Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Inacuracy of Sparknotes

This is part of a passage that I found on Sparknotes.com about The Crucible when it is talking about the different themes and ideas that are present in its pages. However, I seem to disagree with one of the viewpoints that they have on empowerment when it comes to Abigail Williams. It continues as thus:

Empowerment

The witch trials empower several characters in the play who are previously marginalized in Salem society. In addition to being thus restricted, Abigail is also slave to John Proctor's sexual whims–he strips away her innocence when he commits adultery with her, and he arouses her spiteful jealousy when he terminates their affair. Because the Puritans' greatest fear is the defiance of God, Abigail's accusations of witchcraft and devil-worship immediately command the attention of the court. By aligning herself, in the eyes of others, with God's will, she gains power over society, as do the other girls in her pack, and her word becomes virtually unassailable, as do theirs.

No, I'm pretty sure that Abigail is practically the spawn of Satan, and it wasn't John Proctor that seduced Abigail, it was Abigail who seduced Proctor. I'm sorry but the way the Abigail's character is written in the play, she is too much a manipulative witch (no pun intended, though I mean to replace a different letter) to have Proctor being the one to take away her virginity and "innocence". If Abigail Williams is innocent when it comes to sex then I'm a $50 whore (and I've been told by a co-worker that this is the price paid for the cheapest bottom-of-the-barrel "lady of the night").

Similarly I've seen Sparknotes say that Hamlet has an Oedipus complex. Excuse me, what?
The motif of incest runs throughout the play and is frequently alluded to by Hamlet and the ghost, most obviously in conversations about Gertrude and Claudius, the former brother-in-law and sister-in-law who are now married. A subtle motif of incestuous desire can be found in the relationship of Laertes and Ophelia, as Laertes sometimes speaks to his sister in suggestively sexual terms and, at her funeral, leaps into her grave to hold her in his arms. However, the strongest overtones of incestuous desire arise in the relationship of Hamlet and Gertrude, in Hamlet’s fixation on Gertrude’s sex life with Claudius and his preoccupation with her in general.
Anyone who has read Hamlet know that this accusation of an incestous relationship between Hamlet and Gertrude is ridiculous- Hamlet is concerned that his mom has completely forgotten the memory of his father a month after he died and that she married his uncle because she wants to stay in power and keep her cushy life- I'm pretty sure he's not concerned that she's now having sex with his uncle now step-dad and not him. Let's be honest here. That's a little creepy. And I'm sure that Shakespeare couldn't and didn't write creepy stuff like that. He left thatkind of writing for the Marquis de Sade to tackle a couple hundred years later.

What I want to know is what is Sparknotes' fascination with sex and getting the story line wrong? Do they insist on getting the entire plot of a story wrong so that when an inscestous relationship actually shapes the plot of a story, they leave it out? Like saying that Oedipus actually didn't have sex with his mom and that the former phrase an "Oedipus Complex" is nothing more than a lie? The thing that I find stupid is that professors and those who believe they are God's gift to the world when it comes to interpreting literature read much more into what was written and try to fill their meaningless jobs with things to do such as finding new meanings for why Hamlet is upset that his mom is now shacking up with his uncle a month after his father's death, or calling John Proctor a pedafile. Thanks for letting me make my own interpretations of what the great authors have written, and ruining the literature experience for me.

2 comments:

Jamie said...

Hm. Sparknotes didn't come up with Hamlet's Oedipal complex, though, Freud did. He pretty much ruined Hamlet because before he decided that all men want to have sex with their mothers, nobody thought that about Hamlet at all.

Nancyd said...

Way fun to read, Chelsea. Keep them coming.