Were I Human



I like instances. I like moments. When I think of Shakespeare I often think of small bits. This is how it was taught to me and how I fell in love with it.

When Macbeth meets the witches, he has a physical reaction. How do we know? Because Banquo says to him:

…why do you start, and seem to fear
Things that do sound so fair?

Start. What a word. What does he mean? A reflex? A jump? Whatever it is physically, I think it is a reaction of recognition. I think Macbeth recognises the witches’ prophecy in himself. But that’s a subject for another time…

I’m starting a blog. And I am inviting you to ask questions. About Shakespeare, Bell Shakespeare, productions past and future, and I will answer while musing on stuff that interests me. Like instances.

I’m calling it Were I Human.

Because of The Tempest.

The Tempest is a play I love full of many moments that move me, often to tears.

The Tempest is a revenge drama. Yes, it’s a comedy. There will be a wedding at the end. But its engine is revenge.

But the moment, the turn, is when the airy sprite Ariel, Prospero’s indentured servant, describes his tortured and tormented enemies to his master:

… if you now beheld them, your affections
Would become tender.


Dost thou think so, spirit?


Mine would, sir, were I human.

A spirit describes humanity to the human. Cripes. How good is that?

That’s what I am going to write about.

– Peter