The TV show, “The Simpsons” is considered by many to be one of
the greatest animated shows ever made. Incredibly popular with people of
all ages, creator Matt Groening combined numerous elements of humor to
produce a truly original program. His goal is to never repeat the same
joke twice. The year 2000 will mark the 10th anniversary of the show
(which adds up to a lot of original jokes), and highlights its
achievement as primetime TVÕs current longest running series. In
addition, “The Simpsons” was selected to be the feature presentation at
the Sixth Annual U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado. There,
members of the cast will re-enact a previous episode in front of a live
“The Simpsons” is watched specifically for its humor. Never
before has a TV show combined so many elements of humor together and
still contained enough original ideas to run 10 seasons. Although some
people do not care for “The Simpsons” humor, the show still has a
significant following. One of the reasons “The Simpsons” is so popular
is that the show addresses a wide variety of stereotypes through its
characters. People can relate to the stereotypes. Many of the
characters are recognizable by name from week to week, and those that
arenÕt either take the form of a stereotyped profession, or the typical
John Q. Public. The result is rather amusing as everyone from the nerdy
scientist to the ambulance-chasing lawyer makes appearances. Another
reason “The Simpsons” has lasted so long is that much of its comedy comes
from takeoffs and parodies of other shows or movies. Most viewers are
familiar with a substantial number of old shows or movies, s…
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…jokes that never would have existed
otherwise: exchanges between characters, comments on society, and various
events in the show all take an ironically-humorous twist. This type of
humor is a defining characteristic of the show. Combined with the other
aspects, “The Simpsons” will truly go down as a classic series of all time.
Carlisle, Henry C., ed. American Satire in Prose and Verse. New York: Random House, 1962.
Feinburg, Leonard. Introduction to Satire. Ames, Iowa: The Iowa State University Press, 1967.
Groening, Matt. The Simpsons A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family. Ed. Ray Richmond. New York: HarperPerrenial, 1997.
Kim, James, and Cade Whitbourn. The Simpsons. “Matt Groening.” 1998. School of Media and Communication. 23 Nov 2002. http://mdcm.artsunsw.edu.au/Students98/WhitbournC/innovate1/creator.html
Shakespeare’s Hamlet – Laertes
One of the less-discussed characters in the Shakespearean tragedy, Hamlet, is Laertes, the son of Polonius and brother to Ophelia. He witnesses the death of all of his immediate family, thus losing his “honorable” approach to living – until the very end of the drama.
Bernice W. Kliman in “A Television Interpretation of Hamlet” (1964 with Christopher Plummer) highlights the actions of Laertes at the climax of the drama:
Close-ups, of course, reveal that Gertrude offers Hamlet the poisoned wine once she has drunk, that Laertes crosses himself as he takes the fatal rapier, that he gives Hamlet a foul blow after impatient urgings from Claudius, that the soldiers restrain Claudius after Laertes’ revelation. Yet the setting allows enough space around the close-ups for Laertes to make his first admission to Osric alone and for the supernumeraries to disappear while Horatio holds the dying Hamlet, the frame widening out for Fortinbras’ stately entry. (157)
Kliman’s description contains some detail which is not within the official text since her description derives from a television version of Hamlet. Based on the stage version, Marvin Rosenberg describes Laertes in his essay, “Laertes: An Impulsive but Earnest Young Aristocrat”:
Laertes is a dashing, romantic figure who excites striking, spectacular moments in the play. Not much attention has been paid to him by scholar-critics and theatre observers; for all his activity in the later acts, he is not much cursed with inward struggle – while being surrounded by others fascinating for their infernos of inwardness. After Laertes’ brief, bright introduction in I,i and I,iii, he disappears from the play – and Denmark – until he returns at the head of a rebellion in IV,v [. . .]. (87)
With Rosenberg’s overview of Laertes’ situation in the play, let us begin a consideration of his interaction with other members of the cast. Laertes makes his appearance in the drama after Marcellus, Barnardo and Horatio have already seen the Ghost and have trifled with it in an effort to prompt it to communicate with them. Horatio and Marcellus exit the ramparts of Elsinore intending to enlist the aid of Hamlet, who is dejected by the “o’erhasty marriage” to Hamlet I’s wife less than two month’s after the funeral of Hamlet’s father (Gordon 128). After this scene, Laertes is one of many in attendance at a post-coronation social gathering of the court at Elsinore.