The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0059 Wednesday, 13 January 1999.
Date: Wednesday, 13 Jan 1999 10:27:07 +0000
Subject: 10.0033 Re: Shakespeare in Love
Comment: Re: SHK 10.0033 Re: Shakespeare in Love
It's interesting to see how every age and persuasion is inclined to
remake Shakespeare in their image. So I guess it's not surprising that
he's now been compared with the current U.S. president. (I'm wondering
if we should brace ourselves soon for a comparison with Leonardo di
Caprio or the members of 'N Sync-but maybe list members are still a bit
too stodgy for that.)
I think more interesting comparisons could be made between the president
and some of Shakespeare's characters, such as Bertram in All's Well.
Here is just one quotation among many that could be used in making such
a comparison (the last scene of the play is also rich in parallels).
Bertram's companions are reflecting on his sexual escapades and his lack
of regard for his wife:
<[2. Lord.]> . . . The great dignity that his
valor hath here acquir'd for him shall at home be
encount'red with a shame as ample.
<[1. Lord.]> The web of our life is of a mingled yarn,
good and ill together: our virtues would be proud, if
our faults whipt them not, and our crimes would
despair, if they were not cherish'd by our virtues.
(All's Well That Ends Well 4.3.68-74)
I believe this (along with many other passages) shows that Shakespeare's
often noted tolerance is not quite as mindless as some suggest.
Certainly, he's not narrowly judgmental, but much of what I like to
consider Shakespeare's greatness lies in how he combines compassion and
understanding with moral insight and evaluation.