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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: October ::
Re: MM; Branagh: A Life; Chariot
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1003  Thursday, 15 October 1998.

[1]     From:   Jason N. Mical <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Oct 1998 08:52:59 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0996  Re: Chariot; Clergy; Q1 Ham; Swords; Branagh

[2]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Oct 1998 14:09:58 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0976  Re: New Shakespeare Films by Branagh

[3]     From:   Louis Marder <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Oct 1998 12:07:22 -0500
        Subj:   Re: A Life by Park Honan

[4]     From:   Pervez Rizvi <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 Oct 1998 12:10:27 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0989 Re: Titus's Chariot; Q1 Ham.


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jason N. Mical <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 Oct 1998 08:52:59 -0500
Subject: 9.0996  Re: Chariot; Clergy; Q1 Ham; Swords; Branagh
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0996  Re: Chariot; Clergy; Q1 Ham; Swords; Branagh

>>Isabella is as false a cleric in Measure as Angelo and the Duke: all
>>three believe themselves above human passions. The point of the play is
>>to topple each. Thomas and Peter are euphemisms for penis.

{snip}

 >these three don't feel as though they're above "human
>passions" but rather that they are morally and emotionally pure; above
>the fallible nature of the human condition.  They *are* however
>passionate in their views on the subject and in "maintaining" their
>purity, as it were.  They specifically apply this passion to the issue
>of love/lust and they illustrate this by their stances on the issues
>surrounding Claudio's sentencing

{snip}

>I suppose that I should sum up and say then that it seems to
>me the point of the play, as you've called it, is to see them fall from
>this holyer-than-thou, superhuman status (about which they *were*
>passionate) and come down to earth with the rest of us.

This is an interesting interpretation of the three main characters in
_MM_.  When looking at the play from an ethical standpoint (which is
almost impossible NOT to do), I have always seen Isabella, the Duke, and
Angelo as Kantians; Isabella more than the other two, perhaps, but all
three to a greater extent than anything else.  Isabella cannot stray
from her duty to her order, the Duke's duty is to the people, and
Angelo's duty.. well, to himself?  The remarkable thing about _MM_ is
that all three realize the flaws in Kantian ethics in the end (ie, no
room for emotional feelings).  You are right, the Duke and Angelo learn
this earlier than Isabella, although Angelo still tries to maintain the
outward appearance of a Kantian long after he sheds this ethical model.

It is also interesting to note that Isabella seems to subscribe to the
rigorous lifestyle she is in because she is possibly *afraid* of sex...
has anyone else read it this way?

Jason N. Mical
Drury College
Springfield, Missouri

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 Oct 1998 14:09:58 -0400
Subject: 9.0976  Re: New Shakespeare Films by Branagh
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0976  Re: New Shakespeare Films by Branagh

An actor/director directing himself playing Benedick or Hamlet and
"making himself look good" need only be carrying out the implicit
instructions of the texts, which do various things to make those
characters look good, irrespective of individual ego.  To take only
Hamlet, consider these invitations to the audience: the evident respect
for the Prince of Marcellus, Bernardo, and Horatio; the expressed desire
of Gertrude and Claudius that he stay with them; Polonius' expressed
conviction that he is too good for Ophelia; Ophelia's dismay at the
change in him and her effusive tribute to his former self, and her
profound distress at her rejection of him and his of her; the deference
of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and his ability to make fools out of
them and of Polonius; the willingness of the players to listen to his
views on their craft and alter their performance to suit his wishes; his
escapes from charges of manslaughter or murder and from Claudius' first
plot against him; the fact that he gets to speak all the most famous
speeches and most of the jokes; the fact that he gets to operate across
a far greater lexical and syntactic and rhetorical and philosopnical
range than anybody else; etc; etc.  It is, of course, possible to
ironize or otherwise undercut all of these.  But none of the dozens of
productions of the play I've seen, including all the other filmed
versions, tried to make Hamlet look bad, and it seems hard of Sean
Lawrence to fault Branagh for joining so large a parade.

Dave Evett

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louis Marder <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 Oct 1998 12:07:22 -0500
Subject:        Re: A Life by Park Honan

Dear Kate  sorry, I don't read the Telegraph.  Let me know what his
discoveries are and I will gladly give you my considered academic
opinion.  Louis Marder [Shakespeare Data Bank, ex. publisher of The
Shakespeare Newsletter.]  10/15/98 RSVP via 
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[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pervez Rizvi <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 Oct 1998 12:10:27 +0100
Subject: 9.0989 Re: Titus's Chariot; Q1 Ham.
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0989 Re: Titus's Chariot; Q1 Ham.

At the risk of thinking too precisely about this, I'd like to ask how
the chariot, with Titus in it, got on and off the stage in Shakespeare's
time. Did a couple of actors pull it on to the stage? If so, the
audience might have recalled the pampered jades of Asia. The comparison
would have been wrong: in Tamburlaine, the chariot is pulled by two men
whom Tamburlaine is using *instead* of horses; in Titus, the actors
would *represent* horses and the audience would be expected to make
allowance for the infeasibility of bringing a real horse on.

This gives me the opportunity to ask about something similar. In Simon
Forman's diary, he describes seeing Macbeth at the Globe and says that
Macbeth and Banquo came "riding through a wood". Nevill Coghill, in his
book Shakespeare's Professional Skills (CUP, 1964), thought that this
meant that some bushes were pushed on to the stage to represent the
wood, and Macbeth and Banquo came on attached to hobby-horses. I've
wondered if Coghill did not take Forman's words a little too literally.
Surely it would have seemed inappropriately comical for Macbeth and
Banquo to enter with hobby-horses, as if they had just come from a
morris-dance rather than from a bloody battle. Forman could merely have
been writing the story of the play rather than an exact description of
the action, just as when he writes, later in the same entry, that Lady
Macbeth "did rise in the night", he is making the inference the actors
wanted him to make (that it was a night scene) rather than describing
what he saw. (The diary entry is given in the Riverside edition.)

Has anyone found portable bushes or hobby-horses in Henslowe's list of
props or other contemporary documents?
 

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