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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: June ::
Re: Light and Heat
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0494.  Saturday, 4 June 1994.
 
(1)     From:   David Evett <R0870%
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        Date:   Friday, 03 Jun 1994 15:13 ET
        Subj:   Hotter and Lighter
 
(2)     From:   Ronald Moyers <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Jun 1994 16:24:26 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Light and Heat
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <R0870%
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Date:           Friday, 03 Jun 1994 15:13 ET
Subject:        Hotter and Lighter
 
Bill Godshalk is confused about Polonius' use "more light than heat" in 1.3
because, as I tried to suggest in the note that initiated this little eddy,
he's applying Spevack's gloss as though it were an iron law and not an observa
tion on a general pattern of usage.  There are contexts in which the normative
connotations of metaphoric "heat" and "light" are not appropriate: some
discussions of love among them.  Love enjoys the dark; true love is warm, as
various citations attest, but especially Leontes' reaction when he takes
Hermione's hand(a reaction associated in the next two lines with another
elemental activity).  Polonius is warning Ophelia against something that looks
like love, that flares and dazzles, but that does not sustain (you might recall
here how tactile images as well as visual ones become urgent when Romeo
transfers his affections from Rosalind to Juliet)--people who build fires know
that it's the pile of glowing coals that really heats the room, not the initial
blaze of tinder and bark.
 
                                                        Dave Evett
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ronald Moyers <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Jun 1994 16:24:26 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Light and Heat
 
Bill Godshalk,
 
Hibbard, in the single-volume Oxford Shakespeare, provides the following note
on ll. 117-20: "Compare the proverbial saying, 'The bavin burns bright but it
is but a blaze' (Tilley B107)."  The suggestion seems to be that Polonius
thinks the "blaze" of Hamlet's passion to be impetuous and short- lived
("extinct in both/Even in their promise as it is a-making"), emitting a burst
of light but lacking the sustaining heat/warmth of fire/love. To the possible
enriching "light" puns of "sensuality" and "levity" can be added light as
revealer of appearance: that his "green girl" mistakes the *appearance* of love
for a deeper passion.
 
--Ron Moyer, Theatre, Univ. of South Dakota  <
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