It Ends With Us

It is safe to say that I was not prepared for what Colleen Hoover would give me when I picked up this book.

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It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
Published by Atria Books on August 2nd, 2016
Genres: Romance, Heartbreak, Motherhood, Identity, Friends, Trauma
Pages: 384
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barns&Noble

Final Review:  3.5 out of 5 ★★★☆☆


I am having a tough time rating this. On the one hand, I enjoyed it. Definitely worth the 4 stars, but I wasn’t IN LOVE WITH IT. But on the other hand, there were some definite over-cliched troupes involved and while I bawled (I’ll get to that later), I wasn’t fully satisfied. So maybe I’d actually rate this 3.75 out of 5? Can I do that?

Anyway, I do think Hoover was successful in some things. For starters, this is the first book that has made me cry–and I’m talking ugly cry, sobbing, maybe going to throw up it hurts so much type of crying–in a long ass time. I was thoroughly upset pretty much at the halfway point through the rest. So clearly, Hoover is excellent at building characters that you just cannot help but feel something for. I wasn’t even aware that I had latched on to Lily and was feeling personally victimized for her until it was already happening. In fact, I was worried I wouldn’t feel anything because it had been a while since I read a Nicolas Sparks-esque book and I thought there wouldn’t be much depth. Boy, was I wrong.

Lily is both a flat and a deep character at the same time. What I mean by this is she is exactly what you would expect of a woman in this type of novel; she is charming but also broken; she is working on making her own life better while running away from demons of her past. Her background is pretty self-explanatory and to be expected, and while I accept and agree with this, there is still something about her I can’t put my finger on that marks her as special. You really are rooting for her to win because maybe you see a little bit of yourself in her, perhaps not her whole story, but just a large-enough snippet that you feel yourself going through similar emotions and tribulations.

This is also what Hoover is successful at making her characters, setting, plot all seem real. For some reason, and I’ve only read a few, the Nicolas Sparks books seem to have a slight air of ridiculousness, not necessarily in a bad way, but in order to captivate the reader, there are a lot of poetic justices being made. I was expected some of the same in Hoover’s writing, and while some of it is there, for the most part, I felt like Lily could be my friend or next door neighbor, and I was almost witnessing her pain as a present bystander. Some of her development is a little silly: Lily Bloom being her full name is just too much, the fact that her first employee is not only a bored millionaire house-wife but also Ryle’s sister. These things are definitely over-the-top and fringing on ridiculous coincidences that I cannot actually see happening. But other than that, her life is touching: she is more caring than her parents combined, she is a child of an abusive home, she also finds herself in a similar situation to her mother–these things could and do happen.

Now for some spoilers so if you want to remain innocent, avert your eyes.

I think what is stopping me from giving this book a full 5 (or even a full 4 stars if we’re going with the 3.75 stars) is two things. The first: Lily’s pregnancy.

What can I say about this? First, I didn’t see it coming so bravo Hoover on that, but once it happened I realized “duh, of course this would happen. This is that type of book.” Which is fine! But I think that for a book that so far had been so empowering (standing up for yourself, the honest struggles of a physically abusive relationship, etc.) could have gone one step further and Lily could have had an abortion. She didn’t even think about it. When she finds out she’s pregnant with Ryle’s baby, she has already forced him out of her home for abusing her (go Lily!) and yet, it being near the end of 2016 when this book comes out, I would have thought–or at least liked to see–Lily have the serious conversation with herself about motherhood. I think even just discussing the option of an abortion already shows her being even more empowering–even if she decides against it. She finally gets her shit together enough to kick Ryle out, but there is no question about having his baby? She just accepts fate? That doesn’t seem so empowering anymore. Of course, I don’t know anything about Hoover and whether or not she is pro-choice, but I am and I want to see more of that displayed in these female-empowered books. If she really wants her readers–young women like myself who could or have been going through the same situations–present them with all the same options. Even if your character does not opt for the surgery, at least have her mention it as an idea. She lives in Boston! It’s not Utah.

Secondly, I wasn’t satisfied guys. Maybe that’s the point; as the onlooker I want Lily and Atlas to end up together and *spoiler* they kind of do. I’m saying “kind of” here because we don’t really know since the novel ends soon after they are reunited–again–after the birth of Lily and Ryle’s kid, but it all seems… rushed. After Lily has dropped over her child with Ryle, she runs back to meet Atlas who she has just passed on the street a second prior. They chat for a few seconds and then dive right into the tough questions (Does Atlas donate to charity and want kids?) and then they’re off. They finally get together and are awarded barely a page? I would have loved to see what happened in the epilogue happen in the last chapter, and then have the epilogue be a time jump to when we could actually see Atlas and Lily finally together, maybe they have a child together already and Ryle is happy and their daughter is happy. I get that this is probably for effect: it would be unlike her (at least to my understanding since this is the first book I’ve read by her) to tie everything up cleanly and nicely at the end. But can’t a girl dream?

“In the future…if by some miracle you ever find yourself in the position to fall in love again… fall in love with me.” (Atlas to Lily, 309)

Overall, if you are a fan of a book that makes you sob and want to throw it but that could also easily be read in a day, then go ahead and grab the tissues. I do have another Hoover book on my list, Without Merit, but I don’t think it’s going to be one I pick up right away. I need to wait these emotions out for a second.

 

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Hunting Prince Dracula

I know I’m kind of late in the game, seeing as Escaping from Houdini is coming out this year (September, guys!), but I’m obsessed. I loved Stalking Jack the Ripper and this sequel is no exception.

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Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco
Published by Jimmy Patterson on September 19th, 2017
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Science, Death, Feministic, Thriller
Pages: 448
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barns&Noble

Final Review:  5 out of 5 ★★★★★


It’s strange, though, how weird and difficult it is to write a review for a sequel. I loved the first one, and I loved the second one, and I’m probably totally going to love the third too! So to not just rant about nothing, this “review” will probably be short and I’m going to discuss what I think makes Maniscalco’s stories so successful.

I’m hoping that since you’re here, you’ve either read the first one, or you’re lost. Either way, I will need to discuss some potential spoilers of the first novel. Audrey Rose and Thomas have successfully cracked the Jack the Ripper case, though it wounded Audrey Rose more than she is willing to admit, seeing as her brother was the serial murderer. Audrey Rose’s life has already been difficult: her father’s health is failing, her mother has already passed, and she’s too much of a modern woman for her time since Audrey Rose would rather be elbows deep in a cadaver than a tea party. When the first novel comes to a close, Audrey Rose and Thomas are invited to attend a prestigious science academy in Romania and here we begin the sequel.

First, how is Maniscalco’s writing so dreamy when talking about such macabre topics? I don’t really have an answer for this, or even a direct quote I’m thinking of, but just overall Maniscalco is extremely triumphant in this accomplishment. These two stories, Hunting Prince Dracula in particular since it is fresher in my mind, are a perfect combination of horror, thriller, romance, cheekiness, and excitement. They feature gruesomely beautiful scenes (I’m picturing here the ending which is way too important for me to spoil) filled with blood and gore, and yet Audrey Rose still shines. I want to stress that these scenes are perfectly balanced–they are not too creepy that suddenly this book is an actual horror tale, nor are they too bland that the reader does not get a full picture in their mind’s eye.

If romance wasn’t a distraction we could ill afford, I’d live in the rush of this moment for all eternity. (346)

Moving right along to probably the best part of the book, and it overlaps with the writing, is Thomas and Audrey Rose’s relationship. *Insert swoon here*. I cannot handle them; they are too cute. The best part is that Maniscalco does not sacrifice their love for the story. Generally, when two people finally get together at the end of the first book, something always happens to them in the sequel: someone leaves unexpectedly, they break up horribly, someone else is involved, etc. So I was expecting the same to happen between Thomas and Audrey Rose, but *slight spoiler I guess?* it doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, there are some tumultuous times between the two, but this only shows their relationship as more real and the slow process it takes to open up and trust another person with your secrets and life.

His eyes fluttered shut, and the desire I’d seen in them was enough to undo me right there. I lifted my face, allowing the slightest, briefest contact between our lips. It was nothing more than a shadow of a kiss, but it ignited a fire throughout my body. (345)

I mean, seeerrrriiouuussllly, Maniscalco. It’s just not fair! We’re three-fourths of the way done with the book and here we finally have Thomas and Audrey Rose ALMOST, BARELY kissing. Don’t worry Audrey Rose, you two ignite a fire throughout my body too. Maniscalco has perfected here the patience one needs to sustain a true romance throughout a series. Unlike a novel where the main focus is romance and the two characters immediately date or begin other nefarious activities right in the second chapter, Maniscalco makes us wait, just as she is making Thomas wait for Audrey Rose. This series is definitely about their relationship, but it is not what it is solely about. In fact, even throughout their travels and secret meetings to almost kiss in the hallway, Maniscalco is still writing a feminist text. Audrey Rose should not be about to kiss Thomas secretly in the hallway, she shouldn’t even be at this academy, let alone in Romania. If it were up to society, she would be needle-pointing and hosting parties or, better yet, already married off. And while the setting is two hundred years earlier, the message still rings true as women in our 2018 still battle a patriarchal dominance. We are supposed to be doing things, according to society, and, like Audrey Rose, we are pushing against them constantly. And her relationship with Thomas is no exception; just because she has found (and I’d like to hope) the man of her dreams, does not mean she is giving up on her other ones, nor would Thomas let her:

“You are yours to give.” (422)

Overall? I loved this. Why wouldn’t I? Maniscalco is an excellent reminder and example of YA that actually gives something back to the reader, other than a wondrous experience. If you enjoyed Stalking Jack the Ripper, or even just kind of enjoyed it, definitely give this sequel a chance. I know that I am going to preorder Escaping from Houdini right now.

Grad Conference Speech: Shakespeare’s Adaptations and Storytelling

*I was invited to speak at the Spring 2018 St. John’s University Graduate English Conference a week or so ago and I figured I should post my speech. I talked about my other WordPress site (I have many, actually) which is an archive for Shakespeare adaptations.*

As English students and scholars, we are certainly familiar with Shakespeare’s works as he is considered one of the most epic storytellers of all time. More than 400 years later, the reach of his tales continues growing. Today, I want to showcase a project I created for a class from the Fall 2017 semester. In this Digital Literature class, we discussed the importance of an archival collection of works from specific writers no longer with us. While Shakespeare’s works are easily available online and in bookstores around the world, I decided to look closer at another aspect of storytelling: modern film. His stories are required readings throughout middle school, high school, and university classrooms, but how many of these teachers implement the film adaptations into their coursework? As we move further into a digital world, the importance of translating his works into film grows greater, which is why I saw a need for an adaptation archive, for something that can be easily accessed by students, teachers, and Shakespeare lovers alike. 

For my archive, I desired something user-friendly and attractive. Focusing on clean lines and simple fonts allows the plays to take center stage. While you can explore on your own, I just want to point out that I found at least one adaptation or filmed production for each play, though some were certainly harder than others. I include a short summary of the play as well as links to where the explorer can find the video to watch or download—legally, of course! It would take much longer than fifteen minutes for me to discuss each play, so for this presentation, I want to perform a close reading of A Midsummer Night’s Dream alongside the 1999 production, titled the same, directed by Michael Hoffman to portray how film can be crucial in understanding the characters, setting, and ultimately the story.

First, out of the three adaptations I provided on the A Midsummer Night’s Dream page, this film is definitely the most traditional. Hoffman sets the play in a Tuscany village and begins the movie with a message that the bicycle has just been invented, all which can further convey how timeless this play truly is. Continuing on, each character is more or less exactly as the reader would imagine them—Helena is disheveled and crazy-eyed, Titania is dripping in glitter and gauze, and Theseus and his men fox hunt and wear stuffy suits. There are many scenes and characters I could focus on, but for brevity, I want to discuss the often loved, but equally often forgotten character: Nick Bottom.

His role in the original play, I believe, is to provide comedic relief as the play-within-the-play unfolds. Unlike the main characters, the troupe of actors isn’t given much time in front of the audience, and Bottom is no exception, which is why I found it odd that the 1999 adaptation gives more screen time to Bottom than I have ever seen.

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When the audience first sees Bottom, played by actor Kevin Kline, he is how I have imagined him: sitting at a cafe table, wearing a bright, white suit and hat, clearly set apart from the other people around him in the market. The image I provide here is when he sees a different attractive woman and gives her his signature smile, right before needing to dip into a storefront to escape his wife’s gaze, who has come to the market in search of him. Instantly, we have an image of Bottom’s home life which is something we do not get in the original play. Instead of leaving Bottom as a comedic character, Hoffman gives him a wife who is annoyed with his constant cheating and dreaming, which in turn provides depth to the Bottom we thought we knew.

Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 8.12.19 PM.pngAfter he successfully hides from her, he then meets with his circle of players, one of whom is Academy Award winner, Sam Rockwell, who plays Thisbe, and once again we see the original Bottom in his interactions with his friends:

Bottom: What is Pyramus, a lover or a tyrant?

Quince: A lover that kills himself most gallantly for love.

Bottom: That will ask some tears in the true performing of it. If I do it, let the audience look to their eyes: I will move storms; I will condole in some measure. (1.2.18-22)

Further down, he continues trying to take over each part, forever playing the arrogant actor:

Bottom: An I may hid my face, let me play Thisbe too. I’ll speak in a monstrous little voice. ‘Thisne, Thisne!’ (1.2.44-45)

Bottom: Let me play the lion too: I will roar that I will do any man’s heart good to hear me. I will roar that I will make the duke say ‘Let him roar again, let him roar again.’ (1.2.62-64).

What isn’t portrayed in the play, however, is after Bottom roars ridiculously for the people in the town square, some children from above pour wine over him, ruining his white suit, and letting everyone have a laugh. While this seems to be a traditional reading of Bottom’s role in the play, that of a person for comedic relief, this production potentially makes the watcher feel sorry for him. Furthermore, after this scene, Bottom returns home and with no dialogue, we see him take off his ruined suit jacket after sneaking past his wife, but when she comes into their room, she crosses her arms and looks at him with disdain before shaking her head and walking off. Bottom, meanwhile, gave her a nervous laugh about the drenched suit, perhaps desiring to start a conversation, but their relationship is loveless. With this scene, we are given more layers to Bottom’s character than what is provided in the play.

What complicates Bottom further, after having seen him with his wife, is when Bottom’s head becomes that of an ass and Queen Titania becomes enamored with him.

Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 9.07.12 PM.png The audience has already seen that Bottom has different interactions with women: first, he’s a flirt as we’ve seen in the clip. Second, the woman he’s married to potentially doesn’t love him, or at the very least is tired of his antics and constant dreaming, so when he is doted on by Titania, he, perhaps, is finally feeling a truer love. Even though Titania’s love is false to her, Bottom does not know this and while he is hesitant to comply when she says “I do love thee: therefore, go with me” in Act 3, Scene 1, why wouldn’t he attend to her bower? This may be the first time a woman has told him that she loves him. Throughout their scenes together, Bottom is certainly still traditional as in he is funny and slightly overbearing, but Hoffman’s previous scenes complicate his character, making the audience feel a wider range of emotions towards him than by simply reading the play.

Of course, their relationship was never meant to last. After having Puck fix the two pairs of lovers, Oberon fixes Titania by dropping the antidote on her sleeping eyes so she no longer lusts after Bottom. Bottom then gets thrown roughly out of the fairy world, and awakens in a field where he performs the monologue in Act 4. Looking closely at the lines, we see Bottom trying to make sense of what he had, and then lost, from what he thinks is a dream: “Man is but an ass, if he go about to expound this dream. Methought I was — there is no man can tell what. Methought I was — and methought I had — but man is but a patched fool if he will offer to say what methought I had” (4.1.207-10). He cannot comprehend what he found in Titania and Kline portrays Bottom’s confusion, and ultimately his sadness, when he wakes up in the field alone. While Bottom is sad here, as he stumbles back towards town, his life of humiliation is perhaps over when the other actors, his friends, run to greet him as he returns, actually excited to see him, which contrasts the rolling of their eyes and annoyance they felt towards him in the earlier scenes.Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 9.43.01 PM.png

To further prove that Hoffman makes Bottom a primary star is that he adds two more scenes that have no dialogue and serve no purpose other than to showcase Bottom’s deeper emotions. When the acting crew arrives at Theseus’ manor to present themselves as performers on the wedding day, Bottom notices a statue of what the audience assumes is Titania. In the play, after waking up in the field, Bottom believes everything was a rare dream and the story continues on, but by including this quick scene here, Hoffman shows us Bottom’s perplexity towards what really happened between him and the Fairy Queen. Was she real? Was their relationship real? Can he ever truly feel loved?

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Then, in the ending scene, before Puck gives his final monologue, Hoffman shows Bottom wistfully glancing out the window where fireflies, or supposed faeries, dance outside. This scene leaves me wondering what is Bottom thinking? How has he changed since the beginning of the movie? Is he aware of this change?

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The common consensus on Nick Bottom’s role in this play is to make us laugh and while there are surely countless scholars that read deeper into Bottom’s character, I believe it is safe to say that Bottom is our guilty pleasure, the character we can laugh at and remember once the play concludes. And what is fascinating about film, and this particular film, is that Hoffman leaves us with more to think about in regards to Bottom. Sure, he is still a guilty pleasure character, we laugh at and with him throughout the movie just like we do while reading the play, but we are also left with further thoughts and emotions towards him. This is significant as we continue transforming Shakespeare’s works into modern film: how are the directors, actors, set-designers, producers, and all other members that make the movies going to change, complicate, or beautify these works?

While I hope my presentation has portrayed an interesting close-reading of Bottom’s character alongside the film adaptation of him, my point, however, is not to prove that Bottom necessarily has to be a simple or complicated character. Instead, I have strived to show you that film adaptations can change our original assumptions and images of each character–for better or worse. A Slate Magazine piece written just a few months after the release of Hoffman’s movie has author David Edelstein ranting about the mutilation of Shakespeare’s play, specifically pointing out certain scenes that I have mentioned as a display of “the ass’s head materializing on the director.” What I did not have time to discuss were the other two adaptations I’ve provided for this play on my archive. The one, a teen drama, Get Over It, loosely puts this play into the hands of teenagers much like 10 Things I Hate About You. The other, Were the World Mine, flips the genders of some of the characters and places Timothy, a gay teenager in an all-boys school, as Oberon, therefore giving him the power to control his classmates love interests. The collection of films here, and many more to come, are the example of how Shakespeare’s stories have permeated throughout our history–they are not going anywhere. Instead, we are recrafting his stories, his characters into the modern world, giving them new life and expanding their telling power.

The Wrath & the Dawn

These last reviews I’ve posted have been read in chronological order (I started with The Cruel Prince, went to Everless, and finished with The Wrath & the Dawn) and have increased in likability too.

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The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
Published by Speak on (reprint edition) April 5th, 2016
Genres: Romance, Power, Identity, Family, Royalty, Supernatural, Feministic
Pages: 432
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review:  4.5 out of 5 ★★★★☆


I hesitate to just go ahead and give this book five out of five and I’m not really sure where the hesitation comes from. To put it plainly, I enjoyed this book much more than certain others I’ve read lately, so wouldn’t this warrant a full five stars? I’ll begin by categorizing this book–or at least attempting to.

It would be hard to say that this book is YA. It’s not not YA, but it’s also not really YA. I’ll explain. The romance aspects of it seem a little cheeky and young-ish (in the sense that sex scenes aren’t drawn out, there aren’t any blatant “adult” topics, etc.), but then at the same time, it just doesn’t seem to fit that category for me. There aren’t really any super supernatural aspects that would make me think of the common fantastical YA, but I suppose, regardless of plot, the content does sort of remind me of Sara J. Maas’ work (yet again! Why do I compare everything to her? Ugh I love you, Sara) so perhaps, after all, it does fit in a YA shelf.

The best part of this book, while obvious, is the protagonist. I know this sounds simple, but really sometimes I hate the protagonist and wish he/she were written differently. But Shahrzad (or Shazi) is exceptional.

“It’s never been a question of who is going to let me behave a certain way; it’s alwasy been a question of who is going to stop me” (page 99).

She reminds me of an Asian rendition of Juliet, of course in the way that I read Juliet. She is super strong-willed, somewhat loyal to her family, but more so loyal to herself, and ultimately is determined. Shazi has volunteered to marry the boy-king who murders his new bride every sunrise. Why would she set out for a suicide mission? Because her best friend was chosen to become a bride and then was subsequently murdered the next morning and Shazi is out for revenge. Of course, nothing in the romance world is ever that easy and what if Shazi begins to develop feelings for the boy-king, Khalid? He spares her for many mornings in a row and their relationship deepens and blooms. But if Shazi is supposed to be a flower, she is a rose with many thorns. She does not take kindly to be treated traditionally and is openly “disobedient” towards her patriarch. She shoots bow and arrow, walks through the palace where she isn’t welcomed, and makes her presence known. She is a full affront to the traditional wifely duties and I love her for it. I want to be her when I grow up.

What some people might not like is (SPOILERS!) she does fall in love with Khalid. Can this really be a feministic text if the women falls for the man? OF COURSE! Sometimes, I believe that we forget that women can be both: Strong and dissident, but also in love. Those two don’t need to be separate and just because she develops feeling for Khalid, does not mean her strong and overbearing personality disappears, in fact, this is probably why Khalid loves her right back. She is the holder of their relationship, whether Khalid believes it or not.

Furthermore, the text discusses love in such different matters than I’ve generally seen in YA. By submitting herself to the will and marriage to Khalid, Shazi leaves behind her family and childhood friend, Tariq, who loves her deeply as well (Shazi is so great, she has two awesome dudes vying for her time). But besides that, Tariq and Shazi have to deal with the different version of love that arises:

“It is not a difficult question. It is a very simple one. The difficulty lies in the answer. Why do you love her?” (page 295).

The way I love my current boyfriend is not the same as how I loved my past boyfriend or the one before that. It’s not the same as I love my best friend or the hot dude on my favorite basketball team. And instead of simplifying love into one umbrella category (romance at its finest), Ahdieh forces us to look at love at different angles and question our own definitions of love and I think that this is something special that sets this book apart.

Overall? If you want a feisty, female protagonist but also a heartfelt romance, The Wrath & the Dawn is definitely for you. I will be picking up the sequel at some point, once I finish more of my TBR pile.

Senior Thesis: A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Rated “S&M” for Mature

*This is my Bachelor’s thesis, which I used to not only complete my first degree but as writing examples to get into graduate school.*

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Rated “S&M” for Mature

Shakespeare seldom paints a happy picture when it comes to romance, and his conception of love can seem slight and superficial throughout his work. Young lovers commit suicide in hopes of staying together eternally; relationships either end in triumph or dismally. Instead of portraying characters who embody true love and sweetness, he creates some characters who feature certain dark, base, and overall sadomasochistic qualities. One critic notes “It has long been a critical commonplace that Shakespearean comedy works to restrain libidinal impulses by directing them into stable and productive ‘normal’ marital unions” (Sanchez 501). However, Shakespeare’s marital unions are far from normal; he takes these unsatisfying notions of love and forces them into traditional marriages.

Note that this is all done through immaculate discipline and art form. If his plays seemed to truly step out of line on the surface, Shakespeare would have been in trouble with the law and the censors of the time. So he masks these baser notions of love in comedic moments or through conversations between characters that only the utmost observant audience would truly understand. Most of the time, these characters display both a sadist and a masochistic role at different times throughout their play. The couples in the comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, estimated to have been written between 1595 and 1596, exhibit these characteristics, but this essay will exclusively focus on Hermia and Helena’s relationship and Oberon and Titania’s.

Through the discussion with Shakespearean scholarship, I hope to encourage readers to relook at Shakespeare’s plays, dissect the dialogue between characters, and become conscious of what each says in regards to sexual tension. Shakespeare was not encouraging people to take up a BDSM relationship with their neighbor or attend sex clubs in New York, mostly because those ideas did not even exist yet. He is also not mocking these baser notions of love as degrading. Instead, he showcases that there are other sides to love and the classic idealistic notion of it, as cultivated by the infamous Petrarch, is false. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare provides a warning for the audience and those potentially in love. He says that Petrarch’s love for Laura is not the only version of love possible and our love should not be solely based upon that. Instead, everyone’s love is different; it could be sappy and require posting poorly-written poems to the trees in a forest like a classic Petrarchan, or it can be darker and more desperate as shown in this play. The main point of his argument throughout this play is that these relationships–Hermia and Helena’s homosocial bond and Oberon and Titania’s marriage–are happy ones. To the surface reader, this seems unrealistic; why would anyone tolerate constant arguing, cheating partners, and insults? But what Shakespeare showcases is how some relationships function and, furthermore, need to function to stay afloat. Not all relationships are the same and we must accept this before getting into a lifelong partnership in marriage.

To begin I will provide a basic, traditional reading the play for summary purposes. The two young female friends in the play, Hermia, and Helena were inseparable as they grew up together, which resulted in their confiding in each other. However, once the women reach adulthood, they find love in someone other than their best friend. Hermia finds love in a forbidden man, Lysander, and this love goes against her father’s wishes for her to marry Demetrius, who is a more suitable man by her father’s standards. This does, however, prove to be fortunate for her childhood friend, seeing as Helena would like Demetrius for herself. Helena aches over Demetrius, believing that Hermia doesn’t deserve him. Hermia has Lysander to love and, therefore, has no need for Demetrius. Hermia and Lysander flee to the forest in an attempt to run away from Hermia’s Father, Egeus. Helena and Demetrius run after them. The forest is not only a place full of secrets and mischief but is also inhabited by cunning fairies. Oberon and Titania may be the king and queen of the woods and fairyland, but they do not live in peace and cannot rule a kingdom together. Between ordering the fairies to place pansy juice, or the pollen from the pansy flower found in the forest,  in the eyes of Lysander and Demetrius to make them love the wrong girl, this couple fight constantly because of their adulterous history and present. Meanwhile, the men have, thanks to the pansy juice, stopped fawning over Hermia and have turned their attention to Helena. Questioning who truly is in love with whom readers begin to feel exasperated as Shakespeare turns everything on its head. Thankfully, by the end of the play, everything is right: Hermia and Lysander are to be betrothed, along with Helena and Demetrius at Theseus and Hippolyta’s wedding. The pansy juice is removed from Lysander’s eyes, having fallen back in love with Hermia, and the play comes to a close with true love winning.

This is a very classical and traditional reading of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, yet it leaves many unanswered questions and confusing thoughts: does Demetrius truly love Helena or does the pansy juice remain in his eyes? What about the king and queen of fairyland and their love triangle with Bottom? Who gains custody of the small Indian changeling boy? This is why there are many other ways to read Shakespeare’s plays, and I will apply an untraditional read of the play. The pairings in this play, mainly Helena and Hermia and Oberon and Titania, can be seen as exhibiting sadomasochistic tendencies. The traditional read as previously showcased leaves out the very interesting behaviors the characters display that is deemed unfit for a healthy relationship. Helena and Hermia, best friends since childhood, take turns being the dominator and the submissive when it comes to their relationship. Hermia, characterized by Helena herself as being petite, willingly creates vicious arguments with Helena so that Helena will, in turn, call her short. Oberon and Titania both mock and torment the other, constantly bringing up past indecencies in order to throw it in the other’s face. These relationships cannot possibly be happy ones; they leave the masochist feeling dejected and hurt, and the sadist feeling privileged and power hungry–only to then be flipped again. This play surely cannot exhibit true love when the couples who seem to have the best love are constantly hurting the other.

Both of the above readings of this play are valid. The traditional read sets the scene for the reader, allowing him to grasp the plotline and characters, but it still leaves much omitted. The untraditional sadomasochistic read allows the audience to place the play in a seedier light. Simply put, why are the characters acting in these crazy terms towards each other? This essay aims to answer that question. Hermia and Helena, as well as Oberon and Titania, switch being the sadist and the masochist as is evident in their dialogue and actions. But they are doing these awful deeds to their partner because it is healthy. Shakespeare creates this comedy to provide a warning for a newlywed young couple and those in attendance: love is a constantly developing emotion and will never settle on one aspect, and couples need to be aware of this change so they can accept the change instead of fighting it. More importantly, sadist and masochistic qualities are natural and can lead to a happy, balanced relationship when performed correctly.

Sadomasochism as a Lens for Interpreting Literature

The term “sadomasochism” and even the words “sadism” and “masochism” would not have been used during Shakespeare’s time, nor would they have been used to describe the character of his plays simply because they were not created yet. Breaking down the compound of sadomasochism, the Oxford English Dictionary defines “masochism” as “the urge to derive pleasure, esp. sexual gratification, from one’s own pain or humiliation; the pursuit of such pleasure”; and “sadism” as “enthusiasm for inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others” or “a psychological disorder characterized by sexual fantasies, urges, or behavior involving the subjection of another person to pain, humiliation, bondage, etc.” In layman’s terms, the sadist is the dominator whereas the masochist is the dominated or the submissive. The Mastery of Submission furthers this definition by stating “sexual masochism” is defined as producing sexual excitement by being bound, humiliated, beaten, or otherwise made to suffer (Noyes 16). Commonly known as S&M this sexual sadomasochism, I believe, is the pop culture form of sadomasochism that most are aware of today, as seen in different movies and television shows, boutiques in metropolitan and liberal cities such as Amsterdam or San Francisco.

The begin, a literary definition of sadomasochism is necessary for understanding its role in literature. According to Lynn Chancer’s book, Sadomasochism in Everyday Life, sadomasochism is referred to as a “common social relationship based on power and powerlessness, dominance and subordination” between two people (3). To be termed as such, the relationship must meet four requirements: extreme dependence; an established ritual; sadomasochistic tendencies; and consequences for when the submissive, or the masochist, violates their role. The first quality, extreme dependence, is where both individuals in the relationship, regardless of who is the sadist or the masochist, feel a strong need for physical, but, most importantly, mental connection with the other. The second criteria is that the relationship has its own repetitive ritual so the individuals have structured contact. Thirdly, the sadomasochistic tendencies are not static, but instead dialectic and constantly changing (3). Finally, and most importantly, the masochist in the relationship must “face severe consequences” if she challenges the power of the sadist (5). Chancer acknowledges that she is giving an overview of sadomasochism as a term and is not discussing the different dynamics that might stem from it such as S&M.

The definitions assume a negative connotation for the individuals who participate in such acts of indecency. Many everyday relationships convey some of the same hierarchy necessary to function, such as student to teacher, or employee to employer, and these relationships are seen as healthy and positive. Chancer argues at the beginning of her piece that “We are living in a sadomasochistic society in that it bombards us with experiences of domination and subordination far more regularly” than one can imagine (2). What these definitions are missing is the idea of balance. By engaging in the hierarchy of sadomasochism, those individuals are accepting the balance of opposites, dominance and subordination in order to function.

Using the above descriptions of sadomasochism helps us to understand different plotlines in literature and certainly in Early Modern literature. These Early Modern writers were concerned with their writing passing through the censors, who prevented offensive materials from getting published, and in doing so, Shakespeare as a prime example adapted to utilizing many layers in his works for the audience to unfold. On the surface level, the work seems inoffensive which allows it pass by the censor, but on a less literal level, the baser notions are hidden. In this play, the surface reading as discussed above allowed it to pass the censor, Shakespeare’s true message and warning come out on a deeper level. As Sanchez asserts, “The imaginative worlds of literature give us access to some of the early modern cultural fantasies that cannot be documented by the period’s moral, legal, or medical discourses” (494). Sadomasochism, or at least the act of it, was not available for discussion, and yet literature like A Midsummer Night’s Dream showcases its attributes before the word even developed.

Furthermore, one cannot discuss sadomasochism without touching on the erotic. Scholar Jason Gleckman argues: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream offers a concise imaginary history of the erotic” (Gleckman 25). The erotic played a large role in the Early Modern literature even though it was a taboo subject. Writing was the only place where people could engage in erotic knowledge and discussion since it was confusing and unpleasant in actual conversation. At this time as well, England was bouncing back and forth between the Catholic and Anglican religions, each having their own ideas about the erotic: “On the one hand, as part of their vehement promotion of married life, Protestants allowed increased space for the erotic impulse within marriage” (Gleckman 27). Sex was clearly not allowed outside of marriage, and even more not allowed between two of the same sex, but even after marriage, sex was never examined in the Catholic faith. However, the Protestants viewed sex as a beautiful gift from God supposed to bring pleasure, but only within marriage. Shakespeare, like many others, had to be careful what he portrayed in his plays as to not get him in trouble with the law, so he channels the erotic in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the usual direction of the monogamous marriage that awaits many of the characters in the play.

Continuing further with the erotic, Shakespeare toys with the notion of flipping gender roles by suggesting in his work, particularly A Midsummer Night’s Dream, that “the men…are more childish, impressionable and less psychologically and emotionally developed, whilst the women are more rational, constant, and civilized and wield reason more effectively than men” (Schumann 43). This superimposes “the idea of a linked domination of women and nature by men” in relation to classic marriage (43). Traditionally, women are supposed to submit and then men are to dominate the marriages; sex and the erotic are used only for procreation and even then it is not for pleasure, but simply necessary for marriage. However, “Shakespeare undermines, rather than reinforces the patriarchal social structures” (43) in the marriages and coupling that take place in this play. The women in most cases are the dominating party, not the men.

That this is not a new, modern concept that is being read into Shakespearean works. Instead, renowned Shakespearean scholar, Doctor Carolyn Brown inspects the chronological use of psychoanalytic and other theories in regards to Shakespeare’s work. One of her discoveries is that of the audience’s “pleasure in projected suffering such as that portrayed in violent Renaissance literature” (Brown 104). Suffering and violence were popular and appeared on stage, much the same as people today enjoy violent video games, movies, tv shows, and more. There is something inherently intriguing about watching forms of suffering. When watching a sadomasochistic play, the audience can thrive on the animalistic tendencies that come with watching bad behavior, but it also allows for a  space to reevaluate their own relationships.

Hermia and Helena’s Sadomasochist Relationship

In the case of relationships, having an idealized bond can be boring and tends to imply that someone is not being truly honest. Relationships are in a constant state of ebb and flow; they are forever changing dynamics as each day progresses, and it requires time and courage to keep a cohesive and mutually exclusive balance between two people. When it comes to the two young female lovers in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hermia and Helena, “successful rivalry extinguishes desire, whereas failure exasperates it” (Brown 89). Each annoys the desires of the other to the fullest extent by partaking in their unconscious sadomasochistic tendencies. Hermia plays the sadistic role more often than the masochistic role in their relationship. Her goal is to torment Helena, ultimately enticing her more. For example, she explains to Helena that she is fleeing with Lysander:

And in the wood, where often you and I

Upon faint primrose beds were wont to lie,

Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet,

There my Lysander and myself shall meet,

And thence from Athens turn away our eyes,

To seek new friends and stranger companies.

Farewell, sweet playfellow. (Shakespeare 1.1.214-220)

She deliberately points out to Helena that she and Lysander are meeting where she and Helena often met as children, as playmates, and spent hours together. This place in the woods is undoubtedly special to Helena, and Hermia flaunts the fact that she is taking someone else to their sacred hideout. Even referring to Lysander as hers, Hermia boasts that Helena has been replaced, which is made even clearer when she says that she will seek new friends and different companies. Sealing the speech with “playfellow” (1.1.220) connotes that Helena was simply a childhood friend, nothing more than that, which adds insult to Helena’s already crushed self-esteem. Scholar Melissa Sanchez’ article, “‘Use Me But As Your Spaniel’: Feminism, Queer Theory, And Early Modern Sexualities” focuses on the erotic and power dynamic in Hermia and Helena’s relationship. Sanchez suggests that “[When Helena] accuses Hermia of betraying a closeness that made them ‘Like to a double cherry, seeming parted / But yet a union in partition’ (3.2.209-10), critics have almost invariable contrasted the serene equality and gentle reciprocity of female bonds with the violence and domination of heterotic unions” (402). By moving forward and breaking their bond, Hermia activated the dominator and submissive qualities in their relationship. Helena’s lifelong best friend is abandoning her for a man, running away to their special place that once was emotionally charged for both of them, and furthermore, doesn’t really care about their adult relationship at all. Best of all, Hermia understands exactly what she is doing to Helena. She consciously acts this way to hurt Helena, knowing that Helena is going to become upset and come after her, so perhaps Hermia wants Helena to chase after her. This is how their relationship is.

Helena does follow after her friend. She masks her journey after Hermia by telling Demetrius, another of Hermia’s suitors, to ensure Hermia and Lysander will not depart from Athens. By concealing her true reasons for going into the forest, Helena makes it seem as if Demetrius pursues after Hermia instead of herself, in order to keep her true feelings at bay. Helena’s chasing after Hermia would look curious and scandalous to the people of Athens, but her desperately following Demetrius, because he has more reason to follow the girl he is supposed to wed, somehow looks more acceptable. Helena needs an excuse for getting into the woods, and perhaps she believes Demetrius will successfully stop Hermia from leaving with Lysander. Therefore she will not have to get Hermia to stay in Athens with her. Following after Hermia will hurt Helena because she cannot express her love for Hermia herself, and yet this pain is what she desires: “herein mean I to enrich my pain” (Shakespeare 1.1.250). Helena is the masochist in their relationship and extremely hurtful to herself. Furthermore, Helena is more masochistic by her following Demetrius into the magical woods after informing him of Hermia and Lysander’s plan to escape:

And even for that do I love you the more.

I am your spaniel; and, Demetrius,

The more you beat me, I will fawn you.

Use me but as your spaniel, spurn me, strike me,

Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave,

Unworthy as I am, to follow you.

What worser place can I beg in your love–

And yet a place of high respect with me–

Than to be used as you use your dog? (2.1.202-210)

Demetrius is not excited about Helena accompanying him into the woods. He does not want her following him anymore, but she explains to him that the more he tries to dispose of her, the more she is going to fawn over him. This is an excellent example of the shocking masochistic qualities Helena displays. The more Demetrius hates her, the more she wants his love. She believes that being used as his dog would be getting his respect.

However, perhaps Helena refers to the relationship between her and Hermia, instead of Demetrius’ hatred towards her. When she pauses over “I am your spaniel” and then inserts Demetrius’ name, the reader sees that she momentarily forgot the façade of true love for him. Sanchez argues that Helena’s conversations with both Demetrius and Hermia can be seen as similar, but most importantly “[Helena fantasizes] herself as helpless subordinate to both Hermia and Demetrius register[ing] the same perverse, masochistic drives” (Sanchez 504). It is hard to imagine Helena being a delicate character after seeing her attraction to pain. She is extremely masochistic and demands to be treated so poorly so that the audience believes that Demetrius and Hermia are simply being mean to her when in reality she is begging for this treatment. Moreover, “Helena’s exchanges with Demetrius and Hermia reveal that women’s unapologetically perverse desires–whether for women or for men–can threaten ideals of proper, ‘normal’ sexuality” (506). However, this does not occur to Helena. She simply is a product of the relationship she has with Hermia, which is by definition an aggressive one as shown by their language towards each other, and yet they both unconsciously desire this aggression. Helena wants to be used like a dog by Hermia, not by Demetrius, nor by anyone else, and, in turn, the girls switch roles once Hermia lets Helena belittle her.

Helena becomes the sadist as Hermia invites her to torment her, in turn becoming the masochist herself. When Lysander has the pansy juice in his eyes, he falls in love with Helena and tosses Hermia aside, causing the two girls to fight. Hermia, however, seems to forget about being upset with Lysander and simply yells at Helena for the sake of it. Instead of arguing about the relationship problem at hand, they get into a fight about each other’s heights: Helena calls Hermia “low” and Hermia calls Helena a “maypole,” something that seems so trivial and yet extremely specific as if the two have used those terms before when harassing each other. (Shakespeare 3.2.296). Their argument is passionate, and their insults are harsh, so much so that Hermia even goes as far as to desire to inflict physical pain on her friend: “I am not yet so low / But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes” (3.2.297-98). Their teasing transforms into physical violence towards each other and therefore more intimate. Such passion, enough to drive one to harm her friend out of sheer frustration, shows the power and connection between the two girls. If she did not truly care about Helena, she would not allow herself to become so worked up over something as trivial as an insult about her height, but Hermia, though physically smaller, has the worse temper of the two, as displayed here: “Helena’s childhood memories of oneness with Hermia are not so much displaced as complicated by her repeated accounts of her friend’s violent temper” (Sanchez 503). As previously mentioned, Helena is upset that her dear friend replaced her and seemingly tossed their shared memories away.

Both girls know how to annoy the other, which “evokes a fantasy of a perfect harmony” (503) since the two of them take turns being the sadist and the masochist in the relationship. Furthermore, the two would be friends forever, at least that is what Helena observed at their young age, but lives change and as the two matured, their sadomasochistic tendencies flourished. According to Sanchez, “It is hard to see how Helena or Hermia could ever have become interested in anyone but the other–or why any woman would willingly abandon such ‘sisters vows’ and ‘childhood innocence’” (503). If Hermia had never broken their unspoken vows to provoke Helena, then Helena would not have experienced the same urge to demand justice from Hermia or follow her into the woods and the play would not be the same. Thus, as the book Shakespeare’s Philosophy of Love written by scholar Herman Horne suggests, Helena berates love for its power to transform baseness into dignity; Helena tries to stay dignified by berating love in the only way she knows how (46). Many proverbs Shakespeare came up with himself, such as “love is blind” and “all’s fair in love and war” claim to be lofty, and yet Helena’s jaundiced views are rationalized by the loss of her lover to another.

Titania and Oberon’s Marriage Rated “M” for Mature

The constant teasing between Hermia and Helena foreshadows the relationship between an already-married couple in the play. Like the two young girls, this couple eroticizes their own submission and domination. Traditionally, as Rieger points out, “Men dominate women in the comedy, and women not only accept this domination, they eroticize it” (78). As already shown, Hermia and Helena, clearly both women, both eroticize their domination, and this can be seen in the king and queen of the fairies, Oberon and Titania. These two enjoy manipulating each other and disagreeing on small and large things. At the beginning of the play, the two argue about the strange weather that is occurring because of their fighting and magical powers: “Therefore the winds, piping us in vain, / As in revenge, have sucked up from the sea / Contagious fogs; which, falling in the land, / Hath every pelting river made so proud” (Shakespeare 2.1.88-91). Titania describes the dismal scene of raging storms over Athens; she fears for the humans with their “drowned field” and their land filled with mud, whereas Oberon does not care at all about the mortals. Instead, he seemingly brushes off Titania’s fears and changes the subject (2.1.96 & 98). Shakespearean scholar Angela Schumann argues that here Titania is a nobler character than Oberon, which in some cases I would consider to be true as well. However, in the first scene with the married couple, the audience can already see that they do not agree on everything. Perhaps Titania knows that Oberon will dismiss her fears, and so she produces that long monologue to make herself seem nobler and better as to enrage Oberon.

Titania’s nobleness is further explored when the audience sees the king and queen arguing over the possession of the changeling Indian boy. Schumann’s piece suggests:

Titania is a more complex and mature character than Oberon. She wants the Indian boy out of love for his mother, “for her sake do I rear up the boy” (2.1.136). Conversely, “jealous oberon” (2.1.24) who…suffers from a case of wounded male pride, only wants the boy as an exotic trinket…and out of jealousy for taking Titania’s attention away from him: “am I not thy lord?” (2.1.63). (Schumann 48)

Titania raises the Indian changeling boy as her own because of what she claims as a duty to the boy’s mother: “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” (Shakespeare 2.1.135-37). This is a touching story and quite noble of Titania to take her late friend’s child and make sure he has a safe and happy home, but considering Titania and Oberon’s constant bickering, the reader is unsure if she says this to make herself seem noble or to hurt Oberon, something Schumann’s piece fails to mention. I believe that Titania is no more noble than Oberon; she is fantastic at seeming to be the nobler to the reader by taking in the changeling Indian boy and raising him, by sticking with Oberon while he puts the pansy juice in his eyes, and more. However, much like with Helena and Hermia, she knows how to irritate Oberon and seeks to antagonize him just as much as he does her.

One way she seeks to irritate Oberon is to speak of the countless nights she and the Indian boy’s mother spent together, a time when she was clearly away from Oberon and more importantly, building a stronger relationship with someone else as seen by: “Full often hath she gossip’d by my side” (2.1.125). This sounds similar to Hermia’s speech mentioned previously about making a deeper connection to someone other than Helena. The audience isn’t really sure why Oberon wants the Indian boy, so it is safe to assume that Oberon simply wants the Indian boy because Titania has him, and Titania flaunts her relationship with him in Oberon’s face. This isn’t the first game the two have played against each other. In one of the first scenes with the king and the queen of the fairies, the audience is introduced to the adulterous relationship the two have:

Titania: But that, forsooth, the bouncing Amazon,

Your buskined mistress and your warrior love,

To Theseus must be wedded, and you come

To give their bed joy and porperity.

Oberon: How canst thou thus for shame, Titania,

Glance at my credit with Hippolyta,

Knowing I know thy love to Theseus?” (2.1.70-76)

Both parties involved have had romantic and sexual affairs with the mortal king and queen of Athens, Theseus and Hippolyta, showcasing that the two love berating each other, as seen above; they want to have these bickering fights where they throw affairs and games in each other’s face. This is how their relationship functions, showcasing that this version of love, though seedier, actually puts the two in harmony, like Hermia and Helena, and provides a perfect relationship for them.

As seen above, Titania plays the sadist quite well in her marriage. Yet much like Helena and Hermia, she and Oberon switch between being the sadist and the masochist. Oberon definitely turns around and desires to be the masochist at times as well. When the pansy flower juice enters the play, Oberon wants to meddle with all relationships and assigns his faithful servant Puck to fix the Athenian lovers, Demetrius and Helena’s, broken and one-sided relationship. He messes up, however, as the audience sees and instead puts the juice in Lysander’s eyes causing him to fall in love with Helena. Oberon, while fixing the dilemma his servant created, becomes more devious. He decides to put the flower’s juice in his wife’s eyes to: “make her full of hateful fantasies” (2.2.257-258). He humiliates his wife by making her see, and ultimately fall in love with, something hideous.

Not only does he want to humiliate her, but more importantly he wants to humiliate himself by setting up his own cuckolding. Rieger’s article discusses the idea of Oberon cuckolding himself. He points out the scholarly work dismisses the notion of realized cuckolding and instead, he suggests that Oberon uses “erotic desire as a weapon to humiliate his rebellious wife and enforce her submission. He does this in order to reassert his position at the head of his family and, by extension, the state as embodied in the fairy kingdom” (70). In order to restore the calm in their relationship, Oberon openly sets up his wife to have sexual relations with another man as to humiliate the two of them, and in doing so, Oberon regains control and the upper hand in his and Titania’s power dynamics. The audience watches Oberon’s plan unfold:

What thou seest when thou dost wake,

Do it for thy true love take;

Love and languish for his sake.

Be it ounce, or cat, or bear,

Pard, or boar with bristled hair,

In thy eye that shall appear

When thou wak’st, it is thy dear.

Wake when some vile thing is near. (Shakspeare 2.2.27-34)

Titania could wake up and see Theseus or one of the lovers or even her king, but Oberon wants her to be even more humiliated than that; he wants to see his wife fall in love with a wild animal, crossing the line into bestiality. Moreover, Lisa Walters’ article, “Oberon And Masculinity In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream” suggests that “Titania’s refusal to obey Oberon is the action of a rebellious and unruly wife against her husband’s authority. Hence, in his drugging of Titania, Oberon parallels Theseus…restoration of order comes about by causing ‘injuries’ to female queens” (157). However, what Walters fails to mention is why Oberon does what he does. By craving the humiliation and setting up his own cuckolding, Oberon wants to embarrass himself. This is his wife gallivanting with a half-man half-donkey, doting and possibly engaging in sexual moments with this creature. If other people were to see Titania’s actions, they would turn to Oberon and question why he is not controlling his wife. Even worse, they could turn to him in pity because ultimately Oberon sets up his own cuckolding. He watches his wife take Bottom into her “bower,” basically her private bedchamber (Shakespeare 3.1.197). This is what Oberon wants. He could potentially give Titania the antidote for the pansy juice spell, ultimately stopping his wife from committing such a gross and adulterous crime against him, but he does not.

Shakespeare takes Oberon’s humiliation and masochistic drive further by representing Oberon and Titania’s relationship as the only happy marriage. Oberon’s use of erotic desire is a form of control; true love comes from harm: “The erotic economies of A Midsummer Night’s Dream are predicated upon gendered dominance and submission, upon…love won by the doing of injuries” (Rieger 71). The idealistic relationships, the ones that are supposed to be based on true love, are actually false, either from the pansy juice, as seen in Helena and Demetrius’ relationship because Demetrius still has the juice in his eyes at the end of the play when they are married, or from selfish reasons with Theseus and Hippolyta’s relationship being forced because Hippolyta was raped by Theseus resulting in her having to marry him. Even Hermia and Lysander’s relationship is not sacred: Hermia seems to use Lysander only to annoy her father, but perhaps even to escape the fate of an arranged marriage. She quite possibly does not truly love Lysander; and Lysander most likely only wants to have sexual relations because he is a young man, and when they are finally alone, his advances are obvious: “One heart, one bed, two bosoms, and one troth” (2.2.42).

There are no “ideal” relationships in this play; instead, the characters show realistic emotions of being in love: the angry, passionate, scheming and violent kind of love. Oberon and Titania, on the other hand, are actually compatible. They are both scheming and violent. They both play games and tease the other; everything is in sync and equal. This is how Shakespeare shows a happy relationship and has this be the only couple that has been married and together for as long as they have. The two are immortal and, therefore, have a long time to spend together, and if they didn’t actually enjoy the treatment they get from their partner, then they could have ended things long ago. But instead, the king and queen stay together and continue their harsh, teasing relationship.

Shakespeare’s Insight into Holy Matrimony

There is a commonplace assumption among Shakespeare scholars regarding the origins of this play. Like most of Shakespeare’s plays, it is hard to pinpoint exactly where and when they were written and for what purpose–the world does not even know who Shakespeare was, let alone how his plays came to flourish. But in regards to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the scholars mostly agree, as Charles Lyon’s work discusses, that this play would have been “written for a court wedding” (22). Horne’s piece provides further proof of the epithalamium by mentioning those assumed to be in attendance, such as: “Sir Thomas Heneage and Mary, Countess of Southampton; Edward Russell, Earl of Bedford, and Lucy Harrington,” as well as “It is possible…that Queen Elizabeth would herself grace the occasion by her presence” (Horne 42-43). Shakespeare would have known if the queen was going to be in attendance because someone would have made sure his play would be proper enough. This does not prevent Shakespeare, however, from creating a play that on the surface appears pure enough for the queen and full of love for a wedding and yet still exhibits sexual baseness, gritty relationships, and mockery towards love at first sight.

So what is it that Shakespeare is trying to accomplish by submitting the wedding party and potentially the queen to a technically sadomasochistic play? All of Shakespeare’s work possesses an underlying message to the audiences who watch it. In the case of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare provides a warning about true love and most importantly, how love changes in a marriage. First, as Maurice Charney’s book Shakespeare on Love & Lust points out this play mocks the notion of “love at first sight,” which is also a Petrarchan ideal (9). Love is supposed to enter through the eyes, and it is essentially spontaneous, irresistible, and absolute (9). But Shakespeare ridicules this idea by having his characters control who they see and, by proxy, fall in love with at first sight, with the use of pansy juice. As previously mentioned, Oberon controls Titania’s newest love interest is putting the juice from a certain flower in her eyes, and then whomever she sees first, she falls madly and deeply in love with the person. Shakespeare muddles with the way we perceive love at first sight. It is not as romantic as it might seem but instead can be tortuous, unwanted, and in Titania’s case, demeaning.

The warning extends to the notion of “happily ever after.” The bride and groom of the wedding, and the guests attending, all have a preconceived notion of how love works in a relationship. They used the common definition of love, derived by Petrarch, as being an idealistic and god-like experience, almost something intangible. Soon-to-be-brides were pure and innocent, emulating goddesses, and their love was going to allow their groom to transcend this earthly realm and bring him closer to God. This puts immense pressure on the bride, for she must live up to that unnatural standard and form of love which does not allow for any experimentation with sadomasochism, baseness, or anything the bride might be interested in outside of what is considered the norm. This pressure makes each bride equal to the next, which we know women are not all equal; Shakespeare believes that “Inequality is the natural order of ‘true love’” (Rieger 73). Shakespeare disagrees with the Petrarchan notion of love as described here by C. H. Herford’s work:

Love is a passion, kindling heart, brain and senses alike in natural and happy proportions; ardent but not sensual, tender but not sentimental, pure but not ascetic, moral but not puritanic, joyous but not frivolous, mirthful and witty but not cynical. His lovers look forward to marriage as a matter of course, and they neither anticipate its rights no return their affections elsewhere. (18)

Shakespeare sees love as an ever-changing, amorphous ideal that alters as it grows and matures. Regier even suggests that for love and a couple “to exist in harmony, one party must be dominated and one party must submit” (74). So not only does love change throughout a relationship, but the only way it will continue to exist is not through this idealized version of love, but rather a perfect harmony that includes these unspeakables. Described here are the common binaries that situate themselves inside the notion of love, and Shakespeare took these and made sure that his lovers and couples remained in the balance. All of his created relationships, those romantic and not, can be described as such and if they seem to be too pure or tipping the scale one way, this is used in a mocking manner to showcase how this is not the idea Instead, the balance is necessary here; idealness is irrational and unattainable.

Today’s Notion of Modern Romance

What has sadomasochism defined by Shakespeare taught his audiences? The thought of people willfully submitting themselves to degradation can leave many unsettled, especially when it comes to women craving this treatment: “There is a real difficulty in accepting the female characters’ masochism, their cheerfulness embracing of degradation. It flies in the face of all contemporary, twentieth and twenty-first-century notions of equality and appropriate gender relations” (Rieger 79). Today we are extremely politically correct when it comes to women’s rights and this is not necessarily a bad thing, but there has to be a moment where we can talk about female sexual desires, not just those of males. Rieger further points out that  “This masochistic acceptance and even embracing of humiliation can leave contemporary audiences, and critics, unsatisfied” (78). And to some extent, this is true; there is still uncertainty in accepting that lovers can actually enjoy and crave this sexual humiliation. Our conception of love has come incredibly far since Shakespeare’s Early Modern era. The term “BDSM” and the ever-increasing pornography industry would have been unheard of concepts to Shakespeare and his audiences, but the notions behind them would have been understood. Many of us look down at anything later than the Romantic period as being unrealistic towards the modern notion of love; people in this period “courted” and “wrote love letters” and “dated” without the use of an app. However, as this essay has pointed out, those in the Renaissance and Early Modern times were not too far off when it came to sexual transgression and more “modern” ways of looking at love.

The cornerstone of all modern forms of love now is inclusion, from the acceptance of interracial couples in the later twentieth century to legal marriage rights for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, being passed in the United States government in 2015. The smaller scale events matter as well, such as gay pride parades, and the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco where BDSM and leather clothing is somewhat mandatory, to online communities for people with different tastes personally and sexually. Of course, we cannot forget the pornography industry which has over 22,820,000 searches a month according to a Business Outsider article from 2011, and categories for all forms of fetishes and desires ranging from innocent, such as the classic foot fetish, to more extreme notions of sex (Dunn). All of this leads to an unspoken inclusion noting that sex can be for everyone; if there is something weird or out of the status quo that you might like in the bedroom, you can find it on the Internet.

The point is that in today’s technologically advanced era, porn, and, therefore sex becomes a more widely accepted and understood medium for simple pleasure. There are porn communities, sex clubs, forums, erotic literature and more all saying the same thing: Sex is for everyone. And there is something powerful in owning one’s sexuality, even if it seems to stray from the social norm, and I like to think that in the twenty-first century, society is more embracing of that. There are focus groups and clubs dedicated to those with different sexual preferences. The notions of domination and submission are showcased in movies and pop culture, with Fifty Shades of Grey being an international bestseller. We, as a world, are becoming more aware of different “tastes” in the bedroom and therefore less and less afraid of them thanks to the advances starting in Shakespeare’s time. “Shakespeare so clings to the ideal that it appears in almost all of his plays. He objects to criticism that ‘overemphasize[s] the unresolved and the problematic’ in the problem comedies and suggests that although those plays do not support idealization, their final message is positive” (Brown 52). And one can see that now that there is sexual liberation among couples, there is more happiness by far, which is exactly what Shakespeare was hinting at.

Shakespeare stresses that these couples are not unhappy, “The course of true love never did run smooth” which is the most important factor (Shakespeare 1.1.134). Oberon and Titania are equals in their relationship, as contrasted with Theseus and Hippolyta where Theseus holds all the power. Helena and Hermia, on the other hand, are a great example of the honeymoon phase in a relationship, where they are passionate and angry in one scene, and then loving and forgiving in the next. These two couples are just the start of the relationship dynamics in this play, but they are the prime examples. Ultimately, the two relationships can only function with their own dysfunctionalities; without the arguments and the fighting, their relationship would not be the same; there wouldn’t be any passion and it would cease to exist. Each and every individual relationship has its own equation for how it works, whether it be with some light bondage or through a more traditional sense. Either way, we cannot judge those whose love is not like our own; to them, it is the ideal. However, if reading this has caused any distaste, then please note that:

If we shadows have offended,

Think but this, and all is mended,

That you have but slumber’d here

While these visions did appear.

And this weak and idle theme,

No more yielding but a dream,

Gentles, do not reprehend:

if you pardon, we will mend:

And, as I am an honest Puck,

If we have unearned luck

Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,

We will make amends ere long;

Else the Puck a liar call;

So, good night unto you all.

Give me your hands, if we be friends,

And Robin shall restore amends.

(Shakespeare 5.1.413-428)

Works Cited

Brown, Carolyn. Shakespeare and Psychoanalytic Theory. New York: Bloomsbury, 2015. Print.

Chancer, Lynn S. Sadomasochism in Everyday Life: The Dynamics of Power and Powerlessness. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 1992. Print.

Charney, Maurice. Shakespeare on Love & Lust. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. Print.

Dunn, Alec. “Top Google Searches – What Do People Search For?” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 21 Dec. 2011. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.

Gleckman, Jason. “‘I Know A Bank.’: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Fairies, And The Erotic History Of England.” Shakespeare 10.1 (2014): 23-45. Scopus. Web. 13 Feb. 2016.

Herford, C. H. Shakespeare’s Treatment of Love and Marriage: And Other Essays. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1921. Print.

Horne, Herman Harrell. Shakespeare’s Philosophy of Love. Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton, 1945. Print.

“Masochism, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2016. Web. 26 April 2016.

Noyes, John K. The Mastery of Submission: Inventions of Masochism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997. Print.

Rieger, Gabriel. “‘I Woo’d Thee With My Sword, / And Won Thy Love Doing Thee Injuries’: The Erotic Economies Of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The Upstart Crow (2009): 70. Literature Resource Center. Web. 13 Feb. 2016.

“Sadism, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2016. Web. 26 April 2016.

Sanchez, M.E. “Use Me But As Your Spaniel”: Feminism, Queer Theory, And Early Modern Sexualities.” Pmla 127.3 (2012): 493-511. Scopus. Web. 13 Feb. 2016

Schumann, Angela. “‘But As A Form In Wax’: An Ecofeminist Reading Of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Colloquy: Text Theory Critique 30 (2015): 42-60. Humanities Source. Web. 13 Feb. 2016.

Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ed. Wolfgang Clemen. 2nd ed. New York: Signet Classics, 1986. Print.

Walters, Lisa. “Oberon And Masculinity In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” ANQ: A Quarterly Journal Of Short Articles, Notes, And Reviews 26.3 (2013): 157-160. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 13 Feb. 2016.

Everless

This a book that, though it took me a while to actually pick up, I preordered and was gracefully reminded of its existence when Amazon sent it to me.

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Everless by Sara Holland
Published by HarperTeen on January 2nd, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Family, Identity,  Romance, Power
Pages: 368
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review:  4 out of 5 ★★★★☆


I am on the fence with Everless. Much like when I read The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, every new YA fantasy novel to come into my possession is going to be compared to Sara J Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series because I am utterly mystified by her stories. This is definitely not a good trait to have, but we love what we love when it comes to books, don’t we? Of course, I understand that Everless is both everything and nothing like A Court of Thorns and Roses or The Cruel Prince or Six of Crows or A Darker Shade of Magic–all of these books, while in the same genre, are special and exciting in their own way and Everless is no exception. To begin, I can confidently say that I enjoyed it more than The Cruel Prince so I don’t think there is going to be as scathing of a review here as there was there.

The most amazing part of this story, and it seems so simple, is the storyEverless is incredibly original and I can’t get over that. With the sheer amount of “medieval fantasy” (i.e. not common day, villages, tariffs, serfdom, etc.) hitting the shelves each season, it is wonderful to see a book that is completely original in its making. Jules (which is the name of my cat, funny enough) is a young adult, struggling to make ends meet for her and her aging father. Aging perhaps isn’t the right word because instead of aging naturally, this world deals in time, which is taken from one’s blood. Jules’ father owes many debts and they simply do not make enough, so he has to pay the monthly taxes to Everless, the kingdom and royal family overseeing their village, via his blood/time. Jules actually grew up at Everless since her father used to be employed by the family, but as events unfold in the story, you see why Jules and her father had to quickly remove themselves from the castle and assume a life of poverty. And this is what I find so fascinating; there are certainly stories that discuss one’s life expectancy, but generally, those are cyber-punk, dystopian stories, not medieval fantasy.

So if I loved the story so much, why didn’t I rate Everless a full 5 stars? Well, a few reasons. The first is that the story is a little hard to grasp. Now this sounds ridiculous because it’s a fantasy novel that has people wagering their time via their blood–nothing about this is real. And yet, to me, there has to be something that can be grasped and that shows similarities between the book’s world and the real world in order to make the connection with the reader. If it’s not easily connected, then I feel like I’m having to work really hard to make the story understandable. Without disclosing too much information, when Jules learns of her true identity, which includes a convoluted–but interesting nonetheless–story, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of description for what is really going on. She has the normal scene where she struggles to accept it, but then she does and we move forward. Perhaps there will be more explanation and set up for her true identity in the sequel, which I am most likely going to read.

Another thought hits me with brute force: maybe I am a mystery–a secret–that needs unraveling, too. (215)

I also found not having a love interest as a risky move; I both appreciated it and shrugged at it. Jules is not at Everless to marry one of the princes–yes, the relationships they had as children are mentioned and important, but throughout the majority of the book there are no stolen kisses, longing sighs, or broken hearts. Jules is there for her father and her father alone. He is ill from lending too much of his time and she’s worried he doesn’t have much left, so she gets a job at Everless which will pay handsomely to be a servant. Sure, once she’s discovered as the Jules from Prince Roan and Prince Liam’s childhood, things get complicated, but a romantic relationship is not what drives this book. And this is refreshing! I’m pretty sure having a love interest is the cornerstone of a YA novel! Don’t get me wrong, there is tension between Roan and Jules and slightly between Liam and Jules, but it is about a chapter? Maybe? Even though I think this is a good thing, I also think this is a…”meh” thing. Let’s be real for a moment: the swirling, intoxicating, whirlwind of fantasy love is addicting and I am here for it. So while I loved that Holland chose to not include this, I was also looking for this in a story. I crave a relationship that will make me blush and sigh along with the protagonist so I did feel as if that was missing from this story.

Overall? I enjoyed it. Am I in love with it? No. Will I be reading the sequel? Most likely. If you’re interested in a medieval fantasy novel that’s a little different from everything else on the market, I would definitely recommend. If you’re looking for another Rhysand and Feyre, look elsewhere. I am left wanting to know more about Liam though…

Through the Eyes of a Non-Mosher

*This is an essay I wrote while studying abroad for a sociology class titled: Religion, Witchcraft, and Magic.*

Screaming Serenade: Punk Concerts as Religious Rituals

When thinking of an everyday religious experience, something that most people who deem themselves as “religious” participate in regularly, would be the notion of attending church or some form of mass or ceremony. We see this all the time, the streets lined up with cars around a church on Sunday mornings or Saturday evenings, people stereotypically dressed in their “Sunday best” because one has to be clean and proper while presenting themselves to God. Even though this is the first idea that arises when discussing religious experiences, in this essay I aim to discuss whether the theories of Marx, Weber, and Durkheim are prevalent in the more off-beat religious gatherings of today.

Imagine a dark and overly crowded room with low ceilings and sloped floors from constant pressure and movement. There is a small set of stairs leading down to a more open space, directly in front of a platform. Raised up around that open area is more standing room with a balcony to hold the mass of people up against. Everyone in the room is eagerly waiting, almost impatiently. Sweat is being absorbed into the air, mixing with other people’s sweat and excitement as it pulses through the room. Soon the lights will dim completely, allowing the colored light show to begin as the squeal of guitars and the loud beating of drums echo against the walls. The concert-goers scream with joy, their savior has come, has taken the stage and is going to preach to them in a way that they actually understand. I am recanting the scene that took place before me at the Underworld, a venue in Camden Town, London for a Chelsea Grin concert; a band notorious for their deep, guttural “screaming” sounds alongside their melodic vocals.

This concert, unlike any I had been to before, was a religious experience for everyone in the crowd. When it comes to the younger generation, especially with the people I was surrounded myself with that night, church every Sunday might not necessarily be a priority. Everyone has their reasons for either attending or not attending, conforming or not conforming, to a certain religious doctrine, and I believe that the people jumping up and down while violently pushing each other to the beat had found their own religious doctrine outside of a church and it was quite beautiful to witness, and I will allow for some religious theorists to reinforce this claim.

The first theorist is Karl Marx, born in 1818 and died in 1883, and he would probably disagree with the notion that rock concerts are like a religion, specifically because he dislikes religion so much. He believes that religion is unnecessary and he simply detested everything religious. He explains that religion is basically a painkiller; that it is a drug that takes our minds off of the real suffering that is occurring. The concert-goers, who belt out the lyrics almost before the lead singer can even get them out of his mouth, are using this concert as a distraction, as a drug from the real world that awaits them when the lights come on and the music rings in their ears. They come here to feel the beat echo through their hearts, to be a part of this collective feeling, which is the same reason that devoutly religious people attend mass or other forms of a congregation.

Marx says that religion is for the poorer people because they are the ones suffering and therefore need something to take their minds off of this terrible pain and that it becomes a way to solve their problems; this is one of the reasons that Marx dislikes religion to his extent. The concerts, therefore, are a place for anyone and everyone to join in on something that is a distraction for the real world. Perhaps Marx would actually equate a concert like this as a religious experience; however, he would dislike it as well if people were treating it like a religious ritual. He would want the people to see it simply as a concert and nothing divine, but that is not what the people see or feel when they attend these shows.

The next theorist is Max Weber who believes that religion, power, and domination are all interconnected. He lists out three different types of authority: traditional authority, legal rational authority, and charismatic authority. Focusing on the third form, charismatic authority can fit into my example of religious experience. Weber says that charismatic authority involves an individual who has extraordinary power to control and inspire devotion in other individuals, fully knowing that people will follow. It is almost as if these few individuals have a gift of grace. The list we came up with in class included prophets, leaders, and warriors, but I am going to add to that list lead singers. While at concerts like these, one main aspect that everyone tries to participate in is called a “mosh pit” which is where the people in the crowd open up a circle pit and simply run around pushing each other violently, dance as if entranced, and it usually ends with someone getting slightly hurt or even worse: trampled. Why would normal people participate in something that they know is going to hurt them? However, the minute the lead singer shouts into the crowd that he wants to see a pit open up, everyone instantly abides to his commands. They willingly enter themselves into situations that they can possibly get injured just because their “savior” told them too. No one seemed to question it and everyone in the pit was enjoying it so much, it was hard to retain my self control and not join them.

Anthony Kronman compiled Weber’s works into one place and he discusses all of Weber’s famous theories. In the chapter titled “Authority,” Kronman goes through Weber’s different versions of authority, giving adequate time to each type. For charismatic authority, Kronman says that Weber believes that: “Charisma is truly a revolutionary force…since it breaks up existing authority structures by introducing novel claims of legitimacy” (50). Generally, “screamo,” metalcore, hard-alternative-rock music is frowned upon in normal society, and they do a very good job of discussing this in their hard lyrics. Since it is not widely accepted, like some religions, the followers are only driven harder to prove their faith and loyalty to their leaders. These bands break apart the other forms of society that typically disregard them and they ultimately create a place for their fans to feel at home and feel a part of a collective experience. By doing this, these bands and lead singers legitimize their authority.

Finally, there is Emile Durkheim, who came after Marx and Weber, but still pulled from some of their ideals. In regards to the lead singer being a God-like figure to the fans in the venue below them, and the whole concert being a religious experience, I believe that out of all theorist discussed, Durkheim would agree the most with this. Durkheim’s theory explains that religion is important to the sense of social purpose and that it ultimately builds the morals of society that everyone follows. In relation to this, God is an abstraction through which we cement our identities and roles in society. These roles, and society in general are worshipped by the people when they are allowed to worship collectively. The screaming, sweating, fist-pounding participants in the crowd are collectively “worshipping” their “god” on stage before them and they are given a sense of purpose by being here. As an outsider, someone who is unfamiliar with the music blasting through the speakers and the artists on stage, I did feel like anyone and everyone was welcome to join this group of people. There was not just one set of people in the room; the crowd varied in age, gender, race, etc. signifying that their group is a diverse one and it was very easy to join in because it was such a collective experience. There are the different roles, from those that stand ground right at the foot of the stage, to those creating the most pit, and ending with those that stand in the background who simply nod along with the music. Everyone may have their different roles, but as mentioned before, it is still very collective.

So how is a rock concert like a religion? Tobias Werler and Christoph Wulf address this idea in their book Hidden Dimensions of Education: Rhetoric, Rituals, and Anthropology, which is a collection of articles and essays by different authors. The chapter “Pop Concerts as Modern Religious Rituals” by Ruprecht Mattig found in this collection firmly discusses this topic. Mattig takes a performance by pop artist Robbie Williams and points his attention “towards [how] pop concerts…show, the anthropological function of religious rituals for modern societies” (149). Mattig questions why the “thousands of people [come to] sing a song about angels together in ecstasy” and firmly states that his belief is that these people are “performing a modern religious ritual” (151). Obviously, there are those who hold a disbelief in this type of music and also truly believe that a rock concert cannot be a religious experience, it is, in fact, a substitute religious act, and Mattig goes on to use Durkheimian theory to back up his ideas. He, too, points out Durkheim’s theory of the collective experience which allows for “courage and ardour” in those that participate in these rituals. However, the courage does not last forever, says Mattig, so therefore the people have to come and perform these certain types of rituals again in order to feel the same transcendence, or as Durkheim says that these religious rituals give the participants: “impressions of joy, of interior peace, of serenity, of enthusiasm which are, for the believer, an experimental proof of his beliefs” (152). And this is why pop concerts, rock concerts, all types of concerts are still selling out stadiums and performing every day and night.

Nothing proves these ideas more than from the concertgoers themselves. Alternative Press remains a very reputable magazine for all things alternative music, from new bands and concerts to interviews with artists and fans and anything that could be affecting the alternative world. Their online site contains many great articles written by fans and other lesser-known journalists for the magazines. For example, the article “The 9 Phases Of Post-Concert Depression” written by Cassie Whitt, provides an excellent example of what fans feel when the lights come on and the stage clears. Whitt examines how when the fans leave the venue they believe that their lives have been either touched or changed or both, by the artist. Starting with “Euphoria” and going through “Reflection, Realization, Reality, Feeling Outcasted, Stalking, Lake of Impulse Control, Acceptance, and Living” which all fully support Mattig and Durkheim’s notion of having to continue performing this ritual in order to maintain the euphoria that comes from it. Obviously, Mattig and Alternative Press are not scholarly articles or sources, but perhaps that fits the subject completely. These fans and concert-goers are finding alternative means to fulfill their need for a collective experience and also to perform the religious rituals that give them such transcendence and euphoric feelings.

Marx would agree with the notion that the people see these concerts as a religious ritual that they can participate in, but he would severely dislike it. To him, religion is a facade that is there to disguise the pain that the poorer people are feeling, which is exactly what a good portion of the fans are there to feel: something that distracts them from the pain of their daily lives. Weber would probably agree with this theory as well because he can see the impact that the band, lead singer, artist, and their charismatic authority have on the people that attend the concert. He can see that the fans and band together have created their own “world” that they can all feel at home in. Durkheim, overall, could agree the most with this essays purpose in proving that a screaming, hardcore concert is an alternative to a religious experience. At this concert, the lead singer is the God, the lyrics are the doctrine and the teachings, and the fans that fill the stadiums and venues are the practitioners and believers that come to feel something within them, just like those that attend church every week.

Works Cited

Kronman, Anthony T. Max Weber. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1983. Print.

Mattig, Ruprecht. “Pop Concerts as Modern Religious Rituals.” Hidden Dimensions of Education: Rhetoric, Rituals, and Anthropology. By Tobias Werler and Christoph Wulf. Münster: Waxmann, 2006. 149-64. Print.

Whitt, Cassie. “The 9 Phases of Post-Concert Depression.” Alternative Press. Alternative Press, 24 Sept. 2013. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.