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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: October ::
Re: Outsiders: Don John in *Ado*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0765.  Sunday, 2 October 1994.
 
From:           Edward Gero <
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Date:           Friday, 30 Sep 1994 10:14:00 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0751 Re: Women and Outsiders: Ado
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0751 Re: Women and Outsiders: Ado
 
In response to Melissa Aaron's query:
 
> The real question is--what are demonized figures like Don John doing in a
> "comedy?"
 
I have had the pleasure of playing Don John three times and would suggest that
he is present for a variety of reasons, not least among them because he is
funny.  He has one of the most exquisite first entrances in the canon. "I thank
you, I am not of many words, but I thank you", gets one of the first big laughs
in the play.  It reminds of the dour "Hello yourself" of Judd Fry in Oklahoma.
 
Secondly, I think he represents the shadow side of the male ego that is so
gulled in the play.  He, in fact, plays on that particularly male weakness of
the fear of being cuckolded with ease, and to great affect in convincing both
Claudio and Pedro of Hero's infidelity.  He does so, interestingly enough, with
another of the play's great laugh's "Leonato's Hero, your Hero, everyman's
Hero".  He acts with great understanding of an "outsider", knowing the male
depth of insecurity and penchant to accept as true any insinuation that the
"loved one" is false.  It is only after the cataclysm at the wedding, and the
insight that Friar Francis brings on a spiritual level (who, in my view acts as
the compensatory influence of Don John) that Hero is indeed honest and
innocent.  (It seems no accident to me that it is at this meeting of the dark
of Don John and light of the Friar that Don John completes his work and
leaves.)
 
It is only then that Benedik, Leonato, Pedro and Claudio can begin the painful
acceptance of their "shadow" selves before it is too late, and bring about the
"happy ending".  The Nothing of the Much Ado is in their heads brought to the
surface by that guy we all love to hate Don John.
 

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