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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: May ::
Re: Suffering and Choosing
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0860  Friday, 14 May 1999.

[1]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 May 1999 11:04:03 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0844 Re: Lear and Suffering

[2]     From:   Brian Haylett <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 May 1999 19:08:51 +0100
        Subj:   Re: Fancy Bred - two cents' worth


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 May 1999 11:04:03 -0400
Subject: 10.0844 Re: Lear and Suffering
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0844 Re: Lear and Suffering

A propos the suffering in Lear: I guess the single most memorable moment
in my fairly considerable experience of Shakespearean play-going was the
final moment of Peter Brook's very dark take on the play: everybody else
having exited, Edgar dragged the body of Edmund off the stage, as the
lights (for the first time during the performance), fell-in the silent
house, the only sound was shhhhhh, shhhhhh, shhhhhhh . . . .

Existentially,
Dave Evett

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Haylett <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 May 1999 19:08:51 +0100
Subject:        Re: Fancy Bred - two cents' worth

Peter M. McCluskey writes: 'I think the evidence supporting the notion
Portia helps out Bassanio is pretty strong ...'

Please explain how this would work. If you assume - as I hope - that
Bassanio would make the same choice unaided, then the point is a
harmless one. But if you are claiming that he makes his choice guided by
her, then you have undermined much of the play.

1. The caskets scenes become either pointless or ironic.

2. Seeing through superficial appearances is no longer an issue - it is
who you know that counts.

3. Bassanio is a hypocrite in his major speech, and we could reasonably
look for some comeback on that later.

4. Portia should have played songs to put off the suitors she did not
like, instead of helping them with the 'hazard' clue.

5. Bassanio's earlier carefree attitude to money is no longer a
meaningful clue to his eventual choice.

How much easier to conclude that the song is meant for the audience, who
now know what casket should be chosen and whose desires for Bassanio can
be echoed by the opening rhyme. The song marks the culmination of the
whole casket sequence, and here the audience are told that Fancy
(fantasy, superficiality, false love) is being replaced by reality,
depth of feeling, true love. Any more ironic approach would have to
explain the discrepancy with the appearance-reality arguments in so many
other Shakespeare plays.  When I directed this play for a school some
thirty years ago, I had the song played from offstage, and no one -
audience or cast - ever suggested it was a tip-off. I had heard the
claim, of course, but it comes from the study, not the stage.
 

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