The Bard’s Betas

Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

It is interesting to me how much of what we are discussing and learning in the manosphere is actually relearning what our ancestors already knew.  I’ve already shared examples of this with Brothers Grimm and DH Lawrence.

Quite a few of Shakespeare’s most famous plays also are very relevant from a game/manosphere perspective.

Take for example The Taming of the Shrew.  This play is wildly popular and yet vexing for anyone with a feminist mindset.  The quote below from Wiki perhaps best sums this up (emphasis mine):

The history of the analysis of The Taming of the Shrew is saturated with controversy almost from its inception, something Stevie Davies summarises when she writes that response to The Shrew “is dominated by feelings of unease and embarrassment, accompanied by the desire to prove that Shakespeare cannot have meant what he seems to be saying; and that therefore he cannot really be saying it.”

When I studied the play 20 years ago in college we were taught that the seeming transformation of Kate from a shrew to a submissive wife surely was some sort of joke Kate and Petruchio were playing on the other characters in the play as well as on the reader.  This explanation never made sense to me however, because it didn’t explain why the unruly and headstrong Kate would suddenly want to appear submissive for a man the argument assumes hadn’t tamed her.

Only with an understanding of game does the completeness of Kate’s transformation make any sense.  In Petruchio we have perhaps the most alpha character in literature.  His game is so good and his frame is so strong he can will Kate to redefine her own reality.  By the end of the process she is willing to say the sun is the moon, or whatever he tells her it is:

PETRUCHIO

I say it is the moon that shines so bright.

KATHARINA

I know it is the sun that shines so bright.

PETRUCHIO

Now, by my mother’s son, and that’s myself,
It shall be moon, or star, or what I list,
Or ere I journey to your father’s house.
Go on, and fetch our horses back again.
Evermore cross’d and cross’d; nothing but cross’d!

HORTENSIO

Say as he says, or we shall never go.

KATHARINA

Forward, I pray, since we have come so far,
And be it moon, or sun, or what you please:
An if you please to call it a rush-candle,
Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me.

PETRUCHIO

I say it is the moon.

KATHARINA

I know it is the moon.

PETRUCHIO

Nay, then you lie: it is the blessed sun.

KATHARINA

Then, God be bless’d, it is the blessed sun:
But sun it is not, when you say it is not;
And the moon changes even as your mind.
What you will have it named, even that it is;
And so it shall be so for Katharina.

While Taming of the Shrew has a happy ending thanks to Petruchio’s outstanding game, many of the more tragic Shakespeare plays are examples of the danger of a man becoming too beta.  The comments by Anonymous Reader on the Spearhead capture the essence of the problem:

Game makes it clear that any man who puts a woman on a pedestal, or who assumes that she’s more moral than he is, is not only fooling himself, he’s setting himself up for any of several bad results.

King Lear

Lear foolishly gives up his power to his daughters, thinking they will appreciate his gesture.  He fails a series of shit tests from his two daughters, giving up the remainder of what Shakespeare would call his “power” (armed men).  The famous quote from his daughter Regan sums it up quite well:

I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.

But as game would predict his choice to become weak is met with contempt.  This leads to unspeakable cruelty, with Kent being placed in the stocks, Gloucester having his eyes gouged out, and Lear going mad.

Romeo and Juliette

Young Romeo’s oneitis for a 14 year old girl he has only met once ultimately leads to him committing suicide.

Othello

Alpha by position, the general Othello lets his beta side get the best of him when he pedestalizes Desdemona.   All it takes are rumors that she loves another man and he strangles her, leading to his own downfall.

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18 Responses to The Bard’s Betas

  1. Dan in Philly says:

    Excellent examples, Dal. And the exasperation modernists have with “Taming” will pass once this current madness called feminists is passed.

    Game resonates so well in literature because it’s true. Faminists never resonate, I cannot think of a single example of a feminist resonating in great literature. Modern sf/fantasy has almost been ruined by the feminist movement, where we’re supposed to believe that a woman with a sword can go toe to toe with the greatest male swordsmen in the world.

  2. T.N. Toluene says:

    And what about MacBeth, who lets his woman run wild?

    Shakespeare has especially keen insights, but it seems ever so much more so in these days of madness.

    [D: Good example. I think Shakespeare draws a clear distinction between what I call female power and traditional male forms of power (typically armed men in his plays). Those who try to use female power (manipulation & treachery) to achieve status end up in disaster. Clearly MacBeth was lead astray by his wife, but he knew better. Hamlet's uncle (and perhaps his mother?) made the same mistake.]

  3. MNL says:

    The Taming of the Shrew is priceless.

    In addition to your roster of historic bards and their knowledge of game, any such list isn’t complete until you add Lord Byron. As an example, here’s a link to Byron’s “Reply to some Verses of J.M.B. Pigot, Esq., on the Cruelty of his Mistress”: http://readytogoebooks.com/LB-JMBP61.htm

    For those here who are too poetically-challenged to digest Byron, here’s MNL’s short, modern translation of the above:

    Don’t get stuck on any one particular woman, my dear friend Pigot. It’s pointless one-itis and is the opposite of what it takes to win the woman over. It only serves to put you in a position of “debt”, takes you out of frame, and instills in her a sense of privilege simply because she owns a vagina (“false pride”). Instead, neg her profusely (give “partial neglect”) and go date a whole bunch of other women (i.e., “lengthen your chain”). This will clear your head (“away with despair”) and give you proper perspective. If you follow this advice (“adopt this design”), you may in fact win the girl over in the end (“and then you may kiss your coquette”). But if you don’t follow this advice, you’ll end up so enslaved (“with her snares you’re beset”) that the relationship becomes a constant pain in the ass (you’ll have a “deep-wounded heart”) and you’ll end up regretting ever meeting her in the first place (which “leads you to curse the coquette”).

    [D: Good work. I wasn't familiar with that one. Thanks!]

  4. Sweet As says:

    I would say that Shrew is one of my favorites, mostly because I like Kate a lot.

    Not because she is “tamed” I don’t think she is. I think she is rightly matched and challenged. Kate is right, at the beginning of the film — the lives that her sisters want is maddening, and she wants no part of such a ridiculous marriage. She’s smart, she’s tough, and she is strong-minded. These are assets for both men and women, IMO.

    In my reading, Kate’s sisters want the social and cultural cache that marriage brings them. In choosing a husband, they want one that they can rule, thus having all of the power. What happens is you end up with a boring, simpering male partner. You end up wearing all of the pants and he none. And ultimately *this* creates bitter shrews — as demonstrated at the end of the play — not the right balance of partnership.

    As a strong minded, stubborn and intelligent woman like Kate, I need something to push against. I am capable of managing my own life in many ways, taking care of myself and my children. This is what is required of me, honestly, and in addition to work. Women are quite capable beings.

    But the “SuperMom” is a horrible, horrible process. She does everything — including being the husband because the husband is so beta or omega as to be useless. Yes, useless husbands exist. They simper, they whine, and they are cared for like another dependent. He begs for sex and she is bored.

    I lived this life for two years (since my son was born) and it does create a bitchy, angry, shrew of a woman filled with resentment and frustration.

    I needed my man to “man up.” And thank God he finally listened to me, because I was railing around like Kate at the beginning of the play, rather than being in balance with my mate — because he gives me something to push against and takes up his own mantle to care for himself, for me, and our child in the proper position in the household (and in our relationship).

    I don’t think of it as “taming” so much as really recognizing that what i need is a true partner, someone with his own spine, his own “game” if you will, and without that, yeah, i’m a shrew too.

  5. David Foster says:

    There is a film version of Othello, called “O”, which takes place in a modern high school, with the title character being a star basketball player rather than a general. It sounds contrived, but it actually works very well. My review is here.

  6. Days of Broken Arrows says:

    Not to get nitpicky, but if you’re going to be delving into English literature, use proper English punctuation. It’s “The Bard’s Betas,” with an apostrophe in “Bard,” since it’s a possessive. “The Bards Betas” without the apostrophe sounds like the name of a rock band.

    Otherwise an insightful post.

    [D: Fixed. In my defense my original concern was that an apostrophe in the title could create a problem with the link. WordPress seems to be fine with the fix though.]

  7. Anonymous Reader says:

    Well, drat, I wanted to be the first to bring up MacBeth. Oh, well, I’ll explicate anyway.

    On the one hand MacBeth is clearly ambitious, and the prophetic remarks by the three witches surely fans his ambition. On the other hand, he’s not at all in favor of the plan to murder Duncan, the King. It is his ambitious wife who in the end convinces him, by the oh so familiar ploy of accusing him of “not being man enough” to be king. There’s a lot in this situation: there’s “let’s you and him fight”, there’s blind ambition & manipulation of the husband.

    But ultimately, it’s MacBeth who fails to put the Lady in her place. He goes beta, then switches to a thug version of alpha, in my opinion. Once he gets started killing, he doesn’t stop. And that ultimately brings him down; in Greek terms, his fatal flaw lies in paying too much attention to his ambitious wife, and not enough to his conscience.

    By the way, there is a very interesting Japanese version of MacBeth that was made in the 1950′s, in black and white film, starring Toshiro Mifune, the English language title is “Throne of Blood”.

  8. Sweet As says:

    and, i mention in mine (by accident) “in the film…” when i meant play, but i’d just rewatched Elizabeth Taylor’s turn in the film, and what a glorious job she did. It’s a lovely little version. :)

    in related topics, this post has really brought me into realms of thinking about female power (which i wouldn’t characterize as manipulation and treachery per se, but can see how WS and others authors through the years might), and how it is rightly “channeled.”

    i’m reminded of — and i’m sorry to go so far afield — the power of Durga (hindu goddess) whose wrath creates Kali (another hindu goddess). Once that wrath is unleashed, she frenzies until her dance might destroy the cosmos (she did manage to destroy the demon that Durga was sent out to destroy, and in her frustration, Kali jumped from her brow and well . . .back to the point).

    Frightened, most of the gods and goddesses are powerless in front of this raw power. Except one: Shiva. He approaches her, and she ends up dancing on top of him. This arouses him (it’s described as “the Golden Body of Shiva, aroused beneath her dancing feet” in one art book i have), but even that doesn’t distract her from her frenzy (“usually works” was probably his thought. LOL).

    what does? Shiva laughs.

    That’s it.

    Shiva laughs at the pure power of her body, her energy, her frenzy. He’s aroused by her *in her power* and *in her power unleashed*. But, it also cannot be fully unleashed — because the story says that she could frenzy until the whole cosmos is destroyed. And there is truly only one thing that can stop her — the energy of a Male.

    Shiva is the wild man (just as kali is the wild woman) of the hindu cosmology. He roams the mountain sides. He wears skins. He smokes weed. He wears his hair all wild. He is the creative and destructive work of the cosmos. He has two consorts: Parvati — goddess of culture — a princes who always tries to tame him; and Kali, the wild woman, destroyer of illusion. Kali is fearsome. Fearsome! and Shiva can match her.

    In addition, Kali’s energy is akin to the primordial ooze. it is a vast ocean of materiality with no form. Shiva’s energy is pure energy — it’s the energy of ideas. Without form, ideas are nothing. Without ideas, form is nothing. Together, they create Something-ness. They push against each other, equally, and compliment.

    See, you got my mind going, my juices flowing in this direction. Shiva has game, for sure. :)

  9. I am not... says:

    All’s Well That Ends Well is a good example of Game. Bertram is aloof towards Helena, so she chases him the entire play. He’s supplicating towards Diana so she wants nothing to do with him, and in fact helps make him settle for Helena.

    Also the Merchant of Venice. The suitors who try and pass Portia’s tests get nowhere. But because she likes Bassanio, the tests are irrelevant – she cheats to make sure he passes.

  10. You’ll be especially interested in the linked article, Dalrock.

    It turns out the quality of mercy was strained when Toronto tried an experiment in feminized justice. Turns out that, in the Toronto Women’s Court — at least in the years covered by the study — the quality of mercy one experienced had mostly to do with the “quality” of woman one was perceived to be.

    http://legalhist.jotwell.com/feminized-not-feminist-justice-at-the-toronto-women%E2%80%99s-court/

    But then, what did the sisters chant? “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.”

  11. Flahute says:

    Game in literature, great stuff. Yes, Petruchio is great alpha character and he passed every test she gave him. However, Petruchio also lived in a society where a woman was considered a man’s property. How did he “break” her? After taking possession of her (in marriage), he starved her of food and drink. He broke her animal will. After she had been broken, she realized that she was married to the strongest-willed man she had ever met and she loved him for it. She also saw his shortcomings and how badly he needed a woman to fulfill her duty, and she gladly stepped into that role to make him an even better man. Now there’s a woman.

  12. Alte says:

    We did Taming of the Shrew in high school drama, and I played Bianca (even though all of the girls wanted to be Kate, of course). Interesting that it is seen as being controversial. None of us caught on to that at the time, and the story seemed quite sweet to us, and Petruchio quite hot.

    I’ve referenced the play a few times on my blog, as I also see it as a classic Game piece. The Bible also has lots of good Game stuff in it, especially the OT.

  13. Breeze says:

    Your reference to Shakespeare reminded me of a long gone manosphere writer by the name of Pook. He first appeared on sosuave in 2005 and left there when the manginas took over. He then wrote a blog that I think may interest you. http://dapook.blogspot.com/ – He talks about Shakespeare and game and draws the same conclusions you do (which are pretty obvious once you being to be able to understand Shakespeare).
    One thing many people forget is the first part of Taming of the Shrew is actually seperate and the main story is a play within a play. That often makes interpreting it more confusing.
    By the way, have you read Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis? Some very basic game in there.

    @ MNL: I haven’t read much of Byron’s work, what are some other good poems of his?

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