Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ask the Experts

Bullying has become a really hot topic on the playground. Like almost everything involving children these days (i.e., allergies, learning disabilities, autism), it makes people ask whether there’s a new “epidemic” or just more diagnoses of the same-old, same-old. In order to illuminate this issue, Helena and Hermia from A Midsummer Night’s Dream have each prepared a statement about their experiences back in the 1590’s.

HELENA: “Hermia and I grew up together, singing and sewing like two cherries rooted at the stem, blah, blah, blah. But the second we officially became maidens, Hermia started to become a snob. She got so into herself, and had to get every guy’s attention, and then she would deny it afterwards. She had this “I’m so little and cute” thing going on. Then she ganged up on me with her boyfriend and the guy I liked. We pretend that everything’s OK now, but it’s not.”

HERMIA: “Helena is completely lame. I was the one who stuck around when she got desperate for a boyfriend and started doing stupid things (remember “I am your spaniel . . . beat me!”???) She’s completely possessive and can’t stand seeing me have fun with other people. She was psycho about this guy who didn’t like her and then blamed it all on me. Yes, I’m friends with him, but we didn’t gang up on her like she says. Helena, stop overreacting and just let it REST. This is why we don’t like hanging out with you.”

Now it's your turn to discuss. Who's more guilty, Hermia or Helena's jerk of a boyfriend? Does Egeus, Hermia's father, spend so much time worrying about his daughter's love life that he ignores her treatment of her friends? Does he even know that Helena exists? Where the hell are Helena's parents? To what extent are they to blame? If these girls had been allowed an education, what would be the school's responsibility in all of this?

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