2001

Re: R & J Query

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1502  Thursday, 14 June 2001

From:           Rainbow Saari <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thu, 14 Jun 2001 11:54:59 +1200
Subject:        Re: R & J Query


Thanks to Robin Hamilton for putting me straight on origin of the 'one
is none' phrase. Robin writes

"There's enough overt bawdry in_Romeo and Juliet_ (do Mercutio and the
Nurse spring to mind here?) without dragging it, higgledy pigglety by
the scruff of several linguistic misconceptions, into a context where it
doesn't apply."

Enough ? I'll agree there's plenty of 'overt bawdry' in Romeo and
Juliet, but I don't see why that precludes the presence of covert
ribaldry as well. Shakespeare's plays seem to me to contain plenty of
examples of both. I looked again at this passage and  I still stand by
my earlier perceptions. ( I noticed WS uses the word 'stand' 26 times in
R & J, exploiting its wide variety of meaning.)

In the first scene of R & J, Gregory informs the audience that "to be
valiant is to stand." They are soon bragging about what they will do to
the Montague men and women;

I will be civil with the maids - I will cut off their heads.

The heads of the maids?

Ay, the heads of the maids or their maidenheads, take it in what sense
thou wilt.

They must take it in sense that feel it.

Sampson states "Me they shall feel while I am able to stand, and tis
known  I am  a pretty piece of flesh." This second use of the word
'stand' clearly carries the additional connotation of male sexual
readiness. When he's directed moments later to "draw thy tool" , his
reply " my naked weapon is out " must surely have raised a chuckle
amongst those with an arguably 'smutty' sense of humour; the scene
continues, interweaving sexual and martial language.

My point in mentioning this is that when the next scene begins, with
Capulet and Paris discussing  Juliet's marriage, the 'ear' of at least
some of the audience is primed to hear in the phrase " may stand in
number, though in reck'ning none" the possibility of a sexual allusion.
The 'earth-treading stars', the' fresh female buds' that Capulet
describes are also, to use Sampson's words, at one level "pretty
piece[s] of flesh" and I think the language Capulet (Shakespeare) uses
suggests this, albeit in a subtle way.

 These lines from Marlowe's  ed. Ovid's Amores Bk 1.10 come to mind

 The whore stands to be bought for each man's money
And seeks vild wealth by selling of her cony.

Surely by choosing the name Paris for Juliet's suitor ( I don't know if
the name occurs in his source texts) Shakespeare is connecting the
character to the Paris of  Trojan War fame; the young man, son of Priam
and Hecuba, who chose Venus as the most beautiful over Juno and Minerva;
who abandoned the wife of his youth, Oenone, and abducted Helen, wife of
Menelaus, thus initiating years of ' war for a placket' ( Troilus and
Cressida 2.iii). A man of questionable sexual integrity?

When the servant Peter is given instructions to invite the persons on
Capulet's list to the evening's festivities, his reaction is to say "It
is written that the shoemaker should meddle with his yard  and the
tailor with his last..." etc. He links each artisan to the wrong tools (
! ); the shoemaker meddles with / mends soles of shoes, to be worn on
peoples feet, on his last. Many in   the audience would hear a sexual
play on words in 'the shoemaker should meddle with his yard" because a
man's 'yard' was then a common term for his penis, as indeed both the
words 'foot' and 'sole' could  mean penis or vagina. (See Martin Green's
the Labyrinth of Shakespeare's Sonnets ) I do not  believe I am dragging
bawdry into the Capulet/ Paris scene;  it is surrounded by scenes that
utilise sexual imagery and their discussion contains  overt sexual
imagery. When Capulet says "Let two more summers wither in their pride,
Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride" he is employing what I call the
language of  fecundity; 'pride' , to stand proud, equates to male sexual
readiness. Juliet's 'ripe'-ness refers to,( among other considerations,
no doubt ), her sexual readiness, her being ripe for the taking. I doubt
the sexual connotations of this would be lost on the original audiences.

I don't claim the 'one is reckoned none' of Son. 136 and the line from R
& J mean the same. However I do see the author deliberately playing with
the ribald potential of the same collection of words in both Sonnet and
Play and that is what I meant when I said I saw a 'corresponding subtext
in the Capulet/ Paris scene' . Perhaps I didn't make that clear.

I was recently given a copy of Frankie Rubinstein's A Dictionary of
Shakespeare's Sexual Puns and their Significance and it pleases me to
note that she also sees in many words that begin with 'con' ,depending
on their context,  carry the burden of puns on cunt. Such puns are
indeed aural, as pointed out. I note that Marlowe ( above ) rhymes
'money' with 'cony'. If beauty exists in the eye of the beholder then
puns  surely exist in the ear of the hearer. She directs the reader (
pg. 55) to Measure for Measure, 2.iv, where Angelo instructs Isabella to
"Fit thy consent to my sharp appetite" One sense of this, undoubtedly
crude, is 'make ready your cunt for my sharp [sexual] appetite'. She is
told to "Redeem thy brother By yielding up thy body to my will'. Will
here, must have echoed in the minds of many original auditors as
'penis'. Earlier in this same scene there occurs this exchange.

Isabella; Sir, believe this. I had rather give my body than my soul.
Angelo;   I talk not of your soul. Our compelled sins
                 Stand more for number than for account.

Interesting, the similarity of language to Son 136 and the passage from
R & J, here, where Angelo definitely is talking about his immoral
interest in becoming the possessor of Isabella's 'soul', where he is
asking her to prostitute herself to save her brother's life.

As I read Shakespeare's works and those of his contemporaries, I'm
endeavoring to develop a sense of  what an Elizabethan or Jacobean
hearer would/ could understand listening to them. I want to learn to
think, as much as is possible, like an Elizabethan. One of the levels I
greatly enjoy is their earthy/ bawdy/ ribald/smutty/witty humour, their
willingness to 'call a jade a jade'. I think Shakespeare was unashamedly
crude/ smutty at times, but such definitions are based on our own
sensibilites, not necessarily those of his own time. The language of his
plays passed the required censorship, overt and covert sexual allusions
and all.

Not every reader/ hearer will pick up on ( or, I can appreciate, want
to!  ) the sexual undercurrents of the language used in the
Capulet/Paris scene, but I maintain those meanings are still there. The
author has used words he knows can have multiple dimensions of meaning.
It is up to the audience to take it in what sense we will.

Cheers,
Rainbow

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Re: Hawks and Handsaws

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1499  Thursday, 14 June 2001

From:           Michael Jeneid <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 13 Jun 2001 09:53:28 -0700
Subject:        Re: Hawks and Handsaws

Dear Editor,

Surely it is worth noting, for the sake of the mechanicles among your
students, that a hawk is a plasterers tool and a handsaw a carpenters?
They would get the point of Hamlet's comment. They may not, I think,
have known the difference between a hawk and a hernshaw, which was the
Elizabethan contraction of heronsew.

I have explained this wonderful falconer's comment in my book Chaucer's
Checklist, on pages 60 and 61. The point is that handsaw is a play on
hernshaw, is a contraction of heronsew, is specifically a young heron
(Tatlock-and he got this one right). The haut vol du sport in falconry
was to match a peregrine falcon-a heroner-against a heron. Chaucer has
no less than three observations on the subject of the heron as the
target for this falcon. It was of course the best event to watch because
the heron is so big and so slow, and it all takes place over open
terrain. And of course the wind was in the nor -nor-west because that's
where it was when Chaucer asked for help to endite his poem...The
Parliament of Fowls.

My website, jeneidoutdoors.com, tells something of this book of mine; it
covers Chaucer's entire ornithology.

Yours cheerfully, Jeneid.

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Re: Colorblindness

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1497  Thursday, 14 June 2001

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 13 Jun 2001 08:33:44 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1486 Re: Colorblindness

[2]     From:   Graham Bradshaw <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 14 Jun 2001 01:33:17 +0900
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1486 Re: Colorblindness


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 13 Jun 2001 08:33:44 -0700
Subject: 12.1486 Re: Colorblindness
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1486 Re: Colorblindness

>I would be very interested in the
>opinion of the list upon the topic of representation of race in both
>Branagh films and in the media through which the films are "sold" to
>cinema audiences.

>Emma French

It's just one lad's opinion, but I say race was not marketed.  Denzel
Washington was hired because he could do the job, he added a starry
presence, and possibly Branagh wanted to work with him.

Similarly with LLL, I don't think the black actors were cast for race,
as much as to be pretty.  Adrian Lester may have been cast for his
talent to handle Shakespeare as well as sing and dance, since his was
the only musical performance among the 4 men that didn't put me off.

If there was anything racial in the marketing of the film, I did not see
it in the campaign in the U. S., which was different than the campaigns
in other parts of the world.  Except for the fact that the three black
actors were in photos, nothing was made of it.  I never thought I'd live
to see the day when that would happen, but I'm glad I did.

Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Bradshaw <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 14 Jun 2001 01:33:17 +0900
Subject: 12.1486 Re: Colorblindness
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1486 Re: Colorblindness

One thing is puzzling me in this long thread, which I confess I haven't
read through, so maybe I missed the answer.

There are various references to how "embarrassing", "unacceptable",
etc., it is to see blacked-up white actors like Olivier (or Burbage?)
play Othello: is this the point where we must NOT be "colorblind"?

If so, is that because "we" are more comfortable, and less strained,
when Othello is played by a BLA rather than WHI? (I borrow these
categories from Governor Jeb Bush's system of fouling elections: who
dares wins.) And, if so, is there is ANY play where it is LESS
appropriate to feel more comfortable and less trained? (Tr.: I mean,
like, "Othello" isn't, y'know, a kind of feel-good, dumbed-down
Hollywood thing?) It might be good (though it wouldn't feel-good) to
work out a short list of the Top Ten things that are politically correct
but otherwise wrong.

I've just been looking at Francois-Victor Hugo's quarrel with Schlegel
again, and wonder which is the more alarming.

Schlegel (rather unnecessarily, I suspect) ties his "two spheres" view
of Othello's inner division to a "burning climes" argument that implies
that no cool-climes white man could ever suffer or  behave like Othello.
Hugo vigorously protests, citing Coleridge (bad move): SINCE (?!?!?) no
pure (and for Hugo "spiritual and almost mystical"!) white woman would
have chosen a "veritable negro", Othello MUST HAVE BEEN a tawny.

Maybe that seems funny, since "colorblindness" has no place for tawny in
its focal, BLA-WHI categories. Yet the tawny view still has its
champions, like Barbara Everett: the issue is anything but dead,
although tawnies don't usually have thick lips and sooty bosoms, etc. If
we were marking Schlegel vs Hugo in terms of their "attitudes", and much
contemporary criticism consists
of giving marks to attitudes, who scores worse?

Before shutting up, let me add a "rider": if our own attitudes are
already formed and in place before we go to the show, can literature or
drama ever teach us anything? If the answer is No, what do Eng.Lit
departments do that couldn't be better done in History or Anthropology,
etc? Might handsaws be better than Hawkes?

Ora pro nobis,
Graham Bradshaw

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Re: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Names

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1498  Thursday, 14 June 2001

From:           Abdulla Al-Dabbagh <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 13 Jun 2001 09:47:28 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.1439 Re: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Names
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1439 Re: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Names

There is a very interesting article, "Hamlet and the Infinite Universe",
by Peter Usher, available online:
http://www.astro.psu.edu/users/usher/R_PS.htm which argues that Hamlet
"contains an allegorical description of the competition between two
cosmological models: the Infinite Sun-centered universe of Thomas Digges
(c. 1546-1595) of England, and a hybrid Earth-centered model of Tycho
Brahe (1546-1601) of Denmark". In the middle of his paper, Usher makes
these relevant remarks:

In 1590 the English scholar Thomas Savile received a letter from Tycho
asking to be remembered to Digges. Tycho went on to suggest that some
excellent English poets might compose witty epigrams in praise of him
and his work. He also sent four copies of a portrait of himself that
showed him standing under a stone arch that featured the family shield
of his great-great-grandparents Sophie Gyldenstierne and Erik
Rosenkrantz .

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S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://ws.bowiestate.edu>

Portrait

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1496  Thursday, 14 June 2001

From:           Jane Drake Brody <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 13 Jun 2001 10:24:16 EDT
Subject:        Portrait

Is the newly found portrait of Shakespeare available on-line anywhere?
I would love to see it!

Jane Drake Brody

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://ws.bowiestate.edu>

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