Tuesday, September 20, 2016
William Shakespeare’s The Clone Army Attacketh: Star Wars Part The Second by Ian Doescher (2015) Book Review
The prologue is delivered by the Chorus as a sonnet, and its first line contains a reference to Macbeth: “All hurly-burly goes the galaxy” (p. 7). In the first scene of Macbeth, the second witch says, “When the hurlyburly’s done.” Padme’s first line is the first line from The Merchant Of Venice (in that play, spoken by Antonio): “In sooth, I know not why I am so sad” (p. 10). This book jokes lightly with the fact that in the film Anakin was played by a different actor than in The Phantom Menace while Padme was played again by Natalie Portman (with only three years between films): “Though I feel I have ag’d but little since/I last did see him, back on small Naboo,/The change in him doth tell of many years/That evidently fill’d the interim” (p. 18).
As in The Phantom Of Menace, here Jar Jar Binks, when left alone, speaks with eloquence, his clown speech a sort of disguise. “I chose, aye, long ago, to play this role/And I shall play the part unto the end./What would they say if Jar Jar suddenly/Spoke as they do, or show’d an aspect wise?/Why, they would think me mad e’en as I spoke/More sanely than I ever did before” (p. 22). And later Jar Jar even refers to Hamlet’s speech to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: “They would play me as though I were a pipe,/With stops and whistles made for their employ” (p. 113). As in earlier volumes of this series, characters who did not speak in the films are given speeches here, such as Zam Wesell’s probe droid. Also, the Reek, Acklay and Nexu speak, acting as the three witches from Macbeth (the Acklay has the “hurlyburly’s done” line).
This book contains plenty of direct references to Shakespeare’s works. Palpatine, in an aside, says, “What fools these Jedi be!” (p. 39), which is a play on Puck’s “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And Rumor later refers to Puck when he says “to my puckish will shall he be bent” (p. 62).
The love story between Anakin and Padme (one of the film’s weaknesses) makes use of The Taming Of The Shrew. Anakin says, “Come, come, thou wasp: thine hidden secret shout” (p. 72). Padme responds, “If I be waspish, best beware my sting.” Anakin says, “My remedy is, then, to pluck it out.” This, of course, refers to the famous wooing scene of the play. (Anakin will return to Shrew later when he says, “He that knows better how to tame a beast,/Now let him speak; ‘tis charity to show.”) The Anakin and Padme love story makes references to other plays as well, including The Two Gentlemen Of Verona, when Anakin says “What light is light, if Padme be not seen?/What joy is joy, if Padme be not by?” (p. 74). (In the play, Valentine says, “What light is light, if Silvia be not seen?/What joy is joy ,if Silvia be not by?”) Anakin also quotes Love’s Labour’s Lost, saying, “They are the books, the arts, the academes,/That show, contain, and nourish all the world” (p. 75), words spoken by Berowne in Act IV. Anakin also borrows a line from Lysander from A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “The course of true love never did run smooth” (p. 77). Padme gets into the game too, using the words of Rosalind from As You Like It: “I pray thee, do not fall in love with me,/For I am falser than vows made in wine” (p. 78), though actually Rosalind says, “I pray you, do not fall in love with me.” She also quotes Viola from Twelfth Night: “O, time! Thou must untangle this, not I;/It is too hard a knot for me t’untie” (p. 79).
At Shmi’s death, Anakin borrows much of Macbeth’s famous speech, saying, “My mother, O! She should have died hereafter,/There would have been a time for such a word./Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow/Creeps in this petty pace from day to day/To the last syllable of recorded time,/And all our yesterdays have lighted fools/The way to dusty death. On, on, lightsaber!” (p. 101). Of course, Macbeth says, “Out, out, brief candle,” not “On, on lightsaber.” And Owen, upon learning of Shmi’s death, sings a funeral dirge that might remind you of Ophelia’s first song of Act IV. Anakin soon quotes from Othello, mentioning “the green-eyed monster, jealousy” (p. 106). And then from Hamlet, “they did make love to this employment” (p. 106).
C-3PO also refers to Hamlet when he says, “O, what a piece of work’s humanity –/How infinite in faculty! In form/And moving, how express and admirable!” (p. 121). C-3PO then acts the part of Mercutio from Romeo And Juliet, saying, “Aye, ask for me/Tomorrow, you shall find me a scrap droid!” (p. 123). (Mercutio says, “ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man.”) C-3PO even acts as Bottom from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, saying: “Have they all stolen hence, left me asleep?/R2, I’ve had a most rare vision, yea:/I’ve had a dream, past wit of droid to say/What dream it was: aye, I were but an akk,/If I did go about t’expound this dream./Methought I was – yet no droid can tell what./Methought I was – and too, methought I had – /But I am a patched fool, if I/Will offer to say what methought I had./The eyes of droids have never heard, the ears/Of droids have never seen, droids’ circuitry/Not able been to sense, nor programming/Conceive, nor e’en droids’ core to make report,/What my dream was. I’ll speak no more of it” (p. 143). And, if you hadn’t caught wind of the reference, R2 adds, “It seems the droid hath bottom’d out his sense” (p. 143).
Even the stage directions bring to mind certain plays, as Doescher writes, “Obi-Wan hides behind an arras” (p. 95), making us think of poor Polonius. Ian Doescher adds a scene between two Jedi, a scene in which he plays with the idea of these stories being told at some point in the future in a “galaxy far, far away” (p. 110). Doescher mixes in other, non-Shakespearian references as well. For example, he has C-3PO say, “We’re not in Tatooine,/Not anymore: O, there’s no place like home!” That’s obviously a reference to The Wizard Of Oz. And at one point Obi-Wan Kenobi actually refers to a popular Kenny Rogers song: “’Tis good to know when holding maketh sense,/’Tis better yet to know when one should fold,/’Tis best to know when one should walk away,/Yet now the time hath come for me to run!” And if you might have not have caught the reference yet, he adds, “I’ll join the others – yea, no gambler I!” (p. 133).
William Shakespeare’s The Clone Army Attacketh: Star Wars Part The Second was published in 2015 by Quirk Books.