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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: August ::
Re: Stoic Tempest; New Globe; Rape Laws
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0732  Wednesday, 5 August 1998.

[1]     From:   B. R. Schneider <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Aug 1998 11:23:49 +0000
        Subj:   Stoic Tempest

[2]     From:   Stuart Manger <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Aug 1998 21:30:08 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 9.0727 Re: New Globe

[3]     From:   David Schalkwyk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 5 Aug 1998 09:37:00 SAST-2
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0727  Re: Rape Laws


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           B. R. Schneider <
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Date:           Tuesday, 4 Aug 1998 11:23:49 +0000
Subject:        Stoic Tempest

Faust is a very good analog for Tempest.  Cicero's _De Officiis_, a
standard grammar school text and the #1 moral authority in the
Renaissance, contains the Gyges ring story from Plato's Republic, an
antique analogue of the Faust story.  Of course, Marlowe's Faustus is
nearer, but other Stoic emphases abound.  Prospero's retreat from the
active life to study alchemy is a Stoic no-no.  Anger, of which Ariel
accuses him just before he breaks his wand, is a no-no.  He has been
behaving like a tyrant,. and, true to Stoic political theory, all he
does is make enemies. In _De Officiis_ Cicero says of tyrants that it is
our duty to kill them.  Devoting one's self to the welfare of the
commonwealth, as P does in the denouement, is every ruler's duty.  The
king's lot is "not _honos_, but _onus_," said James I in his advice to
his son, _Basilikon Doron_, another Stoic text available to
Shakespeare.  One of the Stoic cures for anger is to think about one's
mortality.  In fact all of us should be thinking about death all the
time, according to Montaigne, another Stoic, whose influence on the play
is clear in Gonzalo's utopian speech and Ariel's speech against anger.
That may be why Prospero's "every thought will be the grave," as he
starts out to make some friends for a change.

Yours ever,
BEN SCHNEIDER

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Manger <
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Date:           Tuesday, 4 Aug 1998 21:30:08 +0100
Subject: Re: New Globe
Comment:        SHK 9.0727 Re: New Globe

I aired exactly, but less eloquently, the same fears Sean Lawrence has
for the Globe. I can only reiterate that on the day I saw MofV, the FOH
staff were enraged by the extent to which Magni was winding up the
audience in the major pre-Act 4 Trial scene. If The Times and Lawrence
are to be trusted - and all my own experience suggests they are - then
Rylance and company are approaching a crisis. As Lawrence quite
correctly points out, when the major actors and directors of your day
invade the Globe, then perhaps the acid test will come. I like his point
about the arty self-conscious of the semi-embarrassed, bewildered, then
' liberated' audience: apart from spectator sports like the Arsenal vs
Spurs match referred to, there is NO participator tradition in the
theatre apart from panot and stand-up comedy. The Globe company are
trying to restore that? It's the old argument - theatre as cultural
theme park or rather Jurassic Park? As an experience it is excellent. As
a contribution to insights into the play, negligible. As an insight into
the simplistic, anti-semitic, anti-black, hang'em. flog 'em instincts of
the lager brigade, or their disciples in the Coca-Cola drinking juniors
in the school parties, it is brilliant. Whether Shakespeare should be
reduced to such ethical platitudes and Christmas cracker subtleties or
nostrums is open to question. Is Rylance about to destroy the
credibility of the Wanamaker dream by presuming upon the good sense of
the audiences? Does not Wanamaker's ideal depend on an inherent
restraint in audiences? An acceptance that participation goes so far and
no further? Elizabethan audiences were genuine moved by what they saw. I
cannot think that in our self-conscious age, anyone is going to be moved
to tears, except those of laughter, since we do not sanction the
shedding of public tears (unless for the Diana-fest), and as Sean
Lawrence shrewdly says, the real challenge will come when they attempt
the major tragedies - as  surely they must eventually. As someone else
once famously said, no-one was ever poor through under-estimating the
low taste of the British people. Is Rylance playing to the tabloid
tendency?

I took a small group of 16 year olds, and frankly they were embarrassed
and outraged by the behaviour of the audience - mostly made up of their
own contemporaries age-wise. They did not know the M of V plot, were
really having to listen and concentrate to catch the drift, and they
were not helped by the ambient distractions at all - a point that THEY
were quicker to point out than I was. If that is the case, then maybe I
won't be bringing other parties to the place? If this is their one - or
nearly one - chance to get a Shakespeare play under interesting
conditions - I live 300 miles form London- then I'd rather do a more
traditional show in which the kids can concentrate and watch the play
rather than each other. Sorry, I never thought I would ever say this
about innovation in the theatre, and it saddens me immensely to feel so
negative and worried that something so implicitly fine is about to be
traduced by good intentions.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Schalkwyk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 5 Aug 1998 09:37:00 SAST-2
Subject: 9.0727  Re: Rape Laws
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0727  Re: Rape Laws

Evelyn Gajowski raises the issue of consent and force in the following
reference to McKinnon.

> Catherine MacKinnon deals with contemporary rape law in her chapter,
> "Rape: On Coercion and Consent," in *Toward a Feminist Theory of the
> State*.  She notes that the law, generally speaking, "defines rape as
> intercourse with force or coercion and without consent"; points out the
> redundancy of the two elements, "with force and without consent";
> remarks that the crime of rape centers on penetration; problematizes the
> intersection of sex and violence; underscores that the concept of
> "consent" is problematic in a male supremacist society in which "men are
> systemically conditioned not even to notice what women want."

It has struck me that almost all respondents to this question work with
the assumption, based on American Law, that force is a defining property
of rape, and, of course McKinnon points out the difficulty with that
definition.

In South African law, rape is defined purely by lack of consent.  Force
is not a defining property, although it is relevant as evidence of rape,
where a host of other problems arise.  South African lawyers I have
spoken to suggest that the South African definition is far more
enlightened than the one in the USA, and it obviously avoids to some
degree the difficulty that McKinnon points out.

If English Law is similar to South African Law on this point (I'm not
sure of this, but my lawyer friends suggest that it is) then the
assumptions regarding force that have informed the discussion so far are
irrelevant.  One cannot cast light on what happens in Measure for
Measure on the basis of the law of rape in the state of Wisconsin, or
whatever.

But this adds a difficult twist to the issue at hand.  Working with the
notion of force as a determining or defining factor, one could argue
that Isabella is in fact coerced by Angelo.  If rape depends upon
consent or lack of consent only,  it becomes tricky to argue that
Isabella does not consent to sleeping with Angelo.

I'm still not sure that the legal question is relevant to the play,
though.

David Schalkwyk
 

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