Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: November ::
Re: Marriage in Shakespeare
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 776. Saturday, 13 November 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Fran Teague <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 12 Nov 93 09:01:51 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0773  Marriage in Shakespeare
 
(2)     From:   William Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 12 Nov 1993 23:29:49 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0773  Marriage in Shakespeare
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fran Teague <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 12 Nov 93 09:01:51 EST
Subject: 4.0773  Marriage in Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0773  Marriage in Shakespeare
 
While one certainly wants to find clear explanations for events in
Shakespeare's plays, is it really safe to assume that the connections we find
so clear cut and obvious (such as Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon
and Claudius' to Gertrude) were the first things that a member of the original
audience brought to mind?  To play devil's advocate, let me offer an instance.
In Shaw's _Major Barbara_ a key plot turn occurs when Cusins reveals that he is
not legitimate because of his parents' questionable marriage:  "Their marriage
is legal in Australia, but not in England.  My mother is my father's deceased
wife's sister; and in this island I am consequently a foundling."  Now can we
say that because Shaw is so very conscious of Shakespeare and his works
(easily demonstrated ) that Shaw must have intended us to connect this moment
to a parallel marriage in _Hamlet_, viz., that Hamlet's mother is his
stepfather's deceased brother's wife?
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 12 Nov 1993 23:29:49 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 4.0773  Marriage in Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0773  Marriage in Shakespeare
 
Martin,
 
I suppose that I may be one of the people you are puzzled about. Yes, you are
quite right, were I looking for a source or explanation, I would begin with the
literature of Shakespeare's time. In fact, I do begin there!
 
My problem is more theoretical. When I write fiction, my imagination (no matter
how culturally constructed that imagination is) mediates between reality as I
construct it or perceive it (no matter how culturally constructed that
perception is) and my fiction (no matter how, etc.). My imagination can distort
my perception of reality a great deal. I can imagine a reality that I have
never experienced. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., "' Authenticity,' or the Lesson of
Little Tree," NY TIMES BOOK REVIEW, 24 Nov. 1991, 1, 26ff., asserts: "No human
culture is inaccessible to someone who makes the effort to understamd, to
learn, to inhabit another world" (30). Gates's point is that we are not
culture-bound, that the human imagination does wonderful things.
 
In other words, is Hamlet's world really just a point by point projection of
Will's world? Does Will's imagination mediate between the world of physical
history and the world of fantasy? And, yes, I know that Will has to create that
world with physical things: pen, paper, actors, a playhouse. But is that world
in which Hamlet lives in the present tense the same as the world in which Will
lived in the past tense? The Pope, for example,  doesn't exist in Hamlet's
world.
 
Inquiringly yours, Bill Godshalk
 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.