A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and other thoughts on Shakespeare

So, as it turns out, yesterday was Shakespeare’s birthday.  I read a couple plays when I was little, but didn’t read any more for a long time.  But I’ve gotten back into it recently, reading some plays for high school, and I’ve been loving it.  So I totally freaked out when Mom told me yesterday!  I didn’t have time to do anything about it then, but I decided today was an appropriate time to post the first Great Books paper I wrote this year.  Enjoy!!

I was first introduced to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, before I was a decade old, in Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare for Children by E. Nesbitt.  I read the original version, after seeing it performed at Shakespeare on the Green, a few summers later.  Even at the age of ten, I was enthralled.

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Aragorn: The Returning King

Tolkien, very explicitly, did not write The Lord of the Rings as an allegory.  He rather described it as “applicable”.

Aragorn is a relate-able human, he doubts himself, he messes up.  But Tolkien chose to give him a very powerful role in Middle Earth.  As a king and a successful hero, I think he must, on some level, represent Jesus.

Like I talked about in the paper I posted on Easter,  I believe in hero stories because I believe in one Hero who saved me.

You certainly can’t take this analogy too far, but they all break down somewhere, don’t they?  The Lord of the Rings is just a story and a story’s job is not necessarily to be perfectly theologically accurate.

I knew I had to do one of my “Aragorn posts” about kingship, but someone has already put what I want to say quite beautifully, so I’m going to stop rambling and point you all over to desiringgod.org:


I know I’ve linked to this before, but I think Tolkien-fans should read it.  In The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien edited by Humphrey Carpenter, Tolkien said:

Of course, Allegory and Story converge, meeting somewhere in Truth. . .  And one finds, even in imperfect human ‘literature’, that the better and more consistent an allegory is the more easily can it be read ‘just as a story’; and the better and more closely woven a story is the more easily can those so minded find allegory in it. (121)

I think this article has really helped me think about stories and fictional characters, and sort out what’s merely story, what’s allegorical, and what’s “applicable”.  So instead of my words (which you’ve already had enough of), you can read someone else’s on Aragorn and Middle Earth.  Enjoy!

When We Need a Hero: Observations on Richard III

I wrote this paper for school last week, and then realized it was perfect for Easter, and just in time for it too, so I decided to share it today.

I honestly do not know why I chose to read Richard III for Great Books this year.  I recall seeing it on my list of books, after I had long forgotten picking it, and thinking something along the lines of What was I thinking? or What have I gotten myself into?

The fact remains: it’s an odd play.  Not to mention, a bit disturbing.  It is a story–not surprisingly–about Richard III.  Richard is a discontented man, with no friends, no pretty lady to court, and nothing to do.

“And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover

To entertain these fair well-spoken days,

I am determined to prove a villain

And hate the idle pleasures of these days.” (4)

Out of this boredom, he sets out to become king of England.  The play follows this power-hungry, dissembling villain as he works his way up the hierarchy and pays mercenaries to murder off all other potential heirs.

Continue reading When We Need a Hero: Observations on Richard III


My Mom read me an article recently, that an adoptee wrote about things adopted children often struggle with.  To be honest, it was a pretty hard read.  I knew I believed in the power of listening to others and hurting alongside them when you could do nothing else–but somehow I felt something in me shutting down to the heartbreak.

I’ve experienced pain in many forms, but this was pain I could avoid, walk away from.  Someone else’s cross, I could choose to carry–or not.  You might think I had already made this decision, but adoption isn’t a moment in time, it’s a journey.  It isn’t my consent on a legal document, it’s my promise to always, always, always accept you.  Sure, these kids were my siblings–that didn’t guarantee a natural, Christ-like love on the spot.

(Who am I kidding, is love ever natural?  Yes and no–because we’re all sinful, but we’re also all made in God’s image.)

We were family, whether I liked it or not at that point, but that didn’t mean I had to bear their pain.  I was faced, as I so often am, with the unexpected choice.  There was no question in my mind as to what was right–Jesus bore our pain, our sin, our shame, in ways I can never identify with.  He wants us to do the same.  He wants us to care, He wants us to show up.  He can do the rest.

I think there is something God is trying to teach me about pain, because shortly after this our pastor started a sermon series about the cross.

What if there’s gain in feeling someone else’s pain, just because we can?

Jesus said to take up our crosses daily and follow Him.  I think he also wants us to take up others’ crosses, and help them bear them.

This Good Friday, are we willing to look at the cross, as it truly was–painful, ugly, shameful, and unjust?  Are we willing to look at pain?

Big Brother

I know, I know, I should be writing about Aragorn–but this is important.  Because we celebrated my brother’s eighteenth birthday yesterday.

So this post is for him.

This post is for my big brother, who has been the best I could ask for.  It’s for my Gandalf, who has been taking me on adventures for just about as long as I can remember.

This is for the man who has taught me, played with me, protected me, forgiven me, and shown me that men like Aragorn and Eomer are not confined to fairy stories.

This post is for the man who drove me to the theater, bought my ticket, sat through an entire princess movie with me, claimed he wasn’t bored, and didn’t even tease me (very much) when it made me cry. 🙂

This is for the man who taught me that chivalry is not dead, and that boys are cool too–no matter what other girls have said to the contrary.

Happy birthday, brother!  I love you.