The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0506 Wednesday, 15 March 2000.
Date: Tuesday, 14 Mar 2000 08:11:42 -0800
Subject: 11.0490 Re: Julius Caesar, Cesario, Ganymede
Comment: Re: SHK 11.0490 Re: Julius Caesar, Cesario, Ganymede
I take L. Swilley's point about not constructing characters on the basis
of historical determinacy, but isn't historical determinacy a special
deployment of historical research? I mean, couldn't I research
Plutarch's Caesar in order to see how Shakespeare's is different,
therefore to determine the sorts of decisions Shakespeare is making?
For that matter, I could look at previous depictions of Caesar in
fiction to see how Shakespeare is correcting them.
Somebody argues (I still haven't found it) that not only was Shakespeare
breaking with his sources in showing Cordelia murdered, rather than
committing suicide, but that he was correcting his sources, reversing
the lie that Edmund would have promulgated. I would think that this
makes us more sympathetic towards both Lear and Cordelia, which, by at
least one definition, makes them more into persons.
I'm thinking here of how any sort of depiction of Hitler on screen
invites comparison with Chaplin's Great Dictator, or how Pierce
Brosnan's agent 007 is relentlessly compared to Sean Connery's. This
isn't to say that they're simply the same. It might be to point out
variations, and therefore the director's, actor's, or writer's
approach. In reading Shakespeare's Henry VIII, I'm always struck by how
different his title character appears from the wife-slaughtering,
obscenely overweight creature of popular (twentieth-century) history.