Monday, November 28, 2016

Macbeth and Twelfth Night

I attended the Loyola Theatre Department’s performance of Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare.  The play was packed and nearly every seat was filled.  I was really impressed with the quality of the acting, since my peers were the actors in the play.  Also, I learned that for some of the actors this was their first performance and they did very well, given their lack of experience.  I’d never been to a live play before and Macbeth was a very good first play.  The acting was superb and true to the way that Shakespeare wrote the play.  I found that Macbeth and Twelfth Night complement each other, one play is a comedy and the other is a drama.
Macbeth is a drama that focuses on the themes of loyalty, power, and fate.  The play’s overall tone is very dark because of the murder and bloodshed that takes place.  The corruption of absolute power is an important aspect of the play, as shown by Macbeth’s eventual death.  Twelfth Night, on the other hand, is a much more positive play.  Shakespeare incorporates comedy and dramatic irony to create a much more positive tone than in Macbeth.  However, there are some similarities between the two plays.  They both use dramatic irony and have a common theme of love.  Love is the main theme in Twelfth Night, but it also plays an important role in Macbeth.  Macbeth’s love for his wife is what drives him to kill the king. So, although love plays a different role in each play, it plays an important role nonetheless. 

A few important lessons can be drawn from each of these plays.   Macbeth teaches us that power corrupt.  Therefore, when we are placed in positions of leadership, we must be fair to everyone and make a conscious effort to help others.  Twelfth Night teaches us not to let our emotions get the best of us and to always keep hope.  Both of these lessons can be applied to everyday life, especially here at Loyola.    

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Looking For an Identity

In “Twelfth Night” one of the major themes that presents itself is having an identity crisis. The main person that has an identity crisis is Viola, and this is obvious from when Viola disguises herself to make it look like she is a young male servant named Cesario. Viola does this because she is able to get close to the one she loves Orsino, and she is also able to be recognized by Olivia, whom she originally wanted to be the servant of. Viola has an identity crisis because she is not sure whether or not it is better to be herself or to be Cesario. As Viola she knows that she is able to love Orsino, but she will not be able to be close to him, as Cesario she is able to be close to Orsino but she also knows that she is not able to love him because they are both men. Along with not being able to love Orsino, Cesario also has the problem of having Olivia love him when he is supposed to be setting up Orsino and Olivia to love each other. If Orsino finds out Olivia is in love with Cesario and not him, Orsino will be upset with Cesario, and that is the last thing that Viola wants.

This identity crisis relates to meditation because sometimes we do not know what type of person we want to be, so a good way to determine what kind of person you want to be is to meditate on it. I have noticed that through meditation I have tried to focus myself on becoming a better person. Rather than focusing on being a person that can please everyone, if I can focus on being a person that is kind and good in everything they do, it is easier to be kind and to be the good person that I want to be. We are always told to focus on who we want to become, rather than focusing on the person we are on now, because if you focus on what you are doing now, you will never change the ways you do things. But if you focus on the person you want to be, you are able to change your life to fit it more to the person you want to be because you are able to see the changes you need to make in your life.

Viola (or Cesario) can use this meditation and put it into their life to decide which person they decide to be. If Viola wants to focus on going for the love of her life she should stay as being Cesario because she can stay close to him this way. If Viola wants to focus on being a girl she needs to focus on being Viola and not worry about what Orsino is thinking. Of course there are repercussions with both of these options. If Viola is to stay acting in the character of Cesario, she will never be able to love Orsino, and she will be loved by Olivia because she is a man. If she is to reveal herself as Viola she will not be able to love Orsino or be near him because she pretended to be a man and because she is of a different class. Obviously Viola is dealing with a major identity crisis and her best way to deal with it is through meditation and focusing on being the person she really wants to be and sticking to that. Rather than trying to be a person that she is currently which is not the person whom she wishes to be.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Romantic Love

Lexie Trzcinski

A couple weeks ago I attended an event on Journalism, Michael A. Memoil came and asked people questions relating mostly to politics. I felt really intrigued by this event because prior to this year I had always wanted to major in communications and eventually work for a television show like NBC, where he had worked for for 8 years. Although I have changed my interest I still found this event to be extremely fascinating. Especially because we had just gone through the presidential election a couple weeks ago. Michael had an immense amount of experience through all sorts of social media such as LA Times, Today and NBC. Being able to hear someone else’s own experience helps people have a better understanding of the different things you can for jobs or internships.

The first half of the “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare it immediately depicts the dramatic, romantic love in a sequence of events. Although the play begins by talking about the brother of Viola seems to be dead and she is still mourning this loss, it begins the romantic love of each of the characters as well. I thought the first half of the play was slightly confusing because of all the different characters and their lovers that you had to follow. While the Duke of Orsino is trying to express his love for Olivia, Viola is in deep mourning of her brother Sebastian who is believed to have died on a shipwreck. I find the each of the character’s intentions to be slightly deceitful throughout the first half of the play. They seem as if they are all out to get each other. For example, when Viola wishes to be one of Olivia’s servants so that she can spy on her and see what the Duke of Orsino is going to try to do to win her love over. Another example is when they write to Olivia’s servant Mavolio pretending to be Olivia. Except they tell him to do all the things that Olivia does not like especially at this time of mourning. Overall, I find this first of of the play to be very dramatic.

Blog 11/21

Not Getting Any Say
For my event, I went to a discussion about the results of the election. Many of the students there were upset with the results and were not accepting Trump as their president. I was indifferent; I was leaning towards Trump, but it did not matter to me since I did not like either candidate very much. I would have preferred the independent candidate, Gary Johnson, but I knew that it would only be a battle between the two major parties. Students could not believe that people would actually vote for Trump and they were judging those who did. My roommate was not at the discussion, but we were watching the election and as Trump took the lead, he said that anyone who voted for Trump had to be an idiot. He said this because he thinks that anyone who voted for him was convinced that Trump was going to do everything that he says he will. My roommate is certain that Trump will do none of the things he claimed and try to ruin America. I also know people who think the opposite. They think that Clinton is a liar and will ruin America. There are so many different views and the discussion made that clear to me. It also showed me that politics is a huge deal to some people and that they actually really care about the country they live in.
            In Twelfth Night, when Viola tries to express the Duke’s love for Olivia, Olivia denies it and almost ignores it completely. It reminds me of Trump in all the presidential debates. He would say that everything Clinton said was wrong and would ignore any kind of explanation that she tried to give. Everything that Viola tried to say Olivia turned it away. Before Viola even got to say her speech, Olivia thought that she was a comedian. She did not take Viola serious just like Trump did not take Clinton or any other candidate seriously. During the primaries, Trump would laugh at what many other candidates proposed, then just say it was untrue or that it was stupid. He gave no consideration to other candidates like Olivia is doing to Viola. Viola says “Lady, you are the cruell’st she alive,” (14) because Olivia has a comeback for everything she says and is not letting her give the speech she was sent for. I think this is why many people hate Trump and think that he is deceiving his voters. He seemed like a terrible person and candidate during the debates, but many of his proposals were compelling.

Love and Death (I think?)

To start, the first two acts to me appear to be a classic Shakespearean setup where I feel the play will continue as all Shakespearean plays with love and tragedy.  My first take away from the story is that it may be the first love triangle written and is also the only example of a love triangle I’ve heard of that is a true triangle, with all three characters loving one character and having another character love them.  Love triangles aside I believe that this Shakespearean play meshes well with a musical I saw over the weekend, “The Adams Family”.  Both plays involve love, humor, and are also dark. 

“The Adams Family” uses love and humor similarly to the Twelfth Night, its just the dark tones of the plays that are different.  In the musical I saw the dark tone was set as a back drop, to be used comically amongst characters.  The music numbers where fun to listen to but the heart and soul of the musical came from the individual characters themselves and how they were setup.  I grew attached to each character, with all of their very specific quirks and each is now forever in my mind almost like a long lost friend.

This is very different from Shakespeares characters which to me are never too interesting.  The plays follow a similar setup of creating romantic interest between characters and then this love interfering with the character’s better judgments.  Then some sort of confusion ensues and just about everyone dies, its interesting the first few times but then you start expecting a tragedy like a twist in an M. Night Shyamalan movie, its never actually a surprise.  But who knows maybe twelfth night will be different.


I recently attended an event at Loyola that focused on climate change and what we can do as Loyola students and inhibitors of the earth to make a change and keep our world from falling apart under our feet. The event was hosted by a Loyola professor who teaches a “Global Environment” course. She spoke about how afraid she was for the future and what the world will be like when her son grows up. She brought up the rising temperature and carbon dioxide levels and how the climate will never be normal again. It was quite daunting and made it difficult to not think about the world ending - all hope for future generations began to diminish in my mind. The host continued by asking a panel of climate change experts a few questions. They each shared their background on why they got involved in climate change and how it has affected their lives. They also spoke about what we can do to limit our carbon footprint and how we can work together to make Baltimore, and our world, a healthier place. It is hard to think positively while talking about the future of our world nowadays. It often seems as if there is nothing we can do to change the fact that we are destroying our earth and slowly killing ourselves. The vibe in the room during the majority of the event was fairly melancholy until one of the panelists said something along the lines of “this is not the time to lose hope”. She encouraged us to still continue to work for a more prosperous and cleaner world. There is something that everyone can do to change things, even if that something is small like recycling or abstaining from meat one day a week. She said now is not the time to be passive or mopey or to lose hope. If we want change we have to fight for it. Living in constant despair will lead us nowhere.
The first half of Twelfth Night reminded me a little about what I learned the night of the climate change event. I was reminded that losing hope and living in despair will lead to no good. When Sebastian and Viola think that each other are dead, they do not fully lose hope but instead proceed to search for each other in hope the other was still alive. If they decided to just mourn the loss of each other, then the entirety of the play would be very different. Viola would not get the crazy idea to dress up as Cesario and she would not have met Duke Orsino and would not have fallen in love with him. If Cesario (Viola) did not go to Olivia and try to make her fall in love with Duke Orsino, then Olivia would not realize that she can still feel love and doesn’t need to mourn the loss of her brother for years on end. Olivia begins to have hope that she will be able to be with Cesario. Malvolio begins to have hope that he will be able to be with Olivia. Viola (Cesario) begins to have hope that she may have a chance to be with Duke Orsino. I believe that Shakespeare is trying to portray that, even with sorrow and loss, there is still hope for a better future. Even though Olivia lost her father and her brother, after beginning to fall in love with Cesario, she starts to become optimistic about her future. Even though Viola and Sebastian think that each other is dead, they do not fully lose faith. Viola is still able to feel love for Duke Orsino. Overall, Shakespeare conveys through Twelfth Night the importance of keeping faith no matter the circumstances.

Overall, I enjoyed this event a lot. I could tell that the panelists were very passionate about what they were talking about and that they genuinely wanted to get everyone at least slightly interested and involved in sustainability and knowledgeable about climate change. My expectations for the event were exceeded and I would definitely recommend this event for someone in the future.


A few weeks ago I went to a very interesting event here on campus. It was a debate run in a similar format that a presidential debate would be. This event was hosted by the Loyola Rhetoric society, and moderated by the society's president-my good friend Zachary Fechter '19.

The debate was between several people of diverse backgrounds and political ideological views. A young white republican economics student, a woman who is a professor of African American studies, a libertarian professor, a liberal/progressive student, and a republican economics professor. There were three different subjects posed for debate. The first being the idea of safe spaces and free speech on college campuses, the second being the issue of racial tensions and police relations with minorities, and the third being gun control. The debate was overall a very entertaining and well run event. If nothing else, it served to further highlight one of the major issues of the now mercifully ended presidential election season that has shown the antithesis of good argumentation and debate. My only issue with the debate overall was that it seemed like every topic somehow ended up being a debate about race. I understand that this is more to do with the importance of the issue in today's society rather than anything else, yet I wish I could have heard this group tackle issues like immigration, the economy, and healthcare seeing as how they handled the issues of race with such intelligent and respectful dialogue. But I digress.

The first question about safe spaces was answered very well. The African-American Studies professor made a great point about how she saw safe spaces as dialogue walls, that contributed more to the rise in racial tensions and a lack of discussions and progress on those issues than any offensive language had. I only saw one issue, in that one of the women defending safe spaces didn't actually give a reason for having them, she just said what they are, and in my opinion, just defining something isn't in itself an argument in favor of it.

As fate would have it, our reading for this week is Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. I  found this to be mildly amusing seeing as the moderator of the debate has been an avid lover of Shakespeare since before I met him, even acting in a special performance he himself put together last fall, in which him and two upperclassmen tried to comically act out every work of Shakespeare in just one ninety minute show.

Anyways getting back on to topic, I have not found twelfth night to be particularly interesting in comparison to some of the other Shakespeare stories I've read. Now with that said it should be noted that I've only read the first two acts, and I say this merely in comparison to his signature works like Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and my personal favorite of his-Much Ado About Nothing. I still find this story to be rather humorous and very well written. The dialogue is crisp and the plot is all together fun to watch/read develop, I'm just not quite "hooked" onto it yet. Maybe that will change in the final three acts.

The Dilemma America Faces in the Future

The Dilemma America Faces in the Future

This past Tuesday I attended the 2016 Election Reflection held by Professor Harris, who happens to be my Messina teacher. Professor Harris collected roughly eight professors from departments across campus, each of whom were tasked with speaking briefly about how they believed the election affected the Loyola community. I approached this event hopefully that the professor’s rhetoric would help bring more unity to the greater Loyola community, however I departed disappointed that two professors made comments which left students more divided.
Let me be clear, voting is a very personal act. It is intended to be confidential and not all people feel comfortable expressing to others who they voted for. That being said, if someone is open to telling people who they voted for, they should be open to having a conversation about their choice. Toward the end of the of the Election 2016 event one professor indicated that for her personally, she felt like people who voted for Donald Trump “crossed a line.” She explained that in “crossing that line” she was unsure if she would be able to accept Trump voters in the future. Regardless of one’s political ideology, this statement should be upsetting to all Americans. With all due respect to this professor, her statement epitomizes the problem America faces going forward; many people now find it acceptable to judge others based on who they voted for. It is now possible for a person’s vote to “cross a line.” I have seen numerous news articles suggesting that “Trump Voters Deserve to be ‘Vote Shamed’” (The Guardian 11/20/16) and saying “America Elects a Bigot” (New York Times 11/10/16) and I believe that these articles and ideas are inherently un-American. These ideas, suggest that the American people were fundamentally wrong and as a result the democracy has failed, and furthermore that America is ruined. This is not intended to be a partisan argument but rather my hope is that people will see how the idea of vote shaming is truly poisonous. Vote shaming divides people and what this country desperately needs is to unite people.
The question remains, how does America resolve this dilemma? First and foremost, all Americans must accept that, for better or for worse Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States. Secondly, Donald Trump must publicly recognize that up to this point, he has been part of the problem. He has been divisive, and has offended many Americans, and to help unite this nation, he needs to ask the American people to forgive his past transgressions. And finally to achieve unity, the American people must acknowledge that this is a diverse country. America is diverse in many ways, we have people who are racially and ethnically diverse, but we also have people who are ideologically diverse. As a country, people need to learn not to be afraid of other opinions and need to stop calling people who they disagree with homophobic or racist or bigots because such name calling is a form of intolerance. All of us need to remember that Trump votes are not neo-Nazis trying to suppress minorities and likewise that Clinton voters are not Communists trying to do away with democracy. I believe, if America can follow these three steps, then this nation will once again be on the path to being the “shining city upon a hill,” John Winthrop envisioned.

In the Twelfth Night, Olivia is ignoring and blocking anything Orsino tries to tell her. Rather than listening to Orsino’s profession of love, she would rather block out and entirely ignore his opinion and love. Olivia fails to listen and approach the situation with an open mind, the same fault which I see in the American electorate. As the play continues, I would like to see Olivia listen, she does not have to fall in love with Orsino, but hopefully she can listen.