The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1844 Friday, 29 September 2000.
Date: Friday, 29 Sep 2000 12:49:15 +1000
Subject: 11.1834 Re: The Power of Words
Comment: Re: SHK 11.1834 Re: The Power of Words
>The fop is laughed at not because he is trying to be something
>in itself contemptible, but rather because he is trying unsuccessfully
>to be something which, if he succeeded, would make him the play's hero.
This is a wonderfully insightful comment of Salgado's; but doesn't it
bring the matter round ALMOST full circle to the question of sexuality?
Sparkish is not Horner (Country Wife) because he doesn't have Horner's
bullish virility. If he did, he'd be as sexually irresistible as
Horner, even with his superficial fopperies - as Horner himself 'proves'
by adopting all the foppish mannerisms (including a lack of interest in
women), while still communicating his intentions and capacities to the
willing wives. In other words, fops are REALLY being ridiculed for their
(assumed) lack of virility, not for their flamboyant manners, even when
it appears otherwise. Which is not the same as ridiculing them for
being gay or effeminate - or at least it wouldn't be the same for us,
but in fact I suspect that at any time prior to the mid-20th century,
homosexuality WAS equated with lack of virility in the popular (and
probably also the medical) mind.
I don't know how much this applies to Osric, who comes very early in the
history of foppery (perhaps preceded only by the Earl of Oxford, as
described by Gabriel Harvey in his Anti-Cicernianus). There was a 1960s
production of Hamlet - it might have been the Nicol Williamson one, I'm
not sure - in which Osric was played as a kind of 'memento mori'
character, almost as Death itself, glaring balefully at Hamlet in a very