Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 278. Thursday, 29 October 1992.
From: Thomas G. Bishop <
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 28, 1992, 21:29:24 -0500
Subject: 3.0276 Hero's Mother
Comment: Re: SHK 3.0276 Hero's Mother
Michael Friedman writes a propos of Hero's mother:
> Hero of *Much Ado* does have a mother, but
>she is excised from nearly every edition and production because she has no
>lines and is therefore considered insignificant. If anyone is interested in
>the whole story, see "Hush'd on purpose to grace harmony': Wives and Silence in
>*Much Ado About Nothing*" *Theatre Journal* 42 (1990): 350-63. Another
>interesting article on this topic is Mary Beth Rose's "Where are the Mothers
>in Shakespeare?" in the Fall 1991 issue of *Shakespeare Quarterly*.
No one has ever disputed, I think, that Hero has a mother. Leonato refers to
this woman in the first scene in the play's first cuckolding joke. But whether
Hero's mother ever appeared on stage is a slightly different problem.
Certainly a character called "Innogen," Leonato's wife, is written into the
first directions of 1.1. and 1.2 of the published text of both Q1600 and F1.
There she remained, silent and null till Theobald excised her. But there is
a good question as to whether such a figure would ever have appeared on stage.
Q is clearly a mixed-up text, probably one of those tawdry and tattered "foul
papers" bibliographers love ("A paper from Fortune's close-stool..."), which
means that poor Innogen may never have been more than a false start who, when
she lived, was Leonato's other wife. I suspect it was Shakespeare's lack of a
place for her in the developing plot and the need to exclude senior female
authorities from laughing or cursing at Leonato et al as they so richly deserve
that kept Innogen on the shelf. A completely silent character who appears in
only two scenes and is never addressed directly would be very unusual, and
probably a waste of scarce acting manpower in a crowded scene.
So let's not mourn too hard for Innogen: she got a much longer run ten years
Tom Bishop "Poor Tom has been scared out of his good wits"
Dept of English
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, OH 44106. (