How dost thou understand the Scripture?

Honestly, I really don’t.
Not well at all.
It doesn’t make much sense to me
And when I encounter it, it seems
Shocking that people have built their lives around such a weird book.
I mean – Bleak House, I’d understand.
I could treat Dickens as my scripture.
I could suggest that we all strive to be more like Esther Sommmerset or Mr. Jarndyce.
But the Scripture, scripture?
I don’t get it at all.


What, art a heathen?

Lightbulb! A heathen has its roots in the idea of one from the heath and one from the heath is godless (strictly speaking.) So when the witches plan to meet Macbeth on the HEATH – they are meeting him in a specifically godless place.
This makes me want to try my production of Macbeth again. The one we did when I was in grad school had a handful of the things I wanted but was not the show I was dreaming of. If I ever got it in my head to try again – this sense of the heath might play an interesting part. I think I’d find a way to show the Macbeths at a church of nature before surrendering to the darker forces of greed and the destruction of nature. My set designer made these stools for the banquet scene and they were the perfect metaphor for the lens on the play. They were a series of branches contained by an open wooden block. Free wood contained by domesticated wood. I wish we’d gotten better photos of that furniture. Or that I’d managed to grab one of the stools before they were returned to scrap.
They would be my starting point with a new version.

Why, he had none.

No coat of arms, sure, that’s one way to look at it – though it doesn’t seem the most obvious. The most obvious to me at least, would be his weapons. Adam had no weapons. Adam had no weapons because he did not need them. In Eden, there was no violence – at least not until the next generation made their way in. But there was no need of weapons before. In an idyllic peace – there are no arms, no weapons. And this almost makes me weep today, here in America, where yet another deadly mass shooting has ripped through our lives. And people hug their weapons close, they feel them so necessary, the world they imagine they need them for is so far from Eden.

He was the first that ever bore arms.

You just know this is a set up for a pun – even if you don’t know – you still probably know. Arms are such a ridiculously punnable thing.
Why does English do this? We have our arms, the very useful parts of our bodies, with those handy hands and connected by our supportive shoulders. But – weapons are also arms. Why – I have no idea. But the right to bear arms is not about the freedom to go around in a tank top. And there is even another meaning and that is a coat of arms – which is not a jacket made of body parts, don’t worry. But, according to Genius, this is the meaning the First Clown is aiming at here – because gentlemen have Coats of Arms.
My goodness English is such a weird language. Bless us.

Was he a gentleman?

This makes me want to do some investigation into gentlemen. Because that word has so many connotations. It could just mean man. Like a gentle man. A man.
Or a man of a particular class. And this is what I’m curious about. When did this happen? And why? And how?

And there is of course, my favorite sense of this gentleman situation that is exploiting that confusion – which is a scene from Mystery Team – wherein these three boys try to get into a Gentlemen’s Club in order to pursue their case. And they interpret this Gentlemen’s Club as a club for upper crust Englishmen and show up in top hats and monocles to try and get in. It is, of course, a strip club and the bouncer humors the young Gentlemen trying to pass in front of him. One of the boys just says, “England!”
I enjoy this clip so much that I may never hear the word Gentleman again without also thinking “England!” and “a folded up tracing of a hammerhead shark.” (You’ll have to watch the clip to get that bit.)

They hold up Adam’s profession.

Adam had a profession, I guess. But not Eve?
According to this speech, Adam gardened, dug ditches and a grave. Eve likely did some of this as well. At least the gardening. And probably more. I don’t know what was going on with those two.
I mean, I guess the story was that life was all just sitting around enjoying stuff until they ate that apple. And then Eve had to have a baby and Adam had to…uh…dig ditches? And then Adam got a profession while Eve had to look after those kids – And what was once a sensible division of labor got turned into some weird codified way of being – some ingrained rules about professionalism and male-ness along with sacrifice/punishment and femaleness?
I’d like to talk about Eve’s profession next time.

Come, my spade.

This line just made me post my first ever annotation on the Genius website. I have often liked a post or even voted something down. But – I’ve never been moved to contribute before. In this case, I just couldn’t let it stand that this line could only mean “Come my fellow gravedigger.” I mean – sure – that’s a possibility but it’s also the least practical, the most of a stretch. In my experience with Shakespeare, the best solution is often the simplest, most elegant, most logical.
What’s more logical here? For the gravedigger to want his fellow gravedigger to come or to be handed his spade or even to speak to the spade itself before he uses it.
I’m not saying he’s definitely NOT talking to his fellow gravedigger but it is only one possibility of several.

And the more pity that Great folk should have countenance in this world to drown or hang themselves, more than their even Christian.

I am embarrassed to say that I have mostly missed this social critique in my many encounters with this play and this scene. Maybe it’s often cut – but it’s darkly funny and terribly sharp. Like, it’s too bad that rich people have more leeway to kill themselves than the poor. I mean – the inequities go all the way up and all the way down to the grave.
I have taught this play to dozens of classes of young people who are not inexperienced with income inequality. They might have really appreciated the proposition that rich people get more rope to hang themselves than the poor if I had thought to direct them to this section. But no, I probably cut it to make it easier to say.