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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: February ::
Re: Shakespeare and Sex
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0468  Tuesday, 19 February 2002

[1]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Monday, 18 Feb 2002 10:48:42 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex

[2]     From:   Louis Swilley <
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        Date:   Sunday, 18 Feb 2001 09:59:26 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex

[3]     From:   Sam Small <
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        Date:   Monday, 18 Feb 2002 15:59:07 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex

[4]     From:   Karen Peterson <
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        Date:   Monday, 18 Feb 2002 08:28:26 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex

[5]     From:   Brandon Toropov <
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        Date:   Monday, 18 Feb 2002 08:41:58 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: Shakespeare and Sex (and its inevitable issue)

[6]     From:   Helen Vella-Bonavita <
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        Date:   Monday, 18 Feb 2002 17:11:21 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex

[7]     From:   John Drakakis <
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        Date:   Monday, 18 Feb 2002 17:32:12 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex

[8]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Monday, 18 Feb 2002 09:43:15 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex

[9]     From:   Alan Somerset <
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        Date:   Monday, 18 Feb 2002 13:37:08 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex

[10]    From:   Dana Shilling <
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        Date:   Monday, 18 Feb 2002 22:12:45 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex


[1]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Monday, 18 Feb 2002 10:48:42 -0500
Subject: 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex

> A parallel question might relate to the absence of adultery.
>
> I don't think, in all 36(8) plays, it ever occurs.
>
> Why not?

There's Mistress Shore. Antony is married to Octavia while (we assume)
he is sleeping with Cleopatra. It's not a play, but Tarquin's rape would
be called adulterous.  Gertrude's fidelity is not established, but would
have preceded the action of play. We also only have Emilia's and
Desdemona's word for their fidelity and only faith in her word and in
the oracle of Delphi for Hermione's.

Clifford

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louis Swilley <
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Date:           Sunday, 18 Feb 2001 09:59:26 -0600
Subject: 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex

Robin Hamilton wrote,

> A parallel question might relate to the absence of adultery.
> I don't think, in all 36(8) plays, it ever occurs.

But it occurs, doesn't it, in "Richard III" (Jane Shore and Edward),
"Othello" (if Iago is right about Emilia), "Lear" (Edmund w/ Goneril
*and* Regan), "Antony", - and probably in "Titus" and others?

L. Swilley

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sam Small <
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Date:           Monday, 18 Feb 2002 15:59:07 -0000
Subject: 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex

Robin Hamilton writes,

>A parallel question might relate to the absence of adultery. I don't think,
>in all 36(8) plays, it ever occurs. Why not?  This isn't 20thC political
>correctness, as there are lashings of adultery around this time (Middleton
>obviously rings to mind), but not in Bill the Bard.

Quite true, but Bill the Man spent his whole life from 18 onwards in
total and unabashed adulterous affairs with both women and men. If he
was a secret Catholic he must have been a guilty one.  Is it more sinful
to sin and rail against sin?  And when is a marriage dead?  When the
divorce papers are signed or when love flies out the window?  Aren't the
papers Caesar's and dead love God's?

SAM SMALL

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson <
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Date:           Monday, 18 Feb 2002 08:28:26 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex

Robin wrote,

> A parallel question might relate to the absence of
> adultery.
>
> I don't think, in all 36(8) plays, it ever occurs.
>
> Why not?

Goneril and Edmund come pretty darned close, although it seems unlikely
they ever got down to doing it.  Another close call: Bertram certainly
intended to, and believed he had, committed adultery with Diana.

No answers as to "why not."  Given the pervasive cuckold anxiety of the
surrounding culture, one *would* expect a bit more consummated adultery
than we are given.  Instead, Shakespeare seems more interested in what
happens when men unjustly suspect their wives/lovers of messing around.
Claudio gets off fairly easily, but WS sees to it that Othello and
Leontes get to suffer in payment for their jealousy.

I'm not sure what this tells us about Bill's actual feelings about
marital chastity.  Those who read the sonnets as "autobiographical" in
some way (I don't happen to, but that's not the point) might argue that
if he was so much into the phoenix/turtle model of marriage, he had a
funny way of showing it.

So much for my ramblings.  I'll add my voice to Robin's to say,

> Answers much appreciated.

Cheers,
Karen

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brandon Toropov <
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Date:           Monday, 18 Feb 2002 08:41:58 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex (and its inevitable
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0451 Re: Shakespeare and Sex (and its inevitable
issue)

Robin Hamilton wrote --

> A parallel question might relate to the absence of
> adultery.
>
> I don't think, in all 36(8) plays, it ever occurs.
>
> Why not?
>
> This isn't 20thC political correctness, as there are
> lashings of adultery around this time (Middleton
> obviously springs to mind), but not
> in Bill the Bard.
>
> Baffled me for years -- did Shakespeare have a thing
> about married chastity (Phoenixes and Turtles, e.g.)?
>
> Answers much appreciated.
>
> Robin Hamilton

What about Antony?

And Gertrude's apparent liaisons with Claudius before the murder of the
King?

Even if there are no other plots requiring adultery between stage
characters, Shakespeare certainly manages to make the intimate details
of it a theatrical happening -- by creating (frequently obsessive and
painful) images that the audience must process. Consider Leontes'
speed-rap about Sir Smile, who services his next-door neighbor's wife.
(Has the word "sluice" ever been put to lewder employment?)

Then there's Iago, of course, about whose provocative imagery little
needs to be said...

It's a recurrent issue -- it's just not a frequent plot device. I
actually get the feeling adultery was something that was on his mind a
great deal during certain phases of his career, as the subjects of
prostitution and strong drink seem to have been....

And on a related topic  ...

:)

I've always marveled at how rare and unpersuasive Shakespeare's
depictions of  actual *parenting* challenges are (parenting of small
children, I mean).  The fact that A&C have children, for instance,
results in no meaningful stage exchanges at all; for all Macduff's
agony, S chooses not to show him interacting with the children he leaves
in Scotland; THE WINTER'S TALE punches the FF button, and when it
punches PLAY again, we're looking at an ing

 

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