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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: August ::
Re: Puns; "Content"; Scansion
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0640.  Friday, 25 August 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Chris Stroffolino <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Aug 1995 12:50:28 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0636  Re: "Content"; Scansion
 
(2)     From:   John Drakakis <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Aug 1995 09:34:24 -0100
        Subj:   SHK 6.0636 Re: "Content"; Scansion
 
(3)     From:   Peter L Groves <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Aug 1995 17:13:30 GMT+1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0636  Re: "Content"; Scansion
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Stroffolino <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Aug 1995 12:50:28 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0636  Re: "Content"; Scansion
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0636  Re: "Content"; Scansion
 
Dear Martin Green--thanks for your defense of Shakespeare as punster-- and
citation, specifically, re "content"--Of course, I'd say pun's MAY HAVE been
Shakespeare's CLEOPATRA--but that of course Shakespreare sides with CLEOPATRA
more than many critics still give him credit for-- (however Godshalk may wish
to claim DOLABELLA!)....chris stroffolino
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Aug 1995 09:34:24 -0100
Subject: Re: "Content"; Scansion
Comment:        SHK 6.0636 Re: "Content"; Scansion
 
I think in the light of the "new" New Bibliography we really need to revise
our notions about puns in Shakespeare, don't we?
 
John Drakakis
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter L Groves <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Aug 1995 17:13:30 GMT+1000
Subject: 6.0636  Re: "Content"; Scansion
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0636  Re: "Content"; Scansion
 
Kate:
 
I'm afraid you're ascribing too much subtlety to the students in question; they
just assumed (I suppose) that the _y_ in _Hippolyta_ was long, and therefore
likely to be stressed, and thus produced the four-beat line *Now, FAIR
HippoLYTa, our NUPtial HOUR...*.
 
You're so right about those acting clues.  What I find particularly interesting
about the way WS uses metre to cue the actor's performance is that actors often
pick it up even where editors have done their best to hide it.  A good example
of editorial botching is the first four lines of _Macbeth_ 2.2, printed more or
less thus in the First Folio:
 
     That which hath made them drunk, hath made me bold:
     What hath quench d them, hath given me fire.
     Hearke, peace: it was the Owle that shriek d,
     The fatall Bell-man, which gives the stern st good-night.
 
Since the second line of the F text has only nine syllables, and the third only
eight, every editor of the play since Rowe (with the sole exception of Charles
Knight) has printed them with the following  regularised  lineation:
 
     That which hath made them drunk, hath made me bold;
     What hath quench d them hath given me fire.  Hark!  Peace!
     It was the owl that shriek d, the fatal bellman,
     Which gives the stern st goodnight. . . .
 
This will of course scan in a satisfactory but relatively mechanical and not
particularly revealing way, but actors who play Lady Macbeth (and I have tested
this against every taped version of the play I have access to  ) tend to ignore
the modern lineation in performance and intuitively recover the Folio version,
which is much more dramatically expressive.  To utter line 2 of the Folio
version with five beats, for example, you are forced to realize the contrastive
accent on the antithetical pairs _them_ : _me_ and _quenched_ : _(given) fire_,
giving the line (as WS wrote it) its sinister, gloating rhythm as Lady Macbeth
is forced to linger on the last two words.  In the next Folio line, the
successive catalexes or monosyllabic feet (^Hearke! ^Peace!) produce a staccato
rhythm consonant with Lady Macbeth s jumpiness, an effect (and an authorial
direction to the actor) that is lost if as in the modern verison only one of
those syllables is allowed to function as a beat.
 
Good luck with your acting majors--and happy hunting for those performance
cues!
 

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