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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: April ::
Re: Ariel's Gender
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0838  Monday, 16 April 2001

[1]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Apr 2001 11:37:01 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0827 Re: Ariel's Gender

[2]     From:   Ted Nellen <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Apr 2001 11:26:02 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0827 Re: Ariel's Gender

[3]     From:   Stuart Manger <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Apr 2001 18:32:41 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 12.0814 Q: Ariel's Gender

[4]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Apr 2001 18:23:55 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0827 Re: Ariel's Gender

[5]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Apr 2001 10:29:28 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0827 Re: Ariel's Gender

[6]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Apr 2001 13:14:47 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0827 Re: Ariel's Gender


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 11 Apr 2001 11:37:01 -0400
Subject: 12.0827 Re: Ariel's Gender
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0827 Re: Ariel's Gender

"Go make thyself like a nymph o'th' sea," Prospero tells Ariel.  Since
Ariel is invisible to all but Prospero, what's the point?  And we must
note the "like" -- like a nymph, not into a nymph.  And when Ariel
reappears as a nymph, Prospero comments: "Fine apparition! My quaint
Ariel,/Hark in thy ear" (1.2.301, 317-18).  Of course, I hear a pun in
"quaint," and I wonder if we should think of Ariel and Prospero's
incubus.  After all, he's been on that island without adult female
company for many years. Is Ariel Prospero's substitute for the missing
wife?

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ted Nellen <
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Date:           Wednesday, 11 Apr 2001 11:26:02 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 12.0827 Re: Ariel's Gender
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0827 Re: Ariel's Gender

Interesting discussion on Ariel's gender. I truly enjoy using it in my
high school English classes. It was when playing with some pronoun usage
and we were reading _The Tempest_. So naturally the question of which
pronoun to use when speaking of Ariel came up. We concluded that this
collision of grammar and _The Tempest_ was fortuitous.  We agreed that
this was an appropriate time and place to use 's/he' and 'hir' (instead
of his/her) when writing and speaking of Ariel. I also like how this
convention maintains the monosyllabic quality of the pronouns in
question.  Always love this discussion about Ariel.

tednellen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Manger <
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Date:           Wednesday, 11 Apr 2001 18:32:41 +0100
Subject: Q: Ariel's Gender
Comment:        SHK 12.0814 Q: Ariel's Gender

Perforce male on the public stage. Probably a boy - sing / dance /
acrobatics / speaking role. Whether young - e.g. Chapel Royal, St.
Paul's chorister type, or apprentice to company almost impossible at
this distance to say.

BUT in modern productions? In 'private theatre' productions contemporary
to Shakespeare??  Many modern productions try the female take on it, but
I feel that there are all sorts of complex and unintended and definitely
non-, maybe even anti-Shakespeareian agendas that perpend thereto if you
do that. Current RSC travelling production has a black, chauffeur
looking number as Ariel. A previous production at RSC about five years
ago had Ariel as three or four women!

See Stephen Orgel's excellent material on this topic, and the preface /
notes to the upcoming New Cambridge Shakespeare edited by our own David
Lindley

Stuart Manger

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Wednesday, 11 Apr 2001 18:23:55 -0400
Subject: 12.0827 Re: Ariel's Gender
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0827 Re: Ariel's Gender

> It's perhaps worth adding that the diminutives Prospero applies to Ariel
> - 'bird' and 'chick'  - blend the animal with the child (and,  just
> possibly, in the first case, gender-marked as female).

"Bird" does suggest female.  See 3HVI,V.vi.15: "And I, the hapless male
to one poor bird".  But cf. R&J,II.ii.182 ("Rom.  I would I were thy
bird.")

I suppose that Ariel's incarnation as a sea nymph must be taken as a
disguise as his/her name suggests an air elemental.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Apr 2001 10:29:28 +0100
Subject: 12.0827 Re: Ariel's Gender
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0827 Re: Ariel's Gender

> Later, my edition shows Ariel entering as Ceres (thought the Hinman
> Collation does not).  The question got me thinking about the "rule" I
> was taught that actors needed about 100 lines to change costume for
> doubling, and wondering if Ariel does indeed play Ceres, given the
> relatively short amount of time between appearances as Ariel and as
> Ceres.

Andrew Gurr suggests that costume changes might require far fewer lines
than this. (Ariel's first change, into the sea-nymph costume, has to be
made in some twelve lines) - which suggests that the costume might be a
fairly 'token' one.

The point, I think, is that Juno and Ceres are both required to sing,
and it would seem strange if the boy actor entrusted with most of the
play's songs - as Ariel - were not one of those who sang in the masque.
I can't think, offhand, of any other play which requires three boy
singers, so feel that Kermode's suggestion that Ariel 'presented Ceres'
in the sense that, playing Iris, he 'introduced' Ceres, is simply
impractical.  That Ariel doubled as Ceres is, to my mind, the most
probable interpretation of his line.

David Lindley

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Apr 2001 13:14:47 +0100
Subject: 12.0827 Re: Ariel's Gender
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0827 Re: Ariel's Gender

Jan C. Stirm wrote about Ariel's gender:

> The question got me thinking about the "rule" I
> was taught that actors needed about 100 lines
> to change costume for doubling, and wondering
> if Ariel does indeed play Ceres, given the relatively
> short amount of time between appearances as Ariel
> and as Ceres.

In "Ariel's costume in the original staging of _The Tempest_" _Theatre
Notebook_ 51 (1997) pp. 62-72 I argued that his costume changes can be
accomplished with uncommon speed because the sea-nymph costume is worn
like underwear. This follows Michael Baird Saenger's argument that the
triton suits (Ariel's and Caliban's) came from Munday's _London's Love_,
giving Shakespeare the idea and the means of realization (N&Q 249
(1995): 334-6).

David Lindley wrote:

> Prospero famously suggests that this costume will render
> him 'invisible to every eyeball' except his own (generating
> lots of editorial beefing on the apparent redundancy, therefore,
> of getting him to dress up at all), and it might be thought
> that he retains this as his costume when invisible elsewhere
> in the play.

Prospero tells Ariel to "Be subject / To no sight but thine and mine",
which is so silly (as though he'd become invisible to himself) that we
are justified in wondering if something's dropped out of the metrically
defective passage. Stephen Orgel, editing the play for the Oxford
Shakespeare, suggested that what has dropped out here are instructions
about the spirits who sing "Come unto these yellow sands" and it they
who must remain invisible to all but Ariel and Prospero.

Gabriel Egan

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