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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: July ::
Qs: Rosalind's Height; Performances; Teaching *Lr.*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0560.  Tuesday, 18 July 1995.
 
(1)     From:   H Narushima <
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        Date:   Saturday, 15 Jul 95 10:18:26 +0900
        Subj:   Rosalind's Height
 
(2)     From:   H Narushima <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 18 Jul 95 14:17:14 +0900
        Subj:   Rosalind's Height2
 
(3)     From:   Paul Castillo <
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        Date:   Saturday, 15 Jul 1995 16:58:22 -0400
        Subj:   Performances in England
 
(4)     From:   John F. Keogh <
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        Date:   Sunday, 16 Jul 1995 23:43:01 +1000
        Subj:   Teaching King Lear
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           H Narushima <
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Date:           Saturday, 15 Jul 95 10:18:26 +0900
Subject:        Rosalind's Height
 
Hello, fellow Shakespeareans!  I am a Japanese Shakespearean living in
Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan.  Recently I was admitted to this
SHAKSPER, and I'd like to open a discussion if possible.
 
I'd like to ask one question: Which is taller, Rosalind or Celia?
 
If we follow the Folios, in Act 1, Scene 2 of *As You Like It*, Le Beau says,
"But yet indeed the taller is his [the Duke's, not the banished Duke's]
daughter."(1.2.262, line numbers by the Arden edition).  But at the end of the
First Act, after Celia's father's (the Duke's) severe sentence of banishment,
Rosalind decides to go away in a man's attire, saying "Because that I am more
than common tall"(1.3.111).
 
Many editions treat this problem as settled, by blaming Shakespeare's too rapid
writing and his forgetfulness.  And they emend the first sentence that I quoted
to "the shorter is his daughter" in order to make it coherent. But it seems to
me that here resides a hidden fatal issue, and I can't let go this unnoticed.
 
As every Shakespearean knows, Rosaline is always dark and short in Shakesperean
canon.  You can assess this fact by access to LLL, ROM, or other related
comedies.  And I think that Rosalind is an analogue of Rosaline.
 
Then, my point is, when Shakespeare wrote and depicted Rosalind on the pages in
his study, I mean with no boy actor playing Rosalind before him, so that the
playwright wasn't aware of the difference of height between the two boys, the
writer could make his imagination go astray, holding the first images of
Rosaline, a girl who is dark and short, Shakespeare's favorite girl images.
 
Next day, the playwright comes to the stage, to rehearse the scene that he
wrote last night, and seeing the two boy actors, he suddenly realizes that the
boy who plays Rosalind is taller than the boy who is Celia.  So, Shakespeare
changes the words in 1.3., making Rosalind taller in the scenario, but he
forgot to change the first instance.
 
The fact that Rosalind is taller is very convenient, because he is the one who
changes into a boy.  Thus, the transvestism is naturally understood and the
writer's mistake is forgotten on the stage.
 
Rosalind is called "Rose" by Celia in 1.2., "Therefore my sweet Rose, my dear
Rose, be merry"(1.2.21-22).  We must remember that in *A Midsummer Night's
Dream*, it is Hermia, who is dark and short, to whom these words of Theseus'
are directed:
 
                But earthlier happy is the rose distilled
                Than that which, withering on the virgin thorn,
                Grows, lives, and dies in single belssedness.
                                                        (1.1.76-78)
 
We must also remember the fact that these sentences resemble the first several
sonnets of Shakespeare, especially the ones which are addressed to the Young
Man, who is also called "Rose"(Sonnet 1, line2).  It goes without saying, in
the Sonnets, one dark lady appears, although I admit that her appearance is
delayed for about 120 or more sonnets later.
 
These problems that I have shown above are unsettled in me and adhere to be
solved with no considerable results yet.  But one fact remains: Shakespeare
couldn't get rid of the allurement the word "Rose" possessed.
 
Could anyone be my assistant to solve the problem, or am I thinking
far-fetchedly?  Any of your ideas will be welcomed to this north end of Japan,
though it takes a few minutes for your answers to arrive here.  Thanks for the
technologies!  I'd be happy receiving opinions from feminist critics, Bbecause
I think here remains the problem of transvestism, which is very fashinable
these days in Shakespearean discussions.  Thank you.
 
                        Yours,
                        Fumiyuki Narushima
                        Human Sciences, Kitami Institute of Technology
                        Hokkaido, Japan
                        
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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           H Narushima <
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Date:           Tuesday, 18 Jul 95 14:17:14 +0900
Subject:        Rosalind's Height2
 
The reason why I put the question of Rosalind's height goes two ways. 1) I
wanted think this as an issue concerning primogeniture of that age. 2) The
meaning of transvestism in the Elizabethan age differs from that of 1)
Primogeniture defines the first born as legitimate.  When Rosalind is in
Celia's house, the new Duke Frederick (Celia's father) very naturally admits
that Celia is legitimate.  So the text says that when the play begins, Celia is
taller, I mean the elder in age is almost naturally taller.  We are not sure
which of the two girls is older, but when it is defined that Celia is
legitimate, she seems to be the taller and older psychologically.
 
Here the contrast of high and low in rank is transposed to high-short contrast
of height.  This is not so eccentric a hypothesis to posit.  Many psychological
writings (especially those of dream theories) will be found to support it.
 
After Duke Frederick's sentence of Rosalind's banishment, she independently
decides to go away.  Here we can observe the two dukedoms part.  We will hear
later that the banished Duke Senior is not dead, but has built a green-world
dukedom of his own which sounds like more comfortable to live in than usual
cities.  When Rosalind was in Celia's house, she was second in rank, but now in
the green dukedom, she is primogeniture.  So, she becomes taller now.
 
Almost always in Shakespearean canon, the contrast is made between two persons,
the one is fair and tall, the other dark and short.  And almost naturally the
privilege goes to the former.  *The Sonnets* is not exceptional. And in this
situation, the lower tries to get the better off successfully. Hermia, the Dark
Lady, and Rosaline in LLL defeat Helena, the Young Man, and Catherine.  At
least in some parts of the plays so.
 
Every legitimate successor is always taller than bastards.  Even Cordelia is
said to be "little-seeming substance"(LR, 1.1.197), after Lear raged.  She is
said to be "last, and least . . . young"(82).  And Regan, the second born,
tries to beat her elder sister, saying "Only she comes too short"(71).
 
Richard the crookback says, "I that am curtailed of this fair proportion" (18).
 The word "fair" sounds pregnant, because Edmund's mother was said to be "fair"
also.(1.1.21-22).  In that context, Gloucester blushes to acknowledge Edmund,
he has another legitimate son, "yet was his [Edmund's] mother was fair."  That
is, although base-born, short, and dark, but his mother was fair. These two
bastards (if I can call Richard a bastard,) are out of the Wheel of Fortune,
not legitimate, not fair, thus dark and short.
 
Bastard of Orleance's height is not made clear in 1H6, but he brings Joan du
Pucelle with him, and she used to be "black and swart before"(1.2.83), but now
she is fair, because "God's Mother . . ./ Will'd me to leave my base
vocation"(78-80).  Don John the Bastard "had rather be a canker in a hedge than
a rose in his grace"(ADO, 1.3.27-28).  Remember that "rose" is a symbol of
legitimacy.
 
Often in the pair of girls, in which the one transvestizes, the other is low in
rank.  Lucetta is the waiting-woman to Julia, Nerissa is so for Portia. Imogen
goes alone, but at home she is attended by a girl named Helen.  And always the
higher in rank changes clothes.  The exceptions are Hermia-Helena, and
Rosalind-Celia.  These two girls are the same in rank, they are friends, and
almost homosexual.
 
In the case of Hermia, she doesn't become a man.  Helena, who is fair,
psychologically becomes a man by chasing the person whom she loves.  We should
remember that a chasing woman is strange in the Elizabethan age.  Venus and
Helena in *All's Well* were exceptional.  Can I say that the name <Helena>
means a lot here?
 
But even Helena in MND doesn't change clothes.  The only transvestist low-rank
woman is Rosalind.  In fact, she is not base, but temporary so.  And as have
shown previously, her fairness and tallness went together with her recovery of
her legitimacy.
 
It could be an inevitable demand of comedy, whose vector goes from the low to
the high, which puts this form to the plays I cited.
 
2) In the Elizabethan age, there seems to be no transvestism in which men
changes into women.  Except for Falstaff, I remember none in Shakespeare's
comedies.  Let me explain the reason why as follows:
 
Men changes into women because they want to be the persons they adore.
Especially they adore women's body.  And if there is not a body as a model,
there will be no transvestism in the modern sense.  That seems to be the
situation on the Elizabethan stage.
 
Before the actress appeared, there would have been no women's BODY on stage.
Then, who wanted to be nothing, if nothing is shown on stage?   So, the trans-
vestism in that age went one way, only women became men.  In the case of
Falstaff, the circumstance is particular, but the principle holds.  He wants to
be a woman, because it is the only way for him to escape safely.
 
Let me make it plain, every man and woman, if he/she does something, he has a
motive, and that motive makes him (or he believes it will) happy, not felt
degraded.  Am I going like Hercule Poirot, or Sherlock Holmes?
 
        Give me your answers!
 
                                        Cheers,
                                        Fumiyuki Narushima
 
P.S.    The problem remains of Mary Frith, the Roaring Girl.  But if Frith was
on stage, I wonder if her sexuality was a real matter for all the folks who
came to see her roar.  Her sexuality was always hidden behind her men's
clothes, wasn't it?  What I mean is that sexuality on the Elizabethan stage
derived almost always from the boys.
 
I've heard that the situation around the Elizabethan stage was very similar to
that of Japanese Kabuki in the old days.  I don't mean that these days such a
custom is living, in fact I deny it.  But it is true that I've also heard that
the boys were sometimes sold on stage.
 
P.S. again    I forgot to mention *Arcadia*.  Of course, in this Sidney's prose
work, a man changes into a woman, and there begins the hurly-burly.  But I
can't remember when it was played on stage.
 
This brings you to John Day's *The Isle of Guls*, where Lisander(!) changes
into an Amazon.  But like Britomart unravelling her hair, it is feminine beauty
which is foregrounded, not masculine.   Thank you.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Castillo <
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Date:           Saturday, 15 Jul 1995 16:58:22 -0400
Subject:        Performances in England
 
Hello:
 
Does anyone know what Shakespeare plays are being performed in Stratford Upon
Avon, London (Barbican, Globe, etc.), and in general the south of England
during 22 Aug - 6 Sept 1995?
 
Thanks,
Paul Castillo

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(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John F. Keogh <
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Date:           Sunday, 16 Jul 1995 23:43:01 +1000
Subject:        Teaching King Lear
 
I have been teaching Shakespeare to Year 11 and Year 12 students for over
thirty years. *Hamlet*, *Macbeth*, *Othello*, *Antony and Cleo*, the Histories
and the Comedies pose no insuperable problems.  I enjoy teaching them and my
students appear to have enjoyed my lessons.
 
Why can't I cope with *King Lear* ?  Why don't I even like the play much?
Middleton Murry didn't like it and Thackeray said:-  "We all found the play a
bore . . . . It is almost blasphemy to say a play of Shakespeare's is bad; but
I can't help it if I think so." I'm with Thackeray, I'm not proud of it nor do
I want to be with him specially as I have to teach it again this year. Can
someone tell me why I cannot like it and what I can do to learn to like it so
that I can put the same enthusiasm into King Lear as I do for the others.
 
Has anyone mastered the same problem?  I'd be grateful to hear from you.
 

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