Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: August ::
Re: Cymbeline
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1605  Tuesday, 29 August 2000.

[1]     From:   Ed Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 28 Aug 2000 10:41:32 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Cymbeline

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 28 Aug 2000 14:57:57 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1595 Re: Cymbeline

[3]     From:   Judith Matthews Craig <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 28 Aug 2000 23:47:30 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1595 Re: Cymbeline

[4]     From:   Edward Pixley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Aug 2000 08:59:48 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1595 Re: Cymbeline


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 28 Aug 2000 10:41:32 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Cymbeline

Concerning 1.1.24-27 in Cymbeline.  I'm not the first to observe that
one way of interpreting the play is to see it as an extended discussion
of what constitutes a true gentleman/woman; that is, what makes for
genuine "courtesy."  If this approach to the play is valid, then the
strained opening remarks by two "gentleman" have real thematic
significance for the play as a whole.

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 28 Aug 2000 14:57:57 -0400
Subject: 11.1595 Re: Cymbeline
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1595 Re: Cymbeline

Terence Hawkes asks:

> may I point
>out, subject to endorsement from on high of course, that it's perfectly
>evident that the main function of the 'Gentlemen' at the beginning of
>the play is exposition, not the characterisation of a court culture.

The words "perfectly evident" suggest to me that any other
interpretation is patently incorrect.  I'm rather surprised at this
Hawkesian position because it seems to be founded on the premise of
inherent meaning.  Perfectly evident?  To whom?

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Judith Matthews Craig <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 28 Aug 2000 23:47:30 -0500
Subject: 11.1595 Re: Cymbeline
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1595 Re: Cymbeline

Dave Kathman writes:

<Of *Cymbeline* in particular, Kermode says
<that "the text is riddled
<with inexplicable complexities", and he uses
<the very example quoted by
<Terence above as an example of "over-
<worked" verse containing "obscure
<hyperbole".  He says that "its energy does
<not seem to be that of the
<Gentlemen, whose linguistic excitement can
<mean little to an audience;
<it has nothing to do with characterisation and
<even serves to obscure
<the necessary business of exposition."

<Whether you agree with Kermode's
<conclusions or not, he certainly makes
<you think.

I disagree with both Terence Hawkes and Dave Kathman.  "Cymbeline" is a
play about the validity, excitement, and processes of Christianity and
as such falls dead on modern ears.  Posthumus has grown spiritually
within--by being crushed from forces without--unlike Symbolize who has
extended himself "far"--taken on a wife who hates him for selfish
pleasure, tried to conduct a meaningless war and end it with a
meaningless peace, and expects praise from the minions for such
exploits.  The fact that he is "saved" by the heroic exploits of men who
have endured calumny and banishment does not seem to occur to him.  The
micro details of the convoluted metaphoric language mirror the
convoluted macro plot twistings that miraculously bring a happy ending
to a play full of human tragedy and blindness.

I just can't agree that the play is murky or the language opaque.  I
think it is the readers of our time, not the play.

Judy Craig

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward Pixley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 29 Aug 2000 08:59:48 -0400
Subject: 11.1595 Re: Cymbeline
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1595 Re: Cymbeline

Terence Hawkes chastises me for my incongruous defense of the contorted
speech of the opening scene of 'Cymbeline,' and rightly so.  I was
unnecessarily "flip" in my defense, assuming some basic recognitions of
theatrical realities on the part of the readership.

Nevertheless, Hawkes comes back asserting "that it's perfectly evident
that the main function of the 'Gentlemen' at the beginning of the play
is exposition."  What should be perfectly evident is that no playwright
of any skill begins a play with mere exposition.  The audience must be
encountered immediately with something that will engage, not merely
inform, them.  Even the prologue to 'Henry V' challenges its audience's
imagination and sense of theatrical space.

Now, I won't presume to tell the actors how to create their characters
in this first scene, but certain parameters are delineated by the
dialogue.  The 1st Gentleman is apparently trying to impress, with his
knowledge, his wit, and his relationship to those of the court about
whom he can speak so knowingly.  The 2nd Gentleman, with his almost
monosyllabic questions, plays "straight man" to the 1st Gentleman's
loquacity.  Maybe he's impressed; maybe he's skeptical, perhaps confused
( which might be great fun in the long speech of Posthumus's
biographical data).  However the actors might play the scene, the
playwright has given them absolutely delicious material to play with,
and that gift to the actors is what makes play[wright]ing wonderfully
sharp and polished.

Ed Pixley
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.