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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: February ::
Re: Welsh etc.
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0340  Tuesday, 13 February 2001

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Monday, 12 Feb 2001 09:32:47 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 12.0333 Re: Welsh etc.

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Monday, 12 Feb 2001 13:37:08 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0333 Re: Welsh etc.


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Monday, 12 Feb 2001 09:32:47 -0800
Subject: Re: Welsh etc.
Comment:        SHK 12.0333 Re: Welsh etc.

I don't just write to agree that Don Bloom's understanding that the
early modern English sense of humor, and by implication values, differed
from our own, though I think Don makes a good point.  I also write to
praise Ed Taft, with whom Don takes issue.

Though I have never met him, Ed Taft is my second best friend in this
sense: C. S. Lewis once wrote to the effect that your best friend is
someone who likes all the things you like, and for all the same
reasons.  Your second best friend likes all the things that you like,
but for all the wrong reasons.  You learn more, he wrote, from your
second best friend.

Ed and I often disagree, but he always has interesting reasons and gives
me something to think about, even when I am not persuaded.  It is in
this spirit what I want to quote Ed's comment:

>Hal's earlier claim that he "knows us all"?  His soliloquy at the end of
>1.2 is about manipulating us and making us like it, isn't it?

and ask him, is Hal really speaking about us?  I think it is about his
cronies at the Bore's Head.  How is he manipulating us and making us
like it?  I don't see it.  Please take me with you.

All the best,
Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Monday, 12 Feb 2001 13:37:08 -0500
Subject: 12.0333 Re: Welsh etc.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0333 Re: Welsh etc.

Don Bloom reminds us:

>Elizabethan society relished bear-baiting
>and cock-fighting, and even more a really good, gruesome public
>execution. They also thought nothing amiss in beating servants (and
>wives).

And I would like to remind Don that modern American society relishes
boxing and hockey (brutal sports) and wrestling (an apparently brutal
sport).  And need I add Super Bowl Sunday when we all watch two teams
pound and wound each other?  Cock fighting is still widely practiced in
this country.  Capital punishment is quite popular with us, and some
Americans want to make executions public.  Spouse abuse is still around,
let me tell you.  If we still had servants, we'd beat them too.  Shall
we mention the murder rate?  The number of Americans in prison?  Police
brutality?  Street violence?

And yet, as a member of this brutal American culture, Ed Taft finds
Hal's cat-and-mouse game reprehensible.  How do you account for that?
Cultural determinism?  Perhaps we could use Stephen Jay Gould's concept
of the Full House: in any given field, we find all the places filled --
in this case, from sociopath to altruist. And Gerald Graff reminds us
that cultures are about arguments, not about agreements: witness this
discussion group!  And I think Early Modern English culture was the
same. The reactions to Hal's playing with Francis (on the stage in the
late 1590s) would have been various, including the one given by Ed Taft.

Don also writes:

>Compared to the other members
>of the nobility or Falstaff, Hal is remarkably concerned about the
>common people, whether tavern drawers or soldiers.

I'm afraid I don't see Hal's concern.  I remember that he allows
Falstaff to lead men into battle -- where they are peppered.  Could Hal
have expected anything else after his experience at Gadshill?

Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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