who is the greatest man in Venice. He is handsome, kind, charismatic, humble, and courageous. He is also a very strong leader of the Venice army, has a very beautiful and perfect wife, and is about to be promoted. So why he is set up for a tragedy? There are two reasons. The first is that he is a Moor, who are known for their dark skin, and Venice is full of people who think that Othello used magic and witchcraft, as it was assumed all Moors could do this, in order to marry the one he loved. The second is that he promoted a foreigner, Cassio, as his right hand man instead of Iago, the most manipulative man in Venice. Thus, Iago hatches a plan that brings Othello, his new wife Desdemona, and Cassio into ruins, all because he had the “green eyed monster” of jealousy inside of him.

This play is great not only because of the plot, but because of the ties to today’s time. The people of Venice, especially Iago, sometimes scorn Othello because he is a foreigner Moor with dark skin, just like how there are many people in the world who are racist today. Additionally, there is also the theme of jealousy that can be seen today. Iago is like the person at a workforce who is envious of someone who received a higher position and decided to destroy that person with a scandal. Finally, there is also the theme of women, which lays out questions for both Shakespeare’s time and ours. In a place and time where women were not thought of as much, the women in the play have a lot of questions to answer. If it gave their husband the world, should they be dishonorable? If every action they had done was perfect except for one lie, can they ever be trusted again? And should they obey every wish of their husband, even if they don’t know why they have to do it or if it is evil?

For the genres, in case one likes these genres, there are politics, a better love story than Romeo and Juliet, tragedy, and much more.

I hope that you can read this amazing play!

-Megan V., 12th Grade

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s classic play, “Romeo and Juliet,” sheds a light on young love and risky decisions. Depending on what you think of Fate, you either really enjoy this romantic story or get extremely annoyed with its resolution. It’s a light fun play that touches on youthful passion but ends on a dark twist.

Taking place in Verona, Italy, this tragedy illustrates the romance between two teenagers from two feuding families. Ultimately, Romeo and Juliet are enemies but after they meet at a party, their family names are nothing more but a barrier between them. They get married in secret with the help of a few characters and plan to run away together. However this plan is altered when a series of unfortunate events results in both of them tragically dying. Many simple mistakes and the tragic ending could all have been avoided with a little more communication and clear thinking but Shakespeare wanted Fate to play a huge role in the outcome of the play.

In my opinion, the best aspect of this play is the flow of words and the speech that brings everything alive. The writing style itself is beautiful and Shakespeare finds a way to use words to shape the plot. For example, Romeo’s speech is dull and full of misery when he is rejected by Rosaline but as the play progresses and he meets Juliet, his words are bedazzled with figurative language. Juliet also has lovely soliloquies that are fun to annotate and dramatically read aloud. Another way Shakespeare really enhances his play is the use of characters. He provides the young and inexperienced Romeo and Juliet, the hysterical and crude Nurse, the outspoken and verbal Tybalt, the self-righteous and semi-helpful Friar Laurence, among many others to advance the play and add comic relief. Shakespeare skillfully writes this play to demonstrate Romeo and Juliet’s forbidden and rebellious love and the painful cost that hateful feuds bring.

-Jessica T.

Romeo and Juliet, and collective works of William Shakespeare, is available for checkout form the Mission Viejo Library

Romeo and Juliet, A Theatre Review

Recently, I sat in the audience of the Laguna Playhouse Youth Theatre in Laguna Beach as I watched actors both young and old act out Shakespeare’s famous play, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. To be honest, I had no complaints about the play itself. The actors were all very well rehearsed and the performance was very polished, a difficult feat given how hard it is to read Shakespearean dialect, let alone memorize and perform it.

romeo and juliet

“Romeo and Juliet” by Frank Dicksee

Many parts which I remember from reading the play itself were identical in the stage adaption. A couple scenes were edited, but only slightly. Additionally, a few scenes were different than what I had pictured as well as from what the movie versions of the play depicts. A main example of this is the fight that the Capulet and Montague families have in the middle of the market in the beginning of the play. I imagined there to be more characters on each side while the Laguna Playhouse adaption maintained a smaller crowd. Regardless, these slight differences did not necessarily take away from the overall play. It was still very enjoyable.

If you are someone who enjoys watching student theatre productions, I would definitely recommend looking into the Laguna Playhouse productions. I have watched a variety of productions there, from Tom Sawyer to an adaption of Lois Lowry’s The Giver to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I have always been extremely impressed by the performances because these students are all able to produce a polished and entertaining performance in addition to handling the stress of school.

– Leila S., 10th grade