1997

Re: Ideology

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0336.  Monday, 10 March 1997.

[1]     From:   Paul Hawkins <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 8 Mar 1997 11:02:56 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Ideology

[2]     From:   Paul Hawkins <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 8 Mar 1997 16:50:44 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Ideology


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Hawkins <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 8 Mar 1997 11:02:56 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Ideology

John Drakakis hopes that "we can . . . persuade Paul Hawkins that at
least part of what he does and says isn't entirely available to what he
takes to be his controlling consciousness."

I have no such absolute confidence in my controlling consciousness.  One
can't possibly love Shakespeare, given the representation of
consciousness in his plays, and have any naive faith in one's capacity
for complete conscious control.

Paul Hawkins

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Hawkins <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 8 Mar 1997 16:50:44 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Ideology

Like Sean Lawrence, I have been struck by the redirection of this thread
away from the discussion of aesthetic response.

In answer to a question about whether an individual student's love of
the literature need be destroyed in order that the student learn
ideological criticism, Professor Hawkes wrote, "I confess I do
occasionally aim to change the way my students think about literature.
That's what I call education . . . ."  I responded, with a smugness I
now regret, "I aim to encourage my students to decide for themselves
what they think about literature."  Gabriel Egan responds, "But you set
the questions";  then I say, actually in my class "anything goes as long
as it can be developed and argued."  And so began this part of the
thread.

Strictly speaking, whether or not I set questions, and what I ask my
students to write for me, and what restrictions on the students I impose
or the form of any course imposes, and how I deal with racist discourse
in the classroom, are all irrelevant to the basic propositions with
which we began.  If I encourage my students to make up their own minds
what they think about literature, and then allow them no opportunity to
begin to try to do this within my course, I am certainly inconsistent.
But Professor Hawkes's statement and my reply both referred to what the
in-class experience was intended to produce in the student beyond the
class.  They were statements of pedagogical aim, and both were very
different, and both need have nothing to do with what happens in the
class in order merely that their worth as "aims"  be examined.
Professor Hawkes can set out to change his students' thinking, and fail,
and actually succeed in something he never set out to do, encouraging
them to think for themselves.  I might set out to encourage my students
to think for themselves, and fail, and make them all love Shakespeare as
much as I do.

Any course imposes certain limits on its students, limits of time and
place and choice of texts and pace of study and limits on
expression-some teachers may have to shut up the white supremacist in
the back row because he never stops talking and is preventing other
students from participating and the class from discussing the material
in the widest possible way representative of the diverse interests of
the individuals making up this group now; and some teachers may try to
involve the white supremacist in discussion (perhaps not even knowing
that she is one, because she has been all semester a sullen
non-participant).  One can spend an entire semester with a class and
only learn on the last day that the shy guy in the back has brilliant
psychoanalytic- feminist insights into the material, and you lament the
missed opportunity to engage with these ideas more fully.  That guy may
go through life cursing that silly aesthetic teacher who wouldn't
tolerate political approaches to the material, when in reality there
might have been perfect tolerance, but for a complex of personal and
institutional reasons a possible thrilling dialogue just never
happened.

I never suggested that teachers and courses impose no limits.  Some
teachers and courses will limit students more, some less.  Some teachers
set out to change their students' thinking, to convert them to a new
belief about literature.  Some teachers are indifferent to the idea of
their students thinking like them, and are content or ecstatic when
their students think *anything* originally and for themselves, even if
it's a passionate and lucid "This play-all of Shakespeare, in fact-sucks
for the following reasons . . . ."

I don't really know how I am "hoist with . . . [my] own liberalism," as
John Drakakis says.  A racist argument, as any ideological argument, as
any aesthetic argument, or any *any* kind of argument, can be opposed in
any of the ways that any argument can be opposed:  by questioning the
definition of terms, by re-evaluating the evidence produced in support
of the proposition, by introducing and examining other evidence, by
interrogating and offering alternatives to the writer's assumptions, by
questioning the argumentation.  If these are simply "liberal rules,"
I'll welcome any suggested alternative (a mud fight?), but it seems to
me that we're all now playing more- or-less by those same rules; where
we disagree is at the level of first assumptions, and that's both
healthy and invigorating.

Maybe it's those assumptions that deserve more direct interrogation, and
so I ask the following question.  Is there any hard evidence that any
enduring aesthetic category, stricture, or judgment of any really
first-rate English language literary critic is specifically, irreducibly
ideological?

(I would define "ideological" as "bound up with the tissue of ideas that
constitutes those superstructural phenomena necessary to the maintenance
of the base economic relations at a particular historical moment"-this
is my rephrasing of a definition Gabriel Egan offered some months ago,
if memory serves)

Dryden's judgment that Shakespeare possesses the largest and most
comprehensive soul; Johnson's that Shakespeare pleases because of his
just representations of general nature; Virginia Woolf's that
Shakespeare's mind was incandescent; T.S. Eliot's that *Hamlet* is an
artistic failure; Harold Bloom's that Shakespeare is the most central
writer in our culture because his is the influence that no writer has
overcome-these would be just a few of the kinds of judgments whose
irreducibly ideological content I would be interested in seeing
demonstrated.

Paul Hawkins

Re: Polonius' Precepts

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0335.  Monday, 10 March 1997.
 =

[1]     From:   Joseph Tate <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 8 Mar 1997 08:44:49 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0333  Qs: Polonius =


[2]     From:   Robert F. O'Connor  <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> =

        Date:   Monday, 10 Mar 1997 14:38:31 +1000 =

        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0333  Qs: Polonius =


[3]     From:   Bernice W. Kliman  <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 09 Mar 1997 00:20:54 -0500
        Subj:   Polonius' Precepts =



[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph Tate <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 8 Mar 1997 08:44:49 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 8.0333  Qs: Polonius
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0333  Qs: Polonius

Roger,

See Alan Fisher's essay on Polonius entitled "Shakespeare's Last
Humanist." It's an interesting read and gets at some of the same topics
you're wondering about. I don't have the publication info handy, but a
quick search in the MLA biblio will find it.

You're right though, Polonius may not be the sweet old fellow we've
assumed he is, although I doubt he's the devil that Branagh makes him
out to be. I'd argue he's somewhere in between, like most worried
parents.

But, Fisher's essay should definitely help.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert F. O'Connor  <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> =

Date:           Monday, 10 Mar 1997 14:38:31 +1000 =

Subject: 8.0333  Qs: Polonius =
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0333  Qs: Polonius =


Howdy again!

Roger Schmeeckle wrote:

>I am puzzled about the line of Polonius' advice to Laertes: "to thine
>own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst
>not then be false to any man."

I am sure that Laertes was puzzled too, and most of the productions I
have seen have had him play it so.

>This used to seem to me to be good advice.  Now I am not so sure.
>Polonius seems to be an example of the servant without principle, whose
>only values concern how to get on in this world.  "Neither a lender nor
>a borrower be," for instance, may be good, worldly advice, but it is
>also directly contradictory to the teaching of Christ, with which
>Shakespeare's audience can be presumed to have been familiar.

I have to say I think you have hit it on the head by saying that
Polonius is 'without principle' - he is - as far as I am concerned - not
alone in this deficiency among the residents of Elsinore.  But I would
contend further that you are throwing yourself off course by looking for
some consistency with Christian teachings in anything Polonius - or any
other character in the play - says.  Yes, there are numerous references
to Saint Patrick, Purgatory and other aspects of Christian theology (to
say nothing of the dissatisfaction with Ophelia's funeral), but I don't
think that the action of the play can be firmly set within a Christian
milieu.  I think it was Robert Reed who suggested that the plays took
place over a kind of theological cusp between paganism and Christianity,
or at the very least Catholicism and Protestantism.  My own inclination
has always been towards seeing the ethical atmosphere of Elsinore as
rather more Old Testament, eye-for-an-eye, than New Testament
turn-the-other-cheek.

Rob O'Connor

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bernice W. Kliman  <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 09 Mar 1997 00:20:54 -0500
Subject:        Polonius' Precepts

The short answer to Roger Schmeeckle might be a suggestion to look up
the survey of commentary in the 1877 Furness *New Variorum HAMLET*.  It
contains a  variety of responses that are similar to those we are
collecting for the current NV project.

Below are some comments from the new variorum in progress--

523     these fewe precepts] Critics have considered whether Polonius's
maxims be moral or venial, whether they fit or do not fit Polonius'
character. [STUBBS] (1736, p. 20) argues that the moment before the
precepts cannot be comedic considering "the whole Tenour of this Scene,
with the grave and excellent Instructions which it contains, from
Polonius to Laertes, and from both to Ophelia. It is impossible that any
Buffoonery could be here intended, to make void and insignificant so
much good Sense expressed in the true Beauties of Poetry." On the other
hand, CAPELL (1779-83 [1774] 1:1:124) values the scene's mixed style: "
It has been observ'd, (but where, is not remember'd at present) that the
'precepts' are much too good for the speaker. . . ." CAPELL agrees with
others that Polonius may have "con'd" them and that once the lesson is
over "we are regal'd with a style very different, and flowers of speech
is his way. . . ." While offering no opinion on their suitability to the
dramatic occasion, GENTLEMAN (ed. 1773), regretting the omission in
performance, thinks the lines "deserve attention in public, and perusal
in private." HUDSON (1848) finds Polonius incapable of learning anything
true about human nature from the maxims he has conned (2:117): "coming
from Polonius, they seem but the extraction and quintescence of
Chesterfieldism, of which the first and great commandment is, act and
speak to conceal, not to express thy thoughts, and avoid to do any thing
that may injure thyself. . . and if in this brief abstract of policy he
sprinkles a few elements of manly honour and generosity, it is only to
make the compound more palatable to a young mind. . .  (2:119). =

543     be true] HUDSON (1848, 2:120): "This precept, indeed, has sometimes
been urged as redeeming the author from the utter baseness and
selfishness which the rest of his conduct so plainly indicates: but to
me it seems rather to confirm the view I have taken of him [see Polonius
doc. in characters=83]; for it must obviously mean one of two things:
either, be true to thine own heart, which is perhaps the best morality;
or, be true to thine own interest, which is the worst morality: and all
the rest of the character seems to warrant, if not require, the latter
construction."

Qs: Polonius; LLW

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0333.  Saturday, 8 March 1997.

[1]     From:   Roger Schmeeckle <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 7 Mar 1997 16:43:01 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Polonius as a source of worldly (un)wisdom

[2]     From:   Gabriel Z. Wasserman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 06 Mar 1997 19:12:57 -0500
        Subj:   Love's Labour's Won


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger Schmeeckle <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 7 Mar 1997 16:43:01 -0800 (PST)
Subject:        Polonius as a source of worldly (un)wisdom

I am puzzled about the line of Polonius' advice to Laertes: "to thine
own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst
not then be false to any man."

This used to seem to me to be good advice.  Now I am not so sure.
Polonius seems to be an example of the servant without principle, whose
only values concern how to get on in this world.  "Neither a lender nor
a borrower be," for instance, may be good, worldly advice, but it is
also directly contradictory to the teaching of Christ, with which
Shakespeare's audience can be presumed to have been familiar.

Does anyone know any treatments of these lines, or Polonius' speech to
Laertes, or of the character of Polonius, that I might profitably (not
in a worldly sense) consult?

     Roger Schmeeckle

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Z. Wasserman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 06 Mar 1997 19:12:57 -0500
Subject:        Love's Labour's Won

I am fascinated with LLW.  Here is all the information I know about it:
In Palladis Tamia, Wit's Treasury, Francis Meres writes the following:

As Plautus and Seneca are accounted the best for Comedy and Tragedy
among the Latines : so Shakespeare among ye English is the most
excellent in both kinds for the stage; for Comedy, witnes his Ge'tleme'
of Verona, his Errors, his Loue labors lost, his Loue labours wonne, his
Midsummer night dreame, & his Merchant of Venice : for Tragedy his
Richard the 2. Richard the 3. Henry the 4.  King John, Titus Andronicus
and his Romeo and Juliet.

Hmm.  Loues Labour's Lost is paired with Love's Labour's Won, so LLW is
probably the sequel to LLL. Many candidates haue been proposed including
*Much Ado* by H. H.  Furness in his superb New Variorum Shakespeare, *As
You Like It*, *The Tempest*  (a ridiculous idea, considering the fact
that it hadn't yet been written in 1598), *The Taming of the Shrew*...

But wait a minute.  In 1953 a booksellers list was found listing items
that had been sold.  The "Drama section" went something like this [no, I
don't haue it in front of me]
                        A kite for Hawk catching
                        No kite For Hawke catching
                        Euery man in His Humour
                        The Taming of a Shrew
                        Loues Labour's Lost
                        Loues Labour's Wonne
                        Dr Faustus

I'm sorry if my reconstruction is miserable, which I know it is, but
it's all I could do.

The mention of it (STILL PAIRED WITH *LLL*) causes the editors of the
Oxford edition of  Shakespeare to believe that it was printed: a
reasonable assumption.  However, they think that this is proof that
*LLW* is NOT *the taming of THE Shrew*:  after all, they  reason, *The
taming of the Shrew* is already mentioned in the list.  However, it
actually isn't--*The Taming of *A* Shrew* is.  No, I don't believe that
*A Shrew* is a memorial reconstuction of *The Shrew*, nor do I believe
it to be a source, or an analogue-I believe it to be an earlier
Shakespeare play.  But that is irrelevant to our discussion.  Furness's
argument is very persuasive, and is based mainly on comparisons between
Berowne {bih-roon} (or Biron, or what you will) and Beadick, as well as
between Rosaline and Benetrice.  I know that you all know this, but I
wanted to put it all in writing in order to start a conversation.

Your honour's all in duty,
Gabriel Z. Wasserman

Post Scriptum:  I believe *LLW* to be a lost play of Shakespeare's.

Re: Desdemona's Guilt

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0334.  Monday, 10 March 1997.

[1]     From:   Virginia M. Byrne <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 8 Mar 1997 10:40:10 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0326 Re: Desdemona's Guilt

[2]     From:   Kathy Acheson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 09 Mar 1997 18:05:58 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0326  Re: Desdemona's Guilt

[3]     From:   John Boni <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 8 Mar 1997 14:38:29 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0326 Re: Desdemona's Guilt


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Virginia M. Byrne <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 8 Mar 1997 10:40:10 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0326 Re: Desdemona's Guilt
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0326 Re: Desdemona's Guilt

Desdemona is an "abused" wife who no doubt feels it is her fault that OJ
killed her.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kathy Acheson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 09 Mar 1997 18:05:58 +0000
Subject: 8.0326  Re: Desdemona's Guilt
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0326  Re: Desdemona's Guilt

It may be a mistake to see Des as a 'character'-maybe she's just there
to sop up everything else that happens, like Ophelia. But should we try
to do so, we might see her as acting out that transition between
dynastic and affective marriage, finding (in negotiations for
Cassio/power role + love with Othello/love role) that she has best of
both worlds-then, finding no support (all the guys, including Daddy, but
also Emilia), crumples: I'm not here anymore. We tend to assume that
social transitions, such as that between dynastic and affective marriage
in the aristocracy, occurred between generations, but it appears to have
been agonizingly acted out by many women of that period in much this
way.

Kathy Acheson

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Boni <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 8 Mar 1997 14:38:29 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 8.0326 Re: Desdemona's Guilt
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0326 Re: Desdemona's Guilt

That Desdemona rejected the "wealthy curled darlings of our nation,"  a
choice which baffles her father, testifies to her independence, as does
her narration (and Othello's) of the development of their love.  On the
other hand, when she is confronted by Othello in his righteous (but not
right) anger, she tells us, "I am a child to chiding."  In a sense, the
very strength and energy she admired in Othello the exotic warrior is
overwhelming in Othello the husband verbally assaulting her.  She turns
back to her Christian upbringing.  When Othello screams at her, "Are you
not a whore?"  She responds, "No, as I am a Christian"; and later, "No,
as I shall be saved,"  (My quotations from memory may be a bit off, but
they make the point.)  Imagine, if you will, Emilia responding to such a
falsehood.  As in so many of the women in Shakespeare's tragedies,
Desdemona is realized to evoke pathos but not heroism.  Finally, she is
in a situation which overwhelms her.

John M. Boni

Re: Salic; Ghosts; Gibson; A Lover; Critics;

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0332.  Saturday, 8 March 1997.

[1]     From:   David H. Maruyama <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 7 Mar 1997 09:33:45 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0323 Re: Salic Law

[2]     From:   Gwenette Gaddis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 07 Mar 97 12:02:00 EST
        Subj:   Shakespeare's Ghosts

[3]     From:   Billy Houck <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 7 Mar 1997 13:13:29 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0330 Qs: Road Warrior - Danish version

[4]     From:   David Lindley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 7 Mar 1997 17:35:43 GMT
        Subj:   Re: RE: A Lover and his Lass

[5]     From:   Mary Jane Miller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 7 Mar 1997 12:09:37 -0500
        Subj:   Rosalind and Celia

[6]     From:   Brian Turner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 8 Mar 1997 22:37:20 +1300
        Subj:   Re: Cordelia and the Fool


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David H. Maruyama <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 7 Mar 1997 09:33:45 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0323 Re: Salic Law
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0323 Re: Salic Law

In regards to Salic Law, it is made expressly clear I think in the text
that the French are using it as an excuse to deny an inheritance of land
in France.  They do not follow their own excuse.  In the long argument
to convince Henry, Canterbury states that:

'No woman shall succeed in Salic Land'
Which Salic land the French unjustly gloze
To be the realm of France and Paramond
The founder of this law and female bar.
Yet their own authors faithfully affirm
That the land Salic is in Germany,
Between the floods of sala and of Elbe.

Salic law applies in Germany not in France, according to the argument
being presented by Canterbury.  Salic law applies to the lands in
Germany "between the floods of Sala and of Elbe."  France has nothing to
do with it.  Henry's claim is not based on Salic law but rather the
absence of the applicability of Salic law.  Canterbury also notes
further that the French don't follow Salic law either.

d maruyama

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gwenette Gaddis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 07 Mar 97 12:02:00 EST
Subject:        Shakespeare's Ghosts

Sean K. Kelly asked:

>Is anyone able to share instances where they have found the
>ghosts of Shakespeare to have influenced a work of group of works
>to any great extent.

When I was in grad school, I was fascinated by numerous allusions to
Macbeth in Richard Marius' _The Coming of Rain_.  I had a chance to
talk   with the author when he visited my college campus, and, although
we had a   heated debate about some things I objected to in his book
(don't ask), we   had a quite agreeable discussion about Shakespeare's
influence on his   work.  I've often wondered if his other books reflect
that influence, but   I have not read his other works.

>I would also hope that others might choose to discuss their own thoughts
>on the importance of the ghosts of Shakespeare.

I feel that Shakespeare's ghosts usually serve the purpose of
providing   information that the audience needs in order to understand
the action,   but it's information that the main characters don't know
or can't   provide.  The apparitions invoked by the weird sisters, for
example, seem   more credible than they would if the sisters merely made
verbal   predictions.  And Hamlet's father's ghost provides information
that   Hamlet couldn't discover anywhere else - you don't expect
Claudius to   confess, do you?

And, to some extent, I think the ghosts are sometimes just for
dramatic   effect.  The information conveyed in Lady Macbeth's
sleepwalking routine   could just as easily have been conveyed to the
audience using an   apparition (Lady M seeing an apparition of bloody
hands), but that had   already been done several times in the play.  At
this point, I think it's   just a different dramatic technique.  (I
realize that I'm using the terms   "ghost" and "apparition"
interchangeably here, and some of you may   disagree with that.  I'm
approaching this question from the idea that   both ghosts and
apparitions are supernatural, unreal, intangible.)

Gwenette Gaddis
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Billy Houck <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 7 Mar 1997 13:13:29 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0330 Qs: Road Warrior - Danish version
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0330 Qs: Road Warrior - Danish version

I'm concerned about the phrase "for all the wrong reasons..." How wrong
could a reason be if the end result is that the kids dig Hamlet?  It's
only a movie.

My personal problem with Mel is that he looks too old to have just come
from college. This especially bothers my high school students, who are
very age-sensitive. One recently told me thay thought Claire Danes
looked too old to play Juliet.

Billy Houck
Arroyo Grande High School

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 7 Mar 1997 17:35:43 GMT
Subject:        Re: RE: A Lover and his Lass;

The setting mentioned by David Mycoff  is by Gerald Finzi (not Finza),
and is one of the songs in his Shakespearean cycle 'Let Us Garlands
Bring' - which contains a number of fine settings, especially, perhaps,
that of the 'Dirge' from Cymbeline.

David Lindley
University of Leeds

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mary Jane Miller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 7 Mar 1997 12:09:37 -0500
Subject:        Rosalind and Celia

Actually this is regarding  Mark Mann's frustrations, not AYLI

In 1963 in  a guest lecture  at  Stratford Ont   and Artistic Director
Michael Langham  walked to the edge of the Festival stage and  almost
spat out the word" critics". His challenge then was to  the
distinguished critics ( who were there with students and the general
public) to do something useful to help him direct Shakespeare. The
discipline has changed substantially since then but I do understand Mr
Mann's frustrations - which is why I find the discussion on the staging
of Shakespeare in this forum so useful.

A PS - in our university, there are two  courses on Shakespeare taught-
one by the English department and one by the Theatre and Dramatic
Literature programmes in what amounts to a fine arts department. Both
are valuable - and very different.

Mary Jane Miller,
Brock University,

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Turner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 8 Mar 1997 22:37:20 +1300
Subject:        Re: Cordelia and the Fool

Syd Kasten in SHK 8.0167.

>In  Act 4 scene iii in which a gentleman describes Cordelia reading a letter,
>presumably from Kent and uttering comments that imply the events of the
>expulsion of Lear are new to her: "What, i'the storm? i'the night? Let pity not
>be believed!"

>However, this raises another question.  A.W. Verity, editor of my high school
>edition credits Bradley with "the acute criticism that there is no other
>character in Shakespeare who, appearing so little and speaking so little, makes
>so profound an impression".  Surely the author could have found a way giving
>Cordelia a few more lines to show her state of mind without damaging her image
>of strength.  Instead he gave them to an anonymous third party just as he did
>with the Fools introduction.  If 4,iii is omitted as in the folio version
>there is no problem.  In the following scene when the messenger tells her of
>the state of her sisters' forces, her answer "T'is known before" refers to the
>information she has gathered herself.  With the previous scene in place we can,
>according to the standard reading, take her to be referring to the contents of
>Kent's letter. But why not have her read the letter to us?  The answer is, as I
>suggested in the previous posting, she is just finishing her costume change and
>isn't available.

I'm sorry about taking so long to respond to the above posting however I
had thought that those with a little more advantage of study than myself
might have been able to resolve this. So I had to think about it.

The questions are: Why is Cordelia's part so short? Why was that funny
little scene included in the quarto and cut in the folio? (I indicated
previously that a costume change would be an unlikely reason.)

A careful analysis of Cordelia's lines is quite revealing. (I utilised
electronic selection.) She has about thirty speeches, none more than
thirteen lines, most much shorter. The most significant aspect is the
simplicity of the writing. There is very little of the complexity of
construction that is frequently found in Shakespeare. The thought struck
me that he was writing for an inexperienced actor.

As we know, Shakespeare was writer in residence for a stable company of
players, and it is quite likely that he had actors in mind for most of
the parts during script development.

We also know that women were not permitted on the stage in Elizabethan
times and the female parts were taken by boys. Hence, naturally, the
actors taking female roles would have less experience than those taking
male roles.  (Shakespeare wrote marvellous parts for women yet one
wonders what he might have achieved had actresses been available.) The
other problem with boy actors is that they tend to grow up quite fast,
so there would be a high turnover and, consequently times when the boy
actors were untrained.  I believe that Shakespeare may well have written
the part of Cordelia for a new boy who was appointed to replace a boy
actor who became too old to play female parts.

The parts of Goneril and Regan are longer and written with greater
complexity of phrase and are obviously meant for more experienced
actors.  Why then was the part of Cordelia allocated to the least
experienced actor?  I could guess perhaps because Cordelia was the
youngest. Also Goneril and Regan are nasty pieces of work and it
requires greater skill to be nasty on stage than it does to be nice.

The purpose of  act 4, scene iii would then be to develop the character
of Cordelia without her having to appear on stage. Perhaps the young lad
was not capable of 'emotional expressiveness'. The scene does not exist
in the folio and, if this represents a revision of the quarto, as many
critics assert, it is probable that Shakespeare removed it when he found
from experience that the play worked quite well without it or it may
have been that the new lad had developed acting skills in the meantime.

Syd's thesis was that the Fool was Cordelia in disguise. Looking at the
lines of the Fool I get the impression that they were written for an
experienced actor, perhaps one who could sing and play the lute, and the
tradition that they were for Robert Armin agrees with this.

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