The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2073 Monday, 14 October 2002
Date: Sunday, 13 Oct 2002 17:26:44 -0400
Subject: Naught's Well
A young man is forced to marry a woman whom he does not love. We are
asked to sanction this, on the strange theory that he should love her.
Other Shakespeare plays invoke no sympathy for coercive matchmaking
where daughters are concerned. In this play, however, we are asked to
discount our belief in what many of us regard as a fundamental human
right: that of freely choosing one's life partner. For a 21st-century
reader, this does present a "problem," and one which he may find
insuperable. Some people see this play as the story of a young woman
who achieves her heart's desire through a combination of skill, cunning
and boldness. Others may see it as the story of a young man struggling
to free his balls from the vise-like grip of his shotgun bride. That he
fails to do so, and that we are meant to celebrate the failure, makes
All's Well as repugnant to men as Shrew is to women.
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