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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: October ::
Re: Evil Women
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1016  Thursday, 21 October 1998.

[1]     From:   Sarah Werner <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Oct 1998 10:13:09 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1013  Re: Evil Women

[2]     From:   Hugh Grady <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Oct 1998 17:54:24 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1006 Re: Evil Women

[3]     From:   Markus Marti <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 21 Oct 1998 01:52:34 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0998 Re: Evil Women


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sarah Werner <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Oct 1998 10:13:09 -0400
Subject: 9.1013  Re: Evil Women
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1013  Re: Evil Women

Is it maybe time in this thread to think about _why_ some of
Shakespeare's female characters seem evil?  I don't mean to be returning
us to our nearly annual debate about whether or not a character has an
individual psychology or is a dramatic device with this question.  But
it seems problematic to me to think about such standards as "evil"
without addressing questions of what are the factors that signal "evil"
to an audience.  The recent opinions about Lady Macbeth show that there
is something more complicated than a simple definition of morality going
on in Shakespeare's depiction of her.  Lady Macbeth is indeed a good
wife, in love with and doing everything for her husband (compare her to
characters like 2H6's Eleanor, who wants Gloucester to have power so
that she may enjoy it).  But it is very hard to think of her as a good
woman, given her apparent blood lust in the play.  What is it about her
and about the play that marks her off as being evil?  I'm not literally
looking for answers to this question (I have my theories about this,
influenced by work of Janet Adelman and Phyllis Rackin among others-the
answer likely lies in the play's construction of motherhood and
wifehood).  But questions like this seem necessary when thinking about
characters in order to avoid flattening out both the plays and our
notions of women.

Sarah Werner
McGill University

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hugh Grady <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Oct 1998 17:54:24 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.1006 Re: Evil Women
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1006 Re: Evil Women

But why in heaven (or earth) should we assume the witches are "without
redeeming qualities." There're easily the most entertaining part of
"Macbeth," and Terry Eagleton pointed out long ago now that, for any
"astute" reader, they're the secret heroes of the play. Also there's
much to say in favor of Edmund, also a theatrical charmer (when not
played as Conan the Barbarian, as in the Olivier "Lear") who attempts to
do good at the end in despite of his own nature.

I'd be tempted to nominate Goneril, Regan, and Cornwall as fitting the
category, but a little critical ingenuity could probably redeem them. A
lot seems to lie in the beholder's eye, no?

Best,
Hugh Grady

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Markus Marti <
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Date:           Wednesday, 21 Oct 1998 01:52:34 +0000
Subject: 9.0998 Re: Evil Women
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0998 Re: Evil Women

> I don't think I could think of somebody with a greater degree of evil in
> her soul than Tamora, Queen of the Goths, in TITUS ANDRONICUS. Oh, gosh,
> must I remember?
>
> Nora Kreimer

We men know too well that women are all evil. But was not Tamora on her
knees, begging for the life of her son? It was Titus and his sons who
provoked his, theirs, and her tragic ending.

Do not condemn the queen of  Goths, Tamora.
Did you not leave the doll's house, Nora?

And: What about Des-DAEMONA?

Collecting points from female friends,
Markus Marti
 

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