Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 365. Friday, 11 June 1993.
From: Naomi Liebler <
Date: Thursday, 10 Jun 93 10:54:00 EST
Subject: 4.0362 Re: Margaret, Lilith, and Shakespeare
Comment: RE: SHK 4.0362 Re: Margaret, Lilith, and Shakespeare
The logic of the connection between Margaret, Lilith, and ant-semitism escapes
me. It is apparently dependent on a number of assumptions: IF Margaret is a
figure of Lilith, and IF that figure must be received negatively, and IF all
such negative receptions must be read as "anti"-SOMETHING, and IF a negative
reference to an O. T. figure (mind you, an apocryphal one at that) must imply
anti-semitism, then perhaps the logic works. But that's many too many IFs for
me. Moreover, why would any representation of an angry old woman with an ax to
grind necessarily imply anything but an angry old woman with an ax to grind
(which Margaret certainly is by the time of R3)? And maybe, just maybe, she's
got good reason to grind that ax?
By the same creative logic--though I hesitate even to suggest it--we'd have to
read the Weird Sisters as a representation of 3 Liliths, thus triple
anti-semitism. God forbid!
My guess is that the retention of a single character through 4 plays
marks something other than demonization--perhaps it marks a kind of homage?
After all, Shakespeare only granted such retention to three other figures, so
far as I know: Henry IV and the guy who became the mirror of all
Christian princes, and Falstaff. And Margaret has them all beat, 4 plays to 3.
P.S.--while we're on the subject of strange logic, one of my students told me
yesterday that one of my colleagues told HER that Henry V's anger over the
slaughter of the "poys and the luggage" was a clear sign of Henry's--and thus
also of Shakespeare's--pedophilia! Anybody want to take that up?