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Home :: Archive :: 1992 :: November ::
More on Hero's Mother
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 294.  Monday, 2 November 1992.
 
(1)	From: 	Tad Davis <
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	Date: 	Saturday, Oct. 31, 1992, 09:58:01 -0500
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 3.0287  Re: Hero's Mother
 
(2)	From: 	John Drakakis <
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	Date: 	Monday, Nov. 2, 1992, 16:51:00 GMT
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 3.0290 Much Ado About . . . (Was Hero's Mother)
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
From: 		Tad Davis <
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Date: 		Saturday, Oct. 31, 1992, 09:58:01 -0500
Subject: 3.0287  Re: Hero's Mother
Comment: 	RE: SHK 3.0287  Re: Hero's Mother
 
Without questioning John Drakakis' excellent basic point -- that silence
can signify much -- I'm not sure I understand how it applies to Innogen.
She says nothing, she does nothing, and the other characters never even
refer to her (except for one oblique reference in I.1 -- "I think this is
your daughter." "Her mother hath many times told me so."). Did I miss a
significant exchange about her? It seems unlikely that Shakespeare could
have piled such a load of meaning on a character whose identity might
easily have escaped many in the audience. Simple dramatic economy suggests
that this would have been wasted effort, especially since the point of her
silence, if there is one, is made by other prominent characters (as
Drakakis points out).
 
There is no question that too much emphasis is sometimes given to the words
of the text, and not enough to the visual impact of the staging. (Though
I've found that to be less of a problem with comments on this list than
elsewhere.) But characters in a play are fundamentally agents, and if any
importance is to be attached to their presence, can't we at least expect
that they DO something (or that something be visibly done TO them)?
 
Tad Davis

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From: 		John Drakakis <
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Date: 		Monday, Nov. 2, 1992, 16:51:00 GMT
Subject: 3.0290 Much Ado About . . . (Was Hero's Mother)
Comment: 	Re: SHK 3.0290 Much Ado About . . . (Was Hero's Mother)
 
I'm fascinated by Tom Bishop's response to my response to his response to
the status of "Innogen" in Much Ado. My original doubt about what he now
calls "a cancelled gambit" was -- and I thought that I had made this clear --
was that it presupposes a particular theory of dramatic composition: one
which begins with an "idea" then translates into dramatic practice . The
Q/F SD at I.i. reads "Innogen his wife" and at II.i. "his wife". We suspect
that Q may have been set, as is well known, from an authorial manuscript,
but that there may also be other forms of scribal interference.  To be
sure that the inconsistencies are consistent (which Bishop's argument
seems strongly to imply) we would need to examine the precise status of
all of the problematica entries/exits to which he alludes.
 
My orginal response was to the general tendency to excise Innogen from
the play, and I sought to suggest some reasons why I think she should
not be, and then was prompted to speculate about why her presence at
the end of the play may have been unnecessary.  At no point did I suggest
that I wanted to "construct a detailed..account of the centrality of
Innogen to the play".  The character may as easily represent a recognizable
thematic strand which is taken up in a number of areas of the action in
different ways, and I wanted to propose that we should at least give these
issues some thought before opting for a romantic theory of composition,
even one that Bishop now seeks to dress up in the jargon of a pseudo-
materialist criticism.  The case that he cites of Don John's entry at
I.i.203 is interesting, and I don't have a ready answer to the problem it
raises, but I remain sceptical that it has the same status as the one we are
discussing.  I'm not sure what his comment that we should see the text "not at
the level of action finished and presented, but at the level of action in
process and struggle between competing possibilities moment by moment"
actually means in this context.  Is he saying that here we really DO have
an insight into Shakespeare's pre-dramatic thought processes, or that the
text is somehow so self-conscious that it comments on its own processes
of construction as it goes along. To see these two examples as evidence of
"a historically contingent difficulty in plot-making generated by the very
pressures of the action" also seems to me to obfuscate rather than to
clarify the issue, I'm afraid.
 
I want to assent to the view that Bishop seeks to identify a text "radically
unstable, still bearing the traces of its historical moment" but the real
problem here is that we may be looking at a palimpsest rather than a "text"
in any unified sense, so that it would be more appropriate to talk about
"histories" in the plural rather than "historical moment".  My own suggestion
vis-a-vis Innogen does nothing to challenge the text's instability at
that level at all.  If Bishop's only solution to what he calls "the material
historicity of the processes that generated the only record that we have"
is to support an argument resting on an unstated theory of Shakespearean
composition, then I'm afraid his allusions to material practice amount to
little more than critical postures.  If, on the other hand, he really is
serious about material practice, then the case of Innogen may really be
the tip of the iceberg in relation to this play.
 

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