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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: February ::
Re: Friar Lawrence; Duke Vincentio; Kingship
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0125. Thursday, 17 February 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Michael Dobson <U63495@UICVM>
        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Feb 94 13:02:11 CST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0120  Re: Psychotic *Macbeth*
 
(2)     From:   Robert Burke <BURKE@RCKHRST1.BITNET>
        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Feb 1994 21:25:07 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0120  Re: Psychotic *Macbeth*
 
(3)     From:   William Proctor Williams <TB0WPW1@NIU.BITNET>
        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Feb 94 14:57 CST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0121  Qs: Kingship; The Duke in MM
 
(4)     From:   William Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Feb 1994 23:09:07 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0121  Qs: Kingship; The Duke in MM
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Dobson <U63495@UICVM>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Feb 94 13:02:11 CST
Subject: 5.0120  Re: Psychotic *Macbeth*
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0120  Re: Psychotic *Macbeth*
 
Dear SHAKSPER --
                 Re: Friar Laurence, Vincentio, &c.
 
With all due respect to Ron MacDonald, whose contribution on this subject I
greatly admired, is Uncle Matthew *completely* wrong about Friar Laurence?  I
was cast in the role once years ago, and was of course determined to make sure
no-one in the audience was in any doubt that the Friar was *the* crucial figure
of the play -- and I was surprised at how much rope the text allowed me to hang
myself with. Unlike that insignificant twit Romeo, for example, the Friar
actually gets to *converse* with Juliet in the tomb, and it takes only a
modicum of coarse acting to make this the emotional climax of the play -- the
Friar gibbering in terror, Juliet resolutely taking charge, an embrace which
grotesquely parodies Romeo's farewell, &c&c -- not a dry eye in the house.  Not
a placid critic, mind, but some sacrifices have to be made for Art.
 
This brings me to the recent query about Duke Vincentio in M for M, holes &
corners & all, another hooded role which only really seems to work when played
by a wholly unself-critical actor who loves the sound of his own voice and
genuinely thinks the Duke is the hero of the piece. The only Duke I ever saw
who seemed absolutely made for the part was Daniel Massey (c.1984 at the RSC,
with Juliet Stevenson as Isabella) -- minimum self-knowledge, maximum
self-congratulation. Anyone contemplating a production in the Chicago area?
Offers welcome.
 
              Michael Dobson
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert Burke <BURKE@RCKHRST1.BITNET>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Feb 1994 21:25:07 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 5.0120  Re: Psychotic *Macbeth*
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0120  Re: Psychotic *Macbeth*
 
When Ron McDonald points to the Friar's bumbling, he strikes a responsive
chord in me.  Years ago I had the chance to play Friar Lawrence in a local
Kansas City production.  I had to worry about how to present his lines to
Romeo, and later to Juliet.  When I realized that he was clutching at straws,
trying the first thing that came to mind, I felt I had found the clue. Is that
why the nurse, who may be an R. C. bitch, stands in awe of the Friar's learning
 -- is Shakespeare having some fun here, and can we?????
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Proctor Williams <TB0WPW1@NIU.BITNET>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Feb 94 14:57 CST
Subject: 5.0121  Qs: Kingship; The Duke in MM
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0121  Qs: Kingship; The Duke in MM
 
The two speeches in MM that Michael Sharpston mentions are treated at some
length by Gary Taylor and John Jowett in their +Shakespeare Reshaped+ (I think
that is the correct title?) (1993).
 
William Proctor Williams
Department of English
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL  60115
TB0WPW1@NIU.BITNET
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Feb 1994 23:09:07 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0121  Qs: Kingship; The Duke in MM
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0121  Qs: Kingship; The Duke in MM
 
Chantal Payette and Michael Sharpston will perhaps get us back to talking about
Shakespeare and the 16th/17th centuries. I'm not sure what you are up to,
Chantal, but you might begin looking at studies of Shakespeare's history plays.
Are you interested in how Shakespeare uses his historical sources, or how his
plays seem to reflect contemporary (i.e., early modern) English or European
history? Or both? Or none of the above?
 
Now, the Duke in MEASURE FOR MEASURE (whose name is never spoken in the play),
has he ever been satisfactorily explained? I used to think that I could explain
him using the concepts of freedom and restraint (1.2.117ff.). The Duke begins
in restraint: "I'll privily away. I love the people,/But do not like to stage
me to their eyes" (67-68). To begin, he watches. About the middle of the play,
he begins to act, and by the end he is staging himself - and chasing Isabella.
That's a quick sketch of my youthful description.
 
Now I'd say there's much more to him. Lucio does get under his skin, and
strangely the Duke seems tohave to ask Escalus about himself. As a kind of
reality check? Ego boost? And later he (the Duke) asks the provost why he (the
Duke) didn't take care of the Barnardine problem. Shouldn't the Duke know why?
What's going on here?
 
In other words, I think there are many questions about the Duke and his
actions. What about Mariana for example? When she sees him coming dressed as
the friar, she says, "Here comes a man of comfort, whose advice/Hath often
stilled by brawling discontent" (4.1.8-9, Wells and Taylor, ed.). So, he
dresses up like a friar fairly often and sneaks out to the moated grange, where
he offers comfort to Mariana. And now he wants to get her into bed with Angelo
and marry her off. Now, when I dress up in my friar's habit to visit young
ladies, I'm up to no good; I admit it. And so I'm suspicious of this Duke who
likes to dress up (and watch, too)! (My wife just asked, "It's all a fake. You
aren't a friar?")
 
Is Mariana pregnant? Is the shy Duke the father? Does Mariana really love
Angelo inspite of her torrid affair with the Friar/Duke? And will the Duke be
able to win the love of the very moral little nun, better known as Isabella?
What's really going on in Vienna?
 
I'll answer these questions and more in my next iunstallment of "The Underside
of the Duke, or Steaming on the Danube."
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(PS I am not an idealist. I'm a relativist. Humans are relative to evolution on
this planet, in this solar system. And humans make culture; culture does NOT
make humans. I'm also an atheist. I do not believe that Culture is God.)
 
PPS Hey, Al Cacicedo! Did I fake you out?
 

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