2000

Re: Isabella's Chastity

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1132  Thursday, 1 June 2000.

[1]     From:   Edmund M. Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 31 May 2000 22:56:26 +0000
        Subj:   Isabella's Chastity

[2]     From:   Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 30 May 2000 21:54:32 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1119 Re: Isabella's Chastity

[3]     From:   John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 1 Jun 2000 08:48:17 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 11.1119 Re: Isabella's Chastity


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund M. Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 31 May 2000 22:56:26 +0000
Subject:        Isabella's Chastity

Fathers  (either the lack of them or the lack of good ones) may be more
of an issue in MM than Robin and David realize.  Early in the play, the
Duke confesses to a holy FATHER that in not enforcing Vienna's laws
properly, he (Vincentio)  acted as a "fond father" (1.3); the good
Escalus tries in vain to plead with Angelo for Claudio's life by
observing that he "had a most noble father" (2.1); Isabella
thinks-wrongly-that Claudio's seeming resolve to die makes him speak
like his dead father (3.1). (Any good, noble father would be on the side
of his son continuing to live and taking up the responsibilities of
fatherhood.)

After Angelo's improper advances in 2.4, Isabella says in soliloquy, "To
whom should I complain?  Did I tell this, who would believe me?"
(172-73).  the answer, of course, is that she should tell her father,
who, if he were alive, would certainly believe her, and who, as a
well-thought-of member of the community, would instantly have confronted
Angelo and ended this whole business (and who would have done so, one
surmises, far more effectively than Vincentio.)

Which brings me to the Duke, who, disguised as a FATHER, first accuses
Juliet of selfishness-wrongly, I think-and then even more callously and
unthinkingly tells her that her husband-(and father-)-to-be must die!
Then, he goes to the father-to-be, and tells HIM he should prepare for
death!  From 2.3 on, the Duke spends most of his time IN PRISON, and
that is highly appropriate because he himself is IMPRISONED by (1) his
own selfish concerns and (2) his total inability to see the big picture
and act as a true FATHER/Prince ought to.  A prison is, of course, dark
and dimly lit-and so is Vincentio!

David says all of this is in the background; on the contrary,
Shakespeare does everything he can to foreground it.  The reason we have
such as hard time recognizing the importance of fathers is that our own
culture has so devalued them that, like the characters in the play, we
fail to appreciate their importance.  At issue, of course, is the
well-known Renaissance analogy between the family and the state:
king/kingdom as father/family.  Central, too, is the concept that God,
father of us all, through Christ, left us the proper example of how to
be a good father/teacher, but in a fallen, imperfect world, this example
is honored by princes and fathers more in the breach than in the
observance.

I end by suggesting that from about 1599 on (As You Like It), one of
Shake-speare's major concerns is fathers and fatherhood.  At the heart
of MM's companion play, All's Well, is Bertram's lack of a good role
model, that is, a good father.  MM, in my view, is all about fathers;
Hamlet is about the heroic struggles of Hamlet (and Fortinbras) to go it
alone and do the right thing without living fathers.  Lear is about a
bad father/king and the havoc he can cause, both for the family and the
state. And so on.

--Ed Taft

PS: Thanks to Carol Barton for her insightful comments. Kevin and I are
going to start a fan club!

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 30 May 2000 21:54:32 +0100
Subject: 11.1119 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1119 Re: Isabella's Chastity

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

> Her first plea also seems to object
> to the law on grounds of its injustice-since so many share the fault.

Isabella's first plea attacks the whole grounds of law +per se+ -- for
once, Angelo is right.  Isabella at the start of the play could be seen
to correlate to Portia on "Mercy" at the end of +MV+.  Shakespeare
(obviously?) had doubts about this, which is why we have Isabella's
+second+ mercy speech (addressing particular issues) at the end.

> I don't see a good reason not to accept that Lucio and no one else
> fathered the child in question-though it would be funny if Froth were
> suddenly to confess. In life Lucio's responsibility might be doubtful,
> but in this play there seems to me to be no doubt because no one
> mentions any.

Quite.  And by the same logic, Kate Keepdown is a prostitute (Lucio
asserts this and no one denies it), +not+ (in Jacobean terms) a close
parallel to Juliet.

> I also have trouble seeing that Lucio's slander of the Duke isn't
> outrageous-comically so. There's a dramatic and comic thrill in hearing
> him speak it directly to the Duke, setting up the sweet exposure of a
> slanderer.  So far I persist in enjoying that exposure, in a rather
> simple-minded way.

I'd agree that Lucio's "slanders" of the Duke are "outrageously comic".
This would tie in to the whole presentation of the Duke in the play as a
halfwit, rather than an icon of God.  But they +aren't+ unparalleled-see
I,iii.

> Claudio and Juliet don't marry because they hope for a dowry. That
> provides a reason not to marry when they otherwise would, so makes their
> crime as close to a crime in letter only as it's possible to imagine.

But we're back to what exactly +was+ the law in "Venice"?  One argument
on this thread would try to make the law-no conception without Child
Support-rational.  Another would suggest that the very essence of the
law was its extremity (in terms of the general European laws of the
time).

> Incidentally, why would Viennese-or Elizabethan?

... Jacobean ...

> --law punish the man and
> not the woman? Angelo's abandonment of Mariana when she loses her dowry
> is of course far worse.

Morally, but not legally. And there is the question of whether we're
talking about Venetian or "Venetian" law-a Venice of the mind.  Ben
Jonson's +Volpone+ was produced in 1606 (two years after +Measure+), and
there again the "Venetian" laws are more-than-a-little abstract.

> But perhaps Claudio and Juliet's delay should be
> taken as blameable materialism as well? Or maybe just another sign of
> Vienna's decadence.

A perfectly rational act in a society which is beginning to deploy
irrational laws ...

> that the problem of deadbeat dads is in the background, as
> a part of what makes fornication bad, I don't feel that the fate of the
> children is that much in question in MM.

Quite.  And the problem of "deadbeat dads" (even today) isn't that
clear-cut.

What's the scoring-rate for male suicides as a result of the Child
Support Agency Regulations in BritLand.  Sixty?  More or less?  But back
to the play which Shakespeare wrote ...

> Apologies to Robin Hamilton for misascribing his sex.

Having been (years ago) described as the only Lesbian poet in the whole
of Scottish literature, I'm used to this <g>.

Robin (not Rob Roy McGregor, who'd, I'm sure, be much less forgiving)
Hamilton

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 1 Jun 2000 08:48:17 +0100
Subject: 11.1119 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        RE: SHK 11.1119 Re: Isabella's Chastity

I haven't been following this thread too closely as I am a 'text'
person, and not especially interested in all that 'drama' stuff....  But
has anyone mentioned that Gary Taylor & John Jowett, in their book
"Shakespeare reshaped, 1606-1623" (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993) ISBN 0
19 812256 X, suggest that MfM has been subjected to later interpolations
(by Middleton) that subtly alter the character of the play?  These
'interpolations' include Lucio's first entrance in 1.2, the song in 4.1
and the silent appearances of Juliet.

The book also contains everything that one could wish for on the latest
thinking on act and scene divisions, so many thanks to all those who
suggested that I should read it.  It is essential reading for all fans
of the Textual Companion!

John Briggs

Re: James and Elizabeth

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1131  Thursday, 1 June 2000.

[1]     From:   Abigail Quart <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 31 May 2000 11:53:03 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1111 James and Elizabeth

[2]     From:   Florence Amit <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 31 May 2000 20:05:28 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1123 Re: James and Elizabeth


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Quart <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 31 May 2000 11:53:03 -0400
Subject: 11.1111 James and Elizabeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1111 James and Elizabeth

Elizabeth had reigned for half a century. Good, bad, or winking at
corruption, she was the known world to Englishmen.

Was there relief to know who her successor was? Sure. "A male king with
a family" sounds perfect. Make that a Protestant male king and that's
where a little nervous indigestion sets in.

Do all the available documents say, whoopee, we've got James coming to
rule us? I'll bet they do. Would you risk a negative comment falling
into anybody's hands? Here's  a man coming to rule a kingdom he never so
much as set foot in. All he knows, really, is that it's a bigger, better
deal than Scotland, and they beheaded his mother. His Catholic mother.

Was there ever an orphan raised to the cold comfort of duty who did not
idealize the mother he never knew? The mother who would come to him if
only she could? His was imprisoned in England. England was the nation
depriving little King James VI of his mother.  Did the strict
Presbyterians raising this child tell him how terrible she was? She
murdered his dad, whored around, fled to England to plot against
Elizabeth, and followed Papism. Did they tell him how fortunate he was
never to be contaminated by her? How grateful he should be to them for
saving him from her?

Was he grateful?

Looming large among his captors, excuse me, rescuers and guardians, were
the Ruthvens. When he was 16 (and what teenager doesn't love being made
to feel helpless), they kidnapped him again. Scant years before assuming
the British throne, the grown-up James went before the Scottish
parliament to explain how a trifling number of Ruthvens ended up dead.
Self-defense, he insisted. They were trying to kidnap him again.
(Perhaps some Ruthven family tradition?) The English had no knowledge of
this unsettling episode? Nobody in England felt the smallest qualm about
a teensy tendency toward vengeance in James? Nobody?

Makes no sense to me.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 31 May 2000 20:05:28 +0000
Subject: 11.1123 Re: James and Elizabeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1123 Re: James and Elizabeth

To Mr. Lockett,

Regarding the Hebrew: coming generations will reveal what you certainly
do not know and I know somewhat.

Regarding Latin, I do not know at all. For schooling me I thank you. But
the word He-bona contains two elements, that given an elementary
awareness of spoken European tongues - provides an unmistakable
connotation. You do not like the untidy way that I have arrived at this?
Your privilege. I think it means something.

Florence Amit

Re: Wolfgang Bauer's *Shakespeare the Sadist*

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1129  Thursday, 1 June 2000.

[1]     From:   Paul Franssen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 31 May 2000 17:04:41 +0200
        Subj:   Re: Wolfgang Bauer's *Shakespeare the Sadist*

[2]     From:   Michael Yawney <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 31 May 2000 18:46:15 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Wolfgang Bauer's *Shakespeare the Sadist*


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Franssen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 31 May 2000 17:04:41 +0200
Subject: 11.1125 Q: Wolfgang Bauer's *Shakespeare the Sadist*
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1125 Q: Wolfgang Bauer's *Shakespeare the Sadist*

Evelyn Gajowski asked about Wolfgang Bauer's *Shakespeare the Sadist,*
the translation of *Film und Frau.* According to my notes, the
translation, by Martin and Renate Esslin, was published in the
*Performing Arts Journal* III-1 (1978), 98-109.

Paul Franssen
English Department
University of Utrecht
The Netherlands

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Yawney <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 31 May 2000 18:46:15 -0500
Subject: 11.1125 Q: Wolfgang Bauer's *Shakespeare the Sadist*
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1125 Q: Wolfgang Bauer's *Shakespeare the Sadist*

>Does anyone know how to acquire a copy of Wolfgang Bauer's play,
>*Shakespeare the Sadist*?  I'm making this inquiry on behalf of a grad
>student who has exhausted various bibliographies, libraries, search
>engines, etc.  Thank you in advance for any assistance which anyone
>might be able to offer.

An English translation by Martin and Renate Esslin appeared in
Performing Arts Journal, Spring/Summer 1978, Vol. 3, Number 1. I have
also seen the play in some Methuen anthology back around the same time.
It is a one-act play so your student may have had trouble finding it if
looking for it in a separate volume.

The Shakespeare Guild Announcement: Branagh's LLL

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1130  Thursday, 1 June 2000.

From:           Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, June 01, 2000
Subject:        The Shakespeare Guild Announcement: Branagh's LLL


In association with MIRAMAX FILMS and in celebration of a sprightly
cinematic rendering of one of the globe's most sparkling comedies THE
SHAKESPEARE GUILD requests the pleasure of your company at a special
preview screening of LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST as adapted by Kenneth Branagh.

Followed by a dialogue with actor Richard Clifford, WETA's MAN AROUND
TOWN Robert Aubry Davis, and NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO's Martin Goldsmith.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 7, 2000

7:30 TO 10:00 P.M.

GENERAL CINEMAS AT MAZZA GALLERIE

Re: Senile Dementia

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1128  Thursday, 1 June 2000.

[1]     From:   Anthony Haigh <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 31 May 2000 10:26:46 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1120 Re: Senile Dementia

[2]     From:   Graciela Di Rocco <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 31 May 2000 23:57:04 -0300
        Subj:   RE: SHK 11.1120 Re: Senile Dementia


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Anthony Haigh <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 31 May 2000 10:26:46 -0400
Subject: 11.1120 Re: Senile Dementia
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1120 Re: Senile Dementia

It may be that this remembrance has already been posted - I have not
been following this thread as closely as I might.  Apologies in advance
if this is a duplication.

Does anyone remember Donald Sinden's Polonius in Peter Hall's "nude"
Hamlet in London?  I may have the details wrong and don't have the time
right now to look them up, but there was one moment when Polonius was
alone on stage with another character - giving him instructions about
how to keep watch on Laertes.  In the middle of the speech he stopped
and looked for all the world like an elderly actor who had lost his
lines.  In panic he looked to the other actor for help who mutely
responded that he couldn't.  In panic Sinden looked to the wings, then
the audience.  Seconds ticked by.  My stomach knotted in sympathy.  The
actor in me knew the moment.  Terror mounted.  I broke out in a sweat.
Here was the greatest English, classical comic actor of his generation
dead on the stage.  After what seemed an age, out of somewhere he pulled
out a mumbled line, then, like a train picking up speed he resumed the
speech.  The audience, who had collectively been holding their breath,
let out an audible sigh of relief.

When I got home I looked up the speech and realised, to my horror, that
all the mumblings of "what was I saying" etc. were there!  The lines
were Shakespeare's. The cunning old bugger was playing with me.  He had
faked forgetting his lines (or had he?).  Sinden had brilliantly played
with the boundaries of our disbelief.  The space between actor and
character had been blurred as had the distance between that old man on
the stage (actor and character) and the audience.  I was dragged from my
fearsomely raked seat in the upper, upper balcony to stand with the
actor on the stage and look back at the audience.

Does anyone else recall this moment?  Was I, as an actor, the only one
who felt the panic?   Did the general audience notice the pause that
went on and one?  I would welcome comment from anyone else who saw this
production.

Cheers,
Tony

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graciela Di Rocco <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 31 May 2000 23:57:04 -0300
Subject: 11.1120 Re: Senile Dementia
Comment:        RE: SHK 11.1120 Re: Senile Dementia

I do agree with Terence Hawkes on the issue of domestication with regard
to viewing Polonius as demented. Moreover, wouldn't that approach excuse
the character from any kind of moral responsibility in the play? Hamlet
pretends madness. Polonius may be just pretending as well. The whole
court pretends, except Ophelia. Lear seems to me a better candidate for
Alzheimer's disease.  By the way, dementia is the resulting state. What
produces it is Alzheimer's disease in fifty per cent of the cases. With
respect to Irigaray's book, I want to thank Yvonne Bruce for the info as
I am very interested in the subject. What I know about it I have
gathered through reading, but mostly through observation of two
patients: my mother and her roommate at the geriatric home. I have been
through the Alzheimer's disease experience twice in my life: first my
gran when I was little, and then my mum. I lived for five years with my
mum, and what I noticed was a complete divorce between signifier and
signifier at the lexical level. However, till very recently, when she
entered the final phase of the disease and began to utter plain
gibberish, sentence structure remained unaltered. Verb tense
transformations remained intact, which I found surprising. She now
utters noises mostly and once in a while you can isolate a word or
phrase that makes sense, to which one may be ascribing a totally
different semantic value from hers, which remains unknown. I have
noticed her talk makes more sense when she can establish eye-contact or
when I hold her hand. Because there are so many sub-types of AD
(Alzheimer's Disease), language deterioration in patients, like
attitudes, does not always exhibit the same characteristics. In the
other lady's case as well as in my gran's, the tendency was to repeat
the same phrase all the time and to use offensive language very
frequently.  Patients can still hold conversations between them till the
final phase which, of course, remain meaningless to their listeners and
most probably to them as well, because each one takes it to mean
something different.  Although AD has always existed and was only
identified as such around 1910 by Alois Alzheimer, in Shakespeare's time
demented patients and lunatics were exactly the same. I don't think it
is profitable to pursue that kind of analysis in Shakespeare studies.
With regard to AD, to know about it one should not only have read about
it but gone through it as well. Let's stop trying to update William's
plays in superficial ways.

Graciela di Rocco

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