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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: June ::
Re: Jachimo-in-the-box; Characters
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0569.  Friday, 24 June 1994.
 
(1)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH.BITNET>
        Date:   Thursday, 23 Jun 1994 19:57:36 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Jachimo-in-the-box (again)
 
(2)     From:   Harry Hill <HILHAR@CONU2.BITNET>
        Date:   Friday, 24 Jun 1994 11:50:55 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   People in Plays
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH.BITNET>
Date:           Thursday, 23 Jun 1994 19:57:36 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Jachimo-in-the-box (again)
 
Most of the last year's volumes of ESSAYS IN CRITICISM in the city of
Cincinnati have been at the binder until just a few days ago. And I have now
had a chance to read John Pitcher's "Names in CYMBELINE," EIC 43 (1993):1-16,
and Pitcher writes the following: "When Iachimo is in the Princess's bedroom in
II.ii, the first thing he does is to get out of the box, and the last, to count
off the chimes of a striking clock. He is literally, a jack-in-the-box -- not a
toy in 1611, but rather a device for swindling people out of money -- as well
as a jack-of-the-clock of clockhouse" (7). Pitcher also notices the "jack"
references (9).
 
And so Pitcher anticipates my comments by at least a year! But was the
Jack-in-a-box a toy in 1611? Henley and Farmer think it was; the OED thinks it
was not.
 
Yours,
Bill Godshalk
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <HILHAR@CONU2.BITNET>
Date:           Friday, 24 Jun 1994 11:50:55 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        People in Plays
 
To those who still insist on going on about what characters feel ---
 
In *Language and Literature*, Vol.2 No.2 (1993), Neil Bennison of Lancaster
University, UK, writes in his abstract of "Discourse Aanalysis, pragmatics and
the dramatic `character': Tom Stoppard's *Professional Foul*":
 
      Is there any way in which dramatic characters in dramatic texts
      may be considered a worthwhile object of criticism? The dearth
      of recent critical material would suggest not, but. . .the study
      of dramatic character may be effectively achieved by the application
      of theoretical principles derived from the linguistic analysis
      of conversation. The difficulties of accounting precisely for how
      readers of the play text get from the words on the page to
      judgments concerning the `personalities' of characters are
      overcome, to some extent, by the analysis of their conversational
      behaviour and using the powerful interpretative apparatus of
      discourse analysis and pragmatics to this end. . .[he goes on
      to cite Grice's Co-operative Principle, Brown and Levinson's
      Politeness Phenomeon and Leech's Politeness Principle.] . . .
      In addition, this article addresses the problematic notion of
      character `development' and argues that this may be accounted for
      in terms of a change in the conversational strategies used by a
      character, from which changes in attitude are inferable.
 
His article is evidence of a renewed "old-fashioned" view that ultimately
implies that Form is Content, which has always struck me as particularly
obvious to anyone seriously and informedly interested in the theatre as a place
where emotions are played out. His article -- although again I must say I find
his conclusions self-evident and needing such elucidation as he gives only for
the very prevalent deaf ears that rattle and clink away about characters as if
they were living people and plays as if they were only historical/political
statements fraught in Shakespeare's case with a rich poetic imagery that is
part of the shape of human reaction and thought and that also encourages rather
too much bumbling on in the scholarly world. I suppose I shall be tarred again
with the brush of dogmatism.
 

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