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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: "What's in a name?"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1613  Tuesday, 26 June 2001

[1]     From:   Janet Costa <
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        Date:   Monday, 25 Jun 2001 07:18:56 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1591 Re: "What's in a name?"

[2]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Monday, 25 Jun 2001 10:36:17 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1591 Re: "What's in a name?"

[3]     From:   Stevie Gamble <
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        Date:   Monday, 25 Jun 2001 15:26:31 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1591 Re: "What's in a name?"

[4]     From:   Gary Allen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Jun 2001 00:14:03 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1591 Re: "What's in a name?"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Janet Costa <
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Date:           Monday, 25 Jun 2001 07:18:56 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.1591 Re: "What's in a name?"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1591 Re: "What's in a name?"

Ok, I'll bite. If Capulet cares so much about his daughter's physical
happiness in marriage (which by the by, at this point in time was not a
major consideration in marital contract negotiations), why does he
threaten her with street life if she doesn't get to the church on
time???

No matter how you slice it, the logic here is very fuzzy, very fuzzy
indeed.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Monday, 25 Jun 2001 10:36:17 -0500
Subject: 12.1591 Re: "What's in a name?"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1591 Re: "What's in a name?"

I can't respond to all of Rainbow's points, nor have I any pressing need
to. But the one about Capulet and Paris discussing Juliet in the crudest
kind of sexual punning while ostensibly negotiating a marriage requires
a further comment.

No.

The unwritten rules of male behavior forbid it. As near as I can tell
these rules haven't changed in this area since Shakespeare's day. A man
who discussed a woman he cared about (especially a daughter) in such
terms would immediately define himself as some kind of pervert or other
freak.

In many circumstances -- from S's day to this -- a single casual remark
of the sort she imagines Capulet and Paris tossing cheerily back and
forth would lead to immediate bloodshed. Such punning and other obscene
joke telling automatically identifies the object of it as a whore, a
person (or non-person) of no value except as a means of sexual
gratification.

Rainbow must either re-think her assumption that every word that can be
forced into a sexual meaning must have it, or consider the kind of play,
and especially the kind of characters, she is envisioning in Romeo and
Juliet.

Neither the story about More (toward which I have some doubts) nor the
immense amount ribaldry associated with Mercutio and the Nurse mitigates
this. The Capulet and Paris she is propounding would have to be
considered two of the most depraved characters in all of English
literature -- obscene beyond my comprehension.

Regards,
don

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stevie Gamble <
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Date:           Monday, 25 Jun 2001 15:26:31 EDT
Subject: 12.1591 Re: "What's in a name?"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1591 Re: "What's in a name?"

Rainbow Saari writes:

> They have talked about the marriage
>  before and Capulet is restating, with language that suggests to me the
>  issue of her sexual readiness has been discussed, that, " Hey, we're
>  both men of the world; I think you understand me. " If Juliet actually
>  desires/loves Paris, his own objection (because of her tender years)
>  will not count. (Oops! Better watch my language.)  I said in my original
>  posting on this topic "I think Juliet's father shows in this scene a
>  genuine interest in securing an alliance for his daughter in which she
>  stands (!) a chance of being physically/ sexually happy. Does the line
>  "And too soon marred are those so early made" hark back to the
>  difficulties of his own marriage to a sexually unwilling bride?

Given that the dangers in childbirth to a young girl were, and indeed
still are, much higher than those of women of more advanced years, and
that this was recognised at the time Shakespeare was writing the play, I
see no reason to conclude that Juliet's father didn't give a toss about
her life expectancy but was instead brooding over his own sex-life. And,
since you have given no evidence at all to base your suggestion on, it
seems eccentric to ignore a straightforward question of physical fact in
pursuit of a strained possibility. Imagining possibilities is easy;
determining probabilities is a great deal trickier...

> I
>  believe that the possibility of a father caring about his daughter's
>  future physical happiness in a marriage and talking about it with her
>  wooer (even joking, perhaps to cover possible embarrassment ? ) may not
>  have been in the 1590's quite as unlikely as we might choose to believe.

Your choice of the word 'choose' indicates your belief that someone
disagreeing with you does so not because of the inherent defects in your
analysis but because they are unwilling to believe it for reasons you
don't elucidate. You may care to bear in mind that phrasing your
observations in this way reduces the likelihood of someone believing
that you are capable of analysis in the first place...

>  One of the customs associated with Lammastide, my book on English folk
>  customs tells me,

Unfortunately books on English folk customs are not noted, in general,
for their accuracy and your apparent conviction that they represent a
source of unimpeachable evidence merely suggests that you are not well
acquainted with the concept of gathering evidence to enable you to
formulate hypotheses which can then be tested in the light of further
evidence. This explains a great deal about your observations, but it
doesn't help us to get any further with considering Romeo and Juliet.

>was that for the duration of the the Lammas Fair
>  couples could conduct a 'trial marriage' and if at the end of the period
>  either party was unhappy with the other, they could part with no ill
>  feeling or obligation. The book doesn't tell me if this practice existed
>  in Elizabethan times. It would be interesting to know.

Indeed. Since, as far as I am aware, there was never, at any time, such
a practise, you might find it helpful to reconsider whether leaning on
this sort of mishmash is adding anything to your consideration of the
play.

Best wishes,
Stevie Gamble

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gary Allen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Jun 2001 00:14:03 EDT
Subject: 12.1591 Re: "What's in a name?"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1591 Re: "What's in a name?"

Rainbow Saari writes:

>What your comment brought to mind for me, Don, was the account I read
>(and I've honestly no idea where to find the reference to this at
>present) of Sir Thomas More pulling the bedclothes off his sleeping
>naked ( ? ) daughters so that his prospective son in law, William Roper,
>would be able to assess the physical charms of his future bride.

According to this site:

http://www.weeks-g.dircon.co.uk/quotes_m.htm

the story is told by Aubrey in his "Brief Lives":

In his _Utopia_ his lawe is that the young people are to see each other
stark-naked before marriage. Sir William Roper, of Eltham, in Kent, came
one morning, pretty early, to my Lord, with a proposall to marry one of
his daughters. My Lord's daughters were then both together abed in a
truckle-bed in their father's chamber asleep. He carries Sir William
into the chamber and takes the Sheete by the corner & suddenly whippes
it off. They lay on their Backs, & their smocks up as high as their
arme-pitts. This awakened them, & immediately they turned on their
bellies. Quoth Roper, I have seen both sides, & so gave a patt on the
buttock, he made choice of, sayeing, Thou are mine. Here was all the
trouble of the wooeing.-John Aubrey, _Brief Lives_, Sir Thomas More

Gary

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