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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: March ::
Re: ADO Query
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0555  Friday, 24 March 2000.

[1]     From:   Michael Friedman <
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        Date:   Monday, 20 Mar 2000 16:56:09 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0543 ADO Query

[2]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
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        Date:   Monday, 20 Mar 2000 22:08:51 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0543 ADO Query

[3]     From:   Judith Matthews Craig <
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        Date:   Mon, 20 Mar 2000 19:22:45 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0543 ADO Query

[4]     From:   Belinda Johnston <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Mar 2000 15:18:22 +1100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0543 ADO Query

[5]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 22 Mar 2000 11:41:02 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0543 ADO Query


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Friedman <
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Date:           Monday, 20 Mar 2000 16:56:09 -0500
Subject: 11.0543 ADO Query
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0543 ADO Query

Allan,

I have also been surprised that editors tend not to address
Benedick's line because I think it's very important to a view of the
play that emphasizes the drive toward procreation.  I am currently
shopping around an MS entitled The World Must Be Peopled that includes a
paragraph on the passage you ask about.  At risk of great personal
embarrassment, I'll reproduce it for you here without the documentation
(but I'll be happy to provide it for anyone who wants it):

After a brief encounter with Beatrice at the end of the gulling scene,
Benedick exits with the parting remark, "I will go get her picture"
(2.3.254).  Editors have usually taken this comment literally, as does
Sheldon P. Zitner, who indicates in his Oxford edition that the line
denotes Benedick's intention to "commission an ornamental miniature" of
Beatrice (138n).  Director Michael Kahn, in his 1992 production of Much
Ado at the Shakespeare Theatre, reinforced such an interpretation by
introducing the picture as a prop later in the play.  Miranda
Johnson-Haddad records that "in 5.2, Benedick appeared sporting an
enormous medallion containing a portrait of Beatrice around his neck.
He showed it to the audience and gestured confidently, as if to say,
'This'll wow her!'" (461).  Such a literal reading equates Benedick's
resolution with the desire of Proteus in Two Gentlemen to possess the
"picture that is hanging in [Silvia's] chamber" (4.2.118); but unlike
that portrait, which figures prominently in the exchange between Silvia
and Julia in 4.4, the picture of Beatrice is never mentioned again in
the printed text of Much Ado.  Alternatively,  Benedick may be speaking
in metaphorical terms about his newfound determination to marry and
procreate.  Elsewhere in the play, the word "get" sometimes serves as a
shortened form of the verb "beget," as in the following dialogue between
the Prince and Beatrice after the betrothal of Claudio and Hero:

          Beat. I may sit in a corner and cry "Heigh-ho for a husband!"
          D.Pedro. Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.
          Beat. I would rather have one of your father's getting.  Hath
your

            Grace ne'er a brother like you?  Your father got excellent
             husbands, if a maid could come by them. (2.1.300-306)

Moreover, Shakespeare occasionally uses the word "picture" to refer to
the notion, common in the procreation sonnets, that a male child may
resemble a parent so strongly as to be a type of copy of him or her.
For instance, in Titus Andronicus, Aaron the Moor refers to his newborn
babe as "the picture of my youth" (4.2.109).  Given these alternative
denotations, Benedick's vow to "go get her picture" may express his
awakened ambition to beget upon Beatrice an heir who will look just like
his beautiful mother.

Michael D. Friedman
University of Scranton

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[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
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Date:           Monday, 20 Mar 2000 22:08:51 -0000
Subject: 11.0543 ADO Query
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0543 ADO Query

> Benedick, speaking of Beatrice at the very end of Act II of ADO, says,
> "I will go get her picture."  None of the editors I have consulted
> bother to gloss this line so its meaning must be "obvious"  -- but I
> can't see it.  Help, please.

"get" with the same ambiguity as Modern English "procure"? -- Benedict
is either off to collect, if it already exists, or have made if it
doesn't, a (presumably) miniature (picture) of Beatrice.

Just a thought ...

Robin Hamilton

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Judith Matthews Craig <
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Date:           Mon, 20 Mar 2000 19:22:45 -0600
Subject: 11.0543 ADO Query
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0543 ADO Query

<Benedick, speaking of Beatrice at the very end of <Act II of ADO, says,
<"I will go get her picture."  None of the editors I <have consulted
<bother to gloss this line so its meaning must be <"obvious"  -- but I
<can't see it.  Help, please.

What  don't you "see" about it?

Judy Craig

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Belinda Johnston <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Mar 2000 15:18:22 +1100
Subject: 11.0543 ADO Query
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0543 ADO Query

Sheldon P. Zitner in the Oxford World's Classics ed. says: "Benedick
means to commission an ornamental miniature, a small portrait as a
keepsake or to be worn on his person in a locket.  This was the great
moment of English portrait miniaturists, the greatest of whom, Nicholas
Hilliard, was commissioned in 1600 to write a treatise on his art."

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Wednesday, 22 Mar 2000 11:41:02 -0500
Subject: 11.0543 ADO Query
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0543 ADO Query

Allan Blackman wonders about Benedick's stating about Beatrice that he
will "go get her picture."  Well-to-do Elizabethan lovers (and parents
and children and friends and dependents) often acquired miniature
portraits of their loved ones, like the one of Claudius apparently
hanging from a chain around Gertrude's neck with which Hamlet compares
his own picture of his father-indeed, often received such miniatures as
gifts from those loved ones.

In a realistic reading, it seems unlikely that Benedick intends to
commission a painter to produce such a picture; that would require one
or more sittings by the subject, and some additional time to finish and
mount the completed object.  The account of the process in Nicholas
Hilliard's Art of Limning implies that the whole thing might take a
couple of weeks.  There were also larger-scale portraits-drawings and
easel paintings, made either by professional artists or by amateurs;
Henry Peacham in his Art of Drawing suggests that training in such work
was becoming a fashionable accomplishment like the ability to sing or
play an instrument.  Whatever the type, Benedick might try to get an
image from Hero or Leonato.  Or, he may have one already from that
earlier period of the relationship when he won her heart, she says,
"with false dice."

But I would read the line in a purely incidental way, in connection with
his visit to the barber and composition of bad poetry, as an economical
way of marking to the audience his resolve to become the complete lover,
as he has been the complete scoffer at love, by doing all the things
conventional lovers do.

Pictorially,
David Evett
 

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