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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: May ::
Re: Masking Shakespeare; Mannerism in *Ham.*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0443.  Thursday, 19 May 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Nick Clary <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 18 May 1994 10:15:33 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Masking Shakespeare
 
(2)     From:   Fran Teague <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 18 May 94 10:24:22 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0441  Q: Mannerism in *Ham.*
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nick Clary <
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Date:           Wednesday, 18 May 1994 10:15:33 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Masking Shakespeare
 
Several characters within Shakespeare's plays don masks to conceal their
identities, often in connection with social occasions that call for them.
In AMND, however, Bottom is "translated" without his awareness of a change.
Other masks are specified for Flute and for Snug in their respective roles as
Thisbe and Lion in the wedding-night interlude prepared by Peter Quince.
R.A. Foakes (*New Cambridge Shakespeare* 1984) glosses Flute's mask by citing
from Fynes Moryson's *Itinerary* III, 177: "when they [ladies] goe out of dores,
weare upon their faces little Maskes of silk, lined with lether" (MND 1.2.40).
Bottom wears an ass's head when he returns to the stage during the rehearsal
scene in Act 3, and Snug wears a lion's mask which permits his face to be
clearly seen through it.  I wonder what differences there might be between the
mask worn by Bottom and the one adopted by Snug?  In the Loseley manuscripts
(see *Manuscripts and other rare documents, illustrative of some of the more
minute particulars of English history, biography, and manners, from the reign
of Henry VIII to that of James I*, edited with notes by Alfred John Kempe,
1836), the following masks are required for a performance of MASK OF CATTES:
"hedd peces...of paste and cement mowlded like lyons hedds, the mouthe
devouringe the mannes hed helmet wise" (88). If the actor playing Nick Bottom
were already masked, how do we imagine his masked face before he is
"translated"?  Would he be masked again as Pyramus?  And what could he possibly
have imagined onstage when he offered to "hide [his] face" in order to double
as Thisbe?  The New Cambridge AMND offers a richly informative introduction and
copious glosses on metamorphic aspects of the literary as well as the
performance texts, which might prompt some interesting experimentation for a
director wishing to foreground both masking and doubling as central to the
play's concerns.  Such matters, of course, are relevant to the rites/rights of
passage.
 
Nick Clary
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fran Teague <
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Date:           Wednesday, 18 May 94 10:24:22 EDT
Subject: 5.0441  Q: Mannerism in *Ham.*
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0441  Q: Mannerism in *Ham.*
 
Lawrence Guntner asks about Mannerism and _Hamlet_:  I like David Evett's
discussion of Mannerism in _Literature and the Visual Arts in Tudor England_
(1990).  Although he doesn't discuss _Hamlet_, he does consider Shakespeare
as a Mannerist pp. 247-88.
 

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