Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0396. Wednesday, 29 May 1996.
Date: Friday, 17 May 1996 6:47am
Subject: Rapes and Comedy in DC
In the last few months I've seen Washington productions of both Volpone and Two
Gentlemen of Verona -- both of which have an attempted rape scene. I found the
Volpone scene hard to take seriously, while the Two Gentlemen scene was
suddenly very real in an otherwise funny play. ( I think someone earlier
reported that the play had no gaiety, but I thought it was pretty amusing) I
was wondering to what extent we are ever meant to take a rape scene "seriously"
in a comedy. I almost felt Volpone was flawed because it seemed ridiculous to
believe this short fat old man could over power this young woman. On the other
hand, I can't help but think that the Two Gentlemen scene might not have been
staged more akin to Midsummer. When Demetrius (or is it the other guy) say's
"you do impeach you honesty to trust the oppurtunity of night," I never really
worried about the girls safety. What about it? did SHakespeare's audience get
treated to a lot of comedic rapes? that would appear to not be acceptable to
today's audience. For that matter, was a scene like the rape in Titus typical?