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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: July ::
Re: Stoicism; Advertising; Military; Shrew; Incest
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0663  Thursday, 16 July 1998.

[1]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 Jul 1998 15:10:33 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Stoicism

[2]     From:   Carol A Cole <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 Jul 1998 14:50:57 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0657  Shakespeare in Advertising

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 16 Jul 1998 08:52:24 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0639 Q: The Military and Social Rank

[4]     From:   Ildiko Solti <
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        Date:   Thursday, 16 Jul 1998 04:33:43 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Shrew

[5]     From:   Satia B. Testman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 16 Jul 1998 08:07:21 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0658  Re:  Hamlet and Incest


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 Jul 1998 15:10:33 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Stoicism

I am not sure how I "provoked" Ben Schneider to "wall off" stoicism from
Christian Humanism, as Dave Evett asserts. I began this discussion with
Ben by pointing out that one way to see Hamlet in Act 5 is as a
Christian stoic. My second post included the observation that humanists
longed to recapture the glory of Greece and Rome; as such a humanist
could certainly choose to admire Seneca or Marcus Aurelius.

So, for what it's worth, it appears that Dave and I do not disagree -- a
first!

--Ed Taft

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol A Cole <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 Jul 1998 14:50:57 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.0657  Shakespeare in Advertising
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0657  Shakespeare in Advertising

Drew Whitehead recalled seeing the ad:

>         "Now is the winter of our discount tents"

Fans of the TV comedy Red Green will also recognize this gambit. Duct
tape, anyone?

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 16 Jul 1998 08:52:24 -0700
Subject: 9.0639 Q: The Military and Social Rank
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0639 Q: The Military and Social Rank

> I am currently working on Massinger's _The Unnatural Combat_ and I have
> a question about the social rank of high-level military officers in the
> early modern period.  It is clear, for example, that Belgarde, a
> "captain," is a member of the middle/lower orders, but what about the
> career "admiral" Malefort?  Who were these people who ran the military
> institution on a day to day basis? From which classes were they culled?
> How does Othello fit into this, or is his specific class identity
> occluded by issues of race?  Does our modern
> commissioned/non-commissioned paradigm work back then?  Any suggestions?

Gareth:

The book to look at is J. R. Hale's _War and Society in Renaissance
Europe, 1450-1620._  Its library catalogue number is U43.E95 H35 1985

Basically, his conclusion is that while it may have been (barely)
possible to become a 'captain' by merit, usually captains were people
who could put up enough capital to raise troops and bring them to war,
since they weren't paid in advance.  The higher ranks were, Hale argues,
almost always the prerogative of aristocrats.

On the other hand, he also speaks of soldiers as increasingly divided
from the society which they ostensibly served.  Part of this alienation
has to do with the "topsy-turvy fortune making" of soldiers, placing
them alongside Jews and others who violated the every-man-in-his-place
social structure.  In particular, mercenaries seem to have been
considered the worst soldiers, while soldiers who were serving their own
country were approved of, assuming that they were able to reintegrate
themselves into the social order.  As Burgundy in _Henry V_ argues, one
shouldn't make a permanent profession of war.  Reintegration into
civilian life, incidentally, becomes more and more of a challenge as the
Elizabethan period wore on, with frequent royal declarations attempting
to control the growing bodies of disbanded soldiers hanging around in
London.

I believe that writers like More and Machiavelli evince a strong
nostalgia for a more organic relationship between a society and its
military.  In the meantime, professional soldiers were both admired and
despised, much as they are today.  The Venetian senate is fascinated by
Othello's story, but not enough for Brabantio to even consider him
human.  Hotspur is portrayed as active and admirable, but neither
trustworthy, nor even capable of familial life.

Othello is obviously not a Venetian, but has managed to become a
general.  His position is therefore unusual, and indeed uncomfortable
for everyone involved.  Hale mentions that even where positions were won
through merit in the early modern world, governments has a tendency to
give grants of land and aristocratic titles "to explain, as it were" the
power of the individuals concerned.  The Venetians, who often hired
condotierre as their generals, were particularly noted for giving grants
of land on the terra firma.

Rather than waiting for his land grant, Othello takes his own in the
form of Desdemona.  She therefore becomes not merely his lover and
spouse, but also the objective correlative of his position, even his
being.  Hence his desperate need for her admiration, and his bizarre
declaration that "Othello's profession's gone" when he begins to suspect
her of infidelity.

Cheers,
Sean

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ildiko Solti <
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Date:           Thursday, 16 Jul 1998 04:33:43 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        Shrew

Of course it is possible to play a horror-version of the Shrew. The only
problem for me would be that the "transformation" at wich the company at
the table would "recoil", would be a change only in her surface
behaviour. "She did not want to deal with men in a serious way, nor does
she now", we would say. That is, nothing really stageworthy happened.
The game that Petruchio sets up to bring Kate to self-awareness, with
the added stakes of his interest in her, is much more difficult and
interesting to do if it succeeds, against all odds.  We are showing the
play in two weeks'time, and this is the approach we're trying to take.I
think that the "mirror held up to Nature" is such a distorting one that
wants to trans-form us back to our own natural form.

A question: any body has a trick up their sleeve to stop actors trying
to flatten out the verse lines by saying them too naturalistically?
Something to get them enjoy the swing of the rhythm..

Thanks,
Ildiko Solti

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Satia B. Testman <
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Date:           Thursday, 16 Jul 1998 08:07:21 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.0658  Re:  Hamlet and Incest
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0658  Re:  Hamlet and Incest

Okay, we have often heard of the emotional/Oedipal "incest" between
Hamlet and Gertrude and obviously there is the incest between Gertrude
and Claudius.

So how off-base would it be to imply that there is also some incest in
Ophelia's family.  I know, this is way out in left field.  Bear with me
on this one . . .

First there is the understanding that in Shakespeare's time, if your
daughter were to be "used" by royalty, you could at least know that if
she should get pregnant she would at least be married off to someone of
good rank.  Henry VIII did this with his mistresses on various
occasions.  With this in mind, why are Polonius and Laertes so concerned
about the relationship between Ophelia and Hamlet?  After all, if she
were to become pregnant, either Hamlet would marry her (Anne Boleyn) or
marry her off (Mary Boleyn).

Second, there is clear evidence that everyone else thought that this
would end in marriage.  Gertrude, at Ophelia's graveside, clearly says
that she had hopes that the two would be married (5.1.269).  Therefore,
it tears apart the argument that Laertes and Polonius were protecting
her from Hamlet's machinations.

Third, Hamlet himself says that he loved her more than forty thousand
brothers ever did (5.1.292-294).  Perhaps he knew of the other
relationship.

Like I said, this is way off in left field and I am only thinking.  I
haven't had time to really look further into it but I would be curious
to see what other people think.  Thanks.

Satia R. Testman

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