How have themes from Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis appeared in popular culture such as film, music, games, or artwork?

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Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis contains some age-old themes that still show up in pop culture. Let’s get you started on this assignment by thinking about how a passage from the poem is still very much relevant to modern culture.

You first step in this assignment is to choose a passage to analyze. You might choose the very first stanzas of the poem, or you could choose a passage that you think is very persuasive with regard to Venus, or you might choose the death scene at the end.

In any case, you are asked to close read and annotate the passage. Close reading refers to digging into the details of the poem. If you choose the first few stanzas, for instance, close reading will note that the poem starts in medias res, in the midst of things. Adonis is ready to set out on a hunt. The sun is purple-faced and symbolizes Adonis himself. It takes leave of the weeping moon as he would certainly like to take leave of the weeping Venus.

Adonis has no interest in love. In fact, he laughed it to scorn. You might want to underline this phrase in your annotation, for it sets the tone for Adonis’s whole response to Venus. He is disgusted by her and simply uninterested in her love.

A close reading also notices how Venus is described. She is “Sick-thoughted.” In other words, she is so much in love (or lust) with Adonis that she is not even thinking right. And she takes on the role of a bold suitor, reversing gender roles to woo a man instead of waiting for him to woo her (which he simply will not do).

Your assignment also asks you to think in terms of popular culture. Reflect on some of the novels you have read or the movies you have seen. Are there any that explore the theme of unrequited love, of a woman who seeks the love of a man but is rejected by him? You might even be able to think of a song or two in which a woman is rejected.

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