Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: June ::
Re: Fathers and Mothers
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1165  Tuesday, 6 June 2000.

[1]     From:   Edmund M. Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 05 Jun 2000 22:16:01 +0000
        Subj:   Fathers & Mothers

[2]     From:   Annalisa Castaldo <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 5 Jun 2000 15:46:31 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Shakespeare and Mothers


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund M. Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 05 Jun 2000 22:16:01 +0000
Subject:        Fathers & Mothers

The topic of mothers in Shakespeare is an important one, but I don't
agree with David Bishop that 'fathers" are inconsequentially in the
background of MM.

Consider what happens when Mistress Overdone is brought to prison,
having been peached on by Lucio.  She says to Escalus (with the
disguised Duke listening):

    My lord, this is one Lucio's information against me.  Mistress Kate
    Keepdown was with child by him in the Duke's time; he promised her
    marriage.  His child is a year and a quarter old come Philip and
    Jacob.  I have kept it myself, and see how he goes about to abuse
    me (3.2.198-203).

Mistress Overdone, despite her profession and her nine husbands, at
least realizes that a not-yet-15 month-old child needs a parent to take
care of him or her!  By his actions, Lucio has insured that there is now
no one who will take care of this child!  Kate Keepdown may try, but she
has "work"  to do!

What is amazing is that neither Escalus not the Duke takes any action at
this point to insure the child's safety and care!  Even the good Escalus
misses the point completely!  And so does the Duke.  Is a 15-month-old
supposed to take care of himself?  Like Lucio, the Duke is a "false"
father who is so self-absorbed that he does not see what he ought to
see.

Moreover, the prison itself discloses that this kind of irresponsibility
has been going on for a long time in Vienna.  Consider the name of the
executioner: "Abhorson."  As a hated son, he turned to one of the most
despised of all professions.  Or consider Baranadine.  We learn that he
was "nursed up and bred" in Vienna!  What kind of parenting do you think
he got?  In modern terms, both of these young men lack 'self esteem"-the
kind a child receives from good parents (and in this play, from good
fathers, who are notably absent in Vienna.)

These are fatally self-absorbed people who mask their selfish desires
with the rhetoric of morality and religion, and the Duke is foremost
among them.

As one more example, why the jokes about Caesar and Pompey?  Well, one
reason is that this play is a political contest between Angelo and the
Duke. Each wants to show up the other.  When Isabella becomes involved
(having taken upon her the office that should have been carried out by
her father, had he been alive), the contest is not only political but a
love contest.  The Duke "wins," of course, in the end, and triumphs over
Angelo much as Elizabethans thought that Caesar triumphed over Pompey.
(By the way, Caesar actually led Pompey's SONS in triumph through
Rome-I'll bet Shakespeare knew that!)

--Ed

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Annalisa Castaldo <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 5 Jun 2000 15:46:31 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Shakespeare and Mothers

What interests me most is how often mothers are absent from the stage. I
understand the Elizabethan stage and the need to keep female characters
to a minimum, but it simply amazes me how often Shakespeare kills off
the mother (especially of daughters) before the opening scene - King
Lear, Othello, Troilus and Cressida, Tempest, Cymbeline and, as we have
discussed, Measure for Measure. This is not a complete list - other
members can think of their favorite missing mother, but I'm wondering
why.

Annalisa Castaldo
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.