Monday, July 30, 2012

Suburbs of Our Discontent

It's been a summer of intense Shakespeare immersion for me since I'm teaching what would normally be a 14-week grad seminar in just 6 1/2 weeks. This compression means that I'm seeing a lot more connections than I normally would between the plays. It's all starting to look like a big bowl of Shakespeare stew.

What's been hitting me this time through our Marathon sprint is the following Deep Thought: Little kids are a little bit creepy in Shakespeare's plays. Especially little boys. They seem to know things that other people don't —not unlike that freaky kid in The Sixth Sense or Damien in The Omen. The seven-year old (or so) Mamillius tells his mother a winter's tale that predicts his father's 16 years of mourning; the little Duke of York sees his evil uncle Richard for what he is before he gets whacked by him; and don't even get me started on that poor little precocious Macduff kid.

The whole thing has me kind of jumpy around my seven-year-old son, who didn't help matters when he asked me the other day in the car—à propos of absolutely nothing—"Wouldn't it stink to die on your birthday?" Now, most people would probably shrug this off as one of those weird thoughts that go through little kids' minds. But it just so happens that my birthday falls on the day that the Mayans long ago predicted to be the End of the World. ( Spoiler alert, people--it's coming in 2012.) So the good news is I can stop worrying about whether or not I'm going to die on my birthday because the answer is Yes (and, for everyone else, you don't have to buy me a present ever again). The bad news: I finally have a free psychic living in my house, and not nearly enough time to use him.

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