Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: August ::
Re: Ophelia; Rape; Prospero; Porn
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0743  Friday, 7 August 1998.

[1]     From:   Bruce Young <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 06 Aug 1998 15:36:09 +0000
        Subj:   Re: Incest and Ophelia

[2]     From:   Michael Friedman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 06 Aug 1998 16:50:25 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0732  Re: Rape Laws

[3]     From:   Adrian Kiernander <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 07 Aug 1998 09:51:14 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0706  Re: Tempest and Faust

[4]     From:   Paul S. Rhodes <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 7 Aug 1998 03:59:29 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0738  New Romeo and Juliet Porn Spin-Off


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce Young <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 06 Aug 1998 15:36:09 +0000
Subject:        Re: Incest and Ophelia

I found the information provided by Mike Jensen on Alzheimer's
enlightening.  But I have heard that other mental or emotional disorders
sometimes lead a person who has lived and spoken chastely in the past to
speak quite uncharacteristically.

Two more bits of evidence to add to the debate on whether Polonius's
family is plagued by incest (repressed or otherwise):

1.      Twice in the play, we are told that even the most virtuous may be
tarnished by "calumny": "Virtue itself scapes not calumnious strokes"
(1.3.38);  "be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not
escape calumny" (3.1.135-36).  I'm still pondering what the point of
these lines is for the world of the play (maybe something about that
world being so tainted that it is hard even for the virtuous in it to
avoid picking up some of the taint).  But perhaps the lines should serve
as a caution to interpreters, i.e., to avoid dealing out unnecessarily
"calumnious strokes"-even to the characters who inhabit the play's
hypothetical world.

2. A few lines in the play hint that Polonius and Ophelia may be in a
way parallel to Jephthah and his daughter (2.2.403, 410-12).  If the
parallel is pursued it would suggest that Polonius is a loving (but
foolish?) father who unwittingly damages his daughter.  I just noticed
today something in the story of Jephthah that has a bearing on whether
Ophelia was "honest" (i.e., chaste).  Learning she must be sacrificed to
fulfill her father's vow, Jephthah's daughter asks for two months in
which to "bewail [her] virginity":

        And she went with her companions, and bewailed her
        virginity upon the mountains.  ...  and she knew no man.
        (Judges 11:37-39)

Rather than being any sort of literal report of her past activities,
perhaps Ophelia's mad songs are in part her way of "bewailing her
virginity."

--Bruce Young

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Friedman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 06 Aug 1998 16:50:25 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.0732  Re: Rape Laws
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0732  Re: Rape Laws

First, thank you very much to all of the people, legal scholars and lay
people alike, who responded to my query about rape laws.  Since David
Schalkwyk raises the reasonable question whether the whole issue is even
relevant to *Measure* or not, I'll offer an explanation why I asked
about it.

Some of you may have noticed that one of the seminars for the SAA next
year, led by Karen Bamford and Karen Robertson, is "Reconsidering Rape:
Sexual Violence on the Renaissance Stage."  If I am placed in this
seminar, I'm thinking about writing a paper about, in one sense, the
critical argument over whether "rape" is the appropriate term to
describe what Angelo attempts to do to Isabella, and in another sense,
the marked theatrical propensity over the last 20 years or so for stage
productions to perform 2.4 of *Measure* as a physical rape attempt.
Therefore, I'm interested, from a textual perspective, in how
Shakespeare and his audiences might have considered this situation, and
also how modern audiences would respond to it.  In that way, modern rape
laws in Wisconsin might be relevant, if the play were being performed
there.

However, as I suspected and feared, there does not seem to be a
clear-cut consensus about whether the term "rape" is appropriate or
not.  In posing the question and the current theatrical tendency to
various people, I have received widely varying reactions.  And not
everyone would necessarily agree that the law, even if it were clear
cut, would dictate how an audience would respond.  My preliminary
assessment is that the performance choice to make Angelo's proposal a
rape attempt offers certain immediate benefits, particularly with regard
to Isabella's dilemma, but that it also complicates the end of the play,
particularly Angelo's marriage to Mariana, even further.

Anyway, I'm still at the mulling-it-over stage on this question, and I
appreciate all the help.

        Michael Friedman
        University of Scranton

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Adrian Kiernander <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 07 Aug 1998 09:51:14 +1000
Subject: 9.0706  Re: Tempest and Faust
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0706  Re: Tempest and Faust

Stuart Manger claims that the astonishing thing about Prospero is that
he stops:

>BUT what does Prospero do then? He stops. Can I say that again - he
>STOPS. How many in history accoutered with such devastating power have
>ever simply put it down and walked away, satisfying himself with stern
>words, secret whisperings, and the gift of love and humble
>reconciliation? And is that not the point? Prospero demonstrates that
>man has the potential for limitless devastation, moral duplicity,
>cruelty, beauty, tyranny, fatherhood, friendship and moral virtue, and
>that in the end, he at least can simply see the path to destruction when
>Ariel has those amazing words at the start of Act 5: 'mine would, sir,
>were I human' So simple, but they stop Prospero in his tracks along
>their primrose path, turns form the Faustian way with the antidote to
>all the tragedies - particularly Lear - with 'The rarer action is in
>virtue than in vengeance' - easy words, no great surprise in them, we
>think in the darkened theatre. BUT then the man actually turns the pious
>platitude into action before our eyes: he simply drops plans for a
>stored vengeance. He breaks his staff, buries his books certain fathoms,
>deeper than did ever plummet sound.

What does it do to this argument if it is pointed out that we don't see
Propero on stage actually break his staff or drown his books "before our
eyes"? He SAYS he will do this (he would say that, wouldn't he), but in
the last lines of his final speech, not counting the epilogue, he is
still controlling the weather ("I...promise you calm seas, auspicious
gales...") and ordering Ariel to implement his promise. ("My Ariel,
chick,/ That is thy charge.") It is true that he continues "Then to the
elements/ Be free, and fare thou well!", but Ariel has heard that kind
of promise many times before, as have the slaves/servants/underlings of
many another Faustian master "accoutered with...devastating power", and
by the time this text runs out it still hasn't happened. We may choose
to imagine that it will happen in some hyperfictional realm beyond the
play, but the question is unresolved in the script.

Adrian Kiernander

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul S. Rhodes <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 7 Aug 1998 03:59:29 -0600
Subject: 9.0738  New Romeo and Juliet Porn Spin-Off
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0738  New Romeo and Juliet Porn Spin-Off

Someone posted this meritricious and pandering post:

>I just found out about a video entitled _Exiles_, a futuristic spin-off
>of _Romeo and Juliet_.  It is directed by Brad Armstrong and stars Jill
>Kelly (Juliette), Raylene, Stephanie Swift, Sydnee Steele, Kailani Reid,
>Alec Metro (Romeo), Mickey G., Brad Armstrong, Mark Davis, Veronica
>Hart, George Kaplan, and Ron Vogel.  86 mins. Color. Wicked Pictures.
>USA.
>
>There is a very positive review in the August issue of AVN (Adult Video
>News, a trade publication directed mostly at  video store owners) on p
>130.
>
>If anyone is interested in mail order, Excaliburfilms.com (no connection
>to me) carries it for 26.95.

To which I respond:

Oh, yeah, I usually put much trust in a favorable review in something
called Adult Video News.  What would such a publication regard as the
elements of a good film?  Creative neon lighting?  Genuine leather?
Subtle nuances in the actresses' moans?  Just curious.

Posts like the above make me wonder if I should not reconsider Gabriel
Egan's academic elitism.  At least that would exclude discussion of
something as mindless and crass as a porn version of R&J.  Then again, I
may be giving academic elitism much too much credit.  I sure hope not.

I would urge our editor to exercise better discretion

Paul S. Rhodes
 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.