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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: September ::
Qs: Helena's Entrance; A Midsummer Night Night's Wet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0938.  Thursday, 18 September 1997.

[1]     From:   Ed Pixley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 17 Sep 1997 12:45:05 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Helena's Entrance

[2]     From:   Richard A Burt <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 17 Sep 1997 15:38:44 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   A Midsummer Night Night's Wet Dream


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Pixley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 17 Sep 1997 12:45:05 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Helena's Entrance

Last night, as my cast and I began text work for our upcoming production
of MND, using the New Folger as our basic script, we were surprised by
the gloss on Helena's entrance (I.1.183).  Lysander announces the
entrance: "Look, here comes Helena."  Hermia has the next line,
"Godspeed, fair Helena. Whither away?"  The Folger glosses "Godspeed" as
"a conventional greeting."  Since Helena does make an entrance and since
Lysander even announces her entrance, a greeting would seem to be in
order.  One of my undergraduates, however, challenged that, pointing out
that "Godspeed" is usually a shortened way of saying "God speed you on
your way," a farewell rather than a greeting.  Moreover, "whither away?"
seems to ask "where are you going," not "where are you coming from?"
>From this, we concluded that Helena is not coming to join Hermia and Lysander, but is on her way to some other place, and Hermia's line interrupts her in her progress, giving an entirely different dynamic to Helena's first line, "Call you me fair?"  She must abandon whatever intention was carrying her to another destination so as to respond to Hermia's perhaps unwelcome adjective.

I've checked all the other editions I have on hand and none of them
gives any gloss to the line (except to identify Elizabethan perceptions
of "fair").  Nevertheless, I couldn't help wondering whether there is an
editorial assumption that Helena is making an entrance with the
intention of joining Lysander and Hermia.  There must be other directors
out there who have dealt with this.  Does anyone care to respond?  Or am
I just belaboring the obvious?

While I'm at it, Hermia's vow to join Lysander in the woods (in the
speech immediately preceding this) is sworn on a series of pretty
unreliable things, including "all the vows that men have ever broke."
Is she telling him that she is taking an incredible risk in promising to
join him-that she is, in fact, really trapped into a situation over
which she has no control?  Shakespeare's women, with good cause, do not
have a lot of confidence in their men's ability to hold up their ends of
bargains.  Yet over and over again they seem to have little choice but
to place themselves at risk on the promises their men have made.

Cheers,
Ed Pixley

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard A Burt <
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Date:           Wednesday, 17 Sep 1997 15:38:44 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        A Midsummer Night Night's Wet Dream

Does anyone know anything about the director or production history of a
film (on video) called A Midsummer Night's Wet Dream?  Does anyone have
a copy?  Thanks

Richard
 

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