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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: June ::
Re: Iachimo; Prospero and Miranda; Titania
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0543.  Sunday, 19 June 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Linda Woodbridge <LWOODBRI@UALTAVM>
        Date:   Thursday, 16 Jun 94 15:45:40 MDT
        Subj:   SHK 5.0476  Q: Iachimo in a Box
 
(2)     From:   Lonnie J Durham <
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        Date:   Saturday, 18 Jun 1994 07:50:43 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Prospero, Miranda
 
(3)     From:   William Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
        Date:   Saturday, 18 Jun 1994 20:30:30 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0540  Re: Bottom, Titania, Sex
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Linda Woodbridge <LWOODBRI@UALTAVM>
Date:           Thursday, 16 Jun 94 15:45:40 MDT
Subject: Q: Iachimo in a Box
Comment:        SHK 5.0476  Q: Iachimo in a Box
 
Bill Godshalk -- you recall my being "skeptical" about your Iachimo-in-a-box --
actually, I rather like the idea, and I can also visualize a staging of *A
Chaste Maid in Cheapside* where, in the rather camp scene in which Moll
Yellowhammer and Touchwood Junior rise from their coffins, the actors could pop
up like jacks-in-the box--it would suit the tongue-in-cheek aura of this
"resurrection," I think. Cheers!
 
                                       Sincerely,
                                       Linda Woodbridge
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lonnie J Durham <
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Date:           Saturday, 18 Jun 1994 07:50:43 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Prospero, Miranda
 
Thanks to those who have so quickly and generously responded to my question
about one approach to *The Tempest*.  I don't mean to mount an elaborate
defense of my remarks, but I would like to respond to some of the early
questions before the discussion (if it continues) becomes too complex to
handle.
 
First, John Cox's trenchant reminder of the "character" problem: You are right;
Prospero has no psychology, but you and I do, and so had Shakespeare.  Thus,
the configuration of elements (especially when taken together with the example
of *Lear*) becomes the mandala for a meditation upon the relationship between a
daughter and her father and the development of a grammar of motives appropriate
to the circumstances provided by the text.  Some considerations for that
meditation: there is no sign of a mediating mother.  The father is extremely
skeptical of the society into which he is sending his beloved daughter,
especially so, given the background mourning of Alonzo for the daughter HE has
lost to the greater world. Powerfully implicit is the enormous temptation to
keep her in isolation to himself. The perversity of such a choice (and
Miranda's sexual maturity) are signalled by Caliban's attempted rape. Throw in
whatever "historicizing" one wishes to this configuration, we still have but a
mandala.
 
Piers Lewis's question about "evidence" in the text pointing to the
transformation of Caliban into Prince Ferdy: being an old Barberian (C.L., that
is) I have always paid close attention to the elements of "disorder" that allow
for the drift of identities and the need (and possibility) for all kinds of
redefinitions--the dream-world setting of hallucination and illusion; the
revolt of underlings, death by water, etc.--but especially the humiliation of
the powerful: making Ferd take Cal's place in the menial tasks of water and
wood fetching.  I.e., Ferdinand is made to take on Caliban's identity.
Sexuality is transformed from attemted rape into the elaborate dance of
courtship, with all the inhibitions attending the symbolic barrier of
virginity.
 
And finally, to Phyllis Rackin's comment: "I wonder how Edenic a world w/o
prohibitions against rape would be for rape victims." Precisely. Civilization
and its Discontents all over again. The persistence of rape across cultural and
historical boundaries argues the necessity for the protection of women from men
by powerful symbolic and physical restraints, thus laying the ground for the
subordination and possession of women by their protectors. Our present struggle
is to make this fatal configuration seem less inevitable, less dependent upon
irrational taboos and more available to reason and personal identification: "I,
too, am victimized by such attacks upon human dignity." Pray God deliver us
from the inchoate rages and compulsions that we have recently taken to calling
"the rape culture" (in hopes of making it seem more available to social
therapies) and into a new era of tender mutuality (but my hopes are not very
high). In MY Shakespeare, visiting the monster in the underworld is always the
first step toward release from fear and resentment into compassion and
generosity.  In other words, recognition does more for us than repression ("I
know you all, and will for a while [time?]..."--or however that goes.)
Regression to a symbolic madness or savagery may be the condition for the
reinvention of a failed system of restraints.
 
Oh, and about Ferdinand supposedly cheating at chess: I think there are much
too many indicators of his capacity for selfless affection to consign him
already to the pack of cynics to whom Miranda is being delivered.  But enough
blabber from me.
 
Thanks, all, for the lovely conversation.
 
Lonnie
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
Date:           Saturday, 18 Jun 1994 20:30:30 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0540  Re: Bottom, Titania, Sex
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0540  Re: Bottom, Titania, Sex
 
Topic: "Enforced chastity" again
 
I think that Don Foster may be misreading "enforced chastity" as "forced
chastity," i.e., rape. I take Titania at her word: "enforced chastity" means
"forced to be chaste." Bevington's note (3.1.195) gives both readings, but
comments: "Titania at this moment is hardly concerned about chastity." I agree,
and Titania sees the moon as weeping for all those maidens who must remain
virgins. The tradition of the chaste moon is turned upside down.
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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