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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: February ::
Re: Welsh etc.
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0355  Wednesday, 14 February 2001

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 10:22:16 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Welsh, etc.

[2]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 12:37:00 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0340 Re: Welsh etc.

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 10:22:30 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0340 Re: Welsh etc.

[4]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Feb 2001 11:56:33 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Welsh etc.


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 10:22:16 -0500
Subject:        RE: Welsh, etc.

Don Bloom's false distinction between the present and the past is
nothing more than an instance of cultural vanity.  Let me remind Don of
what he seems to have forgotten.  Only 60 years ago one of the most
"advanced" societies in the Western world hatched a plan to exterminate
millions of Jews and Gypsies and other "unworthy" types. Stalin's purges
were hugely "successful" and led to as many as 30,000,000 killed. In
Africa, RIGHT NOW, AIDS has become an epidemic that the West seems
content to let play out. (Why?  Because the suffering people there are
"not in our national interest"? Or because they are black?)

Don seems to think that Hal/Henry V is concerned about commoners.  But
is he, really?  The unpleasant "flyting" with Poins in 2H4 clearly
reveals Hal's contempt for his "friend," and, after battle in H5, the
king's wholly unnecessary "joke" on Fluellen and Williams is nothing
more than the Hal/Francis episode writ large.

In fact, Don, Richard II and Hal/Henry V hold exactly the same view of
people like you and me: we are "slaves." (Cf. R2.1.4.25ff and
H5.4.1.279ff.)  The difference between them is that Henry knows how to
manipulate others (and make them like it), but Richard does not.

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 12:37:00 -0600
Subject: 12.0340 Re: Welsh etc.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0340 Re: Welsh etc.

I would prefer not to get into a street fight with Bill over this matter
but I fail to see the relevance of many of his points. On the one hand,
boxing and hockey have no point of comparison with bear-baiting (that I
can see); cock-fighting is illegal; wrestling is fake. On the other
hand, the fact that we (Americans) still practice capital punishment
while most of the rest of the post-industrial world has stopped doing
so, indicates that we are closer to the level of brutality of the
Elizabethan English than others of our time. That can also be applied to
problems of poverty and crime. But it puzzles me that he thinks that
argues against my point. He seems to have conflated or confused what
happens with what is socially sanctioned.

As to Prince Hal, while I know it has been popular for some decades to
trash him, I think that view seriously limits what the author does with
the play and the character. For one thing, he's the only one who
expresses the slightest concern about the loss of life the battle of
Shrewsbury will
entail, and he's also the only one who pays any attention to common
people (like tavern waiters) as people. Yet, he is criticized for not
being a twentieth century populist.

There is a recurrent desire to twist everything that Shakespeare wrote,
to make it dark, ironic and bitter. To me, Prince Hal in his "I know you
all" soliloquy means only that he is in full control of himself and
will, when the time is right, reveal that he can be the prince everybody
wants him to be. He is enjoying not only his carefree lifestyle, but the
fact that he has fooled everybody into thinking he can't do anything
else.

Maybe I need lessons in bitterness,
don

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 10:22:30 -0800
Subject: 12.0340 Re: Welsh etc.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0340 Re: Welsh etc.

Bill writes:

>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?

He might be giving Falstaff a chance to show himself the true soldier
which 19th century critics thought him, whip himself into shape with
marching, and generally become reformed.  I'm afraid that this incident
reflects a lot worse on Hal than on Falstaff, who has strangely avoided
Hal's bad press.  Why is this?  Do atrocities actually seem worse if
committed by the powerful?

Cheers,
Se

 

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