Assignment 1 Shakespeare in Community

by Glenn on July 6, 2015

I am taking a course titled, “Shakespeare in Community.” It is a MOOC sponsored by Coursera. Assignment 1 comes from Act I, the Introduction to the course. This first assignment is to share something about the first words from one of the plays we will be studying in this course (Romeo and Juliet; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Much Ado About Nothing; and The Tempest).

“Two households, both alike in dignity”

We’re dealing with a pair. Because it’s fresh from the weekend, the first thought that comes to mind is the pair of options that Max Skinner has before him in the film version of Ridley Scott’s A Good Year. He has two lifestyles, both alike in appeal or which, rather, are alike in that each has a certain appeal. But they are wildly different options.

In the case of Romeo and Juliet, we have two equally matched families. Neither has an advantage. Shakespeare uses the word “dignity,” which to me suggests some status or means for both families.

Equal pairing. Equal footing. Similar standing.

I picture a narrator with hands outstretched either asking us to visualize two families or, perhaps, actually pointing to two families.

“Households” is an interesting word because it is a larger container than “families.”