Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: May ::
Re: Isabella's Chastity
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1090  Thursday, 25 May 2000.

[1]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 24 May 2000 17:58:53 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1087 Re: Isabella's Chastity

[2]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 24 May 2000 21:28:58 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1087 Re: Isabella's Chastity

[3]     From:   David Lindley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 24 May 2000 21:11:03 GMT
        Subj:   Re: King James

[4]     From:   Kevin De Ornellas <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 24 May 2000 22:20:19 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1087 Re: Isabella's Chastity


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 24 May 2000 17:58:53 +0100
Subject: 11.1087 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1087 Re: Isabella's Chastity

Carol Barton upbraids me

>Might I suggest that you obtain a dictionary, and consult it?
>DC, as anyone stateside would know, refers to the city of Washington,

Forgive my teasing jest of ignorance. Actually, OED offers:

D.C. (Music) = da capo (q.v.);
D.C., d.c., direct current;
D.C., District Commissioner;

and nothing for the city. For my part, I forgive as unintentional the
gravely offensive label of "cosmopolitan Brit" (OED Brit n. 3).

Gabriel Egan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 24 May 2000 21:28:58 +0100
Subject: 11.1087 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1087 Re: Isabella's Chastity

> From:           David Bishop <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >

> Would the case Isabella makes for sparing Angelo, at the end, be a
> properly just response if it came directly from the Duke? But of course
> it doesn't.  Shakespeare lets us accede to these arguments more easily
> because Isabella makes them. You can bend justice out of self-interest
> or out of mercy.  Either may be overdone. Here Graham "orgy of mercy"
> Bradshaw seems to feel the Duke errs on the side of mercy. That might
> feel truer if he didn't ratify arguments first made by Isabella.

Bending justice out of self-interest would seem to be exactly what the
Duke does with regard to Lucio-whether or not Lucio deserves his
punishment, the animus behind the sentence which the Duke delivers on
Lucio would seem to be self-interest on the part of the judge who
delivers it-"Slandering a Duke deserves it."

That the Duke can acquiesce [with, no doubt, a smile of complacent
satisfaction, since he's aware, as Isabella is not, that Claudio is
still alive] to Isabella's appeal for mercy for Angelo is hardly much to
his credit.  Isabella's reasoned speech in favour of mercy for an
admittedly culpable figure stands in obvious contrast to her unreasoned
speech in favour of mercy for the admittedly much-less culpable Claudio
earlier in the play.

{ASIDE:  Any physical staging of the scenes must make this more plain
than the printed text-in both speeches, we have the (helpless, female)
figure of Isabella confronting a (male) figure of justice.  The dramatic
point can be made without resorting to such extremes as, for instance,
Isabella on her knees in the exact same posture early in the play
appealing to Angelo for mercy for Claudio as, at the end, she kneels
before the Duke appealing for mercy for Angelo.}

Above all, in a play concerned with issues of justice and legality,
there is the figure of Barnardine.  The Duke, not so much in an orgy of
mercy as in an act of rape on the figure of justice, not only pardons
but quite gratuitously releases back into society a self-confessed and
unrepentant murderer.

It's perhaps not irrelevant that in Book One of +Utopia+, when Raphael
Hythlodaye argues +against+ execution as a legitimate punishment for
theft, he contrasts this with murder (the sin of Cain) which, everyone
agrees, [at least according to Raphael] is a capital offence.

As background, it might be noted that while the penalties for sexual
misdemeanours varied among the various states of Renaissance Europe,
nowhere was fornication (as opposed, very occasionally, and certainly
not in England, to adultery) considered a capital crime. [Sin, in this
context, is another matter.]

For an English Jacobean audience, +Measure for Measure+ could be seen to
begin with a judge (Angelo) legitimately (at this point) enforcing a law
of such extreme severity that it did not exist in actuality anywhere in
Europe, and end with another judge (Vincentio) violating a law which was
common to all European legal codes.

Perhaps the "debate" in this play is not so much between mercy versus
justice as it is between sin versus crime.

Robin Hamlton

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 24 May 2000 21:11:03 GMT
Subject:        Re: King James

Whatever James was or was not doing in 1603/4 he wasn't 'slobbering over
his beloved Steenie', since George Villiers, later Duke of Buckingham,
who James thus addressed, did not enter the political arena until late
in 1614.  So too, I very much doubt if the general opinion of James in
1603/4 was of the negative kind that Carol Barton assumes.  The 'general
opinion' of Queen Elizabeth was not as favourable as she suggests, and
relief at James's accession had not had time to settle into the later
hostility that saw the retrospective idealisation of Elizabeth by some
writers.

This, of course, is not deny the possibility of topicality in Measure
for Measure, but, to simplify what I've argued elsewhere, it seems to me
that it addresses specifically questions of the relationship between
canon and common law,  or at least, the practices of ecclesiastical and
common law courts, and the dangers of conflating and confounding the
two.

David Lindley
Reader in Renaissance Literature
University of Leeds

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kevin De Ornellas <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 24 May 2000 22:20:19 GMT
Subject: 11.1087 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1087 Re: Isabella's Chastity

>To Gabriel Egan:
>
>Might I suggest that you obtain a dictionary, and consult it?
>
>'DC, as anyone stateside would know, refers to the city of Washington,
>as opposed to the state

>Carol Barton

  I LOVE THIS WOMAN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.