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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: February ::
Comment: SHK 6.0087
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0087. Wednesday, 8 February 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Andrew Gurr <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 7 Feb 1995 13:33:31 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0066 Re: Mrs. Mortimer's Welsh
 
(2)     From:   Naomi Liebler <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 7 Feb 95 10:34:00 EST
        Subj:   RE: SHK 6.0077  Re: Epilepsy in the Tragedies
 
(3)     From:   Roy Blount, Jr. <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 7 Feb 1995 11:31:22 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0081  Re: Shylock
 
(4)     From:   Steven Metsker <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 07 Feb 1995 11:14:00 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 6.0077 Re: Staging *Ant.*
 
(5)     From:   Christine Mack Gordon <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 7 Feb 95 16:28:43 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 6.0070 Fortinbras at Winnipeg
 
(6)     From:   E. L. Epstein <epstein@QCVAXA.BITNET>
        Date:   Tuesday, 07 Feb 1995 18:17:23 EDT
        Subj:   RE: SHK 6.0075  Re: Hubris
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Gurr <
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Date:           Tuesday, 7 Feb 1995 13:33:31 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 6.0066 Re: Mrs. Mortimer's Welsh
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0066 Re: Mrs. Mortimer's Welsh
 
To: Terry Hawkes on colonising the Welsh in Henry V.
 
Dear Terry,
 
Paola Pugliatti has a neat article on the languages in Henry, in The Yearbook
of English Studies 23 (1993), pp.235-53. I do think that a 'band of brothers'
speaking in strange tongues needs a broader frame of reference.
 
Andrew Gurr.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Naomi Liebler <
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Date:           Tuesday, 7 Feb 95 10:34:00 EST
Subject: 6.0077  Re: Epilepsy in the Tragedies
Comment:        RE: SHK 6.0077  Re: Epilepsy in the Tragedies
 
Jocelyn Shannon asks about the early modern understanding of epilepsy.
Plutarch's _Roman Questions_, trans. Philemon Holland 1603, has several entries
regarding the "falling sickness," associating it with goats (because the Romans
thought that the goat's bleating sounded like what emanated from the throat of
an epileptic during a seizure). In an article published in _Shakespeare
Studies_ 14 (1981), I made something of this in regard to _Julius Caesar_,
linking this association with goats to Caesar's sacrificial function in the
play and to the rites of the Lupercalia in which the sacrifice of the goat is a
central element. See what you think. I didn't do anything with _Othello_, but
as I recall, he mutters something about goats and monkeys. The point of the
goat-connection in _JC_ has to do not only with its Lupercalian function but
also with the interpenetration of sacred and taboo in the body of the
sacrificial victim.
 
--Naomi C. Liebler
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roy Blount, Jr. <
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Date:           Tuesday, 7 Feb 1995 11:31:22 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0081  Re: Shylock
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0081  Re: Shylock
 
Regarding the _Merchant of Venice_, I personally think the whole play was
constructed in such a way that Shylock could be taken as the stereotypical evil
Jew, but to the critical reader, or watcher, Shakespeare undermines the various
themes the play seems to be enforcing, arriving at a much more complex
conclusion than first appears.
 
As evidence, all of the different elements in the play are not what they first
appear:
 
Antonio's latent or overt homosexuality (depending on your reading), which
calls into question Bassanio's orientation (if he's gay, he's marrying Portia
strictly for the money, if he's not, he's using Antonio)
 
The crossdressing of all the women.  Physically on the Elizabethan stage this
would be boys playing women dressing as men, which gives all the sodomy jokes
another level of meaning, and reinforces the homosexual subtext.
 
Portia's caskets -- clearly Shakespeare warns against assuming the outward
appearance is in reality the inward one.  Even worse, carefully read Portia's
song before Bassanio chooses; she cheats.
 
Even Portia's "quality of mercy" speech is ironic; for all her words she still
enacts a harsh penalty on Shylock.  I imagine Shakespeare was caught between
the pressure to put on a successful Jewish play like Marlowe's _The Jew of
Malta_ while also recognizing the anti-semitism such works enforce.  The work
he finally produced may not be entirely successful at deconstructing itself,
but I think it contains enough subversive elements to make the comedy a
somewhat dark and troubled one.
 
A final note about the Laban reference: Marlowe's _Doctor Faustus_ contains a
similar situation, where Faustus quotes the Bible but doesn't quote the portion
which is most relevant.  Shakespeare could be doing the same thing, expecting
his audience to fill in the relevant portion.  The lapse is as telling as the
quote.
 
-- Roy Blount, Jr.
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steven Metsker <
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Date:           Tuesday, 07 Feb 1995 11:14:00 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 6.0077 Re: Staging *Ant.*
Comment:        RE: SHK 6.0077 Re: Staging *Ant.*
 
The commentary in the Oxford edition of "Antony and Cleopatra" is terrific.  It
does a nice job of covering the staging problems.  As I recall, the hardest
scenes include Antony's "How! not dead? not dead?" lines, which may appear
humorous, and the hoisting of him "aloft" by Cleopatra and her maids.
 
                 Steve
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christine Mack Gordon <
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Date:           Tuesday, 7 Feb 95 16:28:43 -0500
Subject: Fortinbras at Winnipeg
Comment:        SHK 6.0070 Fortinbras at Winnipeg
 
To David Glassco and interested others:
 
I wish I had a photographic memory, so I could instantly relive the performance
in Winnipeg. But here's my take on why "How all occasions do inform against me"
worked so well. The Fortinbras we saw, even though briefly, was clearly a very
action-oriented, non-intellectual type. Reeves's Hamlet was both
action-oriented and thoughtful, but clearly the thinking/weighing has been
predominant. When he sees this foil going off to a pointless war, he recognizes
how different his own situation is, especially now that Claudius's actions have
clarified his guilt. Hamlet already has Polonius's blood on his hands (which
I've always seen as a crucial turning point in the play, and which seemed to be
one in this production as well), but now he knows he will have to follow
through with the rest. It's as if by removing himself from the court (or,
rather, being removed), he can finally confront the absolute necessity of
returning to set things right. There was a sense of resolve in this speech that
conveyed that, while he also commented ironically on Fortinbras's action. The
full humanity, the amazing complexity of this young Hamlet was what made the
performance so compelling, and his death at the end so very heart-rending. Hope
this helps.
 
Chris Gordon
 
(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           E. L. Epstein <epstein@QCVAXA.BITNET>
Date:           Tuesday, 07 Feb 1995 18:17:23 EDT
Subject: 6.0075  Re: Hubris
Comment:        RE: SHK 6.0075  Re: Hubris
 
In re hybris: the root of the word *hybr-* is cognate with the Latin *super-*,
so someone suffering from hybris is burdened with a superiority complex, and
has definitely gotten above himself! ELEpstein
 

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