The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Professor looks at Bard’s humor

By Crystal Sulak/reporter

“Comedy is not just humor. Enemies become friends; lovers get together to make love,” an English professor told NE Campus students recently.

Eric Devlin described the role sexual tension plays in Shakespeare’s plays and showed clips from Shakespeare-inspired movies to allow his audience to better understand Sex and Shakespeare.

His presentation focused on two plays. The first clip, from the Taming of the Shrew, was set in Italy in the early middle ages.

“This emphasizes physical comedy,” he said.

Devlin said shrew originally meant a small aggressive rodent.

“Figuratively, a shrew is an ill-tempered woman,” he said.

The play focuses on Katherine, a woman who is angry and resentful that her father is trying to marry her off. She asks him, “Is it your will to make a whore of me?” She is unruly and is seen throwing a chair out the window at her suitors. Bianca, Katherine’s sister, is quite the opposite and has men falling at her feet begging for marriage.

Seeing that he might never get rid of Katherine, the father tells the suitors Katherine must be married before Bianca will be. In the clips, the suitors joke that Katherine is sexually frustrated.

Petruchio, the suitor after Katherine, is eager to tame her. The clip shows him chasing her around her father’s palace trying to talk to her, only to be shunned and scolded. He finally convinces her to marry him, and they fall in love.

“Petruchio wins the battle, but not the war,” Devlin said.

The second clip was from the movie Much Ado About Nothing. Devlin said the plot revolved around “women’s need to defend themselves from men.”

The opening scene shows Beatrice reading a poem about men deceiving women. Beatrice is a lady in love with Benedick, but she believes she has to protect herself.

The comedy focuses on the two trying to fight the realization they are in love with each other with silly games and witty insults. Throughout the movie, their friends all know they are attracted to each other and try to get them to stop arguing and fall in love.

“I love you with so much of my heart that none of it is left,” Beatrice says.

The two face many obstacles, such as Benedick’s best friend supposedly betraying Beatrice’s cousin, whom he was to marry. The cousin is so devastated Beatrice asks Benedick to kill his friend.

Devlin told the audience they would have to watch the whole movie to really see what happens, but that in the end they overcome obstacles and marry.

“ Most of comedy in Shakespeare is timeless and universal,” he said.

Many of Shakespeare’s plays are about sex, the people desiring each other and obstacles and conflicts they go through to show that love, Devlin said.

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