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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: September ::
Re: Women and Outsiders: Ado
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No.0751.  Monday, 26 September 1994.
 
(1)     From:   JC Stirm <
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        Date:   Friday, 23 Sep 94 10:49 PDT
        Subj:   Much Ado Q Response
 
(2)     From:   Melissa Aaron <
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        Date:   Sunday, 18 Sep 1994 13:06:26 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0740 Q: *Ado*
 
(3)     From:   Thomas Hall <
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        Date:   Friday, 23 Sep 1994 12:23:35 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   *Ado* Question
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           JC Stirm <
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Date:           Friday, 23 Sep 94 10:49 PDT
Subject:        Much Ado Q Response
 
This is the first time I've posted to this list, so I hope I'm doing it
right...
 
Thomas Hall recently asked about women and outsiders in *Much Ado*: Two good
places to start spring to my mind:  M.M. Mahood's *Bit Parts in Shakespeare's
Plays* may give you some sense of how waiting women function on the stage to
form a sense of both Hero's importance and of an alternate community of women.
She also cites Barbara Everett's article in *Critical Quarterly* 3 (1961)
319-35 (which I haven't, alas, read).  Also, Carol Thomas Neely has a chapter
on the play in *Broken Nuptuals in Shakespeare's Plays*.  Neither book is
perfectly what you're after, but both may help.
 
It seems like one possibility if you're looking for women as outsiders, is to
consider the serving women and what they're doing in the plays also Jessica in
*Merchant*.  Margaret is both a loyal serving woman and something more; I'm not
suggesting that she's complicit in a plot against Hero, but rather that she has
a plot of her own which we don't see much of, but which involves at least some
courtship...  She's a vulnerable member of the alternative female community
because?  (That is, she makes that community vulnerable, but why?)  I think her
vulnerability has to do with marriage possibilities and the status of unmarried
serving women; they were often in service while trying to put together a
marriage portion or meet the right man.  Service wasn't the kind of career it
seems to be in TV productions about the 19th century, but was a more temporary
part of life.  That seems to mean that serving women are in an interesting
position in plays.  A lot of plays seem to have a real nostalgia for strong
relations between women, especially *MSND* (Titania's speech about the
Changeling Boy's mother and the twin cherry speech).  *Much Ado* seems to show
a moment when that community breaks down.
 
I hope you find what you're after,
                                     Jan Stirm
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa Aaron <
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Date:           Sunday, 18 Sep 1994 13:06:26 +0200
Subject: 5.0740 Q: *Ado*
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0740 Q: *Ado*
 
>I am looking for information on the play, Much Ado About Nothing. Specifically
>pertaining to the role of women and outsiders.
>                                                Thomas Hall
 
You might like to look at Don John's position as a bastard, a periennally
fascinating topic (at least to me).  Parallels might be Edmund in *King Lear*
and Spurio in *The Revenger's Tragedy*--not to get into the old "character"
debate but rather how bastards were perceived in the culture and what work they
do in a particular text.  I suspect that they serve as a tool to voice fears
about out-of-control sexuality and a consequent threat to inheritance, and the
demonized position they hold in many tragedies personifies--and
exorcises--these fears.  (Interesting factoid--there was a tremendous upsurge
in illegitimate births in the first decade of the 1600's, if Peter Laslett is
to be believed.)
 
The real question is--what are demonized figures like Don John doing in a
"comedy?"
 
Melissa Aaron
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Hall <
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Date:           Friday, 23 Sep 1994 12:23:35 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        *Ado* Question
 
>Dear Thomas Hall: For a perfect example of woman as outsider in Much
>Ado, have a look at Innogen.
>
>T. Hawkes
 
Dear Terence Hawkes: I apreciate the tip, any help I can get on the
larger issue of women and outsiders is useful. However I am kind of new
to all of this. Who is Innogen? And where do I find Innogen? Library or e-mail?
 
Thanks:
Thomas Hall
 

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