“Crawling Between Earth and Heaven:” A Reading of Hamlet

Hamlet is a deeply puzzling and unsettling play. It remains elusive, alluring, cryptic, macabre, and mysterious: it is Shakespeare's drama par excellence (contrary to T.S. Eliot's unimpressive criticism of the play). On the surface, Hamlet is a classic revenge story that mirrors the theatrical works of classical antiquity. However, upon closer investigation Hamlet draws on … Continue reading “Crawling Between Earth and Heaven:” A Reading of Hamlet

On Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”

"Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon" -fictional proverb The year was 1948. The New Yorker Magazine was celebrating its 23rd anniversary when it published a disturbing little story called "The Lottery." The story was to cause decades of controversy. At the time, The New Yorker apparently did not distinguish between works of fact or … Continue reading On Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”

“Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” Considered

In Act V, scene 5 of Shakespeare's Macbeth we encounter Macbeth's famous nihilistic soliloquy: "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow." The speech comes at a critical juncture for Macbeth in the play. All his Thanes have left him, and a united army of English and Scottish forces are advancing on his castle at Dunsinane. The English … Continue reading “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” Considered

The Haunting Waters of A River Runs Through It

"In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing" (opening lines). Anyone who has ever gone fly fishing knows it to be a complex art -almost spiritual in nature. Fly fishing forces a man to slow down, find rhythm, and discover patience and harmony with nature. In Norman Maclean's A River … Continue reading The Haunting Waters of A River Runs Through It

Love and War In For Whom The Bell Tolls

For Whom The Bell Tolls is the novel that was supposed to win Ernest Hemingway his first Pulitzer Prize in 1941. However, like Sinclair Lewis before him, Hemingway was denied the prize by the President of Columbia University. As the story goes, the 1941 Novel Jury recommended several books for the Pulitzer Prize including, but … Continue reading Love and War In For Whom The Bell Tolls

Trickery and Alchemy in the Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale

"But al thyng which that shineth as the goldNis nat gold, as that I have herd it told;" (962-963) Neither the Canon (a priestly administrator of a cathedral) nor his Yeoman are mentioned in Chaucer's "General Prologue." Instead, they ride quickly from the previous town and meet up with the traveling group of storytellers at Boughton … Continue reading Trickery and Alchemy in the Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale