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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: February ::
RE: Sins in MM; Q: Miranda and Prospero
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0261.  Saturday, 22 February 1997.

[1]     From:   James P. Saeger <
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        Date:   Friday, 21 Feb 1997 19:21:44 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0252  RE: Sins in MM

[2]     From:   Magdalena Viana <
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        Date:   Friday, 21 Feb 1997 19:05:07 -0300
        Subj:   Miranda and Prospero


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James P. Saeger <
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Date:           Friday, 21 Feb 1997 19:21:44 -0500
Subject: 8.0252  RE: Sins in MM
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0252  RE: Sins in MM

Gabriel Egan concludes that in _Measure_ "the ethical questions are,
finally, irrelevant."

Can't we, though, see the play as *posing* the question of relevancy
rather than dismissing it?  Characters continually ask if Angelo and/or
the Duke have the moral right to pass judgment on others.  Angelo
strongly dismisses the connection between law and personal ethics: any
connection would make law impossible to uphold-"You may not so extenuate
his offence..." (2.1.27).  But most (?) of the other characters put
weight on personal morality (even Lucio in his comments about the Duke).

Isabella's ethical dilemma may also pose questions about how characters
differently treat moral issues for themselves and for others.  Despite
her vehemence against sleeping with Angelo, she's quite ready to let
Mariana do the same thing.  Elsewhere she says "Oh, were it but my
life..." (3.1.103): might not sacrifices of virginity and life be
comparable (fornication v.  suicide)?  To follow Chris Fassler's point,
isn't her readiness for martyrdom (Catholic not Protestant) tainted by
this dramatic-and possibly theological-equivocation?

Whatever Isabella's (or the audience's) ethical dilemma might be, she
seems to sum up her approach with the line, "I have spirit to do any
thing that appears not foul in the truth of my spirit" (3.1.197).  But
I've not been able to figure out whether she's constructing an inner
moral framework or rather voicing an implicit agreement with Angelo that
outward appearance of morality is all that matters.

Still pondering....
James P. Saeger
Vassar College

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Magdalena Viana <
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Date:           Friday, 21 Feb 1997 19:05:07 -0300
Subject:        Miranda and Prospero

I've been re-reading _The Tempest_ lately, since I have a paper to do,
and I was wondering if there was any possibility of understanding
Prospero's attitude toward Caliban as a cover for what he feels about
Miranda (I'm trying to suggest an incestuous desire, of course). Any
comments or suggestions are welcome.

Magdalena Viana
Letras,Universidad del Salvador.
Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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