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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: November ::
Re: Cleopatra
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.1186.  Friday, 21 November 1997.

[1]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Nov 1997 10:51:55 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1180  Re: Cleopatra

[2]     From:   Cora Lee Wolfe <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Nov 1997 10:46:25 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1180  Re: Cleopatra


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Nov 1997 10:51:55 -0500
Subject: 8.1180  Re: Cleopatra
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1180  Re: Cleopatra

>Shakespeare's Cleopatra is a character, on the stage and on the printed
>page.  She behaves exactly as Shakespeare meant her to.  As such, she
>doesn't actually have a will of her own, and to speculate, without
>textual evidence, on how she might have reacted to different situations
>is just that - speculation.

writes Julia MacKenzie

The qualifier, "without textual evidence," helps my case. The play gives
us a good deal of textual evidence that Cleopatra is ever a boggler. Her
best friends say so (3.13.110). And 3.13 shows her boggling with
Thidias, and the final scene of the play shows her testing Caesar to see
if she can seduce yet one more Roman. And, of course, she's bound by the
script to fail, but an auditor surely has a perfect right to speculate
about probabilities, given certain facts from the script.

And, yes, of course, Shakespeare controls his characters, and makes them
do what he wants them to do. He did not seem to feel bound completely by
his sources fictional or historical. I couldn't agree more thoroughly.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Cora Lee Wolfe <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 20 Nov 1997 10:46:25 -0700
Subject: 8.1180  Re: Cleopatra
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1180  Re: Cleopatra

Julia  wrote:

> Shakespeare's Cleopatra is a character, on the stage and on the printed
> page.  She behaves exactly as Shakespeare meant her to.  As such, she
> doesn't actually have a will of her own, and to speculate, without
> textual evidence, on how she might have reacted to different situations
> is just that - speculation.

How is speculation about Cleopatra's motivation any different than
speculating about Hamlet's or Lady Anne's.  Why do we read any of this
stuff?
 

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