Tennessee Williams: Cat on a hot tin roof

Cat on a Hot Tin RoofCat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had only seen the movie several times because I worship Paul Newman. Always have and always will. That said, I did not know about the homosexual undertone of the play… because the movie makers chickened out and turned the whole admiration between Brick and Skipper upside down. There is no mention of the ‚old bachelors‘ from whom Big Daddy inherited the plantation. There is no hint at homosexuality in the play, maybe once in an ironic smile of Big Daddy. And in the film Brick actually desires Maggie. Which in the play is not the case because, and that is not to be denied, Brick and Skipper were in love. Brick is in denial and Skipper was about to tell him and that is one reason that the whole play is moving right on spot two of my favorite play’s list (Othello will always be the lead). It will also occupy that point because it is powerful and cruel and honest and real and I was completely sucked in and could not stop reading. Tennessee Williams does that to me.

So I’m in love. (And I wish that the film would have a little bit braver.)

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Arthur Miller. Death of a Salesman

Death of a SalesmanDeath of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think it is one of the best plays I ever read.

But it is also one of the most terrible in the sense that it is a nightmare. I felt trapped while reading it. The characters desperate hopes, their self-denial and their lack of communication with each other…it really got under my skin.

It truly still reflects the pressure of society put on the individual to be better and brighter and richer and more beautiful and whatever else than one actually is. And the result of that pressure.


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Toni Morrison: Desdemona

DesdemonaDesdemona by Toni Morrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As you might or might not know, Othello is not just my favorite play, but probably also my favorite piece of literature ever. I wrote my thesis on it and I have very clear views on it. For instance, I resent the racist interpretation that claims, Othello just succumbed to jealousy. It is much more complex than that, as are the characters.

That being said, the ‚Leerstelle‘ / vacancy that is Desdemona has always bothered me and I even attempted to put her story into words. Needless to say, I failed to express what I had in my mind.

It needed Toni Morrison to do it. She has, in my opinion, given answers to all those questions that remained open in Shakespeare’s play. It is short, succinct and precise. The songs are wonderful and evocative. It is complex. The women have their say, finally.

I love it. I love Toni Morrison’s writing. She simply has no equal. And I am grateful she took on the subject.

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Shakespeare: Two gentlemen of Verona

The Two Gentlemen of VeronaThe Two Gentlemen of Verona by William Shakespeare
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The sexism strikes again. Apparently only a silent woman is a good woman. There was one whole monologue I almost typed up in which every word was delivered by a misogynist and which made me want to stop reading, but since I trust in Shakespeare I read on. Sadly I was disappointed. Because the woman (property of father, sold, given to another man to own, and no matter how often they tell them no the men just keep coming or more precise, the one does) can only try to reclaim her life by running away or dressing up as a man….and the life they then claim is with another man.

The scene in which Proteus tells Sylvia he’ll just have to rape her then, since she just won’t fall in love with him, should have ended differently, but it ends with Julia, who has witnessed this, by marrying him and Valentine, who also heard, to forgive his friends since he says sorry. Well, no, you lost me there.

Not one of his brighter plays is it? Usually he gets it right and maybe this was meant to illustrate how men ‚fall in love‘ and mistreat women. But then, it should have been…better done. In most other plays, women die and get mutilated and mistreated, but they shame the men and never are so weak as these two are.

No, my dear. Not happy about that.

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Shakespeare _ Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and JulietRomeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

How to phrase it… I obviously knew the story before reading, I have seen it in The Globe and I think, that the prose is so magnificent, nobody will ever accomplish anything like it.
But the story? It was never one of my favorite plays by Shakespeare. I never got the appeal of two kids (or teenagers if you will) being willing to die for each other. I always think: maybe you’d like to grow up and learn a little about life before you make such a decision, such as, that there won’t be another love for you. There isn’t really a subtext or layers to peal back as in his other tragedies or any other play I have read by him.
So, only 3,5 stars (I need a more subtle way to rate), while keeping in mind that compared to his other plays, this one is rather weak, but compared to any other playwright out there, Shakespeare still lacks a rival.

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