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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: January ::
Re: Whiteface
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0189  Friday, 26 January 2001

[1]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Thursday, 25 Jan 2001 10:29:00 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0173 Re: Whiteface

[2]     From:   Alan Dessen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 25 Jan 2001 17:01:23 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0173 Re: Whiteface


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Thursday, 25 Jan 2001 10:29:00 -0600
Subject: 12.0173 Re: Whiteface
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0173 Re: Whiteface

I would like to second both Bill's and Clifford's points. Not only was
Gulliver tanned as a result of his sea voyages (and thus unfashionable),
but remember the pity that Anne Elliott's snobbish father extends to the
captain because of his suntanned and weather-beaten complexion. With a
little work I think I could dig out other references to fashionable
paleness (satiric references to foppish noblemen) in both the 18th and
19th centuries.

This fashion changed over the 19th century when the primary work of the
lower classes shifted from outdoor agricultural labor to inside jobs in
factories and mines. With the proles developing pallor as a leading
characteristic, the rich and near-rich could set themselves apart by
getting suntans, showing that they played golf and tennis all day, and
vacationed in the right places.

I think Bill's note that a dress is the clearest indicator of female in
Shakespeare's says enough.

Regards,
Don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alan Dessen <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 25 Jan 2001 17:01:23 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 12.0173 Re: Whiteface
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0173 Re: Whiteface

The evidence for "White" in stage directions of the period is as
follows:

white:  the roughly seventy examples include a wide range of objects and
clothing; a few signals refer to white coloring or makeup: "his face
whited" (Lover's Melancholy, 3.3.19), "white-faced" and "white" (English
Moor, 63, 82), a "White moor" (Thracian Wonder, H2r), a spirit that
"rises out of the cave, white" (Martyred Soldier, 244); Bellafront's
cosmetics include "a vial with white color in it, and two boxes, one
with white, another red painting" (1 Honest Whore, 2.1.0); white can be
associated with age: "white head and beard" (Captain, 296), "with a long
white hair and beard" (Picture, 2.1.85; Thracian Wonder, C4v); as to
clothing, figures are often directed to enter in white/all in white,
less commonly clothed in white; see Three Lords of London, E4v; Merchant
of Venice, B4v, 2.1.0; Merry Wives, G3r, 5.5.102; Warning for Fair
Women, D1r; Old Fortunatus, 1.3.0; Two Noble Kinsmen, L1v, 5.1.136;
Queen of Corinth, 72; Hannibal and Scipio, 220; Unfortunate Lovers, 24;
Fair Favourite, 252; examples are "a funeral in white, and bearers in
white" (Turk, 585 6; see also Swetnam, G2r), a hearse accompanied by
"two Nuns in white" and "two little boys in white" (Fatal Contract,
E3v); ghosts or spirits can appear in white (Second Maiden's Tragedy,
1930; Jews' Tragedy, 2722), as when the martyred Dorothea enters "in a
white robe, crowns upon her robe, a Crown upon her head" with others
following "all in white, but less glorious" (Virgin Martyr, 5.2.219);
white robes are also specified for six personages who appear in a vision
(Henry VIII, 2644, 4.2.82), a boy who strews flowers before a marriage
(Two Noble Kinsmen, B1r, 1.1.0), masquers (Malcontent, 5.5.66; 'Tis
Pity, 4.1.35), Calantha with the body of Ithocles (Broken Heart, 5.3.0),
"Hebe in a white robe with golden stars" (Women Beware Women, 5.2.50);
other items of white clothing include a veil (Cruel Brother, 139), cloak
(Michaelmas Term, Induction.0), ribbon (Sophonisba, 1.2.40), surplice
(Alphonsus of Aragon, 951), apron (Death of Huntingdon, 457), "white
sleeves and apron" (Two Maids of More-Clacke, H1v), country wenches in
"all red Petticoats, white stitched Bodies" (Country Girl, D3r), "three
white-coat Soldiers" (1 If You Know Not Me, 209); white is associated
with penance or disgrace: the white sheets worn by Dame Elinor and Jane
Shore (2 Henry VI, D2r, 1188, 2.4.16; 2 Edward IV, 165), "her hair
loose, a white rod in her hand" (Queen, 3786 7), "a Wreath of Cypress,
and a white Wand" (Queen and Concubine, 22); other white objects include
a pendant (Death of Huntingdon, 2909 10), hourglass (Summer's Last Will,
360), banneret (Four Plays in One, 311), stick (Friar Bacon, 1561), flag
(Jews' Tragedy, 797), feather (Lover's Melancholy, 3.1.0), cross (Maid
of Honour, 5.2.289), staff (Perkin Warbeck, 2.2.112; Sisters, B6v),
tapers (Death of Huntingdon, 2984), roses (Octavo 3 Henry VI, A2r,
1.1.0; Warning for Fair Women, I1r); occasionally an object such as an
altar (Broken Heart, 5.3.0) or bed (Vow Breaker, 4.2.0) is covered in
white; see also No Wit, 4.3.148; World Tossed at Tennis, D2r; Birth of
Merlin, F3r.

[from *A Dictionary of Stage Directions in English Drama 1580-1642*
(Cambridge, 1999)

Alan Dessen
 

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