Ernest/Earnest – What’s in a Name?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. – William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet In the satirical romantic comedy “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde, a man’s … Continue reading

Toddlers Are Better Teachers Than Parents Could Ever Hope To Be

Restless little kids are impossible. There is a lot of whining and hitting and other unfavorable behaviors that require skillful maneuvering to avoid full-on meltdowns. Normally I would just take the boys outside on days like today, but one boy is still recovering from a bout of RSV and should probably stay out of the wind. After trying to get them to color with little success, creativity (or possibly madness) struck and I decided that we were all going to bake cookies together.

Don’t get me wrong, I am normally one of those horrible hovering parents that everyone warns you about, but I am aware of it and am trying to do better. I could try to justify my behavior or talk around it, but i really don’t see the point. Every parent has their issues right? Anyway, I thought that letting them do the majority of the work on this particular project could help all of us. The boys helped me gather all of the ingredients and the measuring cups and spoons and set them on the table. Then they measured out the right ingredients and stirred everything together. It took restraint, but all I did was crack the eggs and hand out the right cup for each ingredient (and I might have stirred a bit at the end). Their level of concentration and cooperation was more than I thought was possible from two busy two-year olds. They were excited to help and to have a job to do. Here is a picture of them hard at work:

20130306-013554.jpg

I am going to give you the recipe we used because I am always disappointed when I read a blog post about food and there isn’t a recipe:

Chocolate Chip Cookes

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar (ours was crusty so we used more sugar)
1/2 cup butter, softened (if you forget to set it out early, just micro-wave for 20 seconds)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (we used coconut oil)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (we substituted Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips (dark chocolate chips are my favorite)

1. In large mixing bowl, combine sugars, butter, shortening, eggs and vanilla. Scrape bowl.
2. Slowly add flour, baking soda and salt until well combined, scraping bowl often.
3. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. (If making gluten-free, whatever you do DON’T taste the cookie dough. You will think you ruined them).
4. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven 9-11 minutes (if you choose to make these gluten-free you will want to cook them more like 12-15 depending on size).

Of course, with two toddlers running the show, none of these instructions were followed to a tee. I was a little concerned since this was my first attempt at making my husband gluten-free cookies, but it somehow worked out fine. They were slightly crispy and chocolatey and perfect. And most importantly, I relinquished control long enough to let my children feel useful. (Hopefully that will help fill-up their self-esteem bank for moments when I am a much less perfect parent). Seriously though, I am really proud of all of us. I took a step back and the boys took a step forward.

The Relevance of Hamlet in the Modern Age

Image

Not a whit, we defy augury. There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all. Since no man of aught he leaves knows, what is’t to leave betimes? Let be. (175)

This speech is a defining moment for Hamlet. He is telling Horatio that he is not going to waste time on a bad feeling or omen. It is his duty to fight Laertes, regardless of the outcome. He tells him that no one knows when or how they are going to die, but he is ready if that’s what is meant to happen. Hamlet is essentially entering into a situation in full control of his emotions, which is in stark contrast to his indecision and introspection in the rest of the play. Much is also made of his madness. Is his madness real or an act to disguise his true purpose?

William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet is a classic revenge tragedy that is hard to forget. A king has his wife, crown and his life stolen from him (“murder most foul”) by his brother. His young son Hamlet is the only one who properly mourns him, and who is left to avenge his father’s murder when the conspiracy is revealed to him. In the process of carrying out his revenge, Hamlet loses everything and everyone dear to him and ends up poisoned. Throw in a little bit of madness, (both Hamlet’s and Ophelia’s) a ghost, and a lot of oratory and that rounds out the story. Plot is extremely important in Hamlet, but it is not the most interesting part of the play.

What is really incredible is that Hamlet is still relevant almost five-hundred years after it was written. The story wasn’t even original to Shakespeare, as he rewrote it from a well known Norse legend. Oral tradition is what kept the story alive before Shakespeare, and in truth, it is part of what solidifies this play and makes it stick in our consciousness even today. Before I sat down to read Hamlet, I had never been exposed to it formally and yet I almost magically knew the play’s twists and turns. Of course magic has nothing to do with it. Hamlet has been fed to us since childhood through stories and cartoons (remember Bugs Bunny quoting To Be Or Not To Be?). Popular culture has made Hamlet as familiar to me as Little Red Riding Hood, though it was never one of my childhood bedtime stories.


(The quote starts at 5:59)

I think the most important reason why Hamlet is still relevant is that it has peppered our speech patterns and turn of phrase. Some of the quotes that are most familiar include:

  • “For the apparel oft proclaims the man” (the clothes make the man).
  • “Neither a borrower nor a lender be”
  • “This above all, to thine own self be true”

These are just three of the many examples of how Hamlet has influenced our modern society. These are of course taken from Polonius’ speech to Laertes (pg. 75) when he is leaving for France. They were meant as words of caution and guides for life, and they are still used this way today. I would argue that they are some of the most used (and overused) quotes of our time. Did any other quotes stand out to you as strongly?

If after reading Hamlet, the themes still escape you or you find it too dry I would recommend watching the 1996 version starring Kenneth Branagh. It is an incredible portrayal, and shows the play word for word. It really helped me discover meaning in scenes where I found myself lost during the reading. Hamlet’s introspection and brooding become palpable, and his pain can be read in his face instead of just on a page.