1997

Re: Richard 3

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0356.  Friday, 14 March 1997.

[1]     From:   JoAnna Koskinen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 13 Mar 1997 10:02:33 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0342  Re: Richard 3

[2]     From:   JoAnna Koskinen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 13 Mar 1997 10:12:45 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0348  Re: Richard 3


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           JoAnna Koskinen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 13 Mar 1997 10:02:33 -0800
Subject: 8.0342  Re: Richard 3
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0342  Re: Richard 3

>Yet, we do not view RII or Bolingbroke as inherently evil or
>"deformed".  It seems your issue gets blurred between evil represented
>as deformity and evil for evil's sake.  Is Buckingham evil? He certainly
>makes R's rise to power possible yet he has a line he won't cross
>regarding the princes.

I do believe that the deformity of Richard was a conscious choice based
on the propaganda of the real Richard and - more importantly - his
recognition of the society's response to superstition. "Ugly is as ugly
does" is a less delicate way of putting it, but given the period I can
see the reasoning behind this.

>Text is subject to interpretation - I suggest the following - in my case
>to give my students a possible glimpse into R's soul - in his second
>scene with Lady Anne he states "I'll have her, but I'll not keep her
>long"  It is possible since he is aware of his own limitations, knows
>she may regret her acquiescence, and is realistic about it, that R is
>making a statement about his intentions, but about his knowledge that
>she will not be with him long once she realises what she has done.

Why must Richard have a soul? Shakespeare's plays seem to suggest a
difference between soul and conscience. Desdemona had a soul; it was
Othello's conscience (played out by Iago) that killed her.

>My possible alternative looks at R as one with a soul - why else feel
>sympathy - why else have the ghost scene and his lack of  finesse with
>Elizabeth - we can't just gloat over his demise...can we?

His lack of finesse with Elizabeth represents nothing more than the
Wheel Of Fortune( Don't you just love Vanna?), turning Richard out of
favor. His betrayal to Buckingham marks the downfall. I look at that as
a theme on "Honor amongst Thieves (and what happens when one guy drops
the ball)."

>His deformity was historic - Shakespeare may have exaggerated for effect
>- it's much more interesting that way. But, can you ignore the history
>to plead your case?

Yes, I can. I think it's important to recognize the many different
points of view when reading Shakespeare. Once you acknowledge that fact
to the class, you then explain why you are only addressing one, two or
three of those points. Remember, we're talking an Intro to Shakespeare
class here, so it's important that they leave appreciating the work and
not the avalanche of Modern Critical Theories that can overshadow it.
There'll be plenty of time for that later, I think.

>A note on your "Silence of the Lambs" comment.  Anne supposedly was a
>ward in R's household as they were growing up - What does one covet?
>One covets the thing which one sees everyday and can not have....

Exactly my point.

Thanks John! I happen to subscribe to David Bevington's approach to
Shakespeare. I interviewed him at the Shakespeare conference in LA, and
found him very amiable and funny. His edition of TCWO Shakespeare-in my
opinion-gives the student permission to enjoy the plays for what they
are. In no way does he ignore the many interpretations based on new
found criticisms, but he seems to keep in mind that the plays should
be-above all else - enjoyed (Personally, I tend to read them like a
trashy novel).

JoAnna

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           JoAnna Koskinen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 13 Mar 1997 10:12:45 -0800
Subject: 8.0348  Re: Richard 3
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0348  Re: Richard 3

Mark said:

>Austin Pendleton said it best about Richard III...he said the actor
>playing him must view the world from the "perspective of the
>rattlesnake"- meaning, of course, his views are not the same as the rest
>of the world, his point A is not our point A, and so he is justified in
>his own mind...as is Iago.

Absolutely!

>Having played both these sweet guys, I can tell you that in each, the
>villainy springs from a skewed personal view, a lack of proportion.
>Orson Welles said once that he was always amused at the whole library of
>scholarly works on the motives of Iago, as if the authors couldn't
>understand why a person would do what Iago does, when anyone who has
>lived ( and esp. in the theatrical world) has known an Iago or two. My
>approach to him was simply that lack of proportion-he was passed over
>for promotion, and it seems quite natural to Iago that "tit for tat"
>would dictate the ruining of Othello's marriage and life. To Iago these
>balance quite well. Olivier once said that while in the RAF, he was
>constantly harassed and abused by a superior officer, and was
>determined to get even with him, and while musing as to how, suddenly
>thought," why, of course, he has a wife..." then it came to him " God,
>that's Iago!"

>Richard springs from jealousy, too, but he is contemptuous of the
>well-proportioned folks around him, and rightly proud of the feats he
>has accomplished given his deformities. He, like Iago, is aware of his
>crimes and mindset, and makes the choice to set himself apart even more
>" I am determined to prove a villain". But there are actually more
>moments of doubt in Richard than Iago...there are several references to
>Richard's sleepless nights, and nightmares, and we see one of them.
>Richard's ambition pushes him on, in spite of knowing the evil he is
>committing, while Iago is absolutely convinced of his own righteous
>position. We see Richard begin to crack as the play runs toward its
>conclusion, his decision-making becoming a little more disjointed after
>he's king (his whole being had been focused on getting it, not on
>maintaining his hold),

Yes! Not to mention that the moment he breaks his promise to Buckingham,
he then creates an imbalance within his own world of tit for tat!

>whereas Iago stays the course all the way, and
>succeeds in his plots to ruin Othello's marriage and life, and only the
>problem of a little light aimed at his deceptions catches him in his own
>nets. Yet I believe he is less concerned with his own destiny than is
>Richard...Iago seems wholly bent for Othello's ruin, not his own
>gain-indeed, what could he gain without Othello's coattails to hold on
>to? I approached the news that " Cassio rules in Cyprus" with more
>distress than " Tortures will ope his lips", because that meant the plot
>to which he was committed didn't completely succeed.

 I agree totally.

>Richard's lines after the nightmare " There is no creature loves
>me...And if I die, no soul shall pity me" opens up a huge crack in the
>carapace of confident cruelty. He is human, but not one we recognize
>easily. He is the rattlesnake, with a world-view all his own.

I'm still working on the "soul" thing; have been for a while. I believe
that Shakespeare interpreted soul conscience differently; one makes
cowards of us all, and the other, well, I'm still working on it.

Thanks,
JoAnna

Re: Polonius

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0355.  Friday, 14 March 1997.

[1]     From:   John Cox <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 13 Mar 1997 10:56:32 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Polonius and the Countess Rossillion

[2]     From:   Sean K. Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 13 Mar 1997 20:37:58 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0350  Re: Polonius' Precepts


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Cox <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 13 Mar 1997 10:56:32 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Polonius and the Countess Rossillion

When the Countess Rossillion bids farewell to her son Bertram, she uses
rhetoric and sentiments that are very similar to Polonius' (AWW
1.1.61-68 in the Bevington edition).  I can't think of other stage
parallels offhand, but this one suggests that the parent's farewell to a
child may be something of a setpiece, not necessarily revealing anything
about the character of the speaker. The countess is no doddering fool,
nor is she a manipulative politician.  I'd be interested to know of
other possible examples from Shakespeare or anyone else.

John Cox, Hope College

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean K. Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 13 Mar 1997 20:37:58 -0800
Subject: 8.0350  Re: Polonius' Precepts
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0350  Re: Polonius' Precepts

I once interviewed Douglas Campbell who suggested, citing Tyrone
Guthrie, that Polonius's name might have been changed from the Corambis
of Q1 in order to reflect service in the Polack wars.  This is similar
to how Coriolanus gets to be Coriolanus.

Anyway, that would leave Polonius as neither a senile fool or a
conniving politician, but a slightly washed up, though still vastly
respected old general.  Campbell drew a comparison to Bernard Montgomery
after the second world war.

The production which he directed at Bard on the Beach made this point, I
thought quite effectively.

Cheers,
Sean

Re: Ideology

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0353.  Thursday, 13 March 1997.

From:           Terence Hawkes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 12 Mar 1997 12:45:40 -0500
Subject:        Ideology

Paul Hawkins asks for a demonstration of the 'irreducibly ideological
content' of, for instance, T.S. Eliot's judgement that Hamlet is an
'artistic failure'. Try this. The assessment of Hamlet was part of a
larger realignment of the Shakespearean canon, indeed a re-mapping of
the whole of English literature, strenuously proposed by Eliot when he
arrived in Britain. The British have always had difficulty in living up
to American ideological expectations of them and Eliot wasn't the first
- or the last-to feel compelled to append 'See Me' to what he perceived
as an appalling cultural scenario. Certainly, it wouldn't be difficult
to argue -as F.R. Leavis did, for instance - that Eliot's Harvard-honed
inability to come to terms with the awkward crudities of an inherited
British way of life contributes to his down-grading of Hamlet. A
Coriolanus-like unease with the sort of popular culture from which
Hamlet springs certainly runs throughout his work. How dare it draw on
'intractable' material! How dare its 'workmanship and thought' occupy an
'unstable position'! How dare it include 'superfluous and inconsistent
scenes'! It's hardly surprising that, for him, the culmination of
Shakespeare's 'tragic successes' turns out in fact to be the play he
associated with the career of Woodrow Wilson as well as his own
situation - Coriolanus: an indisputable masterpiece, he claimed,
'intelligible, self-complete, in the sunlight'. The award of 'F' to
Hamlet and 'A' to the latter play form part of the same alarming
project. Its thrust is clearly ideological. You could say Eliot had come
a long way from St. Louis. That didn't stop him from trying to
reconstruct it on the banks of the Thames.

T. Hawkes

Re: New Folger Editions

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0354.  Thursday, 13 March 1997.

From:           Paul Werstine <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 12 Mar 97 20:17:32 EST
Subject:        [Re: New Folger Editions]

Thanks to my colleague Alan Somerset for sending me Steve Urkowitz's
latest slam at editing.  I'm not sure why Steve is particularly URKed by
the New Folger edition's treatment of textual multiplicity when, alone
among editions currently available for purchase, the New Folger employs
different kinds of brackets within its edited text to allow interested
readers to identify the particular early printed texts from which
passages and readings derive. Using these brackets, readers of the New
Folger HAMLET, for example, can read Q2 or F or Q2/F (to the extent that
the linearity of print allows).  The same is true of Q1 and F LEAR and
Q1 and F OTHELLO, as well. In view of the limitations imposed by the
linearity of print, the New Folger also tries to include in its textual
notes all the variants between such multiple texts as Q2 and F HAMLET;
in this respect it's unique among current editions aimed at school
audiences, so far as I know.  It's due to the impact of scholars like
Steve that we have paid this kind of attention to textual multiplicity.

A little while ago, someone on SHAKSPER (I apologize for not having
noted this correspondent by name) pointed out that the New Folger
paperbacks will not stand up to library use; I think he's probably
right.  That's why the Folger is now selling the edition in leather
bindings.  So far only HAMLET is available, and it can be purchased only
directly from the Folger Library.

Lest this message seem completely self-serving, I want to note that
royalties from the sale of the New Folger go the Library, not to the
editors.  The Library's value, for me, is that it houses the early
printed texts themselves in all their textual multiplicity - the source
for both editions (for those who want 'em) and facsimiles (for their
fans).

Cheers.

Re: Richard 3

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0352.  Thursday, 13 March 1997.

[1]     From:   Andrew Walker White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Mar 1997 11:40:25 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Richard III

[2]     From:   Sean K. Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Mar 1997 11:16:52 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0348  Re: Richard 3


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 12 Mar 1997 11:40:25 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Richard III

Sorry for the late reply; it is my observation that with every villain
Shakespeare creates, he refuses to use a purely naturalistic or
idealistic palette.  Like the Mannerists who were popular in his day, he
experiments with realism and idealism to varying degrees.

Richard is't drawn as a cardboard villain-his point, in his monologues,
is that his birth was just part of his character development; the
catalogue of euphemisms, "deformed, unfinish'd', etc., indicates that he
has had to put up with the biases of his time, and for long enough that
he doesn't feel he owes anyone any favors.  Having devoted his life to
the promotion of the York family claim to the throne, and having been
treated more like a faithful dog than much else, he is portrayed here as
being villainous, but with some good reasons for being so.

The same is true of Iago, who is clearly just as vulnerable to jealousy
as Othello (it alone moves his actions in the play), or Shylock, an even
better example; while Shylock is a typical 'senex', or old man/romantic
obstacle from the comedies of Greece and Rome, Shakespeare gives him
that glorious rebuttal, 'hath not a Jew eyes?', which has led to the
popular interpretation of Shylock as tragic figure, rather than comic
foil as he was originally intended.

Which is as much as to say, perhaps you're both right, but perhaps
you're also both wrong, each in your own way.  A fruitful discussion,
perhaps, would be to assume complexity of character and explore the
contradictions Shakespeare has created for you.

Andy White
Arlington, VA

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean K. Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 12 Mar 1997 11:16:52 -0800
Subject: 8.0348  Re: Richard 3
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0348  Re: Richard 3

> Just a couple of addedums here: there is no evidence that Richard III
> was "historically" a hunchback.

An historian friend of mine pointed out to me once that Richard was
known as a skilled fencer.  In order to be a skilled fencer with a
broadsword, he probably had an overdeveloped right shoulder.

Cheers,
Sean.

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