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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: December ::
Re: Hermia
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2743  Wednesday, 5 December 2001

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 04 Dec 2001 09:04:43 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2738 Re: Hermia

[2]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 04 Dec 2001 19:46:45 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2738 Re: Hermia

[3]     From:   Edward Pixley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 05 Dec 2001 09:20:32 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2723 Hermia


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 04 Dec 2001 09:04:43 -0800
Subject: 12.2738 Re: Hermia
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2738 Re: Hermia

Peter and Peter,

Thank you.  At the risk of digging my hole even deeper, I agree there
does seem to be fluidity in the way the name scans, just as *Demetrius*
seems to scan as three syllables in the same stretch of lines.  Yet,
yet, yet it seems very odd that the name would be pronounced from the
stage two different ways.  Yes, I realize there are precedents for this
in the way a name is sometimes deliberately *misspelled* to complete a
rhyme, for example, but there is no such clue here.  (Though this scene
has *eyne* to complete a rhyme with *mine.*)

All of which leaves me a bit as sea as to how to think about *Hermia.*
There are 2 or 3 directions I could go, but none seem satisfying.
Further comments?

All the best,
Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 04 Dec 2001 19:46:45 -0800
Subject: 12.2738 Re: Hermia
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2738 Re: Hermia

My apologies to all for stretching this into two posts, but I don't
think I expressed myself well in today's other message.

The reason I'm am interested in the scansion of the name Hermia is
because I wonder what, if any, impact it had when the play was first
performed, and why Shakespeare changed the name from 3 to 2 syllables.
(Good luck on that one, Mike!)

Yes, it scans as 2 syllables in the lines I mentioned, Peter and Peter;
quite right, but in 1.1.23, for example, it scans at 3 syllables.  I
think it is worth noting that of the 7 lines mentioned in my original
post, 6 have a word that could be dropped so *Hermia* would scan at 3,
and the syllables per line would still be 10.  An example is 2.2.111,
*Content with Hermia?  No!  I do repent/*  The *No* is not necessary, so
the change from the 3 syllables in 1.1.23 and other lines, to 2
syllables here seems deliberate.

With this is understood, let me tell you what I really want to know.
Why make the change at all?  It is not necessary for the sense or rhythm
of the lines.  What was gained by it, and was anything lost?  I'm also
interested in what it means practically on stage.  Was it completely
ignored on stage, the name always pronounced the same way?  Did the
pronunciation shift as the scansion shifted?  If so, what does this mean
for other lines that scan at 9, 11, or 12 syllables?  (I'll give you 8
and 6, especially in this play.) Granted there is a certain apparent
license about the counts, or the texts are not pure, or probably both.
I don't know how to differentiate these in most cases.

Do you see why I'm not satisfied with simply noting that the name can
scan as both 2 and 3 syllables?  I'm looking for a bigger picture, but
can't find the right gallery.  Please accept my apology for not making
this clear in my first query, and for giving a rather muddled account of
it in the my other reply.

And, yes, I quite understand some of these questions may be
unanswerable. I'd like to know if anyone has tried.

All the best,
Mike Jensen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward Pixley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 05 Dec 2001 09:20:32 -0500
Subject: 12.2723 Hermia
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2723 Hermia

Mike,

I think you'll find that Juliet usually scans best as two syllables
also, Jul-yet, something that Roger Gross pointed out to me several
years ago.

Ed Pixley

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