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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: October ::
Re: Ophelia
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0987.  Wednesday, 1 October 1997.

[1]     From:   Norm Holland <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Sep 97 09:59:17 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0979  Re: Ophelia

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Sep 1997 15:31:43 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0979  Ophelia


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Norm Holland <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Sep 97 09:59:17 EDT
Subject: 8.0979  Re: Ophelia
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0979  Re: Ophelia

Re: Ophelia as language function.  As always, the reader-response
approach solves the problem.  The question is wrong.  It is not "Is"
Ophelia this or that, but, How are we reading Ophelia?  Most people read
the words representing Ophelia as a person like ourselves.  Some people,
notably highly sophisticated critics like Dave Evett, read the lines for
the words as such, as "figure of speech."  So what's the big deal?

For a contrary and far less sophisticated view, see the concluding
chapters of my _Psychoanalysis and Shakespeare_ (1966), where I explore
both sides of the issue in terms of what a character "is," and guardedly
side with Dave.

--Best, Norm

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Sep 1997 15:31:43 -0400
Subject: 8.0979  Ophelia
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0979  Ophelia

As Dave Evett points out, the absence of mothers from Shakespeare's
scripts may be important. And some actors may feel that it is important
to know (for themselves) where they learned (as characters) certain
bawdy songs. And you can't stop certain auditors from wondering and
asking themselves (fruitlessly?) where a nice girl like Ophelia learned
those songs. Scripts cannot stop actors and/or auditors from asking
questions-and coming up with extra-textual answers.

Shakespeare's scripts do not contain enough information for a fully
realized production.  Characters do not merely enter and stand there.
They do things on stage while they are talking, and it is not always
clear and certain from the script what they should be doing.  That's why
business, extra-textual business added by directors and actors, is
important and often enlightening-as Arthur Colby Sprague used to point
out. (I remember the night when the actors taught him what a line in LLL
meant! He was overjoyed.)

I doubt if anyone would be overjoyed to see a production of any
Shakespeare play that used <italic>only the information printed in the
script</italic>. Well, maybe some spectators would be amused since many
of the actors would not be wearing any costumes!

Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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