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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: July ::
Re: Unwitnessed Events
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1219  Friday, 2 July 1999.

[1]     From:   Stuart Hampton-Reeves <
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        Date:   Friday, 2 Jul 1999 23:52:39 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1214 Unwitnessed Events

[2]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 01 Jul 1999 16:11:04 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1214 Unwitnessed Events


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Hampton-Reeves <
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Date:           Friday, 2 Jul 1999 23:52:39 +0100
Subject: 10.1214 Unwitnessed Events
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1214 Unwitnessed Events

The Henry VI plays are full of messy battles and messengers and they are
worth looking at closely (the artful way in which messengers fragment
the funeral scene that opens Part One for example). You might be
interested in the messenger who reports York's death in Part 3, Act 2,
scene 1, who is greeted by Richard with the words 'But what art thou
whose heavy looks foretell / Some dreadful story hanging on thy tongue?'
As an instance of oral history, it is fascinating because the messenger
describes an event which we have already witnessed earlier in the play,
so there is a sense of the process of historiography & of the audiences
being participants in that process as co-witnesses of the 'saddest
spectacle that e'er I viewed.'

Stuart Hampton-Reeves
University of Central Lancashire

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Thursday, 01 Jul 1999 16:11:04 +0100
Subject: 10.1214 Unwitnessed Events
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1214 Unwitnessed Events

Michael Ullyot asks

> (1) What other plays include battles or other scenes
> of considerable confusion that require a messenger's
> presence to make sense of the total action? (eg. the
> sea-battle in Anthony & Cleopatra)

Arcite fights Palamon offstage in TNK 5.5 and Emilia receives reports of
the fight from a servant who rushes on and off with news. Oddly, the
'news' is not about what he sees but about what he hears ("The cry's 'A
Palamon'", "Nay, now the sound is 'Arcite'") and we might well wonder
why Emilia can't hear the offstage shouts clearly demanded by the stage
directions.

Gabriel Egan

PS: The above quotations are verbatim, but heaven knows if they are what
Shakespeare meant.
 

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