Looking back at my posts, I find that I most interested in the characters’ motives and actions within the limitations of their environment. Shakespeare wrote about society as having the English, Christian characteristics of his own place and time, whether his play was taking place in his own contemporary time, centuries before he lived, or even in Italy. This framework of society where everyone has a role to play and rules to either obey or break cause the characters to act and react in the ways that they do.
I like to see characters stepping out of the role that society prescribes for them. Shakespeare does this with different outcomes in his plays, which is admirable because all of the characters have to play by the same societal rules. It is their personalities and the reasons they reject society which determine the outcome. For example, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s ambition to rule is driven by ambition, pride, and greed, they are able to dispose of Duncan, but they are not able to live with the consequences or mental stress which their crime causes. In an inverse way, King Lear aspires to give up his throne and responsibilities, but maintain the benefits of being king, and his decision causes a disordering of the social structure continues all the way down to the lowest tier of society, where a servant steps out of his social parameter to challenge Cornwall’s cruelty. Bolingbroke’s decision to challenge Richard II and take the throne has the power of changing the course of history, and in Elizabethan audience’s views, perhaps even the character of God and the universe itself. Jessica’s choice to abandon her father’s religion and marry a Christian does not seem to be able to make her able to fit in with society, she is one of those characters who are not able to successfully change her situation through social defiance. The theme that I see through all of my posts is that society is that catalyst for making these characters who they are.