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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: October ::
Re: Marriages
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0994  Wednesday, 14 October 1998.

[1]     From:   Kristen McDermott <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Oct 1998 12:23:20 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0992 Queries - Re: marriage

[2]     From:   Lila B. Geller <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Oct 1998 14:01:20 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0992 Queries

[3]     From:   Nely Keinanen <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Oct 1998 13:56:12 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0992  Queries


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kristen McDermott <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Oct 1998 12:23:20 -0400
Subject: 9.0992 Queries - Re: marriage
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0992 Queries - Re: marriage

For Drew Whitehead --

An interesting thesis-although I wouldn't say that marriage
relationships are the *primary* plot motivation in Merry Wives; the
gulling of Falstaff is (although the neglectful husbands make this
possible).  You might look at Beaumont/Fletcher's "The Knight of the
Burning Pestle"-the whole play is made possible because of a uxorious
man's desire to show his wife a good time at the theater, and to help
her promote their apprentice.  Their marital exchanges induce almost
every change of scene, and while the play doesn't concern itself with
their relationship as a *subject*, their relationship makes the action
of the play possible.

-- Kristen McDermott
Spelman College
Atlanta, GA

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lila B. Geller <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Oct 1998 14:01:20 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 9.0992 Queries
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0992 Queries

Certainly Thomas Middleton offers many plots that depend upon economic
intersections with courtship.  I'd especially recommend Chaste Maide in
Cheapside.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nely Keinanen <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 Oct 1998 13:56:12 +0200
Subject: 9.0992  Queries
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0992  Queries

Drew Whitehead:

You might take a look at Ben Jonson's _Epicoene_ if you haven't
already.  Although I'm not sure whether I'd say that the "main" plot is
about the marriage between Morose and Epicoene, or about the swindle
which brings on the marriage, much of the comic effect comes from
Morose's horror at having married a "real" woman (loud) rather than the
silent woman he was bargaining for.  Moreover, this pair is nicely
contrasted with a married couple in the subplot; here most of the comedy
depends on the "woman on top" motif as the powerful Mrs. Otter orders
her hapless husband around.  I directed this some years ago, and would
be happy to discuss the play further off-list if you became interested
in it.

Your question makes me wonder about the prevalence of romantic comedy in
the early modern period.  If we think about the Restoration, for
example, many of the comedies are focused on married couples, where the
comedy is based on whether one or the other partner will be unfaithful.
There is much less of this in Shakespeare (although clearly some, as in
Merry Wives or the jokes at the end of Merchant).  Does anyone have any
theories about why comedies of courtship would have been more popular in
Shakespeare's age?  Might this phenomena be related to the rise and fall
of the sonnet in the 1590s, as discussed by Arthur Marotti?

 Nely Keinanen
 University of Helsinki
 

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