Skip to main content

We (Can't) Defy Augury: Alexander (the Pig?) vs. Henry V

"Ay, he was porn at Monmouth, Captain Gower. What
call you the town's name where Alexander the Pig was born!"
Thus started the playful comparison between Henry V and Alex the Great. It was funny the first time I read it. It was, really. The Welsh Captain kept saying the word wrong, the comparison couldn't be more absurd, especially the way he tried to find similarity between Monmouth and Macedon.

The second time I read it, I wanted to cry.

I am the one to blame for my sheer ignorance of English history. Reading Henry V, I was full of expectation that the king would live long and prosper, he would be the best Shakespearean character ever, and would stay high, live eternally, and be a living literary legend like Sherlock Holmes, for instance. I had no idea that the king would die. I mean, I know he would, but not that fast. As soon as I knew that he died shortly after Agincourt, Alexander was no longer a joke.

Well, at least we know why they didn't say anything about their looks, only their achievements
Fluellen might be happy that his king was as young as Alexander and as great a military commander as he was. He might also be happy that Monmouth and Macedon shared the same first letter. Or he might think himself smart to note that Henry shoved away his bad company when he was sane as Alexander killed his when he was drunk. His comparisons served as entertainment anyway. But I wonder if Shakespeare thought merely of that when he compared Henry to Alexander.

As mentioned before, both were great military commanders in their youth, because the both shared the same young untimely death. Alex died of malaria fever when he was 32, Henry of dysentery when he was 36. Both left their achievements to civil war. Both, after all their labour, gained nothing for themselves, nor for their issues. Best thing, both became legends, although me must admit that Alexander still wins in that aspect.

Now, to be honest, all of these comparisons would be nothing to me, they wouldn't upset me, if Shakespeare hadn't so subtly put them in jest. I hate it when Shakespeare plays oracle and prophet in his plays, putting things here and there to *hint* the futures of his characters. In the first tetralogy, these kinds of hateful omens are everywhere.

Maybe in later posts I will discuss them further.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Problems with Translating Shakespeare

I've found several articles regarding this on the net. I'm new to the Shakespeare world, therefore I didn't know much about the translation issue.

In the net, there are "study guides" for Shakespeare, such as No Fear Shakespeare which provides students with modern English translation of William Shakespeare. I bet students will find it highly useful, especially those who are not well-acquainted with plays or old classical literatures or writings in verse. Apart from that, I am also aware that there are modern English editions of Shakespeare available in book stores. (I know that accidentally, because I found some quotes on Goodreads which convey Shakespeare's ideas but not in his exact words.)

On the other hand, there are people like David Crystal, which I highly respect (truly I love everything he says about Shakespeare's words and also original pronunciation), who insists that no translation is needed in understanding Shakespeare. There is even a debate …

Henry V: Self-Punishment on the Death of Bardolph

Prince Hal, and later, the king, Henry V is a complex character with volumes to think, say, and analyse about. Following his character development from Henry IV part 1 through Henry V, it's hard not to relate to him when one comes to what people call 'conflict of interests.'

For me, the worst part of it in Henry V is when he heard that his (former) friend, Bardolph, had been executed for thievery. In many productions, the directors let Henry either see the execution, or at least the hanged man. Kenneth Branagh and Hollow Crown versions even take time for a little flashback, therefore show us that the king remembered Bardolph and all things they had done together in their former days. Both also, through acting, show that the king was sad about it, yet could do nothing.

Reading the play, however, it was quite shocking that the king made no comment upon the hanging, except that it was just and necessary.

Why didn't he say anything about it? Knowing Shakespeare, he could h…

Say It Like Shakespeare: No Make-Up Day

Ada saat-saat di mana kita sebagai perempuan malas banget pakai make-up. Buat saya, itu mood sehari-hari. Mungkin ada lah beberapa hari dalam setahun di mana jiwa perempuan normal dalam diri saya ingin menunjukkan sisi femininnya, tapi selain itu..

Karena itu hari ini saya ingin berbagi beberapa quote Shakespeare yang sering muncul di kepala saya kalau saya sudah mulai disuruh dandan.
Henry IV, Part I Waktu mikirin soal bagaimana bayak orang mengkritik gaya hidup dia yang sama sekali nggak kaya pangeran yang bakal memimpin kerajaan suatu hari nanti.

If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work;
But when they seldom come, they wished-for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.
Yang artinya,

Kalau sepanjang tahun libur terus, libur bakal sama ngeboseninnya kaya hari kerja. Tapi ketika kita jarang libur, liburan jadi hal yang ditunggu-tunggu. Nggak ada yang lebih menyenangkan daripada hal yang jarang terjadi. 
Yang buat saya artinya: kalo terlalu ser…