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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: March ::
Re: Inconsistencies
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0708  Friday, 8 March 2002

[1]     From:   Brandon Toropov <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Mar 2002 09:29:01 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0695 Re: Inconsistencies

[2]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Mar 2002 09:45:42 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0640 Inconsistencies and Shakespeare's Writing
Process

[3]     From:   Dana Shilling <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Mar 2002 14:04:22 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0695 Re: Inconsistencies

[4]     From:   Brandon Toropov <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Mar 2002 11:20:40 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0695 Re: Inconsistencies


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brandon Toropov <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 Mar 2002 09:29:01 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0695 Re: Inconsistencies
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0695 Re: Inconsistencies

Thomas Larque referenced this post:

> > All we can say about Kent, I think, is that
> he has somehow made
> > himself unrecognizable.
> >
> > I also believe that David Wilson's argument
> is conclusive:  a working
> > (adult) actor would surely not shave for a
> role, particularly in a
> > repertory system such as the Globe's.

Thomas Larque then wrote:

> I understand and support the suggestion that
> "raz'd" may not have meant
> "shaved", but there seems good reason to
> believe that Kent would have
> been able to cut or alter, if not entirely
> remove, his beard on the
> Elizabethan stage without difficulty.
>
> Bottom in his role as amateur actor talks about
> having the choice of a
> range of false beards to play Pyramus.  It
> certainly seems likely that
> Elizabethan actors, like most grown Elizabethan
> men, would feel the need
> to have beards of their own as evidence of
> their masculinity and status,
> and they may well not have wanted to shave for
> a part, but part of
> Kent's disguise might consist of taking off a
> larger more "noble" false
> beard and exchanging it for either a smaller
> false beard in a "lower
> class" style or for the actor's own more modest
> facial hair.
>
> If an actor did need to shave his face clean
> for a part (and Dave
> Kathman has shown that at least a couple of
> adult men, on very rare
> occasions, seem to have played bit parts as
> women), he could easily have
> appeared at different moments of the same play,
> or in different plays on
> subsequent days, with his beard restored by
> means of a false substitute.
>
> So it may be unlikely, but it is not impossible
> for Kent to have removed
> his beard.

Hmm... I checked my Riverside and it agreed with "raz'd" as meaning,
basically, altering one's appearance somehow.

Just as a practical matter though -- if one is playing Kent, HOW does
one "raze" one's likeness to yield a disguise that will be noticeable
and plausible to an audience ... while still maintaining the beard?
Changing a hat or costume wouldn't do the trick, would it? If it doesn't
mean "shaved," what exactly does it mean, as a practical matter? And
putting more facial hair ON would seem unlikely, wouldn't it?

My Signet edition gives shaving as part of the meaning of "raz'd." I'm
inclined to think they did so because of the theatrical practicalities
involved. What else would it mean?

I don't think it's quite as clear-cut (no pun intended) as that later
cataloguing of Shakespearean definitions might lead us to believe. I'm
not sure I buy that "raz'd" cannot equate with "shaved."

Brandon

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 Mar 2002 09:45:42 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0640 Inconsistencies and Shakespeare's Writing
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0640 Inconsistencies and Shakespeare's Writing
Process

Brandon Toropov writes, "Among the numerous amusing inconsistencies in
KING LEAR is this one, my favorite: The banished Kent, who has "raz'd"
his "likeness" (shaved off his beard) in order to establish a disguise,
later confronts Osric with a memorable torrent of verbal abuse, and
challenges him to draw.  The cowardly Osric refuses to unsheath his
sword, and later, in a craven lie constructed to impress Cornwall and
Regan, explains that he has spared his would-be assailant's life "at
suit of his grey beard.  Bradley argues that KING LEAR'S extremely
intricate story occasionally got the best of Shakespeare the plotmaster,
who, he claims, here left more loose ends and contradictions than in
most of his other plays."

I am reminded of when I was a part-time motion picture projectionist
over two decades in Massachusetts, mostly summers away from teaching,
and had to watch certain movies many, many times: there is such an error
in the movie _Spartacus_ in which an extra looks at his wristwatch!  In
_Lawrence of Arabia_ [have pity on me for I had to watch it at least 90
times, it was in such a long run at our theater] there is a marvelous
desert scene with the soldiers on camels and a beautiful clear blue sky
and a jet making a vapor trail mid picture for it seemed an
_eternity_!!  Editors, directors and writers miss much I am afraid, and
Shakespeare was no exception.

Bill Arnold

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Shilling <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 Mar 2002 14:04:22 -0500
Subject: 13.0695 Re: Inconsistencies
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0695 Re: Inconsistencies

Thomas Larque said:

> > I also believe that David Wilson's argument is conclusive:  a working
> > (adult) actor would surely not shave for a role, particularly in a
> > repertory system such as the Globe's.

But I've seen a couple of productions of Much Ado where, as the text
indicates, Benedick shaves his beard--it makes a tremendous difference.
The simple answer is that a clean-shaven actor merely removes a false
beard. I don't seem to recall a full beard as an inevitable feature of
Elizabethan/Jacobean portraits of men, and of course only men of a
certain degree of wealth and/or status had portraits done at all.

Larry Barkley said:

> If I missed an earlier reference, I apologise, but has anyone compiled
> and published a list of those seeming inconsistencies that editors
> frequently mention, e.g. Iago's claim that Cassio is "A fellow almost
> damned in a fair wife" when Cassio seeming has no wife?

Well, for those who watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer perhaps Xander's
predicament sheds some light on this.

Dana Shilling

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brandon Toropov <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 7 Mar 2002 11:20:40 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0695 Re: Inconsistencies
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0695 Re: Inconsistencies

Larry Barkley writes:

> Dear SHAKSPEReans:
>
> If I missed an earlier reference, I apologise,
> but has anyone compiled
> and published a list of those seeming
> inconsistencies that editors
> frequently mention, e.g. Iago's claim that
> Cassio is "A fellow almost
> damned in a fair wife" when Cassio seeming has
> no wife? Such a list
> would not include geographical inaccuracies,
> which if I remember
> correctly, this list discussed some months ago.
>
> Larry

A.C. Bradley goes on quite a tear about inconsistencies in KING LEAR.
What follows is from him, but I'm not retyping it verbatim, because that
would be boring to do:

* No reason is given why Edgar should write a letter rather than speak
to his brother.

* Gloster asks Edmund to confirm that the letter is in Edgar's
handwriting, a fact he should
certainly be able to confirm on his own.

* Edgar never attempts to confront Gloster or ask him directly why he is
angry.

* Gloster wanders for no apparent reason all the way to Dover to attempt
suicide.

* Edgar puts on a multitude of dialects after Gloster's "fall," and
Gloster never registers
surprise at this.

* Kent reports that there are rumors of war between Goneril and Regan,
as well as the
approach of a French force --  "and that this ... is perhaps connected
with the harshness of *both*
sisters to their father, although Regan has apparently had no
opportunity to show any harshness till the day before."

* Lear complains of having to dismiss fifty followers at a clap, but
Goneril has not specified any figure and has had no way to do so
offstage prior to the delivery of that line.

* Lear and Goneril both send messengers off to Regan and instruct them
to come back with an
answer -- but both are following their messengers to Regan anyway, so
what answer could be
delivered? (This one seems to me to be open to debate.)

* Edgar never reveals himself to Gloster after the blinding. How come?
He says he regrets not
having done so.

* Similarly, Kent maintains his disguise as a servant until the last
scene for no apparent
reason.

* Burgundy appears to have prior right in the choice of Cordelia as a
bride, and this doesn't
make much sense. (In a footnote, Bradley spells out an elaborate
hypothetical scenario to explain
this state of affairs that I won't bother trying to reformulate here.)

* Edmund has no reason (outside of WS's desire to bring about the
catastrophe) for withholding the
fact that he has ordered  that the King and Cordelia be executed.

* We never find out what happens to the Fool. (Not an inconsistency,
exactly, but certainly an
oversight.)

* This one's priceless and intricate, so I'll quote it verbatim: "The
Duke of Cornwall, we
presume in the absence of information, is likely to live in Cornwall;
but we suddenly find, from
the introduction of a place-name which all readers take at first for a
surname, that he lives at Gloster (I. v. 1.) This seems likely to be
also the home of the Earl of Gloster, to whom Cornwall is patron. But no
-- it is a night's journey from Cornwall's "house" to Gloster's, and
Gloster's is in the middle of an uninhabited heath."

* The location of the "lodging" of Edmund's where Edgar is stowed is
impossible to determine.

* In reckless disregard for his own safety, Edgar apparently returns to
his father's house to
deliver a soliliquy. (There's Kent in the stocks, right?)

He goes on at some length about the illogical movements of the
characters from one locale to
the next, and says that the whole mess reminds him of ANTONY AND
CLEOPATRA, "the most faultily constructed of all the tragedies." (I
don't THINK so.) He also observes that the constant obscurity of place
seems to serve a thematic purpose.

Bradley regards LEAR as a great and surpassing work of the imagination,
and sings its praises in that context, but sees it as "too huge for the
stage" and suspects that drastic, illogicality-producing revisions were
required to get it down to its present (monumental) size.

His take: "A comparison of the last two acts of OTHELLO with the last
two acts of KING LEAR would show how unfavourable to dramatic clearness
is a multiplicity of figures. But that this multiplicity is not in
itself a fatal obstacle is evident from the last two acts of HAMLET, and
especially from the final scene."

So it appeared in 1904, anyway.

Brandon

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