Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: October ::
Re: Evil Women
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1006  Monday, 19 October 1998.

[1]     From:   Ray Lischner <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 15 Oct 1998 17:08:01 GMT
        Subj:   Re: PBS Lear

[2]     From:   Carol Barton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 15 Oct 1998 13:16:43 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0995  Re: Evil Women

[3]     From:   John Ramsay <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 15 Oct 98 22:36:30 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0998  Re: Evil Women


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ray Lischner <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 15 Oct 1998 17:08:01 GMT
Subject:        Re: PBS Lear

On Wed, 14 Oct 1998 08:53:22 -0200, Hilary Thimmesh wrote:

> Other than Iago and Macbeth's Witches, is there anyone in the tragedies
> who is without redeeming qualities?

Don't forget Edmund. Also, Tamora and her offspring in Titus
Andronicus.  Aaron, however, would sacrifice his life to save the life
of his child-something no one else in TA would do. Personally, I think
the tribunes in Coriolanus are unredeemingly petty and vile.

Ray Lischner, Oregon State University
(http://www.cs.orst.edu/~lischner/)

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 15 Oct 1998 13:16:43 EDT
Subject: 9.0995  Re: Evil Women
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0995  Re: Evil Women

>  In response to Beck's question about women who provoked a tragic
>  ending...  I assume that since you did not include Gertrude, that you
>  believe that she is completely innocent of any wrong doing in Hamlet.
>  She is certainly not evil, but couldn't her submissiveness to Claudius
>  be cause to point some of the blame in her direction?  An "O'er hasty
>  marriage"?

I observed here some time ago that, if one compares Gertrude to, say,
the fictional Clytaemnestra (_Agamemnon_) or the real-life Mary Stuart
(Queen of Scots), it is striking that Gertrude does so little in defense
of her child, the son of her beloved murdered husband, especially in
terms of his patrimony: were it not for the funeral meats furnishing
forth the wedding feast, Hamlet would be at least the most obvious heir
(even to an elected throne), and Gertrude seems to be utterly oblivious
to that potential. She is not submissive to Claudius (I *will* drink) as
much as she seems adolescently smitten with him-that whatever he wills
to do or say seems wisest, best, most virtuous (even when it comes to
banishing her only son to England); and she also seems to have little or
no comprehension of what might be bothering the boy, but rather matter
of factly dismisses his problem as mourning overdone (oddly, without any
real commiseration or compassion on her part).  Gertrude comes as close
to non-action as any one human being can without actually being
catatonic: one need only substitute Clytaemnestra or Lady Macbeth in her
role to realize what impact a living, breathing mother might have on the
play, and it is for that reason, I think, that she is evil only in the
Burkean sense (i.e. that she stands by in its presence and does nothing,
evil accomplished in the breach rather than in the practice).

Best,
Carol Barton
Averett College - Northern Virginia Campus

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Ramsay <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 15 Oct 98 22:36:30 EDT
Subject: 9.0998  Re: Evil Women
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0998  Re: Evil Women

Hi, Gertrude and Lady Macbeth seem to be taking a drubbing at the moment
as evil women. May I offer a few words on their behalf by way of
explanation rather than exculpation?

Gertrude is innocent of complicity in the murder of King Hamlet. The
scene
in her chamber with Hamlet and his father's ghost is pretty strong proof
of that, nor did she run screaming from the Mousetrap play as did
Claudius.

Throughout the play she shows considerable concern for Hamlet and is
torn at times between her husband and her son. Only at the very end does
she choose sides and chooses the right one. A.C. Bradley had something
much more effective to say on that than I could.

As for Lady Macbeth, yes, she is evil, but to what end? She never speaks
in terms of herself, only her husband. Do we let Othello mitigate his
guilt by saying  he 'loved not wisely but too well', yet not take that
into consideration for Lady Macbeth?

John Ramsay
Welland Ontario
Canada
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.