1994

Re: *Shrew* and the Rule of Thumb

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0667.  Wednesday, 10 August 1994.
 
(1)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 09 Aug 1994 21:07:05 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   SHREW and the Rule of Thumb
 
(2)     From:   Diana Rhoads <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 9 Aug 1994 23:16:33 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0665  Re: *Shr.* & Domestic Violence
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 09 Aug 1994 21:07:05 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        SHREW and the Rule of Thumb
 
I'm sorry that Stefanie DuBose brought up the rule of thumb which was hotly
debated -- last year I think -- by other groups. Apparently "rule of thumb" did
not originally have anything to do with sticks to beat wives, but meant what we
always thought it meant: a rough and ready way of measuring (i.e., the width of
the thumb equals about an inch).
 
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, obviously, deals with the abuse of Katherine.
Petruchio deprives her of her name, sleep, food, sex, clothing, etc. As one of
my students (a social worker) pointed out, today the police would have him in
jail for attempted murder.
 
But most students refuse to see it this way. Class after class vindicates
Petruchio. "Well, he doesn't get any sleep either," one student told me.
Another students said, "Petruchio loves her enough to want to change her." And
so on it goes.
 
And, I suppose what makes the play interesting is its ability of slip away from
any hard and fast category. It certainly is not totally about the submission of
wives since Kate hardly submits when she tells Petruchio that his mind changes
even as the moon (i.e., he's a lunatic) and then soon after, upon meeting
Vincentio, points out that it really is the sun, not the moon. And it's only
Hortensio's entreaty that gets her to "voice" submission in the first place.
She seems quite willing and able to fight on -- without food or sleep.
 
And we have to remember that Katherine really is just a figure in a play, a
play being presented to Christopher Sly, who is being brainwashed by the
nameless Lord. Upper class privilege?  You bet.
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Diana Rhoads <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 9 Aug 1994 23:16:33 -0400
Subject: 5.0665  Re: *Shr.* & Domestic Violence
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0665  Re: *Shr.* & Domestic Violence
 
RE: The "rule of thumb" as mentioned by Stefanie DuBose
 
According to Christina Hoff Sommers (*Who Stole Feminism?*), the "rule of
thumb" is a myth originating with two Southern judges who alluded to an
"ancient law" allowing a man to beat his wife as long as the implement was not
wider than his thumb.  Sommers argues that there was no "rule of thumb" in
British common law. She quotes Blackstone, who says that in the reign of
Charles II a wife has "the security of peace against her husband."  Sommers
quotes, but does not point to, Blackstone's assertion that a husband "by the
old law, might give his wife moderate correction."  A man had to use "the same
moderation...allowed to correct his apprentices or children."  See pp. 203-07
of Sommers' book for Sommmers' whole argument and for the Blackstone quotation
mentioned above.

Re: Character

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0666.  Wednesday, 10 August 1994.
 
From:           Ben Schneider <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 09 Aug 1994 14:00:50 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        Character
 
Fellow SHAKSPERians:
 
On July 18th, in reference to the topic of "character" I made the claim that if
we were talking about Kwakiutls instead of Shakespeare, we wouldn't be
insisting on the universal and everlasting human character.
 
On July 21st Bill Godshalk rejoined that I was wrong to suggest that he and
fellow universalist Pat Buckridge "drove a chevvy to the levee."  Indeed (he
went on) they fully realized that in minor outward things, like choice of
beverage, Shakespeare and his contemporaries differed greatly from us but that
they were essentially the same inside.
 
On July 22, just for the sake of argument, I alleged that "Yes, Bill, I do
claim that you and Pat Buckridge think Shakespeare drove a chevvy to the
levee."  I then claimed that, though it is now widely held that Shakespeare's
Henry V is a cold cruel Machiavellian warmonger, he and his audience would have
seen only his very great virtues.  In support, I cited 16th-century authorities
on conduct who thought war was good for the soul.  I closed by suggesting "that
as a corrective to our late capitalist ethnocentricity, we should be studying
16th century conduct books and their sources in antiquity (which is what I am
doing)."
 
Since then I have not been hiding as might be surmised, but incommunicado;
partly in transit and partly out of commission. And very sorry I am to have
lapsed until now.  My remarks on Henry V did elicit some objections, and I am
happy to be able at last to respond to them.
 
Bill, I despair of convincing you of anything because you are a true
believer--not that it appears I can convince anyone else, either.  I wish you
were more of a skeptic.  Thanks for the benefit of your great erudition, in
this instance and day by day. I will answer your direct communication directly.
 
David Evett:  I very much admire your social role theory.   Pat Buckridge says
you "conflate social types, which are not metaphoric."  But you don't consider
social types.  Falstaff is a social type--braggart soldier--but his role is
Troop Commander, and it is in this capacity that he is examined.  Plutarch's
declared project is the evaluation of each worthy's performance of his job, and
I think Shakespeare's mind works the same way. Plutarch didn't leave us any
comparison of Caesar and Alexander as generals, so Montaigne took it upon
himself to complete the job, giving us an almost perfect rendition of the
master's method.  If we knew more about early modern standards of behavior for
princes, we'd know better what _Hamlet_'s about.  I agree with you also about
Lear:  a very astute discovery.
 
Steven Marx claims (25 July), that there was a significant group of thinkers
who had "strong pacifist sentiments"--Colet, Linacre, More, Erasmus and James
I--documented by Robert P. Adams in _The Better Part of Valor_.  I note that
the work of these pacifists spoke largely to the self-glorifying wars of Pope
Julius and Henry VIII, that it did not rule out wars of self-defense, and that
the movement tapers off after 1535.  Adams's book also documents just how
strong the warrior ethic was.  James I approved of "warres upon just causes"
(Basilikon Doron) which is exactly the position of Henry V.  In one sense Henry
V and his father are pacifists--in their tactic of securing civil harmony by
foreign campaigns.  And Henry V makes peace by sharing the English crown with
the French.  Steven also cites as pacifists Williams and Burgundy in the play.
Williams has a theological problem about those who die in a battle.  Grotius,
_Laws of War and Peace_, and Henry in the play give adequate answers to this
question.  The real point of the Williams episode is that Henry does not give
himself up for ransom as Williams said he would, but puts his life on the line
as he asks his troops to do.  The episode also shows that Henry can forgive and
even reward an honest man's doubts, as a good king should.  Burgundy, in
another of Shakespeare's anti-war speeches, is indeed most eloquent at the
peace table, Henry IV having made a similar one at the beginning of part 1.
But from the English point of view, France became the cause of these miseries
when she usurped English territory.  From a dramatic standpoint, Burgundy lays
the groundwork for Henry's would-be everlasting peace to come, he dying too
young to see it through.  Remember I claim only that it would look like this to
Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Obviously it's full of holes from our point
of view.
 
Nina Walker (25 July) rightly chastises me for suggesting we should view
Elizabethans as "anthropologically studiable groups" like Maoris or others
radically unlike us--as if we are the norm and these are the others.
Apparently one cannot speak of differences between cultures without opening
oneself to the charge of prejudice.  Like Montaigne, I tend to prefer the
savages.  But there is a human race, each member of which we consider equally
sacred, however different he or she may be. Democracy argues for a common
denominator of all humankind.  But only by a sympathetic understanding of the
differences between cultures can we settle the differences between them.  I
would suggest that there are always common denominators between cultures, but
that they are not always and everywhere the same ones, like those Shakespeare
is said to have comprehended in his genius.
 
Yours ever,
BEN SCHNEIDER

Re: Quotation

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0664.  Tuesday, 9 August 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Jung Jimmy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 08 Aug 94 14:24:00 edt
        Subj:   RE: SHK 5.0662  Quotation
 
(2)     From:   Christine Mack Gordon <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 08 Aug 1994 13:55:42 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 5.0662 quotation
 
(3)     From:   Constance Relihan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 8 Aug 1994 14:12:05 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Quotation
 
(4)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 08 Aug 1994 21:31:52 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Henry VIII
 
(5)     From:   Kenneth S. Rothwell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:    Tuesday, 9 Aug 1994 08:50:41 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0662 Qs: *Cymbeline*; Quotation
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jung Jimmy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 08 Aug 94 14:24:00 edt
Subject: 5.0662  Quotation
Comment:        RE: SHK 5.0662  Quotation
 
        I have touche'd the highest point of all my greatness
        and from that full meridean of my glory I haste now to my
        setting, I shall fally like a bright exhaulation in the sky and
        no man see me more.
 
Henry 8, III, 2, 224
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christine Mack Gordon <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 08 Aug 1994 13:55:42 -0500
Subject: quotation
Comment:        SHK 5.0662 quotation
 
*Henry VIII* 3.2.223-227 (from the Riverside edition). The speaker is Cardinal
Wolsey:
 
I have touch'd the highest point of all my greatness
And, from that full meridian of my glory,
I haste now to my setting. I shall fall
Like a bright exhalation in the evening,
And no man see me more.
 
--Chris Gordon
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Constance Relihan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 8 Aug 1994 14:12:05 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Quotation
 
Orlando Pataboy's quotation is from _H8_ 3.2.223ff.
 
-Constance C. Relihan, Auburn University
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 08 Aug 1994 21:31:52 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Henry VIII
 
The passage that Orlando Pabotoy is looking for is in HENRY VIII, 3.2.224ff.
(Bevington ed.). It's Wolsey, but it reminds me of Richard II's sun imagery.
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kenneth S. Rothwell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 9 Aug 1994 08:50:41 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0662 Qs: *Cymbeline*; Quotation
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0662 Qs: *Cymbeline*; Quotation
 
Dear Orlando, The lines you're inquiring about are Cardinal Wolsey's in
HENRY VIII (3.2.223-27), the Riverside edition. Nice speech, isn't it?
 
Ken Rothwell

Re: *Shr.* & Domestic Violence; Antonio & Shylock

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0665.  Tuesday, 9 August 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Stefanie DuBose <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 08 Aug 94 12:33:07 EDT
        Subj:   OJ version of the Shrew
 
(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 08 Aug 1994 21:51:43 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Antonio and Shylock
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stefanie DuBose <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 08 Aug 94 12:33:07 EDT
Subject:        OJ version of the Shrew
 
In response to Kate Caldwell's question of OJ/Shrew:  yes, I have seen the
strong similarity between the psychological dynamics of domestic violence and
the undercurrents between Kate and Petrucchio in Shrew.  However, when I tried
to discuss this in my graduate level class, only 1 other student agreed with me
while my professor and the rest of the class (politely) snubbed my idea,
arguing the comic nature of the play. . . .However, humor can be a method of
distancing oneself from the horror of reality ("When was the last time you beat
your wife??" comes to mind), and the renaissance was not known for the overall
humane treatment of women.  In fact, the law of thumb which stated that a
husband could not beat his wife with a stick larger in diameter than his thumb
stems from the British (when, I don't know but I will check on it if anyone is
interested in this topic).  I work with battered women and have studied the
brainwashing tactics of domestic violence; the same tactics are more than
apparent to me in TS.  When I last read the play, I found many instances which
could easily be interpreted as the subtle development of domestic abuse. My
apologies for not being more specific; I need to look over the play to note the
various examples and I have not done this yet.
 
Regards,
Stefanie DuBose
(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 08 Aug 1994 21:51:43 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Antonio and Shylock
 
I like Chris Gordon's comment on MERCHANT, though it remains to be seen what
each of the old men cherish and lose. Shylock is dispensed with by the
Christians in Act IV, and Antonio is put in his place by Portia in Act V.
Shylock loses his religion, and a good bit of his capital; Antonio loses
Bassanio as well as his hold over Bassanio -- if I can separate the two.
 
And I suppose that Antonio and Shylock no longer have the bond of hatred that
seems to bind them earlier in the play. Since Shylock has had Christianity
forced on him, Antonio can no longer spit on him and kick him. Antonio loses
both his love object and his hate object. Or does he?
 
If Shakespeare had written a sequel to MERCHANT, would we find Antonio and
Shylock in business together? Perhaps they argue over whose name goes first on
their stationery. Do Antonio and Shylock finally realize that the passion that
has bound them for so long is actually love? Does Bassanio sneak from Belmont
to Venice to see Antonio? Does Portia really care?
 
Tune in next week for the further adventures of your favorite merchants.
 
Fantastically,
Bill Godshalk

Re: Generic Expectations

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0663.  Monday, 8 August 1994.
 
(1)     From:   E. L. Epstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 05 Aug 1994 15:07:29 EDT
        Subj:   RE: SHK 5.0656  Re: Generic Expectations
 
(2)     From:   Marie Myers <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 8 Aug 1994 07:17:13 -0500
        Subj:   Generic Expectations
 
(3)     From:   Christine Mack Gordon <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 08 Aug 1994 10:42:11 -0500
        Subj:   a miscellany
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           E. L. Epstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 05 Aug 1994 15:07:29 EDT
Subject: 5.0656  Re: Generic Expectations
Comment:        RE: SHK 5.0656  Re: Generic Expectations
 
Isn't there some danger that spectators at contemporary performances of S,
listening for generic or emblematic structures will be attempting to press S
into cliche?  ELEpstein
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marie Myers <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 8 Aug 1994 07:17:13 -0500
Subject:        Generic Expectations
 
Rick Jones's comments on Noel Chevalier's posting prompt me to point out that
"generic" does not inevitably point to "Genre"-based expectations.  As
audience, we don't bring along fixed and inflexible definitions for the kinds
of entertainment we are prepared to see/hear.  But clearly, we do carry the
considerable baggage of generic expectations that we have acquired throughout
our lives, from the knowledge that ice is cold to the expectation that the
crotchety rich old guy is going to be the first victim. The thirteen year old
may not have as many generic expectations as the adult (though I doubt that);
the fairy tales we got with our first solid foods gave us what we need to
understand "I'll be revenged."
 
So while I agree that what we call genre is a convenient label not significant
to our experience of a work, Noel Chevalier's point remains valid:  Shakespeare
gets a lot of energy out of using and abusing our generic expectations.
 
Marie Myers
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christine Mack Gordon <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 08 Aug 1994 10:42:11 -0500
Subject:        a miscellany
 
I have been teaching *The Merchant of Venice* and one of my students brought in
a tape of the film *The Man Without a Face,* in which the title character, a
former teacher played by Mel Gibson, uses the play as one of the texts in the
tutoring project that provides the focus of the film. He does a wonderful
reading of Shylock's "Hath not a Jew. . ." speech, but what I found most
intriguing was that the lead in to the speech was Antonio's line, "I hold the
world but as the world, Gratiano / A stage, where every man must play a part, /
And mine a sad one." While this does a certain injustice to the play, it also
provides an interesting perspective (especially since I see both Shylock and
Antonio as men who lose what they most cherish by the end of the play). The
film as a whole is quite good.
 
In relation to a recent discussion on the conference, it occurred to me that
*Merchant* doesn't fit our comedic category in terms of its title (since we
just finished *A Midsummer Night's Dream* and are going on to *Much Ado,* this
just leapt out at me). So why does this comedy have as its title a character
(or role), even if not a named one? We do have a few other examples, of course,
in *TGV,* *Taming of the Shrew, * and *MWW,* but this is rather interesting,
especially given Antonio's central, yet relatively passive role in the play.
 
Following up on the *Richard III* discussion: I always preferred reading
historical fiction to history as a young person and find myself drawn back to
it again (given our contemporary skepticism with regard to the accuracy of
history, perhaps my predilection was an odd sort of prescience). Sharon Kay
Penman's novel *The Sunne in Splendour* is a wonderful retelling of Richard's
story that I read last summer; Shakespeare's version will never be quite the
same.
 
And, finally, a set-up-your-videorecorders note: Bravo is broadcasting the
production of *Othello* done in South Africa with Janet Suzman directing this
week, on either Wednesday or Thursday evening, starting here (Minneapolis,
central daylight time) at 8 or 8:30 pm.
 
Best to all,
Chris Gordon

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