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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: March ::
Re: Marlowe; Harfluer; Women
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0498  Friday, 19 March 1999.

[1]     From:   John Drakakis <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Mar 1999 15:25:23 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 10.0480 Re: Marlowe and Autobiography

[2]     From:   Brian Haylett <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Mar 1999 15:28:41 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0466 Harfluer

[3]     From:   Melissa D. Aaron <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Mar 1999 19:20:26 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0484 Re: Women on the Early Modern Stage


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Mar 1999 15:25:23 -0000
Subject: 10.0480 Re: Marlowe and Autobiography
Comment:        RE: SHK 10.0480 Re: Marlowe and Autobiography

It proves that like Hamlet, he could tell a hawk from a handsaw.

Cheers,
John Drakakis

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Haylett <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Mar 1999 15:28:41 -0000
Subject: 10.0466 Harfluer
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0466 Harfluer

Mike Jensen says: ' I wonder if I'll get the apology I deserve'.

Of course I apologise if you wish. There are too many pitfalls available
in the brevity of emails and the clashing of cultures to give or take
offence - least of all over an academic argument! I've accepted a few
hard comments myself.

'I know the folio is quite a good text, better than many, but I did not
know it could inspire such absolute confidence.'

When it does not conflict with other texts available and there is not
good reason to fear corruption, then the text must be accepted rather
than a source. We are students of Shakespeare, not history. But even on
your terms, matters are not as clear-cut as you claim:

Holinshed - 'Some write, that the king perceiuing his enimies in one
part to assemble togither, as though they meant to giue a new battell
for preseruation of the prisoners, sent to them an herald, commanding
them either to depart out of his sight, or else to come forward at once,
and give battell: promising herewith, that if they did offer to fight
agine, not onlie those prisoners which his people alreadie had taken;
but also so manie of them as in this new conflict, which they thus
attempted, should fall into his hands, should die the death without
redemption.'

Shakespeare - 'The French have reinforc'd their scatter'd men:
                           Then every soldier kill his prisoners!'

'Mr. Haylett concluded that Gower is a spin doctor.  OK, I'd like to
learn from that.  Please show me in the text, folio or quarto, that
Gower is doing this.  Does he lie at other times?  How many other
instances are there of him attempting to control perception?'

'Spin doctor' is entirely your invention. What I was attempting to say -
and obviously failing - was that Gower had got the facts wrong and so
had begun the rewriting of history, which often happens through human
error rather than propagandist intent. Gower  (the English Captain,
note) never questions Henry.

But of course this is my interpretation. To explain it would take a full
explication of the play. Look, though, at the sequence of events in
about 70 lines:

1. Exeter narrates how worthy men have given their lives in Henry's
cause, undertaken rather than have trouble with the Scots.
2. Henry orders the prisoners killed.
3. Gower sees the King as having acted 'most worthily' (Why say that?
Does it not immediately suggest someone has doubts?)
4. Fluellen tries to compare Henry with Alexander, with farcical
results. Not only does the comparison diminish Henry as a warrior, but
it reminds the audience that he did not even have the excuse of being
drunk when he spurned Falstaff. Are we not being asked to bring
Falstaff's view of Honour to bear on Henry's Machiavellian slaughter of
the prisoners? (To forestall the obvious response, let's discuss
Falstaff's recruiting methods another day!)

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa D. Aaron <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Mar 1999 19:20:26 -0500
Subject: 10.0484 Re: Women on the Early Modern Stage
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0484 Re: Women on the Early Modern Stage

>Of course you're right.  Let me see if this flies rephrased: Suppose a
>company consists of 10 actors/partners (you obviously know more about
>the size of companies-I'm just picking this number out of thin air).

If you picked this out of thin air, it was a good pick, because that's
about how many sharers there were in the Chamberlain's Men/King's Men
(it varied from about eight to fifteen.)

>they were to take on (say) two women to play women's roles, that would
>displace two of the male actors.  Since the partners were often also
>male actors, they have would an interest in seeing that this doesn't
>take place.

This, however, is assuming that the good female roles were played by the
sharers (in which case one could imagine a conflict of interest),
whereas I and many others assume the roles to have been played by
apprentice actors at the beginning of their careers.  If the roles were
played by boys, the sharers would not have been giving up plum roles.
Besides, in many theatrical companies, on the continent and later in
England, I have the impression that the actresses were often in a
familial, or at least familiar, relation to the actor/managers.  In that
case, having women act becomes a potential family monopoly-not bad for
business.

Melissa D. Aaron
University of Michigan
 

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