The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1252 Sunday, 6 December 1998.
Date: Sunday, 6 Dec 1998 22:48:04 +1300
Subject: 9.1230 Don John
Comment: Re: SHK 9.1230 Don John
>> Laurence R. Baker writes
> We are told in Much Ado that Don John "has of late stood out against"
> Don Pedro. In a summary of the scene, the New Folger Library Edition
> suggests that Don John was "defeated" by Don Pedro in the "just-ended
> war." I can't see any reason for supposing this. Does anyone have a
> suggestion as to the nature of their past quarrel?
Leonato greets Don John as 'recently reconciled to the Prince your
brother.' - which seems to me to imply a defeat and forgiveness. Don
John expresses great animosity against his brother, and against Claudio
whose only crime seems to be that he is now Don Pedro's favourite - by
implication, has supplanted Don John. Shakesepeare tells us nothing
else - he is less interested in this quarrel than in the mischief that
Don John will make. But there is another pair of brothers in a later
play - King Lear - and like this pair, one is legitimate and one
illegitimate. In Lear, Edmund tells us at length of his resentment
against his brother for receiving all the dues of a son, whereas -
because of an accident of birth - he gets none. I surmise that Don
John's feelings are much the same. He has stood out against his brother
in an attempt to wrest his brother's patrimony from him. No, the play
is not explicit but I believe that this is implicit. Just as
Shakespeare develops the malevolence of Don John into the motiveless
Iago, so he develops Don John's jealous resentment into Edmund.