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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: April ::
Re: Cuckolds
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0771  Wednesday, 12 April 2000.

[1]     From:   Marilyn A. Bonomi <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Apr 2000 13:18:48 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0752 Re: Cuckolds, Horns, Horner, and Horny

[2]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Apr 2000 20:42:26 -0400
        Subj:   Re: Cuckolds, Horns, Horner, and Horny

[3]     From:   Carol Barton <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Apr 2000 22:06:49 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0752 Re: Cuckolds, Horns, Horner, and Horny


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marilyn A. Bonomi <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Apr 2000 13:18:48 -0400
Subject: 11.0752 Re: Cuckolds, Horns, Horner, and Horny
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0752 Re: Cuckolds, Horns, Horner, and Horny

Ms. Craig refers to the "morays" of Shakespeare's time... were they big
on eating eels then?

She also says,

>Cuckoldery is a constant theme in Shakespeare's plays-and personally I
>don't think it was just "talk" for him.

Seriously, I question the use of the word "constantly" as I can think of
plays where it never appears, as well as plays where it becomes an issue
in accusation, not in actuality (e.g., WT, O).

Further, I would be most interested in the bases on which Ms. Craig
builds her thinking that the topic is not just "'talk'" to Shakespeare.

Marilyn A. Bonomi

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Apr 2000 20:42:26 -0400
Subject:        Re: Cuckolds, Horns, Horner, and Horny

For the answer to these mysteries it might be better to look at Chaucer,
in whose work are many horned men (I've often wondered, given his
proximity to young Hal and his roley-poley,hostlery haunting ways, if
there is not something of Chaucer in Falstaff-the name Oldcastle could
then be a ref to the belief that the old poet was a closet Lollard-but
anywho...)

The cuckoldry theme was, of course, not original to Chaucer either, but
part of the tradition of the fabliaux.  Why, Jimmy Jung might ask, are
so many of the bestowers of horns in these tales priests?  And now, to
the chagrin of Sean Lawrence, I will argue that this theme is not only
about husbands and wives, but about politics.

Being cuckolded by a priest in medieval Europe seems to have been a
universal fear (what the horns may signify, I can only guess, but I
always thought the devil's horns were a sign of his cosmic cuckolding by
Jesus. Midas' asses ears, because their presence are betrayed by his
wife also seem related).  But besides the idea that, while you are out
in some far off field sowing and reaping, your wife is being visited by
the hedge priest or licenciat friar to discuss her most intimate affairs

swetely herd he confessioun
and pleasaunt was his absolucion
he was an esy man to yive penaunce
(m.e. spelling from memory)

by Chaucer's time, I believe (and so I argue in my paper on Chaucer's
argument with the Lollards), the situation could be used as an allegory
of the growing anti-Roman nationalism in matters of religion which began
in England as a powerful political movement with the Lollards (and their
patrons) and  culminated in the Reformation.  In that case, in a play
like: John John the Husband, Tyb, his Wife, and Sir John the Priest
(note the cuckolder and cuckoldee are of the same name), the good, but
naive, man can be likened to the English nation, the straying wife to
the straying church, and the bestower of horns to the Roman anti-Christ.

The message should be clear:  leaving our English church in the hands of
the se Romans, like leaving our wives in the hands of these priests is
not wise.  If someone is out to screw you, you shouldn't go around
inviting him to dinner.

Clifford Stetner

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http://phoenix.liu.edu/~cstetner/cds.htm

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Apr 2000 22:06:49 -0400
Subject: 11.0752 Re: Cuckolds, Horns, Horner, and Horny
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0752 Re: Cuckolds, Horns, Horner, and Horny

.> From:           Nicolas Pullin <
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> Like Jimmy Jung, I also struggle to think of a successful cuckolding in
> Shakespeare, though many failed or "false" attempts exist-eg.  Falstaff
> and the Wives, or the "false" ideas of Cassio and Desdemona (staged in
> full nudity in the Parker film's vision sequences).

Hamlet . . .  Lear . . .  surely not that much of a struggle?

Carol Barton
 

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