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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: June ::
Re: "wood"/"woo'd"
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0583.  Wednesday, 29 June 1994.
 
(1)     From:   John Senczuk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Jun 1994 12:36:57 +1100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 5.0581  Qs: "wood"/"woo'd"
 
(2)     From:   Pat Buckridge <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Jun 1994 14:37:46 +1000 (EST)
        Subj:   'Woo'd/Wood'
 
(3)     From:   Ron Macdonald <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Jun 1994 10:37:20 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   RE SHK 5.0581: "woo'd/wood" in MSD
 
(4)     From:   Douglas M Lanier <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Jun 1994 11:48:46 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0581 Qs: "wood"/"woo'd"
 
(5)     From:   Greg Grainger <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Jun 1994 07:53:00 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 5.0581  Qs: "woo
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Senczuk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Jun 1994 12:36:57 +1100
Subject: 5.0581  Qs: "wood"/"woo'd"
Comment:        RE: SHK 5.0581  Qs: "wood"/"woo'd"
 
It seems to me that Helena picks up on this meaning later in the scene
 
     We should be woo'd, and were not made to woo. (2.1.242)
 
just as she pursues the pun on wood/iron/steel and magnetism (also acceptable
may be the pun on *slay* and *draw ... true as steel*
 
     cf Theseus
      Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword,
      And won thy love doing thee injuries  (1.1.16)
 
but Demetrius, in repeating himself (at 2.1.236), threatens her with
 
      ... and wood(mischief) within this wood
      Because I cannot meet my Hermia.
 
Demetrius cannot intend woo'd.
 
With desperate abandon Helena reductively pursues her end!
 
John Senczuk
University of Wollongong
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Buckridge <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Jun 1994 14:37:46 +1000 (EST)
Subject:        'Woo'd/Wood'
 
In response to John Massa's query about the wordplay in Demetrius's speech:
surely the line following,
 
(viz. 'Because I cannot find my Hermia')
 
effectively precludes 'woo'd', since it supplies a reason for Demetrius's
'rage', but has no logical function at all in connection with 'woo'd'.
 
Pat Buckridge.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ron Macdonald <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Jun 1994 10:37:20 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0581: "woo'd/wood" in MSD
Comment:        RE SHK 5.0581: "woo'd/wood" in MSD
 
I like John Massa's suggestion of a play on "woo'd" and "wood" in MSD 2.1.192,
though it does make causality a bit difficult to construe. Demetrius says he is
wood within the wood "_Because_ I cannot meet my Hermia."  It's easy to see
that he is agitated and beside himself because of his failure to find Hermia,
less easy to see that Helena woos him because of this failure.  Q1 (1600:
ordinarily the copy-text for modern editions) has "wodde, within this wood,"
which might make a pun on "woo'd" less likely, though I don't suppose it would
rule it out.  I confess I like the play with "wood" in the sense of "mad" (in
both modern senses) and "wood" in the sense of "forest," because it conflates
subjective states and objective locale, superimposes inside on outside, and
that sorts nicely with the tricks of strong imagination, the bush-as-bear
psychology which is everywhere so pronounced.  But in a play so pervaded by
metamorphoses, where everyone/thing seems in the process of becoming
someone/thing else, I have no trouble in believing that homely "wood" is
becoming two other separate and distinct words simultaneously.
 
                                         --Ron Macdonald
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(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Douglas M Lanier <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Jun 1994 11:48:46 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0581 Qs: "wood"/"woo'd"
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0581 Qs: "wood"/"woo'd"
 
The "wood" / "woo'd" pun is certainly plausible, but equally plausible is a pun
on the archaic meaning of the adjective "wood" (pronounced WODE), meaning
"lunatic, crazy."  The evolution of "wood"'s meaning parallels that of "mad,"
from general lunacy to a more specific form of lunacy, violent anger.  Thus the
Arden edition's gloss, though both the general and the specific meanings of the
word are in general play in the late 16th century.  Certainly that meaning
would resonate with the various "lunacy" themes of the play;  in fact, a triple
pun on "wood" [forest] / "wood" [lunatic] / "woo'd" would rather nicely sum up
the concerns of the play's middle acts.  The "wood" [forest] / "wood" [lunatic]
pun is at least as old as *Beowulf*, by the way.  If it's common currency this
late, it might explain how Shakespeare's audience could hear the triple pun as
it rushed by in performance.
 
Cheers,
Douglas Lanier
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Greg Grainger <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Jun 1994 07:53:00 -0400
Subject: Qs: "woo
Comment:        SHK 5.0581  Qs: "woo
 
On Monday, June 27, John Massa <
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wrote:
 
        DEMETIRUS SPEAKS:
H>          And here am I, and WOOD WITHIN THIS WOOD
 
[ . . . ]
 
H>It seems to me that the first "wood" in "wood within this wood" (Demetrius to
H>Helena in MSD 2.1.191) could mean "woo'd" (i.e., pursued romantically) since
H>Demetrius is definitely being woo'd in a big way by Helena.  I have seen note
H>that the first "wood" means essentially "very angry" (e.g.  Arden edition) bu
H>the pun on "woo'd" seems obvious and not a reach at all, especially on stage
H>for the actor.
 
H>Does anyone else see "woo'd" as a possibile interpretation, or know of any
H>reason to exclude this meaning?
 
H>Any references?
 
This is a good call - I very definitely see 'wood' as 'woo'd', but also as
'would', i.e. 'I intend to stay here until I find the people I seek - to
kill one and love the other'.
 
The OED says that 'wood' used to mean 'in a difficulty, trouble or
perplexity'. (2nd ed., p 2334.) They have quotes from 1658 and 1664.
Apparently this is the origin of our expression 'out of the woods', to mean
'out of difficulty'. In variant forms 'wood' also used to mean 'mad'. There
are quotes from Spenser's 'Faery Queen' (sp?) 1590 and Skene, 1609. Clearly
it could have been understood all these ways by Shakespeare's contemporary
audience.
 
Interestingly, this same passage is quoted in the OED as a reference to
'wood' meaning 'violently angry or irritated, enraged, furious'. (p. 2335)
 
Just my $0.02.
 
Greg, 'semantics is my life'.
 
   Greg Grainger, Toronto, Ontario.  6:58:59 pm, Tue 06-28-1994.
          
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