Monday, February 10, 2014

The Plight for Fruit Snacks

Service learning is unfamiliar territory to me, as is the Tunbridge school. Reluctantly, I stumbled across the correct entrance which led me to the correct office and up to the correct classroom. Without any invitation at all, I walked into Room 202. Twenty-eight eyes stared back at me. “My name is, Sam.” Without much discourse, the teacher said, “Welcome,” gave me a handful of red tickets and told me to sit next to Corey. Corey was working in his math book (not my forte in the slightest). I pulled up a chair next to him and tried to figure out what they were learning. I sat on my hands so that Corey couldn’t see me counting on them and hoping to God math class was ending soon. The red tickets laid in my lap and his eyes quickly diverted to them. Immediately he began to work more diligently; working fast and with extreme focus. He completed the four pages required of him and then asked me for the tickets. The tickets was the teacher’s way to give some incentive to the kids; twenty tickets and you earn a small prize, one hundred tickets earns a large prize. I forfeited two tickets and he added them to his collection. There, in that plastic bag was Corey’s scholarly virtue embodied in red paper tickets. But was it honest depiction of Corey’s integrity? Or just a disguise used to attain a treat?
Now I’ll attempt to connect this with Shakespeare’s, Twelfth Night. While reading I became stuck on the notion of “true love” and the loves triangles and deceit that ensue. As I further examined each character’s romantic desires, I began to realize that their love was entirely based under false pretenses. Orsino is in love with the idea of love, and Olivia is just the object in his fabricated vision of love. Malvolio had no intent with love until a false letter gives great prospect to a more lavish lifestyle. Viola is actually a woman, or on the stage in Shakespeare’s time a man dressed as a woman, dressed as a man, which emphasizes the humor and deceit in the plot. Which means that Olivia is falling for a woman, making her desire to be that of a homosexual relationship. Each character is painted as a fool (and quite physically as well, ie. Malvolio’s yellow tights). The only instance that true love is portrayed in the first half of Twelfth Night  is seen when Olivia is mourning the death of her brother. Ironically enough, Orsino, the man who speaks of nothing else than true love, mocks and ridicules her and construes the idea that Olivia’s love for her brother will ultimately be channeled and directed towards him. 
The question posed is what is the purpose in desiring love? Orsino wins his trophy wife, but then what? He said it himself that a man should never marry an older woman because her looks have faded and a woman who has lost her virginity is of no value. When Malvolio reads the counterfeit letter his initial reaction is, “’Tis but fortune; all is fortune” (2.5, line 23) “To be Count Malvolio” (2.5, line 34). He does not care for Olivia, but cares for the immense wealth he will inherit when they are married. He goes on to make a complete fool of himself, imagining himself the owner of such an estate and the joy he will find in abusing Sir Toby as his inferior. These are only immediate gains without any thought to the permanent circumstances they could potentially find themselves in. 

I believe Shakespeare is emphasizing the inherent nature of desire. In the second half of Twelfth Night order is restored and each character finds their suitable match, but until then, Shakespeare creates the hilarious encounters and mishaps to demonstrate what happens when people act on their false ideals and desires. Alas, desire is important. Without it, mankind would fail to propel forward and lay at a standstill. But there is a difference between false desires and true desires. Corey wanted to do well on his math packet because he wanted a bag of fruit snacks and a new pencil. And who could blame Corey? I’m not trying to devalue him as a human being, but you can see where there might be some worry. The kid is in 3rd grade, so of course I can’t expect him to be enthralled with all of his coursework. But it is interesting to contemplate his truthful self and whether or not the teacher should be rewarding him for something that is expected. I cannot argue with the teacher’s method; it proves to be extremely effective. Hell! I’d be more willing to pay attention in a mundane course with the promise of a treat. But is Corey learning? Is Corey being truth to himself? I think Shakespeare would argue that acting on false desires is dangerous and that in the end, you look like a fool. 

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