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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: May ::
Qs: Sussession; Changeling; Iago
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0442  Friday, 8 May 1998.

[1]     From:   Miles Edward Taylor <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 May 1998 13:28:17 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Succession Question

[2]     From:   Jamie Brough <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 May 1998 13:03:26 EDT
        Subj:   Changeling

[3]     From:   Jamie Brough <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 May 1998 13:03:28 EDT
        Subj:   Iago


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Miles Edward Taylor <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 May 1998 13:28:17 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        Succession Question

Last night, I was reading Garrett Mattingly's book on the Armada and he
writes that Mary, Queen of Scots, was generally agreed to be Elizabeth's
successor.  My question: upon Mary's execution in 1587, would
Elizabethans have assumed that James VI was now the next in line to the
throne?  Are there contemporary texts from the late 1580s or early 1590s
which make explicit the line of succession from Elizabeth to James.  I
ask because I am looking at some texts from the early 1590s which seem
to be slightly veiled attacks on James, and it would be helpful if I
knew what was at stake for their authors.

With Thanks,
Miles Taylor

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jamie Brough <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 May 1998 13:03:26 EDT
Subject:        Changeling

I'm not sure what the attitude is towards broadening the lit. spectrum
on this group-am I to be allowed my deviation from
Shakespeare???...Thanks! On the Beatrice-De Flores question in 'The
Changeling', I would love some feedback, especially disagreements with
these ideas.

~Jamie Brough~

"The Morality of Beatrice up to the Murder of Alonzo"

Alsemero's opening words to the audience are spoken partly in soliloquy
and dramatic tension is immediately established as his meeting with
Beatrice is presented as an "omen" of a "timorous" future. Although
Alsemero discounts his feeling as "none but imaginary", his reference to
tainted "hopes of fate" allow the audience to realise his insight as
prophetic.

The meeting between Alsemero and Beatrice in the temple and the
religious imagery used in its description impresses purity as Alsemero
embraces "her beauties to the holy purpose" and foresees their
"perfection" through a marriage which returns them to a metaphorical
Eden. However, through her actions Beatrice seemingly refutes virtue and
vocalises this in an aside: "I shall change my saint, I fear me: I find
a giddy turning in me".

As she flirtatiously encourages Alsemero, Beatrice questions his lustful
judgements and reveals parallels in characters' affections. Despite
Beatrice's outward display of hatred towards De Flores, he "cannot chose
but love her" and, although fated, Alsemero's infatuation leads him
forward against his "best judgement": "but I must go on, for back I
cannot go".

It is uncertain where Beatrice's heart lies. She regards her devotion
for Alsemero as an "unfeigned truth", but there is some evidence in her
characterisation that is suggestive of arcane sexual desire for De
Flores. Her unnoticed casting of a glove outside of Vermandero's castle
and the ironic interpretation of an aside help to verify such
unconscious wishes: "this ominous, ill-faced fellow more disturbs
me/than all my other passions". She thinks forebodingly of De Flores,
feels that "danger's in my mind" and her sense of presage here is
analogous to Alsemero's anxiety towards herself at the play's opening.

Considering Beatrice's veiled attraction towards De Flores, her
affections seem confused. Consciously, with an awareness not attuned to
whatever motivates her unconscious wishes, she sees Alsemero as "the man
was meant me" and longs for their "poor kiss" to be free of Alonzo's
'hateful envy'.

Beatrice values her own virginity and is "sure to keep her night" from
Alonzo, but the strength of this innocence is uncertain. Her discomfort
around De Flores, who leaves her "trembling an hour after" each
assignation, and the dearth of her self-knowledge are suggestive of
sexual inexperience.  Considering this and her misplaced feelings
towards Alonzo and Alsemero, it seems reasonable that she is sexually
chaste. However, this innocence apparently does not extend to her
morality. Beatrice solicits De Flores to commit murder, excepting that
"there's horror in me service, blood and danger", the "dog-face" servant
appearing "lovely" to her when he excepts. Considering the connotations
of subplot, it is possible that Beatrice's motivation to the killing of
Alonzo is seeded by her repressed desire to do De Flores "service", and
that pretended affections for Alsemero provide a reason, consciously
justifiable by her, to remove her obligation to Alonzo. That De Flores
acts out the murder is symbolic of a connection in this respect.

That Beatrice, correct in her judgement of De Flores' vice, is drawn
towards De Flores may indicate some explicit evil within her. However,
it is not sufficient to simply label her entire character as amoral as
the audience is unaware of the reasons for her yearning and the extent
of her control over this. Taking into consideration her assertion that
"I am no enemy to any creature" which, if heart-felt, suggests some
worth in her character, and her references to De Flores as poison, it is
unjustified to regard her as evil. If indeed some secret love for her
servant defiles her from within (true also of both Alsemero and De
Flores), then perhaps Tomazo offers the best explanation to Beatrice's
behaviour: "why, here is love's tame madness: thus a man/quickly steals
into his vexation."

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jamie Brough <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 May 1998 13:03:28 EDT
Subject:        Iago

Iago: deep and coveted, intricately written with complexity and
deference towards tackling the questions humanism and morality? I'm half
way through the play and I'm unsure. He constant search to justify his
actions and thoughts is indicative of conscience. Yet he expresses no
motivation towards plotting Othello's downfall which he doesn't
invalidate through contradiction or obvious fabrication. You could argue
that he's developed some sort of fixation, a monomaniac desire to undo
the Moor. But if this is the case, why attempt at justification. So he's
simply evil, he is the "devil" he himself sees in Othello. Same
question: why justify, why acknowledge sin [2i284]?  Othello, he says in
soliloquy at the closing of 2i, "Is of a constant, loving, noble
nature"-something, which his character vehemently opposes, with his
earlier generalisation as an example: "these Moors are changeable in
their wills."

Is Iago simply badly written?

(I'd like to make contact with any other UK A-Level Lit. students on the
forum, if you could e-mail. thank-you.)
 

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