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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: April ::
Re: Falstaff
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0299  Thursday, 2 April 1998.

[1]     From:   Dale Lyles <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 1 Apr 1998 07:24:21 EST
        Subj:   Re: Falstaff

[2]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 01 Apr 1998 14:15:15 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   SHK 9.0291 Falstaff's Death

[3]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 01 Apr 1998 18:28:09 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0294  RE Falstaff


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
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Date:           Wednesday, 1 Apr 1998 07:24:21 EST
Subject:        Re: Falstaff

Like Mike Jensen, my first reaction to the Socrates/Falstaff comparison
was, "Falsely??"

However, even I am postmodernist enough to realize that such a charge
depends on whose perspective one is condemning from.  Prince Hal was
metacognitive enough to know that, touching pitch, he was not defiled.
His father was not as well-informed.  Likewise, as far as Athens was
concerned, Socrates *had* corrupted their youth.

Having taught teenagers for 20 years has probably colored my perception:
just yesterday I met one of my former charges, tattooed and bepierced,
crooling over the joys of fatherhood.  As he showed off photos, he
proclaimed that he had "this whole moral thing going."  Corrupt?  No,
just not part of the paternalistic worldview.

That is not to say that Falstaff didn't try.

Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Company

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Wednesday, 01 Apr 1998 14:15:15 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Falstaff's Death
Comment:        SHK 9.0291 Falstaff's Death

Dear Mike,

You ask if my statement is true that Falstaff, like Socrates, is falsely
charged with "misleading youth." In essence, I think I am right, but I
concede at the start that technically Falstaff is guilty of the charge.
Giving bad example is enough to find the fat knight guilty. But in 2H4,
the LCJ and "every man" think that the Gadshill Robbery was a grave
crime into which Falstaff led a young, impressionable prince. That's the
essence of the charge, isn't it?  And that charge is false, it seems to
me. It's a question of public perception versus the whole truth. When
Sir John busts in on Harry's parade, the new king must confirm this
misleading impression about the past he and Falstaff shared, for his
transformation of England's hope (almost gone in Part 2), depends on it.
Nonetheless, the past he seems to condemn is very different from the
real past that we know he and Sir John shared. It's a difficult
question, but thanks for asking it. Do you agree, Mike, or do you have a
different view?

Yours,
--Ed Taft

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 01 Apr 1998 18:28:09 -0500
Subject: 9.0294  RE Falstaff
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0294  RE Falstaff

Mike Jensen writes:

>Ed Taft, comparing Socrates and Falstaff wrote:

>> Both are falsely charged with the crime of "misleading youth."

>In Falstaff's case I ask, "Falsely?" Please help me understand in what
>way this Hal's statement is untrue.

Well, I'd say it's untrue because Hal and Poins (i.e., the youths) are
not really misled by Falstaff.  After his first scene with Falstaff in
<italic>1 Henry IV</italic>, Hal says, "I know you all . . .(1.2.195
Riverside2).  Since Hal knows what's comin' down,  and, in fact, wants
it to come down, he can hardly be said to be "misled."  And Poins knows
Falstaff well enough to mislead him at Gadshill.

I wonder if we could also say that both Falstaff and Socrates liked
parties or symposia, were known to drink to excess, and were, from time
to time, soldiers. As I recall, it was reported of Socrates that, when
on duty, he could subsist on a couple of olives a day.  Falstaff prefers
dry sack.

Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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