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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: June ::
Re: MM Line
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0639.  Thursday, 5 June 1997.

[1]     From:   Fred Wharton <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 04 Jun 1997 14:29:45 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0634  Q: MM Line

[2]     From:   David Crosby <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Jun 1997 18:28:51 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0634  MM Line


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fred Wharton <
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Date:           Wednesday, 04 Jun 1997 14:29:45 -0400
Subject: 8.0634  Q: MM Line
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0634  Q: MM Line

Valentin Gerlier asks an interesting question about "glassy essence" in
*MM*. Could "glassy" be a reference to a mirror - especially in relation
to "dress[ing]" and clothes? In which case, the man who is puffed up
with his own importance would be very sure that the authority-dressed
figure who struts before the mirror is his real and substantial self
(whereas, in fact, he does not "know himself" at all, seeing only the
"shadow" of his identity).

Fred Wharton
Augusta State University

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Crosby <
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Date:           Wednesday, 4 Jun 1997 18:28:51 -0500
Subject: 8.0634  MM Line
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0634  MM Line

Valentin Gerlier quotes the following lines from Measure for Measure

>    But man, proud man, Dress'd in a little brief authority
>    Most ignorant of what he is most assured - his glassy essence -
>    Doth before high heaven play such fantastic tricks as makes
>    the angels weep...

and asks about the meaning of "glassy," proposing both "fragile" and
"transparent."

I'd like to suggest another possibility: the essence in question may be
the one he sees in his (looking)glass, that is, the surface image he
sees each time he looks in a mirror or other reflective surface. Thus he
is assured (he knows what he sees) but also ignorant (he cannot get
beyond the surface).  Shakespeare often uses "glass" in this sense, as
in one of the early sonnets:

    "My glass shall not persuade me I am old,
    So long as youth and thou are of one date;
    But when in thee time's furrows I behold,
    Then look I death my days should expiate."

David Crosby <
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