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Every known authority on the subject, from Pliny to Gildas, was carefully considered; every learned pilgrim to Rome was commissioned by Bede to ransack the archives and to make copies of papal decrees and royal letters; and to these were added the testimony of abbots who could speak from personal knowledge of events or repeat the traditions of their several monasteries.

Side by side with this historical exactness are marvelous stories of saints and missionaries. It was an age of credulity, and miracles were in men's minds continually. The men of whom he wrote lived lives more wonderful than any romance, and their courage and gentleness made a tremendous impression on the rough, warlike people to whom they came with open hands and hearts.

It is the natural way of all primitive peoples to magnify the works of their heroes, and so deeds of heroism and kindness, which were part of the daily life of the Irish missionaries, were soon transformed into the miracles of the saints. Bede believed these things, as all other men did, and records them with charming simplicity, just as he received them from bishop or abbot.


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The words were written about A. Here is a free and condensed translation of Bede's story:. There was, in the monastery of the Abbess Hilda, a brother distinguished by the grace of God, for that he could make poems treating of goodness and religion. Whatever was translated to him for he could not read of Sacred Scripture he shortly reproduced in poetic form of great sweetness and beauty.

None of all the English poets could equal him, for he learned not the art of song from men, nor sang by the arts of men. Rather did he receive all his poetry as a free gift from God, and for this reason he did never compose poetry of a vain or worldly kind. Until of mature age he lived as a layman and had never learned any poetry. Indeed, so ignorant of singing was he that sometimes, at a feast, where it was the custom that for the pleasure of all each guest should sing in turn, he would rise from the table when he saw the harp coming to him and go home ashamed.

Now it happened once that he did this thing at a certain festivity, and went out to the stall to care for the horses, this duty being assigned to him for that night. As he slept at the usual time, one stood by him saying: In the morning he went to the steward of the monastery lands and showed him the gift he had received in sleep. To test him they expounded to him a bit of Scripture from the Latin and bade him, if he could, to turn it into poetry. He went away humbly and returned in the morning with an excellent poem. Thereupon Hilda received him and his family into the monastery, made him one of the brethren, and commanded that the whole course of Bible history be expounded to him.

He in turn, reflecting upon what he had heard, transformed it into most delightful poetry, and by echoing it back to the monks in more melodious sounds made his teachers his listeners. In all this his aim was to turn men from wickedness and to help them to the love and practice of well doing. It is the story of Genesis, Exodus, and a part of Daniel, told in glowing, poetic language, with a power of insight and imagination which often raises it from paraphrase into the realm of true poetry.

Aside from the doubtful question of authorship, even a casual reading of the poem brings us into the presence of a poet rude indeed, but with a genius strongly suggestive at times of the matchless Milton. The book opens with a hymn of praise, and then tells of the fall of Satan and his rebel angels from heaven, which is familiar to us in Milton's Paradise Lost. Then follows the creation of the world, and the Paraphrase begins to thrill with the old Anglo-Saxon love of nature. After recounting the story of Paradise, the Fall, and the Deluge, the Paraphrase is continued in the Exodus, of which the poet makes a noble epic, rushing on with the sweep of a Saxon army to battle.

A single selection is given here to show how the poet adapted the story to his hearers:. The longest of these is Judith , in which the story of an apocryphal book of the Old Testament is done into vigorous poetry. Holofernes is represented as a savage and cruel Viking, reveling in his mead hall; and when the heroic Judith cuts off his head with his own sword and throws it down before the warriors of her people, rousing them to battle and victory, we reach perhaps the most dramatic and brilliant point of Anglo-Saxon literature.

Of Cynewulf, greatest of the Anglo-Saxon poets, excepting only the unknown author of Beowulf , we know very little. Indeed, it was not till , more than a thousand years after his death, that even his name became known. Though he is the only one of our early poets who signed his works, the name was never plainly written, but woven into the verses in the form of secret runes, [32] suggesting a modern charade, but more difficult of interpretation until one has found the key to the poet's signature.

Unsigned poems attributed to him or his school are Andreas , the Phoenix , the Dream of the Rood , the Descent into Hell , Guthlac , the Wanderer , and some of the Riddles. The last are simply literary conundrums in which some well-known object, like the bow or drinking horn, is described in poetic language, and the hearer must guess the name.

The ChristOf all these works the most characteristic is undoubtedly The Christ , a didactic poem in three parts: Cynewulf takes his subject-matter partly from the Church liturgy, but more largely from the homilies of Gregory the Great. The whole is well woven together, and contains some hymns of great beauty and many passages of intense dramatic force.

Throughout the poem a deep love for Christ and a reverence for the Virgin Mary are manifest. More than any other poem in any language, The Christ reflects the spirit of early Latin Christianity. Here is a fragment comparing life to a sea voyage,--a comparison which occurs sooner or later to every thoughtful person, and which finds perfect expression in Tennyson's "Crossing the Bar.

Andreas and EleneIn the two epic poems of Andreas and Elene Cynewulf if he be the author reaches the very summit of his poetical art. Andreas , an unsigned poem, records the story of St. Andrew, who crosses the sea to rescue his comrade St. Matthew from the cannibals.

A young ship-master who sails the boat turns out to be Christ in disguise, Matthew is set free, and the savages are converted by a miracle. Elene has for its subject-matter the finding of the true cross. It tells of Constantine's vision of the Rood, on the eve of battle. After his victory under the new emblem he sends his mother Helena Elene to Jerusalem in search of the original cross and the nails. The poem, which is of very uneven quality, might properly be put at the end of Cynewulf's works.

He adds to the poem a personal note, signing his name in runes; and, if we accept the wonderful "Vision of the Rood" as Cynewulf's work, we learn how he found the cross at last in his own heart. There is a suggestion here of the future Sir Launfal and the search for the Holy Grail. Decline of Northumbrian Literature.

The same northern energy which had built up learning and literature so rapidly in Northumbria was instrumental in pulling it down again. Toward the end of the century in which Cynewulf lived, the Danes swept down on the English coasts and overwhelmed Northumbria. Monasteries and schools were destroyed; scholars and teachers alike were put to the sword, and libraries that had been gathered leaf by leaf with the toil of centuries were scattered to the four winds. So all true Northumbrian literature perished, with the exception of a few fragments, and that which we now possess [35] is largely a translation in the dialect of the West Saxons.

This translation was made by Alfred's scholars, after he had driven back the Danes in an effort to preserve the ideals and the civilization that had been so hardly won. With the conquest of Northumbria ends the poetic period of Anglo-Saxon literature. With Alfred the Great of Wessex our prose literature makes a beginning. So wrote the great Alfred, looking back over his heroic life. That he lived nobly none can doubt who reads the history of the greatest of Anglo-Saxon kings; and his good works include, among others, the education of half a country, the salvage of a noble native literature, and the creation of the first English prose.

Life and Times of Alfred. For the history of Alfred's times, and details of the terrific struggle with the Northmen, the reader must be referred to the histories. The struggle ended with the Treaty of Wedmore, in , with the establishment of Alfred not only as king of Wessex, but as overlord of the whole northern country. Then the hero laid down his sword, and set himself as a little child to learn to read and write Latin, so that he might lead his people in peace as he had led them in war.

It is then that Alfred began to be the heroic figure in literature that he had formerly been in the wars against the Northmen. With the same patience and heroism that had marked the long struggle for freedom, Alfred set himself to the task of educating his people. First he gave them laws, beginning with the Ten Commandments and ending with the Golden Rule, and then established courts where laws could be faithfully administered.

Safe from the Danes by land, he created a navy, almost the first of the English fleets, to drive them from the coast. Then, with peace and justice established within his borders, he sent to Europe for scholars and teachers, and set them over schools that he established. Hitherto all education had been in Latin; now he set himself the task, first, of teaching every free-born Englishman to read and write his own language, and second, of translating into English the best books for their instruction. Every poor scholar was honored at his court and was speedily set to work at teaching or translating; every wanderer bringing a book or a leaf of manuscript from the pillaged monasteries of Northumbria was sure of his reward.

In this way the few fragments of native Northumbrian literature, which we have been studying, were saved to the world. Alfred and his scholars treasured the rare fragments and copied them in the West-Saxon dialect. Aside from his educational work, Alfred is known chiefly as a translator. After fighting his country's battles, and at a time when most men were content with military honor, he began to learn Latin, that he might translate the works that would be most helpful to his people.

His important translations are four in number: Orosius's Universal History and Geography , the leading work in general history for several centuries; Bede's History , [37] the first great historical work written on English soil; Pope Gregory's Shepherds' Book , intended especially for the clergy; and Boethius's Consolations of Philosophy , the favorite philosophical work of the Middle Ages.

More important than any translation is the English or Saxon Chronicle. This was probably at first a dry record, especially of important births and deaths in the West-Saxon kingdom. When it touches his own reign the dry chronicle becomes an interesting and connected story, the oldest history belonging to any modern nation in its own language. The record of Alfred's reign, probably by himself, is a splendid bit of writing and shows clearly his claim to a place in literature as well as in history.

The Chronicle was continued after Alfred's death, and is the best monument of early English prose that is left to us. Here and there stirring songs are included in the narrative, like "The Battle of Brunanburh" and "The Battle of Maldon. The Chronicle was continued for a century after the Norman Conquest, and is extremely valuable not only as a record of events but as a literary monument showing the development of our language. Close of the Anglo-Saxon Period. After Alfred's death there is little to record, except the loss of the two supreme objects of his heroic struggle, namely, a national life and a national literature.

It was at once the strength and the weakness of the Saxon that he lived apart as a free man and never joined efforts willingly with any large body of his fellows. The tribe was his largest idea of nationality, and, with all our admiration, we must confess as we first meet him that he has not enough sense of unity to make a great nation, nor enough culture to produce a great literature. A few noble political ideals repeated in a score of petty kingdoms, and a few literary ideals copied but never increased,--that is the summary of his literary history. For a full century after Alfred literature was practically at a standstill, having produced the best of which it was capable, and England waited for the national impulse and for the culture necessary for a new and greater art.

Both of these came speedily, by way of the sea, in the Norman Conquest. Summary of Anglo-Saxon Period. Our literature begins with songs and stories of a time when our Teutonic ancestors were living on the borders of the North Sea. Three tribes of these ancestors, the Jutes, Angles, and Saxons, conquered Britain in the latter half of the fifth century, and laid the foundation of the English nation. The first landing was probably by a tribe of Jutes, under chiefs called by the chronicle Hengist and Horsa. The date is doubtful; but the year is accepted by most historians.

These old ancestors were hardy warriors and sea rovers, yet were capable of profound and noble emotions. Their poetry reflects this double nature. Its subjects were chiefly the sea and the plunging boats, battles, adventure, brave deeds, the glory of warriors, and the love of home. Accent, alliteration, and an abrupt break in the middle of each line gave their poetry a kind of martial rhythm. In general the poetry is earnest and somber, and pervaded by fatalism and religious feeling. A careful reading of the few remaining fragments of Anglo-Saxon literature reveals five striking characteristics: In our study we have noted: Bede, our first historian, belongs to this school; but all his extant works are in Latin.

Northumbrian literature flourished between and In the year Northumbria was conquered by the Danes, who destroyed the monasteries and the libraries containing our earliest literature. Our most important prose work of this age is the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which was revised and enlarged by Alfred, and which was continued for more than two centuries.

It is the oldest historical record known to any European nation in its own tongue. For the facts of the Anglo-Saxon conquest of England consult first a good text-book: For fuller treatment see Green, ch. The Christ of Cynewulf, prose translation by Whitman; the same poem, text and translation, by Gollancz; text by Cook.

What is the relation of history and literature? Why should both subjects be studied together? Explain the qualities that characterize all great literature. Has any text-book in history ever appealed to you as a work of literature? What literary qualities have you noticed in standard historical works, such as those of Macaulay, Prescott, Gibbon, Green, Motley, Parkman, and John Fiske? Why did the Anglo-Saxons come to England?

What induced them to remain? Did any change occur in their ideals, or in their manner of life? Do you know any social or political institutions which they brought, and which, we still cherish? From the literature you have read, what do you know about our Anglo-Saxon ancestors? What virtues did they admire in men? How was woman regarded? Can you compare the Anglo-Saxon ideal of woman with that of other nations, the Romans for instance? Tell in your own words the general qualities of Anglo-Saxon poetry. How did it differ in its metrical form from modern poetry?

What passages seem to you worth learning and remembering? Can you explain why poetry is more abundant and more interesting than prose in the earliest literature of all nations? Tell the story of Beowulf. What appeals to you most in the poem? Why is it a work for all time, or, as the Anglo-Saxons would say, why is it worthy to be remembered? Note the permanent quality of literature, and the ideals and emotions which are emphasized in Beowulf. Describe the burials of Scyld and of Beowulf. Does the poem teach any moral lesson? Explain the Christian elements in this pagan epic.

Name some other of our earliest poems, and describe the one you like best. How does the sea figure in our first poetry? How is nature regarded? What poem reveals the life of the scop or poet? How do you account for the serious character of Anglo-Saxon poetry? Compare the Saxon and the Celt with regard to the gladsomeness of life as shown in their literature. What useful purpose did poetry serve among our ancestors? What purpose did the harp serve in reciting their poems?

Would the harp add anything to our modern poetry? What is meant by Northumbrian literature? Who are the great Northumbrian writers? What besides the Danish conquest caused the decline of Northumbrian literature? For what is Bede worthy to be remembered? What effect did Christianity have upon Anglo-Saxon literature? What are the Cynewulf poems? Describe any that you have read. How do they compare in spirit and in expression with Beowulf?

Compare the views of nature in Beowulf and in the Cynewulf poems. Describe the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. What is its value in our language, literature, and history? Give an account of Alfred's life and of his work for literature. How does Anglo-Saxon prose compare in interest with the poetry? The name Norman, which is a softened form of Northman, tells its own story. The men who bore the name came originally from Scandinavia,--bands of big, blond, fearless men cruising after plunder and adventure in their Viking ships, and bringing terror wherever they appeared.

It was these same "Children of Woden" who, under the Danes' raven flag, had blotted out Northumbrian civilization in the ninth century. Later the same race of men came plundering along the French coast and conquered the whole northern country; but here the results were altogether different. Instead of blotting out a superior civilization, as the Danes had done, they promptly abandoned their own. Their name of Normandy still clings to the new home; but all else that was Norse disappeared as the conquerors intermarried with the native Franks and accepted French ideals and spoke the French language.

So rapidly did they adopt and improve the Roman civilization of the natives that, from a rude tribe of heathen Vikings, they had developed within a single century into the most polished and intellectual people in all Europe. The union of Norse and French i. Roman-Gallic blood had here produced a race having the best qualities of both,--the will power and energy of the one, the eager curiosity and vivid imagination of the other. When these Norman-French people appeared in Anglo-Saxon England they brought with them three noteworthy things: At the battle of Hastings the power of Harold, last of the Saxon kings, was broken, and William, duke of Normandy, became master of England.

Of the completion of that stupendous Conquest which began at Hastings, and which changed the civilization of a whole nation, this is not the place to speak. We simply point out three great results of the Conquest which have a direct bearing on our literature. Second, they forced upon England the national idea, that is, a strong, centralized government to replace the loose authority of a Saxon chief over his tribesmen. And the world's history shows that without a great nationality a great literature is impossible. Third, they brought to England the wealth of a new language and literature, and our English gradually absorbed both.

For three centuries after Hastings French was the language of the upper classes, of courts and schools and literature; yet so tenaciously did the common people cling to their own strong speech that in the end English absorbed almost the whole body of French words and became the language of the land.

It was the welding of Saxon and French into one speech that produced the wealth of our modern English. Naturally such momentous changes in a nation were not brought about suddenly. At first Normans and Saxons lived apart in the relation of masters and servants, with more or less contempt on one side and hatred on the other; but in an astonishingly short time these two races were drawn powerfully together, like two men of different dispositions who are often led into a steadfast friendship by the attraction of opposite qualities, each supplying what the other lacks.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , which was continued for a century after Hastings, finds much to praise in the conquerors; on the other hand the Normans, even before the Conquest, had no great love for the French nation. After conquering England they began to regard it as home and speedily developed a new sense of nationality.

Geoffrey's popular History , [43] written less than a century after the Conquest, made conquerors and conquered alike proud of their country by its stories of heroes who, curiously enough, were neither Norman nor Saxon, but creations of the native Celts. Thus does literature, whether in a battle song or a history, often play the chief role in the development of nationality. Literary Ideals of the Normans. The change in the life of the conquerors from Norsemen to Normans, from Vikings to Frenchmen, is shown most clearly in the literature which they brought with them to England.

The old Norse strength and grandeur, the magnificent sagas telling of the tragic struggles of men and gods, which still stir us profoundly,--these have all disappeared.

Find a copy in the library

In their place is a bright, varied, talkative literature, which runs to endless verses, and which makes a wonderful romance out of every subject it touches. The theme may be religion or love or chivalry or history, the deeds of Alexander or the misdeeds of a monk; but the author's purpose never varies. He must tell a romantic story and amuse his audience; and the more wonders and impossibilities he relates, the more surely is he believed.

We are reminded, in reading, of the native Gauls, who would stop every traveler and compel him to tell a story ere he passed on. There was more of the Gaul than of the Norseman in the conquerors, and far more of fancy than of thought or feeling in their literature. If you would see this in concrete form, read the Chanson de Roland , the French national epic which the Normans first put into literary form , in contrast with Beowulf , which voices the Saxon's thought and feeling before the profound mystery of human life.

It is not our purpose to discuss the evident merits or the serious defects of Norman-French literature, but only to point out two facts which impress the student, namely, that Anglo-Saxon literature was at one time enormously superior to the French, and that the latter, with its evident inferiority, absolutely replaced the former.

To understand this curious phenomenon it is necessary only to remember the relative conditions of the two races who lived side by side in England. On the one hand the Anglo-Saxons were a conquered people, and without liberty a great literature is impossible.

English Literature, William J. Long

The inroads of the Danes and their own tribal wars had already destroyed much of their writings, and in their new condition of servitude they could hardly preserve what remained. The conquering Normans, on the other hand, represented the civilization of France, which country, during the early Middle Ages, was the literary and educational center of all Europe. They came to England at a time when the idea of nationality was dead, when culture had almost vanished, when Englishmen lived apart in narrow isolation; and they brought with them law, culture, the prestige of success, and above all the strong impulse to share in the great world's work and to join in the moving currents of the world's history.

Small wonder, then, that the young Anglo-Saxons felt the quickening of this new life and turned naturally to the cultured and progressive Normans as their literary models. In the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh there is a beautifully illuminated manuscript, written about , which gives us an excellent picture of the literature of the Norman period.

In examining it we are to remember that literature was in the hands of the clergy and nobles; that the common people could not read, and had only a few songs and ballads for their literary portion. We are to remember also that parchments were scarce and very expensive, and that a single manuscript often contained all the reading matter of a castle or a village. Hence this old manuscript is as suggestive as a modern library. It contains over forty distinct works, the great bulk of them being romances. There are a few other works, similarly incongruous, crowded together in this typical manuscript, which now gives mute testimony to the literary taste of the times.

Obviously it is impossible to classify such a variety. All the scholarly works of the period, like William of Malmesbury's History , and Anselm's [46] Cur Deus Homo , and Roger Bacon's Opus Majus , the beginning of modern experimental science, were written in Latin; while nearly all other works were written in French, or else were English copies or translations of French originals.

Except for the advanced student, therefore, they hardly belong to the story of English literature. We shall note here only one or two marked literary types, like the Riming Chronicle or verse history and the Metrical Romance, and a few writers whose work has especial significance. Geoffrey's Historia Regum Britanniae is noteworthy, not as literature, but rather as a source book from which many later writers drew their literary materials. Among the native Celtic tribes an immense number of legends, many of them of exquisite beauty, had been preserved through four successive conquests of Britain.

Geoffrey, a Welsh monk, collected some of these legends and, aided chiefly by his imagination, wrote a complete history of the Britons. The "History" is a curious medley of pagan and Christian legends, of chronicle, comment, and pure invention,--all recorded in minute detail and with a gravity which makes it clear that Geoffrey had no conscience, or else was a great joker.

ITS HISTORY AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE

As history the whole thing is rubbish; but it was extraordinarily successful at the time and made all who heard it, whether Normans or Saxons, proud of their own country. It is interesting to us because it gave a new direction to the literature of England by showing the wealth of poetry and romance that lay in its own traditions of Arthur and his knights.

Shakespeare's King Lear , Malory's Morte d'Arthur , and Tennyson's Idylls of the King were founded on the work of this monk, who had the genius to put unwritten Celtic tradition in the enduring form of Latin prose. Work of the French Writers. The French literature of the Norman period is interesting chiefly because of the avidity with which foreign writers seized upon the native legends and made them popular in England. Until Geoffrey's preposterous chronicle appeared, these legends had not been used to any extent as literary material.

Indeed, they were scarcely known in England, though familiar to French and Italian minstrels. Legends of Arthur and his court were probably first taken to Brittany by Welsh emigrants in the fifth and sixth centuries. They became immensely popular wherever they were told, and they were slowly carried by minstrels and story-tellers all over Europe. Geoffrey met this demand by creating an historical manuscript of Welsh history. That was enough for the age. With Geoffrey and his alleged manuscript to rest upon, the Norman-French writers were free to use the fascinating stories which had been-for centuries in the possession of their wandering minstrels.

Geoffrey's Latin history was put into French verse by Gaimar c. From about onward Arthur and Guinevere and the matchless band of Celtic heroes that we meet later in Malory's Morte d' Arthur became the permanent possession of our literature. This is the most important of the English riming chronicles, that is, history related in the form of doggerel verse, probably because poetry is more easily memorized than prose. We give here a free rendering of selected lines at the beginning of the poem, which tell us all we know of Layamon, the first who ever wrote as an Englishman for Englishmen, including in the term all who loved England and called it home, no matter where their ancestors were born.

Now there was a priest in the land named Layamon. He was son of Leovenath--may God be gracious unto him. He dwelt at Ernley, at a noble church on Severn's bank. He read many books, and it came to his mind to tell the noble deeds of the English. Then he began to journey far and wide over the land to procure noble books for authority.

Pen he took, and wrote on book-skin, and made the three books into one. Then follows the founding of the Briton kingdom, and the last third of the poem, which is over thirty thousand lines in length, is taken up with the history of Arthur and his knights. If the Brut had no merits of its own, it would still interest us, for it marks the first appearance of the Arthurian legends in our own tongue. A single selection is given here from Arthur's dying speech, familiar to us in Tennyson's Morte d'Arthur.

The reader will notice here two things: Love, chivalry, and religion, all pervaded by the spirit of romance,--these are the three great literary ideals which find expression in the metrical romances. Read these romances now, with their knights and fair ladies, their perilous adventures and tender love-making, their minstrelsy and tournaments and gorgeous cavalcades,--as if humanity were on parade, and life itself were one tumultuous holiday in the open air,--and you have an epitome of the whole childish, credulous soul of the Middle Ages. The Normans first brought this type of romance into England, and so popular did it become, so thoroughly did it express the romantic spirit of the time, that it speedily overshadowed all other forms of literary expression.

FormThough the metrical romances varied much in form and subject-matter, the general type remains the same,--a long rambling poem or series of poems treating of love or knightly adventure or both. And she is mine, and all my right of her I do estate unto Demetrius. As Lysander charges, with no self-defense whatsoever coming from the accused: As Theseus, somewhat perturbed at this, notes: He tells both Demetrius and Egeus to come with him: I must employ you in some business Against our nuptial and confer with you Of something nearly that concerns yourselves.

Theseus has worked his way out of an awkward, ridiculous, and unwanted situation, and given himself a layer of plausible deniability as a shield against any further trouble. It is through the eyes, manipulated with herbal magic, that love is changed, conjured out of nothing, and for some restored. Titania and Bottom — In the Comedy-of-Errors-style identity confusion that the plot relies on, Puck ends up squeezing the juice into the eyes of both young men, rather than merely putting Demetrius under its magic spell, and then the game is on.

Lysander, in love with Hermia at the beginning, now wakes up and finds Helena irresistible, and is filled with the urge to fight Demetrius for her love: Nature shows art, That through thy bosom makes me see thy heart. O, how fit a word Is that vile name to perish on my sword! No; I do repent The tedious minutes I with her have spent. Not Hermia but Helena I love: Who will not change a raven for a dove? The will of man is by his reason swayed; And reason says you are the worthier maid. This is especially obvious to Hermia, when Lysander explains his sudden transformation: Thus, far from being a lover like Proteus, who can find in one object the same superficial attractions he finds in any other object, Hermia is the kind of lover of whom the troubadours wrote—one who knows the beloved, and chooses, despite the trouble it may cause, love over obedience.

Neither of them appears to have any insight whatsoever, as Helena continues to chase a man who has little but contempt for her, and Demetrius—before being drugged—continues to chase a woman who wants nothing to do with him. The effect of this unfortunate sickness is to make her think herself uniquely undesirable in comparison with Hermia: Therefore no marvel though Demetrius Do, as a monster fly my presence thus.

His beloved is not, like a heavenly principality, beyond his grasp, nor would it be sullied by his touch, because his beloved is Egeus and his money. As the play makes clear, that love is most certainly requited. But under the influence of the drug, Demetrius becomes just as untrue to money as Lysander becomes to Hermia: O Helena, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine!

To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne? O, how ripe in show Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow! O, let me kiss This princess of pure white, this seal of bliss! Underneath the laughter is a dark thread of reflection on just how fragile love can be as a challenger to the claims of authority and power, when the human will can so easily be manipulated, even in those cases in which it could not be intimidated.

The next thing then she waking looks upon, […] She shall pursue it with the soul of love. Titania is released from her punishment of foolish illusion, and is shown the very ass of whom she thought she had been enamored. One man, Demetrius, is left under the influence of the drug, forced to love Helena, while at the same time, Helena is trapped in a situation in which the man she loves—for whatever inexplicably pathetic Petrarchan reasons—does not really love her. Oh certainly, he plays the part well, unbeknownst even to himself, but Demetrius does not choose Helena.

In effect, he is left under the spell of authority and obedience for the rest of his life. For thee , but not for me. A father seeks to match himself to another man, using the daughter as a medium of exchange, while a fourth element—the younger man—interferes with the planned match, aided by the enthusiastic participation of the daughter. In Romeo and Juliet , the father is Capulet, the leader of one of the two rival families in Verona.

Capulet says that she is too young: My child is yet a stranger in the world; She hath not seen the change of fourteen years, Let two more summers wither in their pride, Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride. Child betrothals and adolescent marriages are a source for scandal in the West today […] but were quite normal for much of our history. He tells the suitor to take his time, get to know Juliet, and see if something develops organically. But woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart, My will to her consent is but a part; An she agree, within her scope of choice Lies my consent and fair according voice.

Frank Dicksee, Romeo and Juliet Southampton City Art Gallery. Hang thee, young baggage!

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I tell thee what: Speak not, reply not, do not answer me; My fingers itch. Or so he thinks, as he threatens to beat his daughter for her disobedience. All the while, Juliet finds herself unable—out of fear—to tell him why she is suddenly refusing the marriage to Paris.


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  • Her stammerings further enrage Capulet, who—having reached a nearly Jehovean state of wrath—tells his daughter that she will obey, or else be thrown out with the trash: Thursday is near; lay hand on heart, advise: His daughter—who in his mind owes him obedience for her begetting, and should be to him as creation is to its god—will either obey the commandments wrapped in his titanic thundering, or she will be thrown out into the streets. A starker statement of proprietary relationship can scarcely be found. Juliet is capital, a movable good that can be used as a medium of exchange in the purchase of something lasting and valuable.

    But she is so afraid of her storming, raging father, that she would rather fake her own death than tell him the truth. His plan is practically the archetype of a cowardly and foolish brand of Machiavellian scheming: Tomorrow night look that thou lie alone; Let not thy nurse lie with thee in thy chamber: Take thou this vial, being then in bed, And this distilled liquor drink thou off; […] Each part, deprived of supple government, Shall, stiff and stark and cold, appear like death: Paris will now not be his son-in-law, since that position is already taken though by someone other than he assumes: Death is my son-in-law, Death is my heir; My daughter he hath wedded: He grieves that he has been unable to match himself with Paris, and has instead matched himself with Death to whom all are matched in the end: He has lost the one thing that mattered most to him in life—the mechanism though which he would be able to pass on his property, wealth, and inheritable legacy.

    Juliet, while valuable, is enumerated as merely a possession, now lost, among all those that will be bequeathed to Death. Romeo starts out unpromisingly, as the young man in love with Love, more Neopetrarchan than neo-troubadourian, moping, sighing and crying in a way that makes some want to reassure him and others to smack him. According to his father, Romeo spends most of his pre-dawn mornings in a competition with himself over how intensely he can grieve: With tears augmenting the fresh morning dew.

    Romeo seems unable or unwilling to imagine that his failure to attract Rosaline has anything to do with him. It must be her. Watching Juliet dance, possibly with Paris himself, Romeo is flabbergasted: O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! Did my heart love till now? Does he truly see here, and if so, what can he possibly be seeing? A beautiful girl, with every grace imaginable, dancing with another man—thus adding a hint of the adulterous, or quasi-adulterous angle of so much troubadour and trobairitz poetry—Juliet is, to this point, someone with whom he has never exchanged so much as a single word.

    What does he know of her? What can he know of her? As the scene reveals, he does not even know her name when he approaches her, and speaks to her for the first time. Romeo approaches, and begins: If I profane with my unworthiest hand This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this: My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

    Is this a stanza that Romeo has memorized, and keeps for occasions such as these? Even so respected a critic as Ralph Berry argues in this way. She then related her disappointment at the way the film departed from her reading of the play. But it is just as true now as it was then. The young lovers feel intensely that which the [sonnet] mode incites them to feel. Confronted with the image of the ideal lover, each reverts to stereotype.

    What we have here is an existential drama of sonnet-life. The world of Romeo and Juliet […] is a world of fixed relations and closed assumptions. They appear as quotations, and they speak in quotations: One begins to wonder what it is in this argument that appeals to the academic mind. Understood in this way, one also wonders why anyone would bother paying the price of admission to see this play. Kiernan Ryan, in a brilliant chapter on King Lear , addresses the reductive nature of too much critical writing about these plays, and about literature and art in general, and boils the problem down into three ingredients that are applicable to any number of other plays: The second reason is endemic to critics raring to immure [the play] in its early modern matrix: It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

    O, that she knew she were! O, that I were a glove upon that hand, That I might touch that cheek! Would unfettered patriarchy be preferable? CB [Carmelo Bene] […] subtracts something from the original piece. At long last, it becomes impossible to tell whether there is any sense of decency left in criticism, as so many of us pound a work until it threatens to die beneath our urgent bludgeoning. This entire dynamic of morally outraged criticism is wonderfully described by Ryan: One of the least appealing features of literary studies today is the smug diagnostic attitude that has swept through them like foot-and-mouth disease through a fine herd of Friesians.

    It thereby denies the plays the power not only to arraign the world in which they were first forged and the world in which we now encounter them, but also to foreshadow futures that would otherwise remain intangible. It is an approach that goes hand in hand with a scorn for close reading, a contempt for the belief that there is something special about the creative use of language and form in imaginative writing at its best that sets it apart from other kinds of discourse and gives us ways of seeing the world which no other kind of writing can deliver.

    The scene is nearly a point-by-point recreation of the alba form of the troubadour poets. The genre assumes an oppressive and tightly-controlled world of social, financial, and political power. And yet, authority fails. Love flourishes in spite of the power of the jealous husband lo gilos , as the eyes go forth to gaze and desire ill oill van vezer despite the demands of authority and obedience. The lovers, invariably adulterous, can only meet in secrecy, under cover of darkness, and they need a watchman or guard to warn them as soon as the first rays of the too-quickly rising sun appear.

    They are literary constructions—as is Romeo and Juliet —whose effect depends on their contact with lived events and emotion. However, if regarded as merely literary constructions, or the occasions for formal dramatic performances, or as self-ironizing and self-aggrandizing pieces reflecting the narcissism and misogyny of the poets, then they are just as dead as their authors.

    With friends like these, what need has poetry of enemies? Finally, what comes to mind are these lines by William Butler Yeats: All shuffle there; all cough in ink; All wear the carpet with their shoes; All think what other people think; All know the man their neighbour knows. Lord, what would they say Did their Catullus walk that way? It is an attempt to reflect, capture, transmit, and communicate at least some part of the experience or range of experiences that people have when they love, for good or ill, another than themselves in a passionate, vulnerable, sometimes possessive and insecure, and erotic way.

    It is not mere lust these poems describe. It is not mere poetic form that they rehearse. As Aileen Ann Macdonald observes: Romeo and Juliet are married, not an adulterous couple, and the jealous male here lo gilos is a father, not a husband. Consensus facit nuptias had been a principle of Roman and early canonical law […]. The church wanted a union of hearts as well as hearths, and so private vows and promises with or without consummation were understood to constitute a valid marriage, and the desponsatio betrothal became more important than the final ceremony.

    The female voice—Juliet—begins, noting and denying the coming of day: Wilt thou be gone? It was the nightingale, and not the lark, That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear; Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate-tree: Believe me, love, it was the nightingale. Romeo responds by acknowledging the light, and framing his choice between life and banishment, or love and death: It was the lark, the herald of the morn, No nightingale: I must be gone and live, or stay and die.

    These are lovers who should be together, who have every right to be together, and whom every single person in an audience wants to see together. The sense of love and unjust interference is palpable, powerful, and profound. It does not matter whether, while writing these words, Shakespeare was, or had recently been, experiencing the emotions his work evokes. Just as we depend on our art for an intensified experience of life, our art depends on us for contact with everyday reality. Art, perhaps especially narrative and dramatic art, depends on its ability to refer to and represent the lived experience of human beings in order for it to have any power at all.

    It cannot be locked away inside the structures of language, or inside a self-referentiality of techniques and formal elements from which it cannot escape. But it has not given them the strength to stand up, and openly acknowledge what they have done. Romeo still has a bit too much of the Petrarchan sonneteer about him, and despite his love for Juliet, has not yet learned to see her apart from his own poetic fantasies of the ideal love she represents to him.

    Had he only been given time, he might have grown beyond his idealizing tendencies; but time is what the play—and all its sources, from the works of Arthur Brooke, to Pierre Boaistuau, to Matteo Bandello—will not give him. Far from being a cold corpse that will suddenly reanimate, Juliet is ruddy of cheek and lip; she looks alive, and Romeo finds that puzzling: Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath, Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty: He turns back to Juliet, and asks—as if speaking to her one last time—why she looks so much like she is still alive: Ah, dear Juliet, Why art thou yet so fair?

    But Romeo, overwhelmed by a grief the like of which he has never experienced, that he can only understand through the Petrarchan and Platonic images and concepts he has not yet had time enough to master and move beyond, does not adopt the simple solution.

    In fact, it does not even occur to him. The gods let loose their wonder for the works of love, and haste to hold valour in high honor. Orpheus, son of Oeagrus, they sent away unsuccessful from Hades, showing him only the ghost of the wife he had come for, and did not deliver her true self to him. For they regarded him as soft of purpose, like a mere player and singer of songs, because he lacked the courage to die for love as Alcestis had, but sought to enter Hades alive. Eyes, look your last! Arms, take your last embrace! Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide! Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on The dashing rocks thy sea-sick weary bark!

    Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die. As she kisses him, she feels traces of life: These two never had a chance, to love, to live, even to grow up past the initial blooming of their passions and potential. It is that love itself which is regarded as deviant by the authority figures of the play, only to have the play turn the tables on them by showing them to be blind and tyrannical murderers of their own children.

    Nut-Cracking Holiday Revue will have you and yours laughing all the way through the festive season. The Second City's Nut-Cracking Holiday Revue is a terrific setting for holiday celebrations and perfect antidote to the traditional office party, a great addition to your list of holiday traditions. A Charlie Brown Christmas Dec Schulz features everyone's favorite Peanuts gang - Linus, Lucy, Snoopy, Sally and more, all led by the lovable Charlie Brown - as they discover the true meaning of Christmas.

    When Charlie Brown becomes discouraged by the materialism of the season, Lucy convinces him to direct the neighborhood Christmas play. In typical Charlie Brown fashion, things go awry when he selects a tiny fir tree for the production. It's up to Linus to save the day and remind everyone of the real message of the holiday. Enjoy this timeless story that showcases the unforgettable music of Vince Guaraldi performed by a three-piece ensemble on stage at the Rosemont Theatre.

    Into the Woods Dec 22 - Dec 31, Music Theater Works at Cahn Auditorium. Into the Woods works its considerable magic through his exhilarating ryhmes and occasionally grim wisdom. The story follows a Baker and his wife, who wish to have a child; Cinderella, who wishes to attend the King's Festival; and Jack, who wishes his cow would give milk.

    When the Baker and his wife learn that they cannot have a child because of a Witch's curse, the two set off on a journey to break the curse. Everyone's wish is granted, but the consequences of their actions return to haunt them later with disastrous results in this production at the Cahn Auditorium. Burning Bluebeard Dec 26 - Dec 31, The Ruffians at Neo-Futurists. But this time, they hope to finally reach the true happy ending of their second act and avoid the fateful fire that killed of its audience members.

    Each performance is a vaudevillian delight with a story that excavates the poetic and poignant remains of a piece of Chicago's rich history. Harlem Globetrotters Dec 27 - Dec 28, Allstate Arena and United Center. With their amazing athletic, acrobatic and clowning skills, the team of insanely talented men and women known as the Harlem Globetrotters is sort of like the greatest circus troupe you've ever seen -- but with way more slam dunks. And Hi-Lite, Too Tall, Scooter, Hoops and the others know how to do more than just shoot hoops -- they'll wow you with ball-handling wizardry, rim-rattling jams and four-pointers shot from 30 feet away, not to mention their clever comedy bits.

    The 'Trotters have been one of the best live shows around for more than 90 years and count Henry Kissinger, Whoopi Goldberg and Pope Francis as honorary members -- though you probably won't see that trio making any under-the-knee passes on this World Tour. But they are making a stop at the Allstate Arena and United Center to play their long-suffering foes At Allstate Arena on Dec At United Center on Dec Pegasus Theatre at Chicago Dramatists. Celebrate the 32nd year of plays written by Chicago teens and experience an evening of new works exploring identity and community.

    Young Playwrights Festival is the only event of its kind in Chicago and is the second largest in the country. Showcasing three one-act plays, the festival includes A Green Light by Alexis Gaw, in which a teen comes out and encounters homophobia; Fragile Limbs by Anonda Tyler, which tells of a teenage boy struggling with loss; and Good Strong Coffee by Luna MacWilliams, which finds two characters juggling their own dreams and desires while trying to keep the family coffee shop afloat. Fuente Ovejuna Jan 4 - Feb 17, In the play, a young woman of that Spanish village inspires and leads a rebellion against their military governor's sexual exploitation of its women.

    Laurencia refuses to be a victim when she is attacked and rallies the town to finally do something about the oppression that has gone on too long. Interrobang Theatre Project at Rivendell Theatre. A car bomb rocks the peaceful city and leaves the Arab-Swedish Amor on guard and on edge. But he doesn't have time to let his fear get the best of him; he's got places to be.

    As Amor attempts to run his errand and grapple with his own anxieties, we follow him through a fraught 24 hours, cautiously navigating the city he calls home. Balancing paranoia and humor, Jonas Khemiri's nuanced account dares us to question our own perceptions and prejudices, while offering a singular and harrowing take on the labyrinth of global identity politics. Boy Gets Girl Jan 5 - Jan 27, An examination of the world a stalker's victim, Boy Gets Girl is a haunting, thought-provoking, drama meant to shake viewers to their core. Theresa, a hardworking magazine journalist, falls into a sinister game of cat-and-mouse after she goes on a blind date with the unassuming Tony.

    What seems harmless and trivial at first evolves into an obsession, and Theresa can feel Tony closing in on every aspect of her life. Paranoia, frustration, and the crippling fear of imminent peril clings to Theresa's coattails as she must navigate through the former shell of her once well-controlled existence. Ripe with themes of sexism and self-examination, Boy Gets Girl challenges the traditional conventions of romantic pursuit.

    As a son of Poseidon, Percy Jackson has newly discovered powers he can't control, monsters on his trail, and is on a quest to find Zeus' lightning bolt to prevent a war between the Greek gods. Cardboard Piano Jan 9 - Mar 17, A hopeful and moving story of loss, love, and the power of faith. At the dawn of the millennium in a darkened church in northern Uganda, the daughter of American missionaries and a local teenage girl prepare to exchange vows in a secret, makeshift wedding ceremony.

    But when the brutality of the war zone around them encroaches on their fragile union, the two are faced with a reality they cannot escape. Nicholas Jan 9 - Jan 27, When a jaded Dublin theater critic abandons his ordinary life in pursuit of a beautiful young actress, his desires lead him to strike an irreversible bargain with a band of modern-day vampires. Olivier Award-winner Brendan Coyle "Mr. A limited engagement direct from London's internationally renowned Donmar Warehouse. The Realistic Joneses Jan 10 - Mar 9, Shattered Globe Theatre at Theater Wit.

    A bucolic evening, which begins in a suburban backyard, evolves into a funny, intimate and profound meditation on life. The four Joneses attempt to muddle through the strange and amazing moments of each day knowing that "talking with someone can make you feel better," but fearing that actual communication may elude them in the end.

    About Face Theatre at Theater Wit. This funny and sexy play introduces two gay couples and their circle of friends who have ventured into the world of modern day parenting. As friendships deepen and vulnerabilities get exposed, the foundation of family and commitment are shaken. With same sex marriage the law of the land Pride Arts Center - The Broadway. Inspired by the secret coded diaries of Yorkshire gentlewoman Anne Lister, this play subverts all the conventions of a Regency romance. Teasing out the entangled lives of Lister nicknamed "Gentleman Jack" and three of her many lovers, I Know My Own Heart explores the different choices women made in a time of limits and prohibitions.

    Broadway Stage in Chicago. It just wouldn't stay dead. Black Button Eyes Productions brings this loving musical parody of Sam Raimi's classic Evil Dead films back to the city for its Chicago storefront premiere! When a group of fresh-faced college kids go to a cabin in the woods for spring break, it's only a matter of time before spells are spoken and demonic possession begins.

    Take in the horror and hilarity in the gritty storefront setting where this show belongs! Little Women the Musical Jan 11 - Feb 9, Brown Paper Box Co. Celebrating its th year since publication, the timeless story of the March sisters is brought to life in this Broadway chamber musical filled with personal discovery, heartache, hope, and love. Jo is trying to sell her stories for publication, but the publishers are not interested. Her friend, Professor Bhaer, tells her that she has to write more from her own point of view and life experience.

    Begrudgingly taking this advice, Jo weaves the story of her sisters and their experiences growing up in Concord, Massachusetts during the American Civil War. Under The Gun Theater. A hapless narrator stumbles onto the stage and discovers a storybook with no text inside!

    The piano player gets a text message that none of the actors are coming to perform today! The solution to this conundrum is to have the children in the audience volunteer to come on stage and make up a character in The Greatest Story Never Told! Along with "The Greatest Interns," the kids throw on silly costumes and improvise scenes and songs for a story inspired by audience suggestions. After the show, designers collaborate and transform the improvised story into a purchasable digital and physical storybook.

    Million Dollar Quartet Jan 16 - Mar 10, Marriott Theatre In Lincolnshire. Photograph 51 Jan 17 - Feb 17, History may well remember the work of Watson and Crick that shaped biology, but it was British chemist Rosalind Franklin who provided the key to the double helix DNA discovery. Photograph 51 shares the complex story of an ambitious female scientist in a world of men, her pursuit for the secret of life, and her forgotten accomplishments.

    In the romantic farce Don't Dress For Dinner, Bernard is planning a romantic weekend with his chic Parisian mistress in his charming converted French farmhouse, whilst his wife, Jacqueline, is away. He has arranged for a cordon bleu cook to prepare gourmet delights, and has invited his best friend, Robert, along too to provide the alibi. It's foolproof -- what could possibly go wrong?

    Suppose Robert turns up not realizing quite why he has been invited. Suppose Robert and Jacqueline are secret lovers, and consequently determined that Jacqueline will NOT leave for the weekend. Suppose the cook has to pretend to be the mistress and the mistress is unable to cook. Suppose everyone's alibi gets confused with everyone else's. Set in a highly competitive architecture firm, What We're Up Against takes an explosive look at the complicated battle of the sexes raging across Cubicle Land. A funny yet insightful view of what it means to be female in a male-dominated career and one woman's response when she tires of slamming into the glass ceiling.

    English Literature, William J. Long

    Swamp Baby Jan 18 - Mar 3, Armand Aubigny, once a wealthy plantation owner, attempts to reclaim his upper-class birthright by presenting the green-skinned Swamp Baby at the World's Fair. Swamp Baby learns the secret of her unique appearance and uses her knowledge to trap Armand forever in the world of the freak. Exploitation and revenge are at the core of this fantastical tale. A young writer's life turns upside down when her girlfriend drops some unexpected news.

    Fifty years later, four artists feel the reverberations of that moment-and its unexpected consequences-as their lives intersect in pursuit of creative passion and legacy. In this bold, imaginative work, Christina Anderson dissects the universal act of creation to inspire the dreamers and idealists in us all. Kinky Boots Jan 22 - Jan 27, Kinky Boots returns to Chicago! In Kinky Boots, Charlie Price is forced to step in and save his family's shoe factory in Northern England, following the sudden death of his father. Help comes from the unlikeliest angel, a fabulous drag performer named Lola.

    Together, this improbable duo revitalizes the failing business, while stepping out from their fathers' shadows and transforming an entire community through the power of acceptance. Don't miss Kinky Boots in Chicago. Chicago Children's Theatre at The Station. Beslan, Russia, September Chechen separatists storm a school, taking hundreds of children hostage in a deadly three-day siege.

    What unfolds onstage is not a recounting of the tragedy, but rather a stunning, intricately choreographed exploration of the unique way that young people cope with disaster, told through the clear eyes of a girl and a boy trapped inside. Four Women Jan 24 - Mar 2, In the aftermath of 's 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, Nina Simone rocked the nation with "Four Women," her tribute in song to the four little girls lost in the tragedy.

    Simone's lasting legacy in this provocative and personal musical journey. Embark on a quest with Mickey Mouse and pals as they follow Captain Hook's treasure map for clues to find Tinker Bell after he attempts to capture her magic. Journey across the Marigold Bridge with Miguel from Disney Pixar's Coco into the magnificent and mystical Land of the Dead and discover a vibrantly colorful performance with skeletons atop sway poles dancing over the audience in a beautiful cultural celebration of family. Travel to the wintry world of Arendelle and sing along with Elsa as video projection creates a kaleidoscope of crystals to help build her ice palace.

    Witness Belle lift into the sky as the enchanted chandelier comes to life high over the ice for onlookers seated above and below. Demonstrate the power of teamwork when Buzz Lightyear, Woody and Jessie recruit the Green Army Men and the audience for a daring rescue in Andy's room. Board the Jolly Roger and laugh hysterically as the hilarious pirates flip, tumble, and twist on air tracks, stilts and more in an effort to showcase their talents for Captain Hook. Sail away with Moana on her daring voyage across the ocean and bravely encounter the fiery wrath of Te Ka.

    And make memories with your whole family during Aladdin and The Little Mermaid as the search party becomes an all-out celebration. Feb 7 - Feb Red Rex Jan 24 - Mar 2, A small theater company moves into an abandoned Chicago storefront. Led by their adventurously thirsty artistic director, they embark on an explosive new play with the hope of finally breaking it big. When the ensemble realizes their source material might not be as original as once assumed, they are thrust into an intense confrontation with residents of their new community, who not only want them out, but will take their story back by any means necessary.

    All the while, Monty has to juggle his mistress she's after more than just love , his fiancee she's his cousin but who's keeping track? Of course, it will all be worth it if he can slay his way to his inheritance Here's a show that will have you dying with laughter which the The New York Times called "Among the most inspired and entertaining new musicals.

    The Father Jan 31 - Mar 3, Remy Bumppo Theatre at Theater Wit. Directed by Kay Martinovich and featuring Core Ensemble Members David Darlow and Linda Gillum, Florian Zeller's tragi-comic mystery is a deeply poignant, unsentimental look at the cruelties of love, the limits of patience and the unsettling process of mental decay. Fulfillment Center Jan 31 - Mar 24, A Red Orchid Theatre. In the New Mexico desert, a down-on-her-luck folk singer takes a job at a giant retailer's shipping center. Her young manager struggles to connect with his newly relocated girlfriend.

    A drifter living at a local campground dangerously links them all. Four lonely lives come together in the search for fulfillment in this raw, surprising and funny Chicago premiere. As a door slams in Norway, a young wife and mother leaves behind her family, freeing herself from the shackles of traditional societal constraints.

    Now, 15 years later, that same door opens to reveal Nora, a changed woman with an incredibly awkward favor to ask the people who she abandoned. Lucas Hnath's bitingly funny sequel to Ibsen's revolutionary masterpiece unfolds in a series of bristling stand-offs that reveal in Nora's world, much like our own, behind every opinion there is a person, and a slamming door isn't just an end, but also the chance for a new beginning. The Mousetrap Jan 31 - Mar 16, The longest-running play in London's West End and one of the best mysteries ever written for the stage.

    A group of strangers become stranded in an English country boarding house, cut off by a sudden snow storm. They soon discover, to their horror, that there is a murderer in their midst. The suspects include the newly married couple who run the house, a young architect, a retired Army major, a strange foreigner, an aloof traveller from abroad, and a disapproving guest. A policeman arrives at the house and begins to uncover the rationale of the murderer's pattern, questioning the background of everyone present. As information is revealed, legendary mystery writer Agatha Christie keeps you guessing until her signature final twist.

    Pipeline Feb 1 - Mar 3, Victory Gardens Theater - Biograph. Nya, an inner-city public high school teacher, is committed to her students but desperate to give her only son, Omari, opportunities her students will never have. When a controversial incident at his private school threatens to get him expelled, Nya must confront his rage and her own choices as a parent. But will she be able to reach him before a world beyond her control pulls him away? With profound compassion and poetry, Dominique Morisseau's Skeleton Crew, Detroit 66, and the Broadway-bound Ain't Too Proud to Beg Pipeline brings to light a powerful and important conversation about parenthood, the state of our public school system, and the prison pipeline that claims so many of our inner city youth.

    Unemployed and fresh from an abusive marriage, Halo steps into a gym one day and signs up for mixed martial arts lessons. Her family thinks it's ridiculous. Her trainer thinks she's soft. But none of them know the anger that fuels her ambition. When it's rage that brought you into the cage, are you really ready to see what winning looks like? On Clover Road Feb 1 - Mar 16, American Blues Theater at Stage At an abandoned motel on a desolate American road, a mother meets with a cult deprogrammer, believing she will be reunited with her runaway daughter.

    The Roommate Feb 1 - Mar 3, Sharon, in her mid-fifties, is recently divorced and needs a roommate to share her Iowa home. Robyn, also in her mid-fifties, needs a place to hide and a chance to start over.