2000

Re: Isabella's Chastity

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1048  Tuesday, 16 May 2000.

[1]     From:   Carol Barton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 15 May 2000 10:17:09 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1036 Re: Isabella's Chastity

[2]     From:   Abigail Quart <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 15 May 2000 10:55:32 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1036 Re: Isabella's Chastity

[3]     From:   Ed Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 15 May 2000 12:01:49 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Chastity

[4]     From:   Florence Amit <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 15 May 2000 20:50:26 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1036 Re: Isabella's Chastity

[5]     From:   Dana Shilling <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 15 May 2000 15:50:01 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1036 Re: Isabella's Chastity

[6]     From:   L. Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 15 May 2000 15:51:45 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1036 Re: Isabella's Chastity - yet another look


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 15 May 2000 10:17:09 -0400
Subject: 11.1036 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1036 Re: Isabella's Chastity

I would like to respond to all on this by addressing John Velz's
anecdote:

>the "young woman in the third row [who] put her hand
>up and said "Mr. Velz; I don't understand Isabella's problem.  I would
>screw ANY man to save my brother."

The point here is exactly that: the difference in values. Isabella has
made a commitment, has faith in an ideal: she is not Marvell's coy
mistress, playing sexual games, refusing to relinquish that which is of
comparatively little value to her ("I would screw any man . . .") in
exchange for that which is eminently valuable to most people (a
brother's life). Her position is more like that of the husband of a
pregnant and fatally comatose wife: does he authorize the doctors to
take the baby by Caesarian, knowing it will kill the mother (as Roman
Catholic doctrine requires him to do), or does he tell them to terminate
the pregnancy, knowing it will kill his child, but save his spouse's
life? Though Isabella's choice is not between life and death in that
sense, it is between her brother's life, and what is-to her, which is
all that matters-her own spiritual death: and her argument is that
eternal life is more important than temporal existence.

It is not about having casual sex with someone in a position of power to
gain a greater good (think of how this same situation is treated in
_Casablanca_: Ingrid Bergman's Ilsa is still implicitly putting herself
in the position of a cheap whore, even to save the life of her husband
by sleeping with Humphrey Bogart's Rick-her former lover, toward whom
she is still romantically inclined-a fate from which she is saved by
Rick's nobility.

The question is just not as easy as today's sexually indifferent
teenagers want to make it, and I think the young lady's answer had a
great deal to do with not understanding the question . . .  perhaps with
not even recognizing that there *was* a question, in the first place.

Best to all,
Carol Barton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Quart <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 15 May 2000 10:55:32 -0400
Subject: 11.1036 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1036 Re: Isabella's Chastity

Deep need to complicate this malarkey:  "Ay, but to die and go we know
not where;/ To lie in cold obstruction and to rot...."

Are these the words of a saved Christian??? So if Claudio is killed in
this state of mind, what will happen to him? Barnardine refuses to be
executed because his mind is not prepared. Shakespeare's clowns echo his
themes.  Barnardine calls attention to Claudio's lack of preparedness.

(In Hamlet, written shortly before Measure, Hamlet's father died with
his sins upon him, which is one of the reasons he's so angry with his
homicidal brother. After all, if your brother gave you a one-way ticket
to Paradise, how mad could you be?)

The nunlet Isabella is supposedly following the god who sacrificed HIS
body for the souls of his people? Not life, body. Because it can be
argued that he knew he was going to survive but his body wasn't. Can she
be anything other than a hypocrite (like dear Angelo) if she cherishes
HER body above her brother's soul?

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 15 May 2000 12:01:49 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Chastity

John Velz's revealing story about the young woman who "would screw any
man to save [her] brother," brings to mind the conservative critique of
modern sexual mores.  Many serious conservatives argue that the
separation of sex and procreation has been, overall, a bad thing that
leaves young women with no cover, no way to say "NO." The result is a
generation of defenseless young girls who can no longer mount a
religious or a physiological argument against sex anytime anywhere.
Some fiercely object to this line of thought, but it seems to me to have
some value.  As the father of an 11-year old girl who already has
noticed that some girls in her class are "loose," what is a father to
do?  Where is her first line of defense, which she will surely need
soon?  After all, mom or dad probably won't be around when she faces the
first boy who says, "Show me that you love me."

--Ed Taft

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 15 May 2000 20:50:26 +0000
Subject: 11.1036 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1036 Re: Isabella's Chastity

Is it really about chastity? I thought it was about freedom. Isabella
presumes that also her imprisoned brother would understand that he is
asking her to exchange a promise of his death - which in a way is
freedom for her own sure imprisonment. She wants to assume that he would
wish to be her partner in freedom that they will both enjoy.

Florence Amit

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Shilling <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 15 May 2000 15:50:01 -0400
Subject: 11.1036 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1036 Re: Isabella's Chastity

Isabella can repent of fornication much more effectually than Angelo
could repent of having Claudio killed. I think what makes it a problem
play is that Isabella recognizes that she experiences the same type and
degree of inappropriate attraction as Angelo does-that is, she
recognizes that she would be engaging in sexual relations motivated by
lust (and therefore would herself be sinning) rather than merely having
the misfortune of being raped.

Dana

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 15 May 2000 15:51:45 -0500
Subject: 11.1036 Re: Isabella's Chastity - yet another look.
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1036 Re: Isabella's Chastity - yet another look.

All the responses so far - including mine - have failed to take note of
Isabella's faulty character as established by her first lines in the
play, and continued (although under siege) thereafter.  In those lines
she tells us she finds the rules of one of the strictest orders of nuns,
the Poor Clares, too relaxed!!  She wishes "a more strict restraint upon
the sisterhood."  Her re-education begins at once, under the guidance of
the greatest rake of them all, Lucio.

By the time of her interview with Claudio, she has still not learned her
new lesson  (although at Lucio's repeated insistence at her interview
with Angelo, she has begun to shake down her own defenses for "stricter
rules."   Shaken by her own uncharacteristic arguments for the law
winking at her brother's "crimes," she now goes to Claudio, for she
hopes (rather desperately, I think) that her brother will support her in
her decision to deny Angelo; that is, he will re-affirm her character as
we saw it in her first scene.

(Here, I answer my earlier question: why does she tell Claudio when she
sees the obvious danger of his pleading for his life at the expense of
her chastity?  Answer: She seeks a confirmation for a decision with
which she is not comfortable.)

Claudio's failing her in that is one of the important steps in bringing
Isabella into the circle of humanity (she has certainly been beyond that
pale so far).  Her participation in the "Friar's" trap for Angelo will
be the next step; finally, her marriage to the Duke will  bring her and
hold her within that healthy circle, down from the icy heights of her
earlier, inhuman attitudes that promise only a "finished," cold
character too dreadfully like that of Angelo.

"Measure" is about the need for our soul's accommodation of the body,
about the patience and mercy to be shown those who give way to the
demands of the latter, and about the dangers waiting for those who
imagine that the world and the flesh can be suppressed with a determined
vow (not realizing that the energy displayed in the vow betrays them
equally and oppositely to the other camp.)

This play is about Isabella's - and everyone's - salvation in humanity.

L. Swilley

Re: Revenge

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1047  Tuesday, 16 May 2000.

 [1]    From:   Tom Mueller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 15 May 2000 10:08:35 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1038 Re: Fortinbras/Hamlet/Revenge/Swording Fighting

[2]     From:   David Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 15 May 2000 15:54:47 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1038 Re: Fortinbras/Hamlet/Revenge/Swording Fighting


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Mueller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 15 May 2000 10:08:35 -0400
Subject: 11.1038 Re: Fortinbras/Hamlet/Revenge/Swording
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1038 Re: Fortinbras/Hamlet/Revenge/Swording
Fighting

Regards # 1:

I thought Hamlet's reasoning for not killing Claudius while praying is
of a spiritual nature, yes.  He wants him damned to hell, and believes
that will not happen if his soul departs while he is praying.

>> I believe Hamlet hesitates to take revenge because of his patriotic and
>> Christian scruples-wrong to kill a king on the word of a ghost, wrong to
>> kill anyone in revenge-
>
>Then how do you read Hamlet's reason for not killing Claudius while
>Caludius is praying?

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 15 May 2000 15:54:47 -0400
Subject: 11.1038 Re: Fortinbras/Hamlet/Revenge/Swording
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1038 Re: Fortinbras/Hamlet/Revenge/Swording
Fighting

Mike Jensen raises the difficult question of the prayer scene. I would
nominate this scene as the most morally confusing in the history of
drama-and not just morally confusing.

To answer very briefly, Hamlet is held back from killing Claudius at
prayer by his Christian faith, supposedly working together with his
heroic ideal of revenge. He argues that since Claudius sent his father
to hell, killing him now would not be revenge enough because it would
not even rise to the level of "justice"-a soul for a soul. The ghost
gave Hamlet the seed of this argument with his anger at how Claudius
sent him to hell. However, the ghost didn't tell Hamlet to make sure
Claudius went to hell, and up to now we've assumed that revenge meant
simply killing him. Now Hamlet says that no revenge but the absolute
revenge of sending his soul to hell will be revenge at all.

Hamlet presents himself at the same time as the complete revenger and as
an absolutely faithful Christian. Both ideals reach a simultaneous,
paradoxical, perhaps perverse, climax in the image of hell: absolute
revenge in an absolutely real place (real to the faithful Christian).
The problem is that God might forgive Claudius and circumvent Hamlet's
revenge. So Hamlet tries to circumvent God by choosing a better time.
His Christian "faith" ignores God's prohibition on revenge, while his
belief that he can tell the fate of Claudius's soul comes, according to
Hamlet, from faith in a Christian God whose intentions are utterly
clear.

Hamlet's "Christian revenge" seems to me oxymoronic. The supposedly
Christian audience, primed for revenge, has trouble contradicting him
but can't be sure why. Our heads swim. Then Shakespeare closes off the
scene with the revelation that Claudius never repented, concentrating
ironic attention on the missed opportunity, and giving critics an easy
jump to the conclusion that Hamlet was just rationalizing his inability
to act. But it's not that easy.

I apologize to Ed Taft for my brusqueness. Years of hanging around
Harvard, and seeing what often passes there, and in so many other
places, for the discussion of literature, seems to have left me a
permanently angry young man (though not so young). I do get irritated at
times, perhaps more than can be justified by the iniquities of my
antagonist. However, I also think that when you enter the lists you
should be prepared for a little jostling.

I agree with Florence Amit that by the end Hamlet has taken over the
responsibility of kingship from his father, though I can't always follow
the route by which she gets there.

David

The bloodie banquet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1045  Monday, 15 May 2000.

From:           Drew Whitehead <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 15 May 2000 13:22:05 +1000 (GMT+1000)
Subject:        Re: The bloodie banquet

Can any list member tell me anything about the following play:

The bloodie banquet. by [T.D.]. London : Printed by Thomas Cotes, 1639

Has the author been identified?

                        Our reasons are not prophets
                        When oft our fancies are
                        (The Two Noble Kinsmen 5.3)

Drew Whitehead
Dept. of English
University of Queensland

Richard Burton's HAMLET Online

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1046  Monday, 15 May 2000.

From:           Benjamin Sher <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 15 May 2000 13:42:08 -0500
Subject:        Richard Burton's HAMLET Online

Dear friends:

In the very unlikely event that some of you may not have heard, Richard
Burton's HAMLET is available IN ITS ENTIRETY on The Alternative
Entertainment Network (Drama section) at:

http://www.aentv.com/hamlet/mainstage1_default.htm

It is available at both 28.8 and 56k connection speed. The screen is
small but clear. The audio quality is superb. As for the performance,
it, of course, speaks for itself.

In fact, AEN states that Burton's HAMLET will be available INDEFINITELY
ONLINE for the benefit of Shakespeare lovers everywhere.

This is the original version, recorded LIVE in black and white in 1964
in New York City and directed by Sir John Gielgud. It was discovered
four years ago by Sally Burton in Burton's Switzerland chalet. For
whatever reason, Burton had ordered all copies of the film destroyed
after the filmed performance was released. But this one copy survived in
its entirety in 3 reels. Its sound and video has been greatly improved
by modern technology.

According to AEN, this is the first time Burton's HAMLET has ever been
shown on the Web.

A footnote to Linux/Unix users. You will be thrilled to know that you
can watch Burton's HAMLET using RealPlayer G2.

Yours,
Benjamin
--
Benjamin and Anna Sher
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Sher's Russian Web
http://www.websher.net

Re: Cymbeline

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1044  Monday, 15 May 2000.

From:           Carol Morley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 14 May 2000 14:33:36 +0000
Subject: 11.1007 Re: Cymbeline
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1007 Re: Cymbeline

Particularly fond memories of Royal Exchange, Manchester production in
the early 80s, with Janet McTeer.  Hugh Quarshie doubled the roles of
Postumus and Cloten: a tour de force of contrasting characters, and
offering stunning theatricality in the decapitation scene. Judi Dench
has said that the part of Imogen is to her unplayable because of the
outrageous implausibility of the plot here: this was an equally
outrageous solution to Imogen's drastic mistake in corpse-identification
and explained a lot about Imogen's desperate flight into Wales, and
cavelife thereafter. Huge fun.

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