The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1916 Wednesday, 18 September 2002
Date: Tuesday, 17 Sep 2002 14:32:13 -0700
Subject: 13.1850 Re: Her C's . . .
Comment: RE: SHK 13.1850 Re: Her C's . . .
Once more, I gather, into the breach, or wherever these remarks are
taking us. My point about Olivia's seven years of grieving is not that I
blame her for expressing understandable grief, but rather that 7 years
of announced mourning seems prima facie absurd. How does one know one
will, or can, mourn for seven whole years? Olivia expresses, of course,
recognizable human emotions (being, we must remember, a character in a
fairy tale about whom we know nothing except what is given in the
script[Did she cry often as a child? We don't/can't know]), but the
seven year plan seems like one of the many excesses ripe for picking in
this highly satirical play. Like Iago, Feste is nothing if not critical,
and he knows an easy target when he sees one.
I mean not to alarm, only to engage. What happens to the seven year plan
once Olivia is smitten, and why does she accept the substitution of
Sebastian for Cesario at the end with no other remark other than "Most
Wonderful"? How well does she know herself? Her own emotions? Does the
convention of love (or the plague, as she says) at first sight obviate
us as readers (or better, spectators) from thinking her rapid flip from
one emotion to another (and from one "husband" to another) as silly as
the initial seclusion? Are these signs of a cynicism about human
emotions in this play at the end of a festive period in which indulgence
of many kinds has simply outdone itself?
I appreciate the continuing interest and courteous responses.
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