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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: Abhorred Slave
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1477  Wednesday, 13 June 2001

[1]     From:   Vick Bennison <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Jun 2001 10:03:23 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1469 Abhorred Slave

[2]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Jun 2001 19:50:10 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1469 Abhorred Slave

[3]     From:   Adrian Kiernander <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 13 Jun 2001 12:12:34 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1469 Abhorred Slave


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Vick Bennison <
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Date:           Tuesday, 12 Jun 2001 10:03:23 EDT
Subject: 12.1469 Abhorred Slave
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1469 Abhorred Slave

David Bishop writes:

It seems pretty unanimous among modern editors that the "Abhorred slave"
speech at 1.2.354 in The Tempest should be assigned, as in the Folio, to
Miranda. To me it seems clear that the older editors were right, that
this speech is entirely out of character for Miranda, and belongs to
Prospero.  But I'm willing to bet that many members of this list would
disagree. Does anyone else find the reasons given by Kermode, Orgel et.
al. inadequate?

David,

I assume by "older editors" you don't mean Hemmings, Condell, and
Jonson.  ;^)  In my recent community production I decided to stick with
the Folio.  Miranda at least taught Caliban about the man in the moon
(and his dog and his bush).  Also, I can't imagine Prospero teaching
Caliban how to curse.  But adolescent Miranda??? ;^) I think the jury
will always be out on this one.

- Vick

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 12 Jun 2001 19:50:10 +0100
Subject: 12.1469 Abhorred Slave
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1469 Abhorred Slave

> It seems pretty unanimous among modern editors that the "Abhorred slave"
> speech at 1.2.354 in The Tempest should be assigned, as in the Folio, to
> Miranda. To me it seems clear that the older editors were right, that
> this speech is entirely out of character for Miranda, and belongs to
> Prospero.  But I'm willing to bet that many members of this list would
> disagree. Does anyone else find the reasons given by Kermode, Orgel et.
> al. inadequate?

As another editor who has accepted F.s ascription of this speech to
Miranda I'd give several reasons of different kinds:

a) One must have a good editorial reason to change the Folio
ascription.  Of course it's possible that compositor or scribe got it
wrong - but there seems no obvious reason why they should have misread
their copy in this way.  (The later example in the same play of
misascription of Antonio and Sebastian's speeches at 2.1.  37-8 has
single-line speeches next to one another, where one might think an error
was much more possible.)

b) Theobald's reason for accepting the re-ascription of this speech to
Miranda was that it 'would be ... an Indecency in her to reply to what
Caliban last was speaking of' - a rather different version of  David
Bishop's assertion that it is 'out of character'.  On what grounds is
this assertion made?  That girls ought not to speak out?  Shouldn't we
rather take this speech as evidence of what Miranda's 'character'
actually is, rather than excluding the possibility on the grounds of
what we think her character ought to be?

c) In 2.2 134 (Orgel's lineation) Caliban indicates that Miranda did
indeed take some part in his education, which bears out her claim here.

d) (And more contentiously and unprovably) there is no specific
indication in the text as to how recent Caliban's attempted rape of
Miranda was.  My assumption would be that it was recent, a mark of her
emergence into womanhood (unless one wants to convict Caliban of
paedophilia) - in this context it is perhaps entirely reasonable and 'in
character' that Miranda should so aggressively respond to her would-be
rapist.  Indeed, though Miranda has usually had a bad press from
feminist critics, one might have thought that at some level her response
is understandable, justifiable, even worthy of some bonus points.

But Dymkowski suggests that the speech was not given back to Miranda
until 1925 - and even in some relatively recent productions, such as RSC
1982 (a performance which used rather an old edition as its copy) Derek
Jacobi was given these lines.  Old views of what it is appropriate for a
young woman to speak of, it seems, die hard.

David Lindley
Professor of Renaissance Literature
School of English
University of Leeds

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Adrian Kiernander <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 Jun 2001 12:12:34 +1000
Subject: 12.1469 Abhorred Slave
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1469 Abhorred Slave

What does it mean, and what are the implications of saying it, to
declare that something is "out of character" for a role in a play? If
the actor playing Miranda speaks these lines we see/hear her for a
moment (and perhaps beyond that moment) as someone who is abusive to
another. If those lines are spoken by the actor playing her father, or
if they are cut from the script, we don't see/hear her being abusive
(though this doesn't necessarily mean we can't imagine her as being
capable of such abuse). I can imagine a Miranda who is unlikely to speak
such words and doesn't, and a Miranda who is likely to say them and
does, and a Miranda who is unlikely to speak them and yet does, taking
me by surprise. So what does "out of character" mean? Even more,
"entirely out of character"?

Adrian Kiernander

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