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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: February ::
Re: MM and the Law
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0258  Monday, 15 February 1999.

[1]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Saturday, 13 Feb 1999 11:44:59 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0253 MM and the Law

[2]     From:   Michael Skovmand <
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        Date:   Monday, 15 Feb 1999 12:07:25 +0100
        Subj:   Sv: SHK 10.0253 MM and the Law


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Saturday, 13 Feb 1999 11:44:59 -0500
Subject: 10.0253 MM and the Law
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0253 MM and the Law

James Lombardi wrote:

>We'd be grateful for some help in determining the
>meaning of the following lines and perhaps elicit some acting techniques
>in memorizing and delivering Shakespeare's often difficult poetry.
>
>In 2.2.93-99  Angelo opines that aggressive law enforcement will deter
>prospective crimes.  The lines "Either new, or by remissness
>new-conceived, And so in progress to be hatched and born" appear to be
>referring to some embryonic stage of criminal intent but  the
>distinction between "new" evils and "new-conceived" evils seems
>tautological:
>
>     [The law] now, 't is awake,
>     Takes note of what is done, and, like a prophet
>     Looks in a glass, that shows what future evils,
>     Either new, or by remissness new-conceived,
>     And so in progress to be hatched and born,
>     Are now to have no successive degrees,
>     But, ere they live, to end.
>
>In 2.4.57-58  as Angelo tries to seduce Isabel who says she would rather
>suffer the death of her body than her soul  Angelo's response is
>incomprehensible to us:
>
>     I talk not of your soul.  Our compelled sins
>     Stand more for number than for accompt.
>
>In 2.2.23-24 there is an equally arcane line  by Isabel who replies to
>Angelo's admission of frailty:
>
>     Else let my brother die
>     If not a feodary, but only he
>     Owe and succeed thy weakness.

In the first passage, the crux actually results from an ill-conceived,
in my humble opinion, emendation by Pope.  F1 has "now" for the first
"new", and I think this is correct.  It makes sense to me, as the
passage would mean "either already in existence or, as a result of the
former laxness of the law, in contemplation."  Interestingly, the Oxford
(Jowett with Wells) emends "now" to "raw" and says that the F reading is
"particularly difficult."  I don't see why.  Perhaps Profs Jowett and
Wells can elaborate.

By the way, I would strike the comma after "conceived" as I think "And
so in progress ..." refers only to the "new conceived" evils not the
ones already "hatched and born."

As for the second passage, the Riverside glosses it as "are recorded but
are not charged against our account."  In other words, I suppose,
unadjusted gross figures.

The last passage (actually II.iv.122-24) :"feodary" should probably be
"fedary", which Riverside glosses as "confederate."  Also, Theobald adds
a comma after "he".  These changes help a little.  It seems to mean that
Claudio will die for his own offense while Angelo, who would be guilty
of the same crime, remains unattained because Isabel insists on
retaining her virtue.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Skovmand <
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Date:           Monday, 15 Feb 1999 12:07:25 +0100
Subject: 10.0253 MM and the Law
Comment:        Sv: SHK 10.0253 MM and the Law

Re: MM and the Law:

My two cents' worth on J.J Lombardi's   three cruxes in Measure:

a: 2.2.93-99 - in which it is stated that "the Law...takes note of what
is done... what future evils - either now, or by remissness new
conceived..." This , in my view, is not tautological, although a bit
vague. The Law is 'pro-active': it will deal with new types of
transgression as well nipping newly-conceived transgressions in the bud.

b: 2.2.56-57: "I talk not of your soul. Our compelled sins/ Stand more
for number than accompt". An accountancy metaphor  related to the Day of
Reckoning: Sins that we have been forced to commit will be chalked up in
an unofficial sort of way, but will not be recorded against us in the
big Ledger.

c: 2.4.122-24 ( not 2.2.23-24): Else let my brother die/If not a fedary
but only he/owe and succeed thy weakness": A knotty one. It hinges on
the word fe(o)dary, used also in Cym. and WT in the sense 'confederate'
; in this case, in its extended sense as 'one among many'. So my
interpretation of the passage would be the following:  Angelo says: we
are all frail, and Isabella replies: Well, my brother SHOULD die, if he
was not one among many but the only one to possess and inherit the
weakness you're talking about.

Michael Skovmand
Dep't of English
U. of Aarhus
Denmark
 

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