Author Archives: Shamala Williams

The Home Nature : Titus Andronicus

The descriptions of nature in Titus Andronicus have equal parts beauty, exoticism, and horror. They enhance the violence and brutality in the play through contrast and juxtaposition. The assemblage of both the actions of the characters and the setting gives many characters and even the setting agency and identity.

Demetrius and Chiron use the hunting as an opportunity to rape Lavinia in the middle of the forest. When Demetrius gleefully announces “we hunt not, we, with horse nor hound, / But hope to pluck a dainty doe to ground” (2.1.1), he uses hunting as a metaphor for sexual violence, casting Lavinia in the role of prey. Lavinia is referred to as a “doe” several times throughout the play, and after the rape, Marcus compares her to a mortally wounded animal “seeking to hide herself, as doth the deer / That hath receiv’d some unrecurring wound”(3.1.4). For the rest of the play, Lavinia is seen as a mortally wounded animal and her eventual death is a mercy.

Tamora is compared to animal and nature several times, and many of her actions can be seen as beastlike. Titus final interaction Tamora places back in her beginning role as a mother and a savage inhuman Goth, by her feeding the remains of sons, returning them to her womb literally. And not giving her a proper burial. Titus’s eulogy of Tamora gives the audience her last identity as a savage beast.

“As for that heinous tiger, Tamora,
No funeral rite, nor man in mourning weeds,
No mournful bell shall ring her burial;
But throw her forth to beasts and birds of prey:
Her life was beast-like, and devoid of pity;” (5.3.9)

Where both of these scenes differ is their immediate setting. Lavinia’s rape is steeped nature, while Tamora’s death and the death of her son’s takes place in the heart of Rome. In a play where the violence happens indiscriminately no matter the setting, a theme that can probably be taken from this is that no matter what people build, cultivate, and reside in our collective nature doesn’t change. In that same breath it could also be said that it is natural for humans to be violent and savage to each other, but also caring and compassionate. Both of these types of actions within and out of nature in the play.

Changes Coming

For the final project I plan to centralize the them of all my work into the commodification and dehumanization of nature and less beings. In this theme I plan to focus more on how Shakespeare's writings show us how early modern and modern people view things, objects, persons, ect. that they deem lesser, or less important than themselves.

Changes to the site include reorganizing the menus, making them more cohensive. Adding more cosmetic touches to the site layout, and reorganizing the blog roll.

Nature and Justice in King Lear


Shakespeares work is writhe with scenes of a 'reflective nature'. A nature that emulates the innner desires, turmoil, and insercuties of characters. The storm in both The Tempest and King Lear.(List more examples) In other it is the hand of justice and revenge. (Examples). In more an active character with its own complexities or a silent observers. (Examples in Shakespeare earlier plays maybe Midsummer Night's Dream). In Shalespeares writing nature is both savage, dangerous, mysterious, mystical and pastoral, calm, tame, useful, forthcoming. In King Lear nature is wrathful justice or cold indifference. A pognenant point of the play's tragedy is that ideal justice is never truly dealt. Both the good and bad characters suffer immensely.  In the play nature is brutual, unforgiving, and even inhospitable to manking. And when the play sets the audience up for the possibility of happy ending, instead it gives us tragic death. 

In many ways our nature, the 'real' nature is this, but also so much more. It is my intention to argue that many of Shakespeare's works present a romanticized views of nature and what it should be. (Talk about nature usuallly fall between 'good' and 'bad'/ 'hospitable' vs. 'inhospitable' to people) (Not really sure where I'm going with this line of thought). In Shakespeare nature is emphatic even when it seems indifferent or cruel. When in reality our enviroment can take us or leave us.


Sc.11 Storm. Enter King Lear, The Earl of Kent disguised, and Lear's Fool  

Here is the place, my lord. Good my lord, enter.


The tyranny of the open night's too rough.

  For nature to endure  
LEAR Let me alone  
KENT Good my lord, enter  
LEAR Wilt break my heart?  
KENT I had rather break mine own. Good my lord, enter. 5
LEAR Thou think'st tis much that this contentious storm  
  Invade us to the skin. So this to thee;  
  But where the greater malady is fixed,  
  The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'dst shun a bear,  
  But if thy flight lay toward the roaring sea 10
  Thou'dst meet the bear i'th'mouth. When the mind's   
  The body's delicate. This tempest in my mind  
  Doth from my senses take all feeling else  
  Save what beats there: filial ingratitude  
  Is not as this mouth should tears this hand 15
  For lifting food to't? But I will punish sure.  
  No, I will weep no more.-  
  In such a night as this! O Regan, Gonoril,  
  Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave you all–  
  O, that way madness lies. Let me shun that. 20
  No more of that  

Natured Doesn’t Need People

“I have feed species greater than you,

I have starved species greater than you,”

Once a central theme, and in many circles still is, of environmental conservation was championing or saving mother nature. We are starting to learn now that our environment doesn’t need our help or protection, we need its. Over-consumption, pollution, environmental degradation, are destroying the environments our species and many others have come to depend. But life will go on. Earth has survived my world wide extinction events; gigantic environmental changes that caused the extinction of more than 90% of species and yet each time nature was ‘reborn’. Our actions and decisions won’t decide if the Earth and nature will continue live.  It will determine if we are.

Like Gloucester pined in King Lear we are “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; They kill us for their sport,” (Act 4 Scene 1, 37-38). If in the grand timeline of life on Earth humans are almost insignificant, made special by only by our unprecedented ability to radically change and manipulate our environment to our benefit. Therefore nature is often viewed as pastoral, peaceful. Something that we can harvest, sell, tame, conquer, and divide among our kin. It once and is common thinking that nature will always be providing to our needs. And that line of thought is somewhat easy to see. We our environment thrives, the species that depend on it thrive. But when we change our environment so much so that it can no longer support us, than it is inhospitable.

King Lear made his home inhospitable the minute he banished Cordelia and Kent, the two people who truly supported. Cordelia loved her father ‘according to their bond’ like any child or citizen would love their father and king (Act 1 Scene 1, 90). It is what allowed their relationship to thrive. The banishment was a decision that became an irrevocably change that couldn’t allow Lear to thrive and eventually led to him and other’s demise. Like Lear corporations and humans as a whole are irrecoverably changing our only home so that may one day ultimately lead to our demise.

Our environment ‘loves’ us only so much. It cannot heave its heart into its mouth. It supports, feeds, and nurtures only to an extent. And like Lear and the tumultuous storm, we are constantly reminded of our smallness and mortality in the many recorded natural disasters, many of these our own doing. Hurricanes. The current mega drought that entrenches the eastern United States. Earthquakes. The flooding in North Carolina.  Our bond with our environment is one that only recently gain, and our actions threaten to destroy it and our future longevity.

Tame: Wild to Domestic

Katherine and Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew


The context of the word tame in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew gives the word the meaning of transforming something that was once wild to something domestic, acceptable, docile, and useful to society and man. In one striking definition I saw that a few centuries before and during the play’s inception that the term tame was rarely applied to people. This along with the use of shrew when referring to Katherine gives the readers a distinct feel that Katherine is not seen as entirely human to some of the play’s character, and is considered lower than most men.

taming of the shrew


Blog Post 1 – Caliban’s Speech Act III

Sky Moon by Fenchity

Mystical Sky

In Act III of The Tempest Caliban describes to his newly gained allies, Trinculo and Stephano, one of the island’s ‘beautiful mysteries’of music playing at seemingly random times. However, Caliban does not know that this phenomenon his actually the product of Ariel’s, and indirectly Prospero’s, doing.

The isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices,
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again. (III.ii.130138)

The story and setting of The Tempest is one filled with mystery and magical mysticism. It can be argued that the setting can serve as an independant character as it is personified many times by several of the play’s characters. Such as in this instance “Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not” (III.ii. 130). Several times characters describe both the beautiful and haunting aspects of the island. This constant duality builds a very complex image of the island, which sometimes leaving not really knowing what is truly real about the island. This is further complicated but the magical influences of Prospero, Ariel, and other spirits and magical beings. However in this instance we know the answer to this mysterious in the form of Ariel and Prospero manipulating the characters mentally and emotionally.

Interesting this passages acts as a very humanizing instance for Caliban, where otherwise the play treats him as a monstrous fool. As the only true native of the island, Caliban be subjugated by an outside is very analogous to the effects of widespread colonization. This is an example of an instance of when outside forces come into a new environment, a new culture and society, and change it do their benefit. Natives of these new conditions are forced to adapt, often time offered possible riches in the form of cultural advancement and a better life( ie. “The clouds methought would open and show riches, Ready to drop upon me, that, when I waked,”). Like Ariel and Prospero, these trespasser use the drastic change and new phenomenons created by their doing to manipulate and cast native into servile positions.