Hamlet is an Angsty Teen.
Scholars debate the exact age of Hamlet and some will argue that Hamlet is a teenager based on differences in various versions of the play. However, we do know that the role of Hamlet was almost certainly written for and played by Richard Burbage, who would have been in 30s at the time. We also have the testimony of the gravedigger in Act V, who states that he began working his job thirty years ago, when Hamlet was born. Although this testimony occurs in the Second Quarto and not the First, it seems clear to me, at least, that Shakespeare would have ultimately written his play for the actors he had available, making Hamlet an adult and not a teen.
J. R. R. Tolkien Created Fantasy.
I do not think anyone doubts that J. R. R. Tolkien revolutionized fantasy or made it cool or inspired countless generations of fantasy writers. However, people were indeed writing fantasy before Tolkien. Tolkien read George MacDonald, for example, and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland was published decades before Tolkien in 1865, while L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz appeared in print in 1900. If you are interested in more fantasies published before The Hobbit, you can check out Tales Before Tolkien, edited by Douglas A. Anderson.
“The Road Not Taken” Is a Celebration of the American Spirit of Independence.
Robert Frost’s poem is famous for its final last lines: “”Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–/ I took the one less traveled by,/ And that has made all the difference.” By themselves, the lines seem to be a congratulatory reflection on how the speaker forged his own path through the world. However, if you read the whole poem, you will see that the speaker presents the two roads as equal–“just as fair” and worn by feet “really about the same.” The final lines are perhaps the speaker justifying his decision to himself–or maybe even sighing regretfully (Is the “difference” good or bad?)–and not an unambiguous celebration of his pioneer spirit.
The Phantom of the Opera is a seductive romance.
Gaston Leroux’s novel reads much more like a detective novel than a romance, with various sources being compiled by the narrator to determine the truth behind the titular Phantom of the Opera. Leroux’s Phantom is much darker than the one made famous by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical. He presents himself to Christine as the Angel of Music spoken of by her dead father, using her credulity to tie her to himself emotionally. However, he also kidnaps her twice and Christine begs Raoul to take her away to safety. The book ends with the Phantom (an assassin who prefers to kill with the lasso) imprisoning and threatening to torture Raoul and his ally “the Persian.” Christine is forced to agree to marry the Phantom to save the men and prevent the Phantom from blowing up a packed opera house. The book still ends with redemption, but, suffice it to say, Leroux’s version does not present the Phantom as a sexy lover but rather as a deranged killer (despite his sympathetic backstory).
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