Richard-Related Ramblings

I’m going to follow a trend here and say that I, too, experience difficulty while reading the works of William Shakespeare. The only difference with me is that I never realized it. I’ve only ever read the convenient copies with translations every couple of pages and other helping tools in the front and/or back of the book. I love Shakespeare’s plays and devoured them in high school, but every time I had those super-books. I never realized how much I needed them. This time I downloaded the play (it’s public domain- totally legal!). My copy is straight Shakespeare. No assistance here. It’s pretty rough.

As for the story, I think I like it. Richard’s sneaky plot with the banishment and Gaunt’s wealth surprised me and increased my interest. As in media, if it bleeds it leads. The story catches your attention first with the pending duel (for honor? really?) and then with the money scheme. The Duke of York was greatly opposed to seizing the wealth, saying: “You pluck a thousand dangers on your head,/ You lose a thousand well-disposed hearts.” This, as well as the Queen’s premonitions, is major foreshadowing indicating the downfall of Richard II.

I also want to put in as a light side note that in the heat of their argument, Bolingbroke and Mowbray threw down their hoods to invite a fight, as opposed to the traditional glove-smack. I would like to see a film in which they throw down their hoods. I think it would be an interesting sight. They also say ‘spake’ instead of ‘spoke’. Thought you ought to know.

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

My eyes have been opened, all preconceived notions altered. I always understood the basics of immigration- the people and their bundles tossed onto a ship and deposited on new soil for a new lease on life. I’d heard of grueling journeys and difficulty assimilating to new cultures. Never before, however, had I seen it so clearly.

Shaun Tan’s illustrations in The Arrival speak volumes- more than words themselves could. The faded sepia tone takes the mind into the past, as do stylistic touches like old fashion and luggage. The anonymous subject, a middle-aged man leaving his wife and child to await them in a new country. After a long trip overseas (illustrated with many different images of clouds) he sets foot in his new (nameless) home.

For the first time I understood the confusion and fear felt by immigrants. There was a large hall in which the immigrants were inspected and issued their papers. All of the text was foreign- strange squiggles, lines, dots, and shapes- and it was everywhere. The main character was left nothing but gestures for communication. The landscape of the new city was like no city any of us have seen. It is almost as if Tan wanted us to be the immigrants as well- seeing floating ships, independent elevators, and strange machinery, plants, maps, animals, and buildings. Everything that the main character encounters for the first time has the same effect on the observer. We see him gradually assimilating to his new home, securing an apartment, finding food and employment, meeting other immigrants, and mailing money to his family. In the book we also see illustrated the stories of the other newcomers that the main character comes across. They show the different paths, some more perilous than others, that bring different people together in one place. No matter their origins, they were all in this one city now, all adapting and learning to live a new life. Finally, towards the end of the book, we see him reunited with his family. The final image is of his daughter talking to a new immigrant and showing her the way.

The book teaches us about the hardships and experiences of immigration. By ridding the observer of all written (familiar) word, Tan takes the experience to another level, making it foreign for both the characters involved and for us. I was moved by The Arrival and it’s beautiful poignant images. It shows us how unified we are just in being part of one city together.