The Remorseless Working of Things: Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear — SOLD OUT

“Sanders” portrait; artist unknown

“The essence of dramatic tragedy is not unhappiness. It resides in the solemnity of the remorseless working of things…”
—Alfred North Whitehead

How is it that we find sublime pleasure in reading or viewing tragic plays? It’s an odd thing if you think about it. Overuse has sapped much of the potency from the word tragedy. That is unfortunate, for to behold the tragic, especially in its dramatic form, is a rare and superbly satisfying experience. It hurts so good!

Shakespeare’s tragedies bring us face to face with the tragic and with ourselves. They prompt questions we’ve all asked and have spent a lifetime answering. Is the person you think you are the person you are? What is the cost of self-knowledge, and is it worth the price? If we are what we do, then why and how are we responsible when we know not what we do?

The Tragedy by Pablo Picasso

During our week together, we will read and thoughtfully discuss Shakespeare’s three tragic masterpieces. Prior to the seminar, participants will view Macbeth, Hamlet, and King Lear. The week will be conducted as a seminar where we discuss the plays and the films. No prior knowledge of Shakespeare or the plays is necessary. If you want to give the Bard a go, this will be a safe environment in which to do so. If you’re a Shakespeare veteran, there will be plenty to engage your interest. I invite you to come and explore The Remorseless Working of Things.

Images courtesy Wikimedia Commons and the National Gallery of Art



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Gary Schoepfel is a forever student, novice hockey player, chess enthusiast, kayaker, former stage actor, reasonably good listener, husband of 39 years, faculty member at Harrison Middleton University, close reader, Classical Pursuits international traveller, and former VP of the Great Books Foundation.

Books and Films
Participants are required to obtain the specified editions in order to facilitate the group’s ability to find and cite portions of the text during discussion.

Macbeth (Folger Shakespeare Library, Simon & Schuster, 2003)
ISBN-13: 978-0743477109
Film: PBS Home Studio (with Patrick Stewart)

Hamlet (Folger Shakespeare Library, Simon & Schuster, 2012)
ISBN-13: 978-1451669411
Film: Warner Home Video (with Kenneth Branagh)

King Lear (Folger Shakespeare Library, Simon & Schuster, 2005)
ISBN-13: 978-0743484954
Film: PBS Home Video (with Ian McKellan)

*Note: The three films can be viewed on Netflix or Amazon, checked out of your video store or public library, or purchased through Amazon.

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Toronto Pursuits 2015