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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: February ::
Re: Who's Who in Hell
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0395  Thursday, 24 February 2000.

[1]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 14:33:37 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell

[2]     From:   Patrick Dolan <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 13:34:04 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell

[3]     From:   Matt Kozusko <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 13:48:23 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell

[4]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 15:14:35 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell

[5]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 17:03:03 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0381 Who's Who in Hell

[6]     From:   Gerda Grice <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 17:52:45 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell

[7]     From:   Marti Markus <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Feb 2000 00:26:08 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell

[8]     From:   Dana Shilling <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 19:56:41 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 14:33:37 -0500
Subject: 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell
Comment:        RE: SHK 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell

Since comedy and tragedy both predate heaven and hell, why not define
the latter in terms of the former rather than vice versa?

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Patrick Dolan <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 13:34:04 -0600
Subject: 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell

Depends on whether or not you think Northrop Frye is "traditional." If
you look at Sidney's Apology, you'll find that tragedy and comedy are
class and moral categories. We emulate the virtues of the noble and
laugh at and avoid the vulgarities of the ignoble. Frye's categories
make sense, but they aren't Sidney's or anyone else's in the late
sixteenth century as far as I can tell.

Is there someone on this list who knows sixteenth century genre theory
better than this?

Pat

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matt Kozusko <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 13:48:23 -0600
Subject: 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell

Dana Shilling notes that in the Elizabethan world-view, Shylock's
commanded conversion is something more of a salvation than a curse.
Officially, canonically, this is sound reasoning.  Still, one suspects
audiences were capable of empathy for Shylock.  The pain of a forced
religious conversion was after all not too distant as a familiar idea,
if not a familiar experience, at the close of the 16th century.  Either
way, surely, we are not the first century of readers to perceive in
Shakespeare a delicacy, a sympathetic regard, for the villain, or
accordingly to hear Shylock on his own terms.

Matt Kozusko

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 15:14:35 -0500
Subject: 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell

The terms if not the outcome of Claudius's visit to the chapel of
Elsinore Castle should tell Dana Schilling that traditional Christianity
does not see killing infallibly sending the killer to hell: no sin,
however heinous, for which sincere penitence is offered and sustained,
is too grave for divine forgiveness.  Horatio implies as much in his
pious hope for flights of angels to escort Hamlet's soul-though to be
sure they might take it down as well as up.  Hamlet Sr. smote the
sledded Polack, but has managed to get to Purgatory, it would appear.
Is Lear damned for killing the slave that was hanging Cordelia?  Edgar
for Edmund?  Given in particular that all these, like Romeo/Tybalt, are
in what we would call fair fight-opportunity for the victim to defend
himself, by contrast with Desdemona and Duncan.  I'm equally
uncomfortable with this simplistic paradigm at the comic end-there's a
reading of All's Well or even Shr that would see marriage vows made
insincerely as mortally sinful, since they violate the commandment about
taking God's name in vain.  Nor does the paradigm help with generically
anomalous work like *Troilus*--nor, indeed, with any of the plays with
pagan settings, all of whose characters are headed for the Bad Place.

Apocalyptically,
Dave Evett

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 17:03:03 -0500
Subject: 11.0381 Who's Who in Hell
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0381 Who's Who in Hell

Dana Shilling offers this conclusion:

>Tragedy:
>the people we're rooting for go to Hell. Comedy: the people we're
>rooting for don't.

While I don't see this for every play (The Comedy of Errors? All's Well
That Ends Well?), I do think this conclusion may hold true for some
dramatists and for the choices Shakespeare made in some plays (Two
Gentlemen of Verona, for example). In John Ford's Political Theatre,
Lisa Hopkins has shown that for Ford, tragedy often results from a
rejection of, or a lack of access to, sacraments. Thomas Middleton's
comedies often have a concluding conversion or repentance. One
modification I would add: Tragedy may also genre for dealing with
martyrdom-a possibility for both The Duchess of Malfi and The Second
Maiden's Tragedy. But the martyrs are not headed for hell.

Jack Heller

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gerda Grice <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 17:52:45 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell

Carol Barton's comment that comedies end in reconciliation, reunion or
marriage and tragedies end in death is perhaps a bit of an
oversimplification.  Some very well known comedies-Jonson's Volpone and
Moliere's The Misanthrope are just two that spring to mind-do not end in
either reunion, marriage or reconciliation.  And the work that Aristotle
seems to have regarded as the model of what tragedy should be, King
Oedipus does not end in death-or, at least, not in the death of the
hero.

Gerda Grice
Ryerson Polytechnic University
Toronto, Canada

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marti Markus <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Feb 2000 00:26:08 +0100
Subject: 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell

>Dana, I really think your inquiry would be better served by the
>traditional definitions: a comedy ends in marriage, reunion, or
>reconciliation. A tragedy ends in death.
>
>Best,
>Carol Barton

Yes, this is the traditional definition. Long live Aristotle! But there
are also traditional beginnings, and there are traditional settings, and
there are traditional characters, and there are traditions of style,
language, intonation, performance etc.

Will we not have a certain (and sometimes quite a clear) disposition
after the first scene of a play we do not know - even before we know its
ending?  Are endings so important?

Consider "A Midsummer Night's Dream": Is it a tragedy? It ends [well,
not quite, but it almost ends] with the tragical death of Pyramus and
Thisbe - Romeo and Juliet in classical disguise! There are Shakespeare's
"problem plays". What are they? Consider "Troilus and Cressida": What is
it? Who dies? And when?

What kind of reconciliation, marriage or whatever other happy reunion
have we got in "Volpone"?

In many plays (from Shakespeare till today) "reconciliation" may mean
"death", whereas "not being allowed or not being granted to die" may be
a truly tragic ending (e.g. Sartre, Becket et al.). Marriage and other
reunions are not necessarily a key to paradise and they are not
necessarily serene, romantic or comic, either. Just take family
reunions: don't they have an inherent tendency to be boring or to turn
into "real" (i.e. almost classical) tragedies both in life and on stage?

Markus Marti

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Shilling <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2000 19:56:41 -0500
Subject: 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0388 Re: Who's Who in Hell

LLL ends with no weddings and a funeral, but I wouldn't call it a
tragedy.  As for marriage and reconciliation, I can't help recalling the
English 101 chestnut that Milton wrote "Paradise Lost" shortly after
getting married, and "Paradise Regained" as a widower.

Dana
 

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