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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: July ::
Re: Unwitnessed Events
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1284  Friday, 16 July 1999.

[1]     From:   Ching-Hsi Perng <
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        Date:   Friday, 16 Jul 1999 10:26:12 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1265 Re: Unwitnessed Events

[2]     From:   Michael Yawney <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 Jul 1999 23:32:21 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1250 Re: Unwitnessed Events


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ching-Hsi Perng <
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Date:           Friday, 16 Jul 1999 10:26:12 +0800
Subject: 10.1265 Re: Unwitnessed Events
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1265 Re: Unwitnessed Events

> In connection with Michael Ullyot's intriguing remark on the tendency of
> romances and comedies to recapitulate events and of tragedies and
> histories to get on with it, that most comic of tragedies, Romeo and
> Juliet, rings a bell.  Three times in that play (Benvolio twice and
> Friar Lawrence once) bloody events are recounted for auditors absent
> from the scene.  In this instance, however, the scenes have been
> witnessed by the audience-an interesting twist.

Speaking of the interesting twist in Benvolio's reports, I find his
second report particularly distorted.  He puts the blame on Tybal when
the audience has witnessed that it was Mercutio who started it all.
Benvolio's motivation for this perjury is clear, of course.  He said at
the end of the speech: "This is the truth, or let Benvolio die" (3.1.
174:  Bevington edition).  And, sure enough, Shakespeare executed him
right then and there: Benvolio is not to heard any more in the play-not
even in the final scene when almost everybody who is yet alive is
present.  A piece of poetic justice indeed.  (Michael, I wrote an essay
on this, and may have a couple of offprints left.  Please write to me
off-list if you wish to get one.)

Ching-Hsi Perng
Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
National Taiwan University

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Yawney <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 Jul 1999 23:32:21 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 10.1250 Re: Unwitnessed Events
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1250 Re: Unwitnessed Events

I am surprised that in the discussion of The Winter's Tale no one has
mentioned the possibility that Hermione and Perdita were played by the
same actor, making the reconciliation with Hermione have the emotional
weight of a reconciliation with both characters. If this was the
intended effect, a Perdita/Leontes scene would not be need. In fact it
would detract from the final scene.

This doubling is often seen in production. Of course this necessitates
either cutting Hermione's lines to Perdita or using a double (perhaps
veiled) to play the silent Perdita. In practical terms, the reported
scene facillitates this doubling.

If this was Shakespeare's intent, it would also explain why Perdita
never speaks in the final scene-an oddity only matched by Isabella's
silence in response to the Duke.
 

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