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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: October ::
Re: Sir Toby
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2286  Thursday, 4 October 2001

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 03 Oct 2001 12:51:47 -0400
        Subj:   Sir Toby

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 03 Oct 2001 12:53:45 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2280 Re: Sir Toby

[3]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 03 Oct 2001 14:07:10 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2280 Re: Sir Toby


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Wednesday, 03 Oct 2001 12:51:47 -0400
Subject:        Sir Toby

Paul Doniger writes:

"It seems to me that Maria and Sir Toby had relationship long before she
invents her 'device', as there are a number of suggestions early in the
play that they are intimate (not the least of which is the familiarity
of their tones of speech with each other). Maria seems quite concerned
with Sir Toby's drinking, not just too keep him from damaging his
relationship with his niece, but for his own health as well; she also
seems to want him to spend more time "at home" and less with Sir
Andrew.  I have always suspected that they have had a long standing
affair."

Well, yes, but the point is that Sir Toby will not marry her -- at least
not until she plays her trick on Malvolio. That his fall is the occasion
of her rise seems undisputed. Maria is concerned about Sir Toby, but
then again, Malvolio is just as concerned about Olivia. Or, if you want
to say that he only SEEMS concerned to cover his own self-interest, the
same can be said about Maria.  The parallelism is clear, it seems to me.
Moreover, I've always wondered why people are so quick to condemn
Malvolio's wish to better himself, when others (Sebastian and Viola, for
example) are not so criticized.

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Wednesday, 03 Oct 2001 12:53:45 -0400
Subject: 12.2280 Re: Sir Toby
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2280 Re: Sir Toby

> The more marriages at the end, the better

Usually; but what about LLL?

By the way, did Don Armado marry beneath himself?

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Wednesday, 03 Oct 2001 14:07:10 -0500
Subject: 12.2280 Re: Sir Toby
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2280 Re: Sir Toby

Graham Hall responds (concerning Maria and the butt'ry bar)

> Just to get it off my chest [I'll award that a knowing smirk and maybe a
chuckle]:
>
>Not necessarily......although this interpretation seems to be awfully
>popular! There is no support from Partridge, Williams or Rubinstein.
>Most modern editions are equally silent about any mammary manoeuver and
>play the gloss safe with an offer to kiss or bar carpentry. New Variorum
>(1901) cites an 18C source as proverbial involving an invitation to kiss
>and provide a present. This would fit with taking Sir A for a
>(financial) ride. Lest I be accused of taking the fun out of rehearsals,
>there is one source that glosses a point due south of the chesticles -
>which accords with"dry" being a hint at Bartholin's gland and amorous
>(lubricated) hand and Sir A's chances with Maria.

My rejoinder: dunno about that last. I don't think people would get the
glandular joke and would take "dry" (or its opposite) to mean something
unintended.

I went to the trouble of looking up buttery bar in the OED and found it
defined as "a board or ledge on top of the buttery hatch, on which to
rest tankards, etc." This has interesting implications with regard to
the provision of the actors playing the females with false breasts, but
it does seem to be a very clear and simple joke, both physical and
metaphysical, that would come across very well with an Elizabethan
audience. (And a modern one if done carefully)

That whole business seems to me to hang together very well with the
interpretation that she's talking about and flaunting her breasts. As
such it all makes good lexical and dramatic sense, including the puns on
dry and barren. Otherwise the lines tend to fall into that realm of
baffling Shakespearean word play where you wonder just what he was
getting at -- was his joke really as pointless as the glosses indicate?

Cheers,
don

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