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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: November ::
Re: Seduction of Lady Anne
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.1139.  Thursday, 13 November 1997.

[1]     From:   Billy Houck <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Nov 1997 10:10:58 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1136  Re: Seduction of Lady Anne

[2]     From:   Lawrence Manley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Nov 1997 10:25:23 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1136  Re: Seduction of Lady Anne

[3]     From:   Peter T. Hadorn <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Nov 1997 10:00:11 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 8.1136  Re: Seduction of Lady Anne

[4]     From:   Terence Martin <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Nov 1997 10:18:30 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Lady Anne

[5]     From:   Louis C Swilley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Nov 1997 10:41:33 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1136  Re: Seduction of Lady Anne

[6]     From:   Abigail Quart <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Nov 1997 21:05:12 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1136  Re: Seduction of Lady Anne


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Billy Houck <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Nov 1997 10:10:58 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.1136  Re: Seduction of Lady Anne
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1136  Re: Seduction of Lady Anne

Is the implication here that an unattractive woman is more likely to
marry the man who killed her husband and father than an attractive
woman? Surely moral integrity is more than skin-deep.

This rates right up there with the productions that cast a drop-dead
gorgeous Richard, despite his mention of the dogs that bark at him in
the street.

I have shown various versions of this scene (on video) to high school
students who haven't seen, or at least understood Shakespeare before. As
long as you let them know in advance that it's her husband in the
coffin, even the simplest student "gets" it, despite the leaps of logic
involved.

Billy Houck
Arroyo Grande High School

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lawrence Manley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Nov 1997 10:25:23 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.1136  Re: Seduction of Lady Anne
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1136  Re: Seduction of Lady Anne

To add to the discussion of the seduction of the Lady Anne:  I was
recently researching Edward Austin Abbey's grand and gorgeous painting
of the scene (exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1896) and discovered
just how big a problem this scene was for the Victorians, who couldn't
quite imagine a woman who could succumb to Richard.  Here are three
exhibits:

1. William Watkins Lloyd could not seem to find *in the text* a
sufficient warrant for Anne's change of mind.  In fact, as his
delicately periphrastic prose suggests, he could not even bring himself
to say outright that Anne in any positive sense changes her mind:

"[In the seduction scene] there are ... embodied some characteristics
that no sagacity of the most imaginative *reader* can perfectly
apprehend... I doubt whether the exact extent to which it is true that
the lady's retorts had ceased to be expressions of living hate and
indignation can be truly appreciated *in reading, or otherwise than *as
heard* with the natural emphasis that they commend for themselves *when
spoken and with the gestures visible that they inspire in an
accomplished and sensitive performer*. -Critical essays on the Plays of
Shakespeare_ (1875)

2. Henry James thought the play has "with all its energy, a sort of
intellectual grossness... This same intellectual grossness is certainly
very striking; the scene of Richard's wooing of Lady Anne is a capital
specimen of it." (1877)

In an 1897 review of Henry Irving's production, which was profoundly
influenced by Abbey's painting of a distressed Pre-Raphaelite Anne
struggling to resist a monster whose back is turned to the viewer, James
could not reconcile a credible Anne with a credible Richard:  "The more
[Richard III] is painted and dressed, the more it is lighted and
solidified, the less it corresponds or coincides, the less it squares
with out imaginative habits.  By what extension of the term can such a
scene as Richard's wooing of the Lady Anne be said to be
represented?...It leaves us defying any actress whatever to give a touch
of truth, either for woe or for weal, to the other figure of the
situation." _The Scenic Art_

3. Like James, G.B. Shaw could not reconcile the high tone of Anne in
this production with the villainy of Richard:  "[Irving's] playing in
the scene with Lady Anne was a flat contradiction... Why not have Lady
Anne presented as a weak, childish-witted, mesmerized creature instead
of as that most awful embodiment of virtue and decorum, the intellectual
American lady?  Poor Miss Julia Arthur honestly did her best to act her
part as she found it in Shakespeare; and if Richard had done the same
she would have come off with credit.  But how could she play to a
Richard who would not utter a single tone to which any woman's heart
could respond?...

Richard [played] the scene with her as if he were a Hounsditch salesman
cheating a factory girl over a pair of second-hand stockings." _Shaw on
Shakespeare_

Shaw's suggestion that Anne should be childish is perhaps not compatible
with her very prodigious curses in the scene, but his suggestion about
weakness is taken up by Al Pacino in _Looking for Richard_.  As Pacino
argues, Anne was once in line to be Queen of England.  Now her husband
and her father-in-law are dead, the Lancaster line has been wiped out,
and their enemies, the House of York, have seized the throne.  She is
perhaps foolish to trust Richard (if she does), but what else can she
do?

One last thought: the scenario of an innocent woman resisting the
unwanted attention of a powerful, hypocritical authority is one that
Shakespeare takes up frequently, in Angelo and Isabella, Lysimachus and
Marina, and (if he wrote this scene) the King and the Countess of
Salisbury in _Edward III_.  (This is the motif, if I recall correctly,
that Leo Salingar calls "The Justice and the Nun") The Victorians were
very fond of these scenes (Abbey also illustrated MM II.iv) and clearly
they found it hard to accept the way in which the scenario plays out
quite differently in _Richard III_.

I found my way to these interesting Victorian views of the scene by way
of Arthur Colby Sprague's, _Shakespeare's Histories: Plays for the
Stage_ (1964), Scott Colley's Richard's Himself Again: A Stage History
of Richard III_, and Anthony Hammond's good account of the play in
performance in the Revels edition.

Lawrence Manley
Yale University

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter T. Hadorn <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Nov 1997 10:00:11 -0600
Subject: 8.1136  Re: Seduction of Lady Anne
Comment:        RE: SHK 8.1136  Re: Seduction of Lady Anne

What Annalisa Castaldo liked about Olivier's *Richard* is exactly what I
found disappointing.  Indeed, breaking the wooing scene into two DID
make it easier to take.  And, as several folks have pointed out, wooing
Anne shouldn't be easy.  Richard's success with Anne must take our
breaths away in its audacity.

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Martin <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Nov 1997 10:18:30 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        Lady Anne

Another thought about Lady Anne's "surrender": if one is a small female
fish swimming amongst so many male sharks, perhaps a deal with one of
them might be worth considering!

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louis C Swilley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Nov 1997 10:41:33 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 8.1136  Re: Seduction of Lady Anne
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1136  Re: Seduction of Lady Anne

Let is not forget that the corpse Lady Anne accompanies is not that of
her "sweet lord" husband, but of her father-in-law.

[6]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Quart <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Nov 1997 21:05:12 -0500
Subject: 8.1136  Re: Seduction of Lady Anne
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1136  Re: Seduction of Lady Anne

Me, I would make Richard beautiful. His deformity is in his mind. No
achievement will vanquish it. No protestation of love will overcome it.

What yields Anne to Richard is power. She has none and he gives it to
her.  No matter what her defiance, Anne spits like a kitten hisses,
because her position is that fragile, that powerless; she is that easy
to abuse or kill. Richard offers her safety in the eye of the storm.
Every man who could or would protect her is dead. The man who stripped
them from her is Richard. Instead of all the ugly options she sees
before her, he offers her control, if not of her destiny, then of the
man who controls her destiny.  By the end of the scene, she is giddy
with relief. And toying with her illusion of power.
 

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