Shakespeare and the Kardashians.

I’m currently taking a class called Shakespeare Muse on Fire and this week we are discussing A Midsummer’s Night Dream. I say discussing, because we do more than just listen to lectures, we talk about what Shakespeare means to us, oour thoughts that come up from our reading and what the stories mean to us. I was really shocked yesterday when one of my classmates compared Shakespeare to reality TV or as he calls it “trashy TV”. My classmate compared the plot of the play to an episode of the Kardashians. Now, I admit both have females who have way too much drama in their lives, but is it fair to compare Hermia and Helena to Kim and her annoying sister? What’s next, Hamlet vs. Honey Boo Boo? Give me a break!

For those of you who are not familiar with the play let me give you a brief rundown; Hermia is in love with Lysander and Helena is in love with Demetrius. Demetrius is in love with Hermia. Hermia’s dad won’t let her marry Lysander, he wants her to marry Demetrius. Poor Helena is left out in the cold and she spends most of her time in the play running around after Demetrius declaring her undying love for him. A spell is accidentally put on Lysander; one that makes him fall out of love with Hermia and in love with Helena. Then, trying to fix this mistake, a spell is put on Demetrius so he too falls for Helena. Helena has two men after her and she doesn’t believe either one of them. In the end the spells are removed and the four lovers pair up so that Lysander and Hermia, Demetrius and Helena end up together. This is not high art, but it is not supposed to be. It is a play about the capricious nature of love and its magical powers it has over human nature.

Shakespeare is adept at showing us the human condition. His plays are a mirror into our souls and psyche. Hamlet wouldn’t be Hamlet without his melancholic nature and his inability to do what’s right when it comes to revenging his father’s murder. Macbeth wouldn’t be Macbeth if Shakespeare didn’t show us what happens when power corrupts absolutely. Shakespeare demands that we think and look at ourselves in a cold hard mirror. He gave us great heroes and villains that we can relate to, even if we dare not admit it. There is a little Macbeth in all of us. I heard a great question today that went like this: if you could have world peace or Bill Gates’ money, what color would you Lamborghini be? Shakespeare would ask the same question.

Reality TV, or trashy TV on the other hand doesn’t ask such questions. It doesn’t look into the human condition, it makes up its own human condition; one of envy. It says, oh look you can never have a Lamborghini but watch as these people drive around in one. Reality TV is anything but. The drama is not real; the situations are staged to exaggerate the problems of the people we are watching. Oh we may wish we had the Kardashians’ fame and fortune, but do we learn anything about ourselves from watching them? Could you call Honey Boo Boo a look into the universal human condition? I don’t think so.  Hardly anyone wants to be redneckognized.

Shakespeare may, at times be bawdy and brash. And yes it would be fun to see Kim Kardashian play lovesick Helena, but we should never compare his work to Reality TV and its absurd notion of the human condition.

What I Learned From Lady Macbeth

All this month I have been thinking about the women who have helped shaped my life, both knowingly and unknowingly. I have thought about every female I have known from my grandmother to my friends.  I have been lucky to have known so many great women who have touched my life and made me who I am today. I am quite certain I am not alone in this; we all have women to thank.

Instead of writing about the real women in my life, I decided to do a post about a fictional character, one who made a huge impact on my young adult life. As I like to preach, literature can inform us and shape our lives. If we are open enough, each time we read we can learn something new about ourselves or take lessons from the characters we grow to know.  Had I not “met” this woman in high school, I am not sure I would have chosen the right path as I stood at the crossroad of smart vs. dumb choices. This blog is dedicated to Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth.

Lady Macbeth, as told by Shakespeare, was married to one of the medieval Scottish King Duncan’s generals and had high ambitions for her husband. She convinced him to kill Duncan in order to take the throne.  Once the deed was done, murder begat murder and soon madness overtook the couple. Lady Macbeth took to sleepwalking, wringing her hands as if to wash Duncan’s blood from them. Her famous line “out damn spot, out” is said because of her remorse and guilty conscious.  Never again would she feel clean.

During my senior year in high school, I was caught in a crossroads.  While some of my friends were getting ready to go to college, others were ready to go out do whatever felt good.  I was expected to go to college, but a part of me wanted to go out and do what I wanted which, if I was not careful, would end up being dumb. I was on the verge of doing things I would spend a life time regretting.

Our boring English teacher was replaced mid-semester by a younger vibrant man who decided we needed to learn to appreciate Shakespeare. His first choice, Macbeth. He introduced us to the Bard by being a one man play. I can still recall him on his desk, sword fighting with an invisible foe! He belted out the play and asked that we read along. Many of the lessons went over my head, but when he got to Lady Macbeth’s madness a jolt went through my body. I felt as if someone had hit me, while whispering “this could be you”.

I am not sure if our teacher talked about this, or if I figured it out on my own (I’d like to say I was smart enough to get it). No matter, I got it. There are certain things that we may do that will affect the rest of our life. There are things that we may do that would result in deep regret. Did I want to spend the rest of my life washing my hands of my past deeds? Hell no! There was no way I wanted to be another Lady Macbeth. I vowed right there and then I would never do anything that would make me say “out damn spot out”.

My early 20s were not a good time for me for a variety of reasons. Yes, I did make some dumb choices, but nothing that resulted in deep seeded regret. As a matter of fact, when offered the opportunity to do damaging things I thought back to that day I first heard of Lady Macbeth. Anytime I saw that I might be headed down the wrong path, I thought of her and changed course.  I used her line “out damn spot out” as a talisman; if I felt I may be hanging with the wrong crowd who tried to talk me into joining them in a stupid situation, I muttered the line to myself. This was my way of staying out of danger or personal ruin.

Now that I am older and much wiser, I look back and see that my life could have been a mess. Thankfully the lesson  I learned from Lady Macbeth stayed with me. Thankfully I do not wake up wanting to wash the stain of regret from my hands.  That is the power of literature and why I feel it can shape our lives.

Amazing Waste

Repurposing Food and Reducing Waste


Shakespeare, Classics, Theatre, Thoughts

Nerd Cactus

Quirky Intellect for the Discerning Nerd

Self-Centric Design

The art of designing your life

The Ineluctable Bookshelf

Reading, writing, and states in between

Lizzie Ross

Reading, writing, dreaming


Stories of magic and mystery

Commonplace Fun Facts

a collection of trivia, fun facts, humor, and interesting notions.

Elan Mudrow



Fiction reviews, Bookblogger, Fiction book reviews, books, crime fiction, author interviews, mystery series, cover, love, bookish thoughts...

Patrick W. Marsh

I write about monsters to explore what it is to be human.

Shakespeare for Kids Books

Opening the door for kids to love Shakespeare and the classics


The 10-year Shakespeare New Year Resolution


Welcome to the world of cats!

The Book Reviews You Can Trust!

The Book Review Directory

For Readers and Writers


screams from the void

%d bloggers like this: