Anna: On the queen known for her infinity

Hughes, Lucy, About Cleopatra: On the Queen known for her infinity, 2006, Web, 4 July 2016
Another significant character of Shakespeare’s plays is Cleopatra. She is consistent only in her inconsistency. She is a woman as changeable as water. Writing 200 years after Cleopatra’s death, Plutarch found traces of the way her own people had seen her. He did justice to her reputation as a linguist and scholar. He acknowledged her courage and the efficiency of her rule. He recorded fragments of the self-glorifying vision which she and her aides had adroitly cultivated, that of wise mother of her people, the incarnation of the goddess Isis here on earth.
But in his Roman sources, Plutarch found a very different Cleopatra, a depraved sensualist, a woman defined by her foreignness to Rome, whose nature and career seemed to confirm every prejudice Romans might hold against both foreigners and women – that they were sly and cowardly, that they were frivolous to the core, interested only in hairdressing and parties, and that they had sneaky, insidious ways of ensnaring a virile Roman hero and drawing him down to their own level.
The image of Cleopatra as irresistible temptress was elaborated by her enemies. It suited Octavius that the Romans should believe that his chief rival for power in Rome, Antony, was totally unfit to rule them, and that the conflict which reached its climax at Actium was not just another phase of the civil wars of which the Roman people were so heartily tired, but one fought against an aggressive foreign power.
Thanks to that persona, Cleopatra has remained for over two millennia as the quintessential object of desire, and she has been repeatedly re-imagined in accordance with changing fashions in desirability. Medieval poets hymned her sweet docility and her devotion to her man. Renaissance painters depicted her as a blue-eyed blond (she was a famous beauty, and beauties, in northern Europe at the time, were fair). Orientalists re-imagined her as a dusky houri. Romantics from Pushkin onward cast her as a femme fatale and entertained masochistic fantasies of her thrilling cruelty. ‘She is the most complete woman ever to have existed,’ wrote Theophile Gautier in 1845, ‘whom dreamers find always at the end of their dreams.’
But Cleopatra is not only the figment of others’ imaginations. She was herself a skilled manipulator of her own image. In Plutarch’s version of her story, and in Shakespeare’s re-interpretation of it, it is possible to glimpse some of the ways in which she presented herself to her subjects. Using costume and gesture, spectacle and ritual, she dramatized her power.
There are dozens of more or less pornographic paintings, dating from the 1st Century onward, of the death of Cleopatra in which the Queen, naked or nearly so, applies the asp to her bare breast. In fact all the ancient historians agree that, as Shakespeare correctly shows, she didn’t undress, but dressed for death. And the ‘royal robes’ she calls for would have been the paraphernalia which identified her as a goddess, an identification which was dramatically emphasized by the fact that the snake that killed her was Isis’s sacred creature. We well never know what the real Cleopatra was like. She certainly wasn’t the libertine of the Roman imagination, she was probably celibate for the majority of her adult life. Nor was she an omnipotent deity – her defeat and death are proof enough of that.


Meghana Ravichandran -Media Hegemony: A Failure of Perspective by David.L.Altheide

Altheide, David L. “Media Hegemony: A Failure of Perspective.” American Association for Public Opinion Research 48.2 (1984): 476-90. JSTOR. Web. 16 Jun. 2016

Antonio Gramsci (1971) had defined media Hegemony, the keyword of operation as ‘the dominance of a certain way of life and thought and to the way in which the dominant concept of reality is diffused throughout public as well as private dimensions of social life’
What doesn’t surprise me is that this paper specifically deals with how much thought and perspective dominance there was in the so called ‘1st world countries’ in the 1980’s itself, where prompts of thought direction were given by the news channels, much like how we lap up the dramatized versions on our national news channels.
When the Author says that ‘Hegemony replaces culture as a context for locating human experience’, what he seems to be saying is that more often than not in societies which have rigid systems of governance, the norm of the culture itself becomes an ideology of the Centre, wherein the culture has to be delved into and ‘unmasked in order to know a repressed dimension of social life’
Another aspect this article talks of is Information Imperialism, where 1st world or developed nations keep reiterating rather negative constructs of the developing and rather under-developed nations. What happens here is that a logic of ‘untrue intellectual dominance’ gets stratified making all those albeit such 1st world countries to be the wielders of so called hierarchal power and prestige.
Though this paper brought out more on mass rather than social media, the point that seemed to mark the importance of the need for social media was what interested me because Social media, as its name itself suggests is a way in which multiple supressed voices, which otherwise go unheard, are given a fighting chance to speak their mind.

Anna -Traits of Lady Macbeth

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth: With an Introduction and Notes. Ed. Kenneth Deighton. London: Macmillan and Company 1896, Shakespeare Online, 10 Sept. 2013, Print.
This article talks about the various traits of Lady Macbeth. She is a strong character in the play. Of all Shakespeare’s female characters she stands out far beyond the rest because of her remarkable character- ambition, cruelty, strength of will and dissimulation. At the beginning of the play itself, one can understand that she has far greater strength of will than her husband. She never wavers despite of Macbeth been hesitant and distrustful of his powers. She is very ambitious, in fact when she reads her husband’s letter, she is so determined on the plan of Duncan’s murder to be pursued and nothing stops her from it until the goal of her ambition is reached. She shows her power over her husband, when he hesitates for committing the crime.
Macbeth. “If we should fail?
Lady M. We fail!
But screw your courage to the sticking-place
And we’ll not fail.” I. vii. 59-61.
Another trait of hers is her dissimulation and cunningness. When she welcomes Duncan to their home, her conduct towards him shows that she is perfect in the art of dissembling. She is very capable of planning and carrying out Duncan’s murder by dissimulation and cunningness so that no suspicion would rest upon on Macbeth or herself.
“All our service
In every point twice done and then done double
Were poor and single business to contend
Against those honours deep and broad wherewith
Your majesty loads our house.” I. vi. 14-18.
Her presence of mind is commendable, in the scene where she is informed of Duncan’s intention to stay at the castle, she betrays her joy at the opportunity presented to her and when her husband returns , she stays calm and she never loses her presence of mind even in a situation like that. She even goes back and carry out the unfinished business of the plot when she discovers that Macbeth had forgotten to smear the grooms with blood. She is stronger than Macbeth in terms of mental strength, knowing her husband’s weakness; she assumes the manly part and calls upon the evil spirits to fill her.
Even though LadyMacbeth is portrayed in a devilish manner, she is still affectionate and that is proved in two of her scenes ; on the night of Duncan’s murder , it was her affectionate memory for her dead father which alone made her pause in the midst of the crime. She is not selfish but rather her whole ambition is for her husband. She proves to be a devoted wife throughout the play.
Her character and the strength of her will are evident throughout the play; but the climax surprises us all. During day she continues to be the mistress of her emotions, but during night ‘her fear-infected mind to the deaf pillow will discharge its secrets. She is affected by her deeds and goes into a traumatic condition; her unnaturally strained conscience and power of dissimulation avenge themselves during her sleep, and the somnambulist, self-betraying, acts as it were all the secret guilty scenes over again. In the torture of her hardened heart she complains with groans of anguish that the smell and stain of blood will never wash away. She ends her life with suicide. To conclude, Lady Macbeth is a distinguished character in the Shakespeare’s Macbeth not only because she is been portrayed as a strong character but also because she is in a way breaking the stereotypes of women. In the beginning, Lady Macbeth appears as a calm, gentle person, but later reveals her true nature to be a demon behind a mask. Unlike many of his other plays where the female roles are portrayed as weak and helpless individuals inferior to men, a new character merges. Lady Macbeth reveals that women are equivalent to men; even superior in some cases. In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the audience is introduced to Lady Macbeth who opposes the stereotypical woman and leads the mediocre Macbeth into darkness. However, since Lady Macbeth is ravenous for power, uses manipulative tactics, and femininity, she has led herself to her disappointing demise.
In the beginning, Lady Macbeth appears as a calm, gentle person, but later reveals her true nature to be a demon behind a mask.

Anna- The hysteria of Lady Macbeth

Coriat, Isador, The hysteria of Lady Macbeth, Four seas Co.1920, 10 August 2010, Web, 9 June 2016, Print.

The article talks about the psychoanalysis of Lady Macbeth. It talks about her sleep walking scene which is basically not mentioned in Holinshed therefore; it is Shakespeare’s creative imagination. Isador says that the character had hysterical somnambulism. She is not the victim of a blind fate or  destiny rather she is affected by a mental disease. It is clear from the plat that she had several somnambulistic attacks. Her acting out of all these complexes is based upon reminiscence of her past repressed memories. Her first complex is demonstrated based on King Duncan’s murder. Her continual washing of the hands is a reminiscence of her earlier remark after Duncan’s murder. Her next complex is demonstrated when she tells Macbeth that Banquo is buried and that he cannot come out of his grave.

According to some genealogists Lady Macbeth and King Duncan’s wife were siblings or cousins. It is said that Lady Macbeth was jealous of her since Duncan’s wife had a stronger claim to the throne than Lady Macbeth. She is a powerful presence in the play. There is a conflict between femininity and masculinity in her character. She suppresses her instincts towards compassion, motherhood, fragility all of which are associated with femininity. She was ruthless, ambitious and single minded in pursuit of power. This conflict colours the entire drama as such and sheds light on gender based pre-conceptions from Shakespeare’s England to the present.