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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: December ::
Re: "details such as this"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2438  Thursday, 19 December 2002

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 18 Dec 2002 12:39:22 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2432 "details such as this"

[2]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 18 Dec 2002 11:20:54 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2432 "details such as this"

[3]     From:   John W. Kennedy <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 18 Dec 2002 15:52:18 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2432 "details such as this"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Wednesday, 18 Dec 2002 12:39:22 -0400
Subject: 13.2432 "details such as this"
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2432 "details such as this"

Jim Slager asks,

>In both The Winter's Tale and Titus Andronicus men take very young
>infants on long journeys yet Shakespeare provides no details on how a
>man would have tended an infant in these circumstances.   In both cases
>it seems as simple to journey with an infant as it would be to carry a
>loaf of bread.  Shakespeare was a father and must have known something
>about how fragile and needy an infant is.  Why didn't he provide some
>"animating details"?

This is just a suggestion, but could the details have been too well
known to have required explication?

Aaron does, by the way, give a detail about teaching his son to "suck
the goat" (4.2.178).

Cheers,
Sean.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Wednesday, 18 Dec 2002 11:20:54 -0600
Subject: 13.2432 "details such as this"
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2432 "details such as this"

Jim Slager writes,

>In both The Winter's Tale and Titus Andronicus men take very young
>infants on long journeys yet Shakespeare provides no details on how a
>man would have tended an infant in these circumstances.   In both cases
>it seems as simple to journey with an infant as it would be to carry a
>loaf of bread.  Shakespeare was a father and must have known something
>about how fragile and needy an infant is.  Why didn't he provide some
>"animating details"?

Forgive me in advance for being too picky, but I'm wondering just what
the problem is. If the question is how a man would feed an infant
(having no milk of his own to offer), then the question has historical
interest. To what degree did "bottle-feeding" exist in Shakespeare's
time? Surely infants whose mothers could not feed them for one reason or
another (including death) would not be left to die. My point is that
it's a problem -- nursing an infant with no mother's milk available --
that Elizabethan society must have dealt with somehow.

The other aspects of infant care -- especially diaper-changing -- men
can handle just as well as women, if less willingly.

I am also a bit skeptical about the fragility point. Many babies are not
especially fragile. Wrap them up well, feed 'em, burp 'em, change 'em,
rock 'em to sleep. Travelling with one like that would be much easier
that with an older child. Or so it seems to me.

Cheers,
don

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John W. Kennedy <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 18 Dec 2002 15:52:18 -0500
Subject: 13.2432 "details such as this"
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2432 "details such as this"

Jim Slager <
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 > wrote:

>In both The Winter's Tale and Titus Andronicus men take very young
>infants on long journeys yet Shakespeare provides no details on how a
>man would have tended an infant in these circumstances.   In both cases
>it seems as simple to journey with an infant as it would be to carry a
>loaf of bread.  Shakespeare was a father and must have known something
>about how fragile and needy an infant is.  Why didn't he provide some
>"animating details"?

Essentially, because it had nothing to do with the plot, and would
occupy stage time to no purpose; indeed, in both the cases named, it
would undercut what is actually going on in the play at the time.

Or to put it another way, the title of the play is "Titus Andronicus",
not "Three Goths and a Baby".

It is worth Shakespeare's while, on the other hand, both artistically
and practically (an actor knows when he's playing a cardboard cutout,
and tends to resent it), to flesh out his minor characters.

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