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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: March ::
Rs: Assorted Queries
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 138.  Friday, 5 March 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Jay L Halio <
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        Date:   Friday, 5 Mar 1993 12:57:43 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0132 Assorted Queries
 
(2)     From:   Rick Jones <
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        Date:   Friday, 5 Mar 1993 11:59:25 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 4.0132  Assorted Queries
 
(3)     From:   Lars Engle <
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        Date:   Friday, 5 Mar 1993 10:29:53 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 4.0132  Assorted Queries
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jay L Halio <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Mar 1993 12:57:43 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 4.0132 Assorted Queries
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0132 Assorted Queries
 
To Roy Flanagan:
 
See Caroline Spurgeon's *Shakespeare's Imagery and What It Tells Us* for
dogs, which he did not like because of their fawning behavior, apparently.
And I don't think there is anything else in *Lear* about Edmund's mother.
 
Jay Halio
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rick Jones <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Mar 1993 11:59:25 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 4.0132  Assorted Queries
Comment:        RE: SHK 4.0132  Assorted Queries
 
I'll skip some of Roy Flannagan's questions, put submit a couple of
possible responses to others:
 
>Is the audience really supposed to like Sir Toby Belch?  I have one
>student (not notably puritanical), who finds more to like about Malvolio
>than Sir Toby.
 
Sir Toby is fun-loving; Malvolio is a prude.  In and of itself, that
makes Sir Toby somewhat more appealing.  But I'd argue that they're at
the opposite ends of a spectrum (or perhaps a series of spectra) for
which the appropriate ground is in the middle.  Sir Toby has too much
fun and does not uphold the standards of conduct appropriate to a
knight; Malvolio has not enough fun and over-reaches his status to
believe himself a legitimate suitor for Olivia.  Olivia, on the other
hand, enjoys a good laugh, but also recognizes propriety as a cardinal
virtue of one of her status in the society.  And it is Olivia (and
Orsino and Viola) who is rewarded in the end: Sir Toby's antics are
both censured and curtailed (this latter through the socially
unbalanced marriage to Maria); Malvolio goes into voluntary exile.  I
hadn't thought of this before, but I'm reminded of Moliere's
_Misanthrope_ (which, for all I know, may have been influenced by
_Twelfth Night_): Celimene, the frivolous character (in a different
sense of the term than would apply to Sir Toby), is shown up; Alceste,
the self-righteous character, departs the court.  Who's left?  Eliante
and Philinte, the characters who understand the falseness of the court
but manage to establish themselves simultaneously as honorable
characters and sensible courtiers who know when not to rock the boat.
 
One other thought: I'd guess that your student has only read, not SEEN
the play.  A glimpse of Malvolio actually yellow-hosed and
cross-gartered goes a long way toward clarifying the role.
 
>Why does Shakespeare invariably give his romantic leads bad poetry to
>compose, as with Orlando and even Hamlet?  Are the Fools or minstrels,
>provided that they are supposed to be writing their own material, better
>poets than the lovers?
 
I think this ties in to the concepts of love melancholy and degree.
Lovers were expected to write poetry; that poetry was expected to be
more heart-felt than literary.  Fools, on the other hand, compose
poetry as part of their "job" -- they're allowed to show off a little
(and, by extension, to show the playwright off).  Also, while it may
have been important for courtiers to dabble in the arts, it was
certainly not considered an appropriate pastime taken to extremes:
i.e. everyone has her/his place in the society, and courtiers ought to
be concerned about the affairs of state, leaving the arts to those
who, in effect, can't do anything else.  See Erasmus's _Education of
the Christian Prince_ for more on this... or, for an example from the
drama, look at Lyly's _Campaspe_, in which Alexander the Great
recognizes that Apelles is a greater artist than he... and also
abandons Campaspe (the cortesan) to Apelles because he (Alex.) has
greater worlds to conquer.
 
-- Rick Jones
Cornell College
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lars Engle <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Mar 1993 10:29:53 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 4.0132  Assorted Queries
Comment:        RE: SHK 4.0132  Assorted Queries
 
Support for Roy Flanagan's hunch that Shakespeare was down on dogs can be found
in a couple of characteristically regretful pages in A.C. Bradley's
"Shakespeare the Man," *Oxford Lectures on Poetry* (London, 1909; rpt London:
Macmillan, 1965), pp. 340-341.  I quote selectively: "Shakespeare has observed
and recorded, in some instances profusely, every vice that I can think of in an
ill-conditioned dog . . . .  Whately's exclamation -- uttered after a College
meeting or a meeting of Chapter, I forget which -- 'The more I see of men, the
more I like dogs,' would never have been echoed by Shakespeare.  The things he
most loathed in men he found in dogs too.  And yet all this might go for
nothing ifwe could set anything of weight against it.  But what can we set?
Nothing whatever, so far as I remember, except a recognition of courage in
bear-baiting, bull-baiting mastiffs . . . . There is no reference, I believe,
to the fidelity of the dog in the whole of his works . . . To all that he loved
most in men he was blind in dogs.  And then we call him universal!"
 
The essay is full of such gems.
 
Lars Engle, U. of Tulsa
 

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