Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: November ::
Re: Winters Tale and the Bear
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2021  Friday, 19 November 1999.

[1]     From:   Alan Dessen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 17 Nov 1999 10:45:38 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2007 Re: Winters Tale and the Bear

[2]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 17 Nov 1999 18:52:31 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1998 Winters Tale and the Bear


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alan Dessen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 17 Nov 1999 10:45:38 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 10.2007 Re: Winters Tale and the Bear
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2007 Re: Winters Tale and the Bear

I don't dispute Melissa Aaron's account that invokes white bear suits,
but there *are* two other bear sightings in stage directions of the
period:

bear:  the animal pursues a figure in three plays: "Exit pursued by a
bear" (Winter's Tale, 1500, 3.3.58), "Enter a Nymph, pursued by a wild
Bear" (Conspiracy, D3v; see also Mucedorus, A3v); in Mucedorus the
consequences are shown: "Enter Mucedorus like a shepherd with a sword
drawn and a bear's head in his hand" (A3v, also C2r); see also Locrine,
4-5.  [from *A Dictionary of Stage Directions in English Drama,
1580-1642*]

The Locrine reference is from a dumb show that involves "a Lion running
after a Bear or any other beast"; Henry Killigrew's The Conspiracy was
published in 1638.

Alan Dessen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 17 Nov 1999 18:52:31 -0500
Subject: 10.1998 Winters Tale and the Bear
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1998 Winters Tale and the Bear

It seems that this debate goes back to  *Mucedorus* itself:

Nay, sure, it cannot be a bear, but some devil in a bear's doublet, for
a bear could never have had that agility

Despite what Riverside says, and until I get a chance to read the other
evidence, I don't see how this line can have any point unless it's a
joke about a guy in a bear suit.  I suppose it could be calling
attention to a particularly talented trained bear, but it reminds me of
the double(t) entendres about boys dressed like girls dressed like
boys.  In other words, the dramatic irony plays one way to the
characters, for whom it is an agile bear, and another for the audience
for whom it's a devil in a bear's doublet.

So here's a public recantation.  If the King's Men had recourse to a
bear suit for Muc, it makes little sense to me that they would switch to
a live bear for Winter's Tale. Consequently, although I was attracted by
the idea of powerful dramatic effect produced by a live ferocious animal
drooling on the groundlings, for the moment I see Antigonus pursued by a
devil in a bear's doublet.

Winters have long tales and bears have short, but methinks this tale
hath no bear of any sort.

Clifford Stetner
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.