Man and his Destiny

There has been continuous struggle between man and time. In this race time has been the eternal winner. The concept of time machine was only a part of the effort to take over time. But alas! that was not to be. ‘Time and tide wait for none’ they say. There are some things that we can’t mend. Arthur Hugh Clough (British poet) writes,

“This world is very odd we see,
We do not comprehend it;
But in one fact we all agree,
God won't, and we can't mend it”

As far as mending is concerned, we only like to change what we do not like. And imagine the picture of this ‘odd’ world if each one of teeming millions ventures out to set the world straight according to one’s own likes and dislikes.
‘A bad workman always blames his tools’ as goes the English proverb. The practice still continues with all the more zeal and enthusiasm added. We have ended this blame game. It is basic human tendency to blame everything that comes in handy. The fact that needs to be realized and digested is that whatever we do we cannot change anything but ourselves.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it

We often blame our destiny for our failures to throw over it the unbearable weight of our fallings and the resulting unwanted ends. But little we do to analyze our own actions. Destiny is nothing but the concrete manifestation of what we do to our lives.
Next time something goes wrong: think, think and rethink. There might be a loophole that you might be able to find. When you do, you’ll be satisfied of the discovery and the next time, do try to avoid it, and see the destiny shower flowers and essence on you. A tough task to be done indeed! But then it isn’t to be called a successful man. It isn’t child’s play to avoid being a plaything in the ‘cruel hands of fate’.

Grave Diggers Scene in 'Hamlet'

The Grave diggers scene (Act V, sc. i) in ‘Hamlet’ has been frequently called as a definitive final scene in Hamlet’s journey. According to F.T. Prince, it is the scene in which Hamlet finds his way after stumbling through a jungle of emotions.
The grave digger scene is divided into two parts; in the first part, Hamlet contemplates the morality of man as he watches the human skull being tossed from their sleepy graves by the grave diggers. The entry of Hamlet marks the second part of the scene. He exits his feigned madness when he is stared into the face by the reality of the death of Ophelia.
Having escaped death at the hands of robbers and from the King’s conspiracy to eliminate him Hamlet comes back an enlightened man. Part of his enlightenment comes from the fact that Hamlet is not bothered about his delay any more. He has understood that time past and time future are but the manifestations of the time present. He has realized the ultimate meaning of his destiny. The scene reveals a calm acceptance of his destiny on the part of Hamlet, hence, delays no longer matter to him. It is in this scene that it dawns upon him that he has lost his best loved person, Ophelia, when he had gone away.
When Hamlet comes to know that the grave of his friend Yorrick is being dug up to make place for his beloved, Hamlet’s behavior immediately reveals that a man of action has taken the place of a man of thoughts, contemplation and reflection.

Shakespearean Jewels - Part I

Shakespeare, since times immemorial, has been known for his witty, precise, pithy and meaningful statements. A few I would like to quote here:

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!” (A Midsummer Night's Dream)

“Such as we are made of, such we be.” (Twelfth Night)

“Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.” (The Tempest)

This was only a drop from the ocean of exalting words from Shakespearean pen.

Literary Jewels from Milton's ''Paradise Lost'

The following are a few of the passages quoted from John Milton’s masterpiece, I would say, ‘Paradise Lost’. They are a poet’s delight, something to be savoured by a lover of literature, a thing to be cherished by a person with an aesthetic sense and the one who feels elated by the sheer magic of poetry.

"Accuse not nature, she hath done her part;
Do thou but thine, and be not diffident
Of wisdom, she deserts thee not, if thou
Dismiss not her, when most thou needest her nigh,
By attributing overmuch to things
Less excellent, as thou thyself perceivest."

"Here at last
We shall be free;
the Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven."

"When the waves are round me breaking,
As I pace the deck alone,
And my eye in vain is seeking
Some green leaf to rest upon;
What would not I give to wander
Where my old companions dwell?
Absence makes the heart grow fonder,
Isle of Beauty, fare thee well!"

Romantic Tradition and Shakespeare (with special reference to 'As You Like It')

The play ‘As You Like It’ was adapted from a romance in prose called ‘Rosalynde’ by Thomas Lodge. The play was in the romance tradition and at the same departure from it.
Disguise and mistaken identity were also the techniques that Shakespeare borrowed from the romantic literature. These techniques brought confusion in their wake and also resulted in humourous situations. They also enabled Shakespeare to focus attention on the theme that in this world appearances are often deceptive.
Shakespearean comedy owes the concept of poetic justice to romance literature. Everything according to the satisfaction of everyone --- well-rounded conclusions with only an occasional dissatisfied human being left as if to suggest that life doesn’t lend itself to such cut and dried solutions and cannot be seen in water-tight compartments. For example, Malvalio in ‘Twelfth Night’, Jaques in ‘As You Like It’.

The individual additions made by Shakespeare:

The sub-plot was introduced to bring down the play to the level of the watching public, to make the audience realize that life is not sailing on clouds and that it has harsher sides too and to give the impression that it is both high and low which make up this world.

The element of humour through situational comedy has been reduced by Shakespeare in his plays. The Fool is more of a philosopher or a word-player.

In romantic literature the poetry was a little contrived, artificial and in matters of love quite unrealistic. In Shakespeare such a language is beginning to disappear though in the verses of Orlando such romantic liturgy is visible. However, Shakespeare consciously and deliberately – through Rosalind and Touchstone – makes fun of such verses and aims to cure the watching public of such unworldly flights of fancy.

Importance of Opening Scene of 'Hamlet'

As always, Shakespeare opens his tragedy with minor characters, who supply information about – the prevailing situation and the characters.
It is revealed that the state of Denmark is in a state of chaos and disorder. This disorder has been prevailing due to the political event of the death of elder Hamlet and also the preparations that are going on in the state against Norway. Then there is a private event – the disturbed state of mind of the Prince because of political and personal reasons. This sets the stage for the unfolding of the events.
The scene also brings the audience face to face with the supernatural. The audience gets curious to know about the ‘why’ of the ghost and reason for the political chaos.
It becomes apparent that Horatio is deeply attached to the Prince and would go to any lengths to protect him. Horatio appears before us as a man who has been torn apart by the sorrow of the Prince.

Wordsworth's 'The World is too much with us'

THE World is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours
And are up-gather'd now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.—Great God! I'd rather be
A pagan suckled in a creed outworn,—
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreath├Ęd horn.
In this sonnet ‘The World is too much with us’ Wordsworth deplores the extreme materialism and the consequent spiritual degradation of his time. Men are actuated only by economic motives. They have become too materialistic. People are too much engrossed in the pursuit of wealth and pleasure and waste their energies in so doing instead of turning them to better advantages. They have given themselves up, heart and soul, to the pursuit of mere material prosperity. Their mind is so much obsessed with material gain that they fail to appreciate the beauties of Nature.
For his own part, the poet would rather be a pagan with his keen sensitiveness to the mysteries and beauties of Nature than lead the modern pseudo-enlightened life of materialism. In a word, he prefers paganism to excessive materialism.
Wordsworth’s love of nature was boundless. A profound religious feeling pervades all his nature poetry. Nature was for him the embodiment of the Divine Spirit. When he insists that nature is the greatest of all teachers, he means that between the indwelling soul of the Universe and the soul of Man, which is akin to it, spiritual communion is possible, through which we may gain constantly in power, peace and happiness.