Essay: Incongruous to Try to Compare

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[. . .] So outraged were the readers of the pamphlet that the editor had to make a public apology for the piece. He wrote, in Renaissance English: "I am as sorry as if the originall fault had beene my fault, because myself have seene his demeanor no less civill than he exclent in the quality he professes: besides, divers of worship have reported his uprightnes of dealing which argues his honesty, and his facetious [felicitous] grace in writing that approoves his art" (Backus 1897). Greene was not without his supporters. Even in the Modern age, there are theorists who claim that not all of the works attributed to William Shakespeare were truly written by the Bard. There are some who even pose that none of the Shakespearean plays were written by William Shakespeare. To "prove" their theories, these writers have pointed to Shakespeare's relatively rural upbringing and claimed that someone with limited education and who lived outside a metropolis would have no access to the training and historical knowledge evident in the Shakespearean plays. This, of course, is utterly ridiculous. Any great artist will have their detractors and those who wish to blemish their legacy.

Marley's sounds were influenced by the traditional music of the island of Jamaica (Toynbee 2007,-page 14). Yet, he was able to succeed more than the other low-class teenagers banging on homemade instruments in the slums of Jamaica. In the song "No Woman, No Cry," Marley sings about what it was like living in these times of poverty and violence. "In a government yard in Trenchtown / Obba, obba, serving the hypocrites / As the would mingle with the good people we meet / Good friends we have, oh, good friends we've lost" (Marley 1974). Trenchtown was the nickname given to the part of Kingston where Marley hailed from. It was a very poor part of the town where many people were unemployed. Those in authority in Jamaica were seen as corrupt and unworthy of trust. They were in the positions of power and yet so many were living in poverty.

The hypocrisy of the ruling class would feature heavily in Shakespeare's plays, particularly in his tragedies and histories. One such example is in the play Macbeth. In the story, a power-hungry man and his wife conspire to murder the Scottish king and remove anyone who would prohibit their own ascension to the throne. Macbeth's wife has been the impetus in the king's murder. Without his wife's insistence the king would not have died. In a famous soliloquy, Lady Macbeth ruminates on the deeds that she has performed and questions whether the ends have justified the means. When left alone by the servant, Lady Macbeth has nothing to do but reflect on her conduct and that of her spouse. Her initial assessment is the realization that she is not at all happy. When Macbeth was made Thane of Cawdor, a title he had indeed earned, Lady Macbeth had a taste of increasing power and was enraptured by it. Therefore she believed that with more power would come an even stronger feeling. Lady Macbeth felt that the power of being queen of Scotland would undoubtedly bring her peace and happiness. Instead she knows that her actions directly led to death and to civil unrest. She cannot look at her crown without seeing the blood that has been shed. There is no murder with impunity. Upon further consideration, she adds that "T is safer to be that which we destroy / Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy" (8-9). What she means here is that she believes, quite literally, that she would be far better off dead than in her present state. King Duncan is now dead and at peace. When he was alive, he was not in the same condition of turmoil that Lady Macbeth faces because he knew that he had gained his throne by rightful means and not by murder most foul. By killing their king, Lord and Lady Macbeth have inherited his throne but neither is at peace. The problem with gaining power through dubious means is that you must continue to do terrible things to either keep that power or to prevent people from knowing about your former awful actions. The joy Lady Macbeth had expected when she and her husband made their plans for regicide never materialized. The dead are far better off than those who brought them to their death. In the story of Macbeth, William Shakespeare shows how the depraved will behave in order to achieve power, something that he sees in almost all rulers, a relatively dangerous statement in a country dominated by a monarch who herself was not above acts of violence in order to assure that she remained in power.

Like Shakespeare, Marley was not above making controversial statements in his art. Most of Bob Marley's works have been controversial because of their depiction of anti-authority perspectives. One of his works, the song "I Shot the Sheriff" tells the story of a man who admits to having killed the local sheriff, but vows that he has been falsely accused of killing the sheriff's deputy. The sheriff's death, he says, was in self-defense and "I shot him down and I say: / If I am guilty I will pay" (Marley 1973). This speaks to Marley's point-of-view when songwriting. The character here will gladly give his life to the justice system for the crime he has committed, but will fight to the end against the accusations of things for which he is innocent. Critics have pointed to this song and erroneously described it as a celebration of violence towards those in authority.

As Marley had people who misinterpreted his works, so too did William Shakespeare. During the Renaissance, the Puritans rallied to have all theaters closed, feeling that they were inappropriate diversions and invited people to sin. They "railed against the rogues, pickpockets, and prostitutes to be found in their midst and regarded the theaters as places of ill repute, no better than the neighboring brothels" (Laroque, page 72). When Elizabeth I passed away, subsequent leaders would side with the Puritans and did in fact close the theaters for a good period of time.

Some people have looked to the works of Bob Marley, and have attempted to paint him as some kind of deity, or at the very least as a prophet of some ethereal message. He was considered by some as a symbol of the Rastafarians' Jah, another word for God (Paprocki 2006,-page 3). In the country of Jamaica, Rastafarians were often harassed by police and other authoritarian figures. One of the main reasons for this was that the Rastas flagrantly used ganja in their meditations, which is still illegal in Jamaica (White 2006,-page 16). The Rastas were a religion wherein:

To be a Rasta takes enormous faith, say the brethren, for the veracity of Jah's vision and meditations is assailed at every turn, even in Africa. Yet Rastas point out that the Bible prophesies that there will be much confusion just before Babylon falls; many jackals will raise their voices in falsehood, directing truth-seekers into spiritual cul-de-sacs. So, they conclude, ridicule and repression are but ratifications of the Rasta gospel (White 2006,-page 16).

To understand Marley's psychology and the consequent philosophy of his writings, it is imperative to understand the Rastafarian religion. According to Sherry Paprocki, "The Rastas are devoted followers of a religion rooted in Ethiopia that is based on the tenets of peace, love, and unity. They honored Marley in a way that others honor and praise God in their own religions" (page 3). Religious people felt all the philosophies of Rastafarianism were illustrated in the work of Bob Marley. According to Jason Toynbee (2007), the reason for this allusion is Marley's "sense of mission, an intense drive to make music and in doing so tell the truth about the world" (page 2). In Marley's songs, he advocates revolution; for the poor people of the world to stand up for their rights against those in financial power. He is considered by the Rastas to be a prophet for their message of peace, love, and unity all fighting against those who would cause discord and suffering for financial gain. Bob Marley was not above connecting himself with this god-like image. In his song, "Is This Love," the narrator pledges to his beloved that he will provide her shelter as the strong male, which is how he equates himself to this God. "We'll be together with a roof right over our heads; / We'll share the shelter of my single bed; / We'll share the same room, yeah! -- for Jah provide the bread" (Marley 1978). The narrator only has modest possessions, all of which are provided to him by the god Jah. As provider to the woman, he gives his/her bed for example, the man is her god. In an earlier piece, Marley made a… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Incongruous to Try to Compare.  (2011, March 16).  Retrieved July 22, 2019, from

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