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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: May ::
Re: Bedlam and MM Qs
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0598.  Monday, 26 May 1997.

[1]     From:   Jerry Bangham  <
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        Date:   Sunday, 25 May 1997 13:36:42 -0400
        Subj:   Bedlam

[2]     From:   Helen Ostovich <
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        Date:   Sunday, 25 May 1997 19:38:27 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0596  Qs: MM and Bedlam

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Sunday, 25 May 1997 23:56:59 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 8.0596  Qs: MM and Bedlam

[4]     From:   Michael Skovmand <
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        Date:   Monday, 26 May 1997 10:22:01 MET
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0596  Qs: Measure for Measure


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jerry Bangham  <
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Date:           Sunday, 25 May 1997 13:36:42 -0400
Subject:        Bedlam

>I know we're taught that it was so, but how much hard evidence is there
>that people in the early modern period really did visit Bedlam or other
>institutions to watch displays of the 'mad' inmates for the purposes of
>entertainment?

Well, there's "Scene in a Madhouse" from Hogarth's "Rake's Progress"
which shows a Lady and her maid observing the antics of Tom and his
companions.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Helen Ostovich <
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Date:           Sunday, 25 May 1997 19:38:27 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0596  Qs: MM and Bedlam
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0596  Qs: MM and Bedlam

RE Mrs Overdone's probable dress:  waistcoat worn without a shift
underneath, a green skirt or gown, with a red underskirt.

RE Bedlam:  there are many references to visiting Bedlam as an
entertainment in Jonson's London comedies, and the city comedies of
other playwrights as well.  Does that qualify as hard data?

Helen Ostovich
Department of English / Editor, _REED Newsletter_
McMaster University

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Sunday, 25 May 1997 23:56:59 -0700
Subject: 8.0596  Qs: MM and Bedlam
Comment:        RE: SHK 8.0596  Qs: MM and Bedlam

Are there any other characters in Shakespeare like Escalus who perform
the role of a buffer? I'm assuming that Escalus knows what the Duke is
up to, and the Duke knows that Escalus knows.

Why do you assume this?  Couldn't Escalus just be one of those natural
second-in-commands who'll perform his duty without having to be told
why?  Rather like Tranio, in Shrew, who switches roles with Vincentio
simply on the assurance that there *is* a good reason, but without at
first being told *what* it is.  Any number of other reliable and
trusting servants, usually minor roles, come to mind.

Cheers,
Sean Lawrence

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Skovmand <
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Date:           Monday, 26 May 1997 10:22:01 MET
Subject: 8.0596  Qs: Measure for Measure
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0596  Qs: Measure for Measure

In reply to a question about Escalus as 'buffer'  who  knows about the
Duke's machinations:  Escalus doesn't know, and the conversation between
Escalus and the Duke  (which ends in the soliloquy "He who the sword of
heaven will bear..." is ample evidence, if not proof, allowing that,
with the Provost present, he could be pretending ignorance of the
disguise.  The same goes for the trial scene of Act V,sc.1, in which
Escalus is the severest of all  in his dealings with the  Duke in
disguise.  Is he putting on an act ? If so, it would certainly  lighten
up the play as a whole, and the last act in particular,  play down the
'problem play' dimension of MM,  disambiguate the  ending of the play ,
and possibly make for a more 'performable ' Act V. However, I don't buy
Escalus as 'buffer', for the same reason that I don't buy  Cordelia as
being the Fool in disguise in *Lear*: Shakespeare's  disguise plots are
always  clearly signposted,  including who's in the know and who isn't,
and within the dramaturgy  of  the Globe kind of theatre, I think they
need to be.  And on a personal note: I've got tickets for both Henry V
and Winter's Tale at the  Globe in London for this week, which is
opening week, and I shall be looking intently for  any mechanisms of
signposting disguises!

Michael Skovmand
U. of Aarhus
Denmark
 

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