SHAKESPEARE: Twelfth Night

William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is a comedy that was first performed in 1602. It tells the story of a love triangle between Duke Orsino, Olivia, and Viola, who is disguised as a man named Cesario. Duke Orsino loves Olivia, Olivia loves Viola disguised as Cesario, and Viola loves Duke Orsino. At the end of the play, the love triangle is resolved when Viola’s twin brother, Sebastian, arrives in the city and marries Olivia, who believes that Sebastian is Cesario. Viola casts off her Cesario disguise, and Duke Orsino asks her to marry him. Although the play is a comedy, it explores the serious theme of social climbing. Continue reading SHAKESPEARE: Twelfth Night

SHAKESPEARE: The Taming of the Shrew

William Shakespeare’s, The Taming of the Shrew, was first performed in 1594. It tells the story of an Italian nobleman named Petruchio and his courtship, marriage, and taming of a shrewish Italian noblewoman named Kate. Some modern scholars who are intimidated and corrupted by modern feminism are highly critical of the play because of its misogynistic elements. The play, however, has an important and insightful message. The play’s message is that happiness can be attained only when men and women perform their proper roles. Continue reading SHAKESPEARE: The Taming of the Shrew

MILTON: Samson Agonistes

John Milton’s Samson Agonistes is a tragic play that was published in 1671. It retells the Biblical story of Samson, which is recounted in the Old Testament, Judges Chapters 13-16. In short, God gave extraordinary physical strength to Samson when he was born. When Samson became a man, he famously defeated an entire army with only the jawbone of a donkey. The source of Samson’s strength, however, was his hair. He told this fact to his wife Delilah, who subsequently cut off his hair and betrayed him to the Philistines, his enemies. The Philistines enslaved Samson and cut out his eyes. In despair, Samson seized his opportunity for revenge and tore down the columns that supported the Philistine Temple, killing the Philistines and himself. Continue reading MILTON: Samson Agonistes

SHAKESPEARE: As You Like It

William Shakespeare’s As You Like It was first performed in 1603. It is one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies. It tells the story of the amusing courtship and eventual marriage of Rosalind, the daughter of the Duke, and Orlando, the son of a Knight. Although the play is a comedy, Shakespeare explores many serious philosophical themes, such as those of love and pastoral life. Continue reading SHAKESPEARE: As You Like It

PASCAL: The Provincial Letters

The Provincial Letters are 18 letters written by Blaise Pascal during the years 1656 and 1657. The Letters are primarily concerned with the formulary controversy. The formulary controversy revolved around the Jansenists’ defiance of the Pope’s declaration that Jansenist beliefs concerning the nature of man and grace were heretical. Continue reading PASCAL: The Provincial Letters

SHAKESPEARE: Comedy of Errors

Comedy of Errors is Shakespeare’s shortest play and one of his funniest. It tells the story of two sets of twin brothers who were separated at birth while sailing on the Mediterranean Sea with their parents during a tempest. The play begins 25 years after the shipwreck. Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant Dromio of Syracuse arrive in Ephesus, searching for their long-lost twin brothers. By chance, their twin brothers Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant Dromio of Ephesus live in the city. Continue reading SHAKESPEARE: Comedy of Errors

The unexamined life is not worth living.

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