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Home :: Archive :: 1992 :: October ::
Re: Hero's MotherCURRENT
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 287.  Saturday, 31 October 1992.
 
(1)	From: 	Rick Jones <
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	Date: 	Friday, Oct. 30 1992, 16:46:00 CST
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 3.0280  Rs: Hero's Mother
 
(2)	From: 	John Drakakis <
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	Date: 	Saturday, Oct. 31, 1992, 10:48:57 GMT
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 3.0285 Re: Hero's Mother
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
From: 		Rick Jones <
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Date: 		Friday, Oct. 30 1992, 16:46:00 CST
Subject: 3.0280  Rs: Hero's Mother
Comment: 	RE: SHK 3.0280  Rs: Hero's Mother
 
Many thanks to John Drakakis for reminding me, at least, that silence
is a profound form of communication.  I think that it was Jean-Louis
Barrault (but it may have been Nicholas Battaille) who suggested that
our conception of theatre is fundamentally flawed if we regard silence
as the interruption of text rather than the other way 'round.
Certainly the whole idea of silence as a motif is not
unknown in the drama of c. 1600, and it's only a decade or so from
_Much Ado_ to Jonson's _Epicoene_, when the theme is absolutely
central.
 
I've currently in the midst of teaching the three "Electra" plays,
making a big deal of the fact that Pylades says little in Aeschylus
but *nothing* in Euripides.  One would think I could draw appropriate
analogies, but sometimes I'm a little slow on the uptake.
 
Thanks, John!
 
--Rick Jones
Cornell College
 
(2)---------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
From: 		John Drakakis <
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Date: 		Saturday, Oct. 31, 1992, 10:48:57 GMT
Subject: 3.0285 Re: Hero's Mother
Comment: 	Re: SHK 3.0285 Re: Hero's Mother
 
Tom Bishop seems to think that my objection to the argument he has
advanced was on the grounds of its "familiarity".  The position he
takes is a familiar one, but it presupposes a particular theory of
composition: that Shakespeare had in his head a female character called
Innogen that he somehow either forgot about from the start, or that he
couldn't "realize" by giving her something to say.
 
Bishop then thinks that if Innogen is a real presence, then her absence
from the final scene of the play becomes problematical.  I'm afraid that
the reading I am suggesting would require him to dispense altogether with
the tenets of his own argument.  Let me put it this way: if Innogen's
stage presence can be made to signify in 1.i. and 2.i. then surely her
ABSENCE signifies.  She is already married and has no say whatsoever in
the proceedings; her condition of ABSENCE and NON-VISIBILITY is the
condition to which Hero and Beatrice now aspire, and in the patriarchal
world of this play they will become "nothing".  The important silent
presence ontstage in this scene is that of Margaret who (a) had impersonated
Hero earlier and unwittingly "caused" her "death" and (b) who has already
impersonated Beatrice -- at III.iv.62-4 where Beatrice asks her, "God help me,
God help me, how long have you professed apprehension?" and Margaret replies:
"Ever since you left it. Doth not my wit become me rarely."  Thus there
are three kinds of "silence" here: (i) the silence of ABSENCE (which links
Innogen with the equally absent Don John), (ii) the imposed silence of the
woman in marriage -- what happens to Hero and Beatrice before our eyes, and
(iii) the silence of ironic contempt which is the position which Margaret
occupies.
 
Now whether any of this was Shakespeare's "intention" is neither here
nor there.  The assumption that Bishop wants to hold on to is one
which always privileges "words" in the sense that anything that cannot
be reduced to a particular kind of "text" i.e. literary language, is
to be explained away as error or oversight. From the very beginning of this
play language and gesture are at odds with each other thus resulting in
a dismantling of that familiar literary hierarchy whereby a text is reduced
to a collection of "words", so that a character who says nothing onstage
is either some kind of Pirandellian "unrealized intention", or the product
of sloppy authorial editing.
 

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