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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: May ::
Re: Masks
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0402.  Friday, 6 May 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Tom E. Hodges <
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        Date:   Thursday, 5 May 1994 15:21:34 G6
        Subj:   Masks
 
(2)     From:   A.G. Bennett <BENNETT@BRANDEIS.BITNET>
        Date:   Thursday, 5 May 1994 16:46 EDT
        Subj:   Re: Masks
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom E. Hodges <
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Date:           Thursday, 5 May 1994 15:21:34 GMT-6
Subject:        Masks
 
Regarding Curiousbillgodshalk's question about the social status of Renaissance
ladies masking in the sun, if we take "mask" to mean all types of vizards,
James T. Henke's *Gutter Life and Language in the Early "Street" Literature of
England* perhaps sheds some light under "Black-bag whore."  He notes that
"privy prostitutes" may have disguised themselves as "honest widows,
unfortunate gentle women, etc." by wearing a dark veil.  Henke then quotes from
the sham *Resolution of the Women of London to the Parliament[1642]*, which
includes a phrase evidently describing the social and moral scale of womankind
from highest to lowest: "...whether rich or poore, great or small, honest or
halfe honest, even from the blacke-bagge to the Oyster-wench...."  This context
makes the black bag a mark of gentility.
 
"Who was that masked stranger?"  Back then we might very well wonder.
 
On another point, thanks to you John Boni for your cautionary note about
teachers flaunting their students' gaffes.  Yes, we chuckle-- otherwise we
might go mad; then we resume tending our garden.
 
Best regards, Tom Hodges in Amarillo
 
Tom Hodges, Professor of English, Amarillo College, PO Box 447,
Amarillo, Texas, 79178, Voice (806) 371-5176, fax 806 371-5370
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           A.G. Bennett <BENNETT@BRANDEIS.BITNET>
Date:           Thursday, 5 May 1994 16:46 EDT
Subject:        Re: Masks
 
Bill Godshalk asked about masking during the Renaissance-- my information on
that period's a bit sketchy on this, but during the Restoration, women
frequently appeared masked in public-- to do otherwise could be taken as a sign
of lack of virtue, I believe.
 
Then again, there is the intriguing dichotomy that the whores who worked the
theatres (and usually sat in a particular area of the balcony, I think) were
referred to as "masks."
 
I'm interested in hearing from others about how it all seemed to work during
the Renaissance itself....
 
Cheers,
Alex Bennett (
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