There are a few kids who speak up in my Shakespeare class that are really bright, and really insightful. I said a few things during the first couple of weeks of class that were way off the mark. In my defense, those things were about the sonnets, and now that we're into other Shakespeare, in retrospect it would seem that the sonnets were written expressly to be deep in coded language and confusing metaphor. (Although I have to admit that it is satisfying when you crack the code!) But anyway, I've kept pretty mum since then, for fear of looking like a dope, especially in front of these really insightful presumable lit majors -- unless I'm really
sure I'm right about something and no one else is getting it.
Today we were discussing Midsummer Night's Dream
. The prof asked why the fairy king Oberon would want to take the Indian boy away from his wife, Queen Titania, when he had so many servants already. We reviewed the passage about where the Indian boy came from, where Titania explains:Set your heart at rest.
The Fairyland buys not the child of me.
His mother was a votaress of my order,
And in the spicèd Indian air by night
Full often hath she gossiped by my side,
And sat with me on Neptune's yellow sands,
Marking th' embarkèd traders on the flood,
When we have laughed to see the sails conceive
And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind;
Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait
Following—her womb then rich with my young squire—
Would imitate, and sail upon the land
To fetch me trifles and return again
As from a voyage, rich with merchandise.
But she, being mortal, of that boy did die.
And for her sake do I rear up her boy,
And for her sake I will not part with him.
So, again, the prof asked why on earth Oberon wanted this Indian boy so bad.
The students raised their hands and said things like, "He's worried the boy will take his place" and, "When he grows up, she may be attracted to him." I'm sitting there thinking, "Okay, gross, she's raising him FROM BIRTH. That'd be like being attracted to your SON."
The prof was being all patient and asking for more theories. Similar ones were offered. Then a hand went up and a voice said, "Oedipal complex?"
At this point, I'm like, okay, this is ridiculous. I raised my hand, and said something along the lines of the fact that maybe Oberon was threatened by the close friendship Titania had with the boy's mother, and now the boy reminds him of that. "Bingo!" the teacher said, and then asked, "You're married, right?" As if that's the only way I'd get it. ;)
Nothing against the kids. I think it's quite cute and quite amusing, actually, that they're grasping at Freudian concepts to explain away a situation, rather than a much more obvious, simpler explanation... in this case, simple jealousy. Ahh, kids!