Today marks the start of the second half of my time in Cambridge. After a day off yesterday in between terms, it was back to class today - this time Jane Austen II and Shakespeare's Late Tragicomedies (Cymbeline, Winter's Tale, The Tempest). Thankfully, today was a bit cooler than yesterday, which apparently was the hottest day EVER in Britain's history. I know you're all thinking I'm a whiner to even complain about 90 degrees when you've been hitting 100 and higher in the States, but remember, nothing's air-conditioned here because it's usually reasonably cool...and there are no fans anywhere either. I'm definitely wishing I'd brought more shorts and tank tops!
Anyways, on class days, we have a large group lecture after our morning class, and today's lecture was about Shakespeare's merging of tragedy and comedy in his late plays. It was interesting because the speaker presented Shakespeare's shift from his early strict tragedies to tragicomedy in theological terms, arguing that tragedy could only be written in a Calvinist context whereas tragicomedy represents the influence of Armenian thought on Elizabethans. He explained that tragicomic literature expresses what strict philosophy cannot - the simultaneous existence of free will and predestination, the unexplainable dance between them.
I'm not sure if such a brief summary of an hour-long lecture makes any sense, but I was very much struck by the idea, especially since I've always believed both predestination and free will (or at least the perception of it) to be somehow true and always been moved by the mystery therein. It's intriguing to think of Shakespeare's plays as reflective of his growing understanding of and appreciation for this dance.