View of gilded, red-curtained stage.
View of gilded, red-curtained stage.
Source: Pixabay

Volpone by Ben Jonson follows the antics of Volpone, a wealthy Magnifico, and his second-in-command (or Parasite, or Fly) Mosca as the pair use their talents for deceit to accumulate more and more riches. In its essence, it is a play about greedy people working to compound their wealth: Volpone and Mosca do this, as do Voltore, Corbaccio, Corvino, and Lady Would-Be. Along the way, the innocent Celia and Bonario are swept up in the schemes of guiltier parties, but each are exonerated come the end of the play, when those guilty of avarice must answer for their sins.

Though…


The Globe Theatre, London | Image credit: Hannah Isaac, 2018

The newly appointed interim Duke of Vienna has decided to enforce the “strict statutes and most biting laws” that were ignored over the course of the actual Duke’s last fourteen years of rule (1.1.20). One such law prohibits sexual congress outside of the bounds of marriage, and thus Claudio is sentenced to death for impregnating his fiancée.

As with many Shakespearean comedies, the introduction of a dire, life-or-death problem also makes way for hijinks to ensue in Measure for Measure: the true Duke pretends to be a friar as he observes Angelo and meddles in the upcoming proceedings; Isabella leaves…


Iphigenia and Greek Tragic Suffering

“The Sacrifice of Iphigenia” by Corrado Giaquinto (1759–60)

Weatherbound and unable to set sail to Troy, King Agamemnon obeys the words of the prophet Calchas and sacrifices his young daughter, Iphigenia.[1] The weather shifts and the Greeks are able to go forth and wage war. In the ensuing tragedies by Aeschylus and Euripides, we read of the endless sufferings that arise as a result of this first suffering: that of Iphigenia. …


Fairy Tale and the Uncanny in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”

Source: https://m.imdb.com/title/tt0081505/mediaviewer/rm3767559424/

Clad in a red hooded jacket, Wendy leads her son Danny into the Overlook’s hedge maze as Jack, wolf-like and haunting, peers down over the miniature hedge maze model from inside the hotel. Later, he will break down the door leading into their quarters, wielding an axe and shouting “Little pigs, little pigs! Let me in!” with a grotesque grin.

While in Stephen King’s The Shining, the reader’s sense of the uncanny is awakened by our not knowing whether or not an object is truly alive (the hotel is inanimate but behaves like it is not; the hedge animals outside…


After finishing the last play in Aeschylus’ The Oresteia, The Eumenides, I am left with several questions.

Source: Pixabay

After finishing the last play in Aeschylus’ The Oresteia, The Eumenides, I am left with several questions.

First, why is it that the Furies seek revenge for Clytaemnestra’s murder but not Iphigenia’s, given that each were killed by blood relations? Why is it worse for the child to kill the parent?

Second, why is it that Agamemnon’s spilled blood “clots hard, it won’t seep through, it breeds revenge” while the blood of Clytaemnestra “wets the ground, // you can never bring it back, dear god, // the Earth drinks, and the running life is gone” (Fagles, pp. 179 and 243)? …


I am a graduate student in the era of COVID-19. The majority of my writing nowadays exists for/because of the two seminars I’m taking: Greek Tragedy and The Films of Stanley Kubrick. So, I offer my thoughts and musings to you, people of Medium, who may be interested.

Source: Pixabay

During the second week of school, I completed my readings out of order: first the theory, next the plays. With all of Simon Critchley’s explanation of Sophist argument and antilogia alongside Gorgias’ “Encomium of Helen,” I read The Trojan Women by Euripides and found myself in awe of Helen’s self-defense, her anachronistic Gorgian testimony. Critchley says that “Helen seems to follow the precise line of defense that was prepared for her by Gorgias,” and it is against this statement that I read her speech (Critchley, 117).

First, Helen absolves herself of blame by placing responsibility with Hecuba and Paris, for…


“Midnight Sun” steps quietly into the place of its predecessor, singing the same tune with different words.

Cover of “Midnight Sun” by Stephenie Meyer.
Cover of “Midnight Sun” by Stephenie Meyer.

One hundred pages in to the newest addition to the Twilight series, I am overwhelmed by the feeling of the unheimlich, the feeling that something is off.

Perhaps this is the lingering effect of too many horror novels. I recently re-read Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House,” where the unheimlich (re: uncanny) permeates through the storyline, journeys ending in lovers meeting and doors shutting no matter how many times they’re propped open. …


Sci-fi/fantasy fiction published on 7 April, 2020.

Cover source: John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The premise of this book is wonderful: five teenagers are brought together by a prophecy. They are the Chosen Ones who will, after enough training and mastery of various magical artifacts, defeat the Dark One who has terrorized their world. The book begins ten years after they do so, and thus we learn about each character after they’ve had ten years to live with the trauma of survivorship and saviorhood.

It took me two and a half weeks to finish the book, and I suspect that it would have taken me a lot longer had I not given up on…


While human life is ephemeral, creative expression is immortal.

Meadow at dusk.
Meadow at dusk.
Source: Pixabay

In his 1819 poem “Ode to a Nightingale,” John Keats creates a persona who longs to identify with what he calls the “immortal Bird” so that he may fly away from his life of pain (Keats, line 61). The speaker wants to escape into the kind of immortality that the bird experiences — the immortality of poetry — rather than stay in his own world of death and disease.

While human life is ephemeral, creative expression is immortal.

Juxtaposition and Imagery

Keats’ persona juxtaposes his desire to “fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget” his worldly pain against his need to remain in…


Poetry collection due for publication on 19 May, 2020.

Cover (source: Andrews McMeel publishing)

This short poetry collection by Renaada Williams floats around themes of suicide, depression, Black pride, and heartbreak. The poems are pithy and often broken up word-by-word. It took me fewer than thirty minutes to read through about 150 pages of content.

I’ll preface this by saying that I did not enjoy the book. Many of the poems read like the vague sentences about heartbreak shared around on Facebook by people afraid to be more specific. I think that the poems each could have been more powerful were they separated by instances…

Hannah Isaac

Retired lemonade stand entrepreneur. Short stories, book reviews, essays, and musings.

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