Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: April ::
Re: Bear-Baiting
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0305.  Monday, 17 April 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Karen Krebser <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Saturday, 15 Apr 95 10:30:58 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0300 Re: Bear-Baiting
 
(2)     From:   Melissa Aaron <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Saturday, 15 Apr 1995 08:25:48 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0300 Re: Bear-Baiting
 
(3)     From:   Jerry Bangham <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Saturday, 15 Apr 1995 13:31:42
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0300  Re: Bear-Baiting
 
(4)     From:   Michael Friedman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Saturday, 15 Apr 1995 16:51:08 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0292  Bear-Baiting
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Krebser <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 15 Apr 95 10:30:58 -0700
Subject: 6.0300 Re: Bear-Baiting
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0300 Re: Bear-Baiting
 
I spoke earlier in the week of a biography of Shakespeare by Dennis Kay. Here's
the reference:
 
Kay, Dennis. Shakespeare: His Life, Work, and Era. Great Britain: Sidgwick &
Jackson Ltd. New York: William Morrow, Quill Editions. 1992.
 
Regarding bear-baiting, I quote from Chapter 4, "From the Country to the City":
 
On the southy bank of the Thames, for example, citizens could disport
themselves in brothels or at the bear-baiting stadium. Bear- baiting by dogs
was a pastime in which the English took some considerable pride, a sport in
which they regarded themselves as superior to their effete continental cousins.
In 1506, Erasmus commented on the great herds of bears maintained to supply the
ring. From the reign of Henry VIII onward, the office of Master of the Royal
Game was a significant court position. In 1526 a substantial amphitheater or
circus (the classical precedent added to the dignity of these celebrations in
New Troy) was constructed in the Paris Garden on the Bankside in Southwark. The
building could hold about a thousand spectators, with admission later fixed at
a penny for the cheap places and twice as much for the upper galleries. Both
bulls and bears were baited by mastiffs in this building until in 1570 a second
circus was constructed in an adjoining field and the bullfights were
transferred there, leaving the bears in the older ring. And so they continued
until they were suppressed by the Long Parliament in 1642, leaving behind a
folk memory of the bulldog as the embodiment of indomitable patriotism. (84)
 
[There's much more in this chapter. a very interesting story, I think.
Karen Krebser]
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa Aaron <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 15 Apr 1995 08:25:48 +0200
Subject: 6.0300 Re: Bear-Baiting
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0300 Re: Bear-Baiting
 
Caveat on real bears in WT:  Earlier that same year, two white bears were used
to pull the Prince of Wales' chariot in *Oberon*.  I find it difficult to
believe that live bears were allowed so close to the Prince of Wales. And polar
bears are notoriously fierce and impossible to train.  This suggests to me some
kind of fabulous costume.  Upon which, seeing it backstage as the King's Men
prepared to go on as the Satyrs, a certain playwright noticed the costume and
said "Uhh. . .you're not going to be using this again--are you?" and a famous
stage direction is born.
 
I've got a fuller paper on this plus some good bibliography if anyone is
interested--but I would strongly recommend the articles by George Reynolds and
Michael Hattaway.
 
Melissa Aaron
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jerry Bangham <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 15 Apr 1995 13:31:42
Subject: 6.0300  Re: Bear-Baiting
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0300  Re: Bear-Baiting
 
While we may be glad that Bear-Baiting is no longer with us, performing bears
very much are.  The only thing that I didn't particularly like about the
amazing Moscow Circus was the rather pathetic assortment of performing bears.
At least one of the bears had the chance to be self-assertive when it had an
altercation with another bear and then made a quick excursion into the
audience.
 
Much more in the spirit of Elizabethan popular entertainment are the bears that
appear as street entertainers in many countries.  I remember, years ago, coming
up into the market in Mexico City from the subway and suddenly being jostled. I
turned and found myself looking up at a very large bear.  I've also seen
performing bears on the streets of Istanbul.
 
I can't imagine street bears in the US, but there was a fuss about a wrestling
bear in Mississippi a few years ago. So, it appears that man's fascination with
bears has continued over the ages, if in a somewhat more humane form.
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Friedman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 15 Apr 1995 16:51:08 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0292  Bear-Baiting
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0292  Bear-Baiting
 
Colin,
 
One of the most interesting pieces I ever read about bear baiting is Stephen
Dickey's "Shakespeare's Mastiff Comedy" in *Shakespeare Quarterly* volume 42
issue 3 (Fall, 1991): 255-75.
                                                        Michael Friedman
                                                        University of Scranton
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.