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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: March ::
Re: Shakespeare's Names
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0445  Friday, 12 March 1999.

[1]     From:   Roy Flannagan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Mar 1999 10:21:48 -0500
        Subj:   Naming in Shakespeare

[2]     From:   Eric W Beato <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 Mar 1999 01:48:44 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 10.0433 Re: Shakespeare's Names


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roy Flannagan <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Mar 1999 10:21:48 -0500
Subject:        Naming in Shakespeare

I am just fool enough to think that some new things might be made of
Shakespeare's naming, and just suicidal enough to undertaking writing a
new book on the subject.  Recent discussions of names and words on
SHAKSPER, along with my own insistence in Shakespeare classes of
discussing the names of characters as we begin to discuss each play,
have led me to this foolhardy position.

A double organization comes to mind:

1. Play by play chapters, following plays according to accepted dating,
discussing the names in each play for (1) etymology; (2) current
historical associations; (3) echoes or reverberations for Shakespeare's
known associations (obviously with Hamnet/Hamlet, Edmund the brother who
begot a bastard and Edmund the bastard brother; Elizabeth;
Falstaff/Fastolfe/Oldcastle; and many others), (4) interrelations of
names among the plays (as with Claudios, for instance, or Juliets, from
Romeo and Juliet to Much Ado to Measure for Measure).

2. A dictionary of names and associations, for quick reference.

Currently flourishing schools of criticism such as cultural materialism,
semiotics, feminism, multiculturalism, even deconstruction, might help
illuminate the use of names.  Even textual criticism creeps in, by way
of Randy McLeod, with the suggestion that speech attributions might vary
in a text in ways out of the control of the author.  Current discussions
of Harlequin, pazzo, zanni, Pantaleone, on this list shows how
illuminating the identification of names and character types might be.
So does the discussion of names in Hamlet (Polonius's possible
associations with the sledded Polack; Polonius-Corambis;
Claudius-Fengon).  Linguistic studies dealing with the pronunciation of
names would certainly be helpful as well.

If anyone can give me a good reason not to undertake such a study, other
than general overwork and stress and suicidal foolishness, or if anyone
would like to offer advice and support, moral and bibliographical, I
would be happy to hear it.

Roy Flannagan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Eric W Beato <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 12 Mar 1999 01:48:44 -0500
Subject: Re: Shakespeare's Names
Comment:        SHK 10.0433 Re: Shakespeare's Names

As an aside to the question of the name HAMLET, son of HAMLET: Having
the son named for the father allowed Branagh a powerful closing
picture.  I teach the significance of what the director forces his
audience to finish with, and in Branagh's HAMLET we finish with the
destruction of the statue-and of the memory? -- of the late King Hamlet.
Since the name is the same, it is also of the late Prince Hamlet.  It is
chilling, touching, and suggestive of the potential deceit  in the heart
of new King Fortinbras.
 

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