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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: April ::
Re: Feathers
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0805  Monday, 9 April 2001

From:           Peterson-Kranz Karen <
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 >
Date:           Sunday, 8 Apr 2001 20:18:46 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.0777 Re: Feathers
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0777 Re: Feathers

David Evett writes of the red and white feathers:

> Looking
> back I can't construct a systematic set of symbolic
> meanings (which
> doesn't mean that there wasn't one); they mostly
> appeared at moments of
> death, and might, indeed, have been white for dead
> Yorkists and Red for
> Lancastrians.  Has anybody tried to ask Michael
> Boyd?

Given some recent conversations on other threads about "theory" and
"authorial intention," I'm tempted to ask why we should privilege Boyd's
interpretation of his own feathers over anyone else's interpretation?
(Don't everyone shout at me at once: the above was intended ironically.)

As to "a systematic set of symbolic meanings"... when I encountered the
following today in another context I remembered the RSC's feathers.
Could this iconographic description of the Icarus motif, from Whitney's
*Choice of Emblemes* (28), have any bearing on the white feathers(for
dead Yorkists) and the red feathers (for dead Lancastrians)?:

"Heare, ICARUS with mountinge up alofte,
Came headlonge downe, and fell into the Sea:
His waxed winges, the sonne did make so softe,
They melted straighte, and feathers fell awaie:
  So, whilste he flewe, and of no dowbte did care,
  He moov'de his armes, but loe, the same were bare.

Let suche beware, which paste theire reache doe
mounte,
Whoe seeke the thinges, to mortall men deny'de,
And searche the Heavens, and all the starres
accoumpte,
And tell therebie, what after shall betyde:
  With blusshinge nowe, theire weakenesse rightlie
weye,
  Least as they clime, they fall to theire decaye."

Yeah, it's a stretch, but...while we're waiting for comments from Boyd
it might do as well as anything else.

Cheers,
Karen Peterson

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