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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: November ::
Re: Hazle
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.1183.  Friday, 21 November 1997.

[1]     From:   Alex G. Bennett <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Nov 1997 09:17:05 +0000 (HELP)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1178 Re: Hazle

[2]     From:   John E. Perry <
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        Date:   Friday, 21 Nov 1997 00:41:57 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1178  Re: Hazle


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alex G. Bennett <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Nov 1997 09:17:05 +0000 (HELP)
Subject: 8.1178 Re: Hazle
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1178 Re: Hazle

On Petruchio's description of Kate in II, i-I'm teaching _Shrew_ at the
moment to my undergrads, and after rereading the play I've found that it
seems to centre around the importance of reputation, of what's said
about you. Up until II, i, Kate's heard nothing but how bad she is-she's
a shrew, a devil, cursed, and so on. Her father humiliates her in public
and openly prefers her younger (and ever so demure) sister-after hearing
how awful she is over and over again, is it any wonder that she's
_become_ what is said of her? As the sonnet goes, "'Tis better to be
vile than vile esteemed." When Petruchio shows up and tells her "'Twas
told me you were rough and coy and sullen,/ And now I find report a very
liar;/ For thou art pleasant, gamesome, passing courteous...," he's
giving her the first alternative view of herself that she might ever
have heard. He's rewriting her image for her, giving her another
possibility of behaving. Granted, this does tend to fit in to a reading
of _Shrew_ as a love story, but with all the other references to
role-playing and other issues of identity it seems to work fairly well.

Incidentally, I remember reading a few years ago of an RSC (?)
production of _Shrew_ in which Kate _does_ limp and stomp her way around
the stage until Petruchio says that those who report her limping are
liars, whereupon she stops.

Cheers,
Alex Bennett

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[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John E. Perry <
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Date:           Friday, 21 Nov 1997 00:41:57 -0500
Subject: 8.1178  Re: Hazle
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1178  Re: Hazle

> >that there are very dark-skinned women there who are extravagantly
> >beautiful.
>
> Yeowch.  Led with my chin on that one.  Yes, I can state that too.

> However, my point was, and question is, does it work as a compliment _in
> this scene_?  I've never seen the first scene between Kate and P. work
> if he is straightforwardly complimentary and lovey-dovey throughout.
> Has anyone else?  Even if he enters with only the best intent (which in
> itself may or may not be seen to be the case), I don't think it can last
> the entire scene.

I don't see him entering with anything but the intent to overpower a
hideously twisted monster (which Kate is --  look at her actions, none
of them justified by events in the play).

But he finds one of the rare people in the world who can keep up with
him in wordplay (the other one in the play is Grumio).  He falls in love
then and there.  To me, this is a love story, more than a comedy.

I've never seen a _ToS_ that worked.  They all try to make an arrogant
boor of Petruchio and a misunderstood victim of Kate --  and the text
doesn't support either interpretation.  Take it seriously, play it
straight, and you get both a hilarious comedy and a quirky love story.

A quirky, funny love story I love to read, and would love to see played
on stage.

john perry

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