• William Shakespeare: five lessons
    • Cost: $12.50

    Othello is much more than a story of love, jealousy, and revenge. The play is a rich study of contrasts between intangible qualities and mortal characters. Evil is plotted in the dark, Desdemona is constantly seen as light, and order is always tending towards disorder. The contrasting themes of order with disorder and light with darkness are important to the play and should be carefully noted when read in Othello. As is usual with Shakespeare, the plot is borrowed from an existing source. In this case, the plot of Othello comes from the Hecatomnithi written by Giraldi Cinthio, published in Venice, Italy, in 1565. However, Shakespeare does offer many innovations to Cinthio's work. While Cinthio's version stresses the unwise choice of Desdemona for marrying a Moor who was different in race and religion, Shakespeare gives his Moor a name, a noble character, and a deep soul-like love for his wife. The ending of Othello is completely Shakespeare's genius.

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    • William Shakespeare: five lessons
    • Cost: $12.50

    Many critics have expressed their opinion that Romeo and Juliet is "experimental," in that Shakespeare tested new variations on familiar themes. If this is true, then readers must look at this play differently than Shakespeare's previous historical tragedies like Henry VI and Richard III. To be a true tragedy, the tragic hero must be of royal birth, which of course neither Romeo nor Juliet can claim. These young people were aristocratic to be sure, but hardly royalty. Therefore, Shakespeare abandoned the ancient standard of Aristotle and drew from current life. It is interesting to see Juliet shift between a submissive and dutiful daughter and a mature, independent young lady within such a short period of time. Also, Romeo displays a personality that at first seems unworthy of pity, but later commends the reader's respect for his manly devotion to his love.

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    • William Shakespeare: five lessons
    • Cost: $12.50

    This is Shakespeare's first play. Two sets of twins, two sons of a nobleman and two sons of the lower class are separated during the sinking of their ship. The play begins on an ominous note when Aegeon must pay a ransom for his life to the Duke of Ephesus or die. Yet when Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse arrive in Ephesus the fun begins. Unbeknown to the characters, the other Antipholus and Dromio live in Ephesus. All sorts of confusing, but funny, situations take place throughout this great play.

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    • William Shakespeare: five lessons
    • Cost: $12.50

    A classic tale of love and revenge with justice prevailing in the end. Due to her father's will, Portia is unable to choose whom to marry, but must accept all suitors. The successful suitor must choose the correct box of gold, silver, or lead in order to marry Portia. Another plot has Shylock the Jew wanting a pound of flesh from Antonio, a good man, who often spoils the designs of Shylock. Antonio enters into an unwholesome contract with Shylock and unfortunately defaults. But a young judge is able to use the law against Shylock in order to upset the Jew's plans. This is a great study in love, friendship, prejudice, and mercy.

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    • Mark Twain: fourteen lessons
    • Cost: $17.00

    This book is mistaken to be merely a child's book. The Prince and the Pauper is a tremendous study about the silliness of the "Divine Right of Kings" and the use of capital punishment. Poor Tom Canty dreamed about meeting a real prince. When his dream comes true, Tom gets more than he ever could have dreamed. Tom becomes the Prince of Wales, in line to the succession to the throne of England! Meanwhile, the real prince, Edward VI, is having a time of it mingling with the common folk of merry England. Edward is befriended by a soldier, who has just returned to England from a foreign prison. Miles however thinks the poor boy is a little touched, yet "plays along" with the mad fellow's delusions. If this book has been read by students when they were in elementary school, they need to reread this book as teenagers. Twain, like Charles Dickens, does not write for the sake of writing, unless there is a social comment that he can make. Read this book with a critical eye.

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    • Sir Thomas More: ten lessons
    • Cost: $15.00

    Without doubt, Sir Thomas More is the first English humanist, who tries to create a society based solely on human reason. Originally, Utopia was written in Latin, because More was certain that the universal language of the scholarly class would always be Latin. More believed that by having his intellectual works in Latin, he would be assured a place in future scholarly discussions. Of course, while More was a brilliant thinker, he was no prophet. However, More as a political philosopher is worthy of notice. This work offers interesting insight about the nature of war and armies. Also, Utopia's ethical system is hedonism with a socialistic economy. Utopia offers many ideas to think about, but the primary lesson to be learned is that human reason is not a reliable guide for living the good life. Regardless of the schemes of successful living by well-intentioned men and women, if the plan excludes God as the sovereign of the home, the church, the community, and the civil government, then failure will not only likely be the result, but it will certainly occur as the judgment of the Lord God.

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