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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: May ::
Q: Miss-Begetting
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0431.  Wednesday, 31 May 1995.
 
From:           Gareth Euridge <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 May 1995 15:43:19 -0400
Subject:        miss-begetting
 
This is not directly Shakespearean--my apologies--but may provoke Shakesperean
responses.  I have just read Beaumont & Fletcher's _The Captain_.  In it,
Jacamo, a bluff soldier, curses the pesky period of peace which has beset
Venice; he suspects that such rusty times render real men effeminate.  He then
proclaims the following:
 
                                "would to God my Mother
        Had given but halfe her will to my begetting
        And made me woman, to sit still and sing,
        Or to be sicke when I list, or any thing
        That is too idle for a man to thinke of."  (Bowers, v=1
                                                    2.1.10-14)
 
Can we assume from this that there was a pop culture (or, given these our
times, a professional medical culture) which equated the sex of the child with
the participatory gusto of the mother/father at its conception?  The more
rambunctious, the more likely to be a boy?  And, perhaps, latent and ironic
hostility to women enjoying sex, especially since, I believe, boys were
generally preferred (though I don't really believe that)?  The play says
nothing about Jacomo's parents to make this internally significant.
 
One small thing more.  In one part of the play, Jacomo is teased for behaving
like a little boy  (3.5.33-41).  In these 8 lines, there is a list of names
that other boys might call him, together with mentions of games that such boys
played.  Anyone know a good reference source for this stuff?
 
Either personally or netly, thoughts and suggestions would be received warmly.
 
Gareth M. Euridge

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