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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: September ::
Re: Boyet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1917  Wednesday, 18 September 2002

[1]     From:   Peter Groves <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 17 Sep 2002 21:51:05 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1905 Re: Boyet

[2]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 17 Sep 2002 21:57:01 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1903 Boyet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Groves <
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Date:           Tuesday, 17 Sep 2002 21:51:05 +0000
Subject: 13.1905 Re: Boyet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1905 Re: Boyet

>From:           David Wallace <
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 >>:

>Act Two contrasts the conflict over Aquitaine with the bold flirtations
>displayed by the King's courtiers and the Princess's ladies. Before the
>entrance of the men, all the ladies (and Boyet) converse in iambic
>pentameter. When the King enters, he greets the Princess in iambic
>pentameter. The Princess (peeved) responds in prose. The King persists
>in iambic pentameter and the Princess responds in kind.

A nice point: she initially breaches decorum to signal her displeasure
with *his* breach of decorum (in not inviting the ladies into the
palace).

Peter Groves

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Tuesday, 17 Sep 2002 21:57:01 -0400
Subject: 13.1903 Boyet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1903 Boyet

The passage is, indeed, dactylic tetrameter; as usual in English
accentual dactylics, the example of Vergil and Ovid has authorized
frequent departures from strict adherence to the pattern.  But it's not
the only instance of that meter in the scene.  The rapidly changing
verse of the encounters among Maria, Katherine, Rosalind, and the
Princess (Arden/David 2.1.194-234), preceding Boyet's speech, flirts
with and sometimes achieves the meter (see.  esp. 194-95, 197-200,
215-230.

The whole scene is a musical/visual tour de force, a dramatic analog to
the suites of dances, with their changes of rhythm and mood, that were
popular with composers, musicians and dancers of the period (and have
maintained that popularity since).  Since many of the dances had rustic
origins, such an approach is appropriate to the bucolic setting of
*LLL*.  In a sensitive performance of the play the dance elements are
usually realized to some extent, as pairs of speakers move briefly to
center stage and then retire.  All very artificial, of course (in the
root sense: overtly making art out of life), just as the rusticity is
artificial, the courtship is artificial, the whole knot of the plot
artificial, since as the Princess and Boyet make clear earlier in the
scene the conflict between France and Navarre, which has generated the
Princess's embassy, will be resolved as soon as the documents arrive
(2.1.160-66).

No other play of the canon, of course, is so indebted to the
enthusiastic exploration of metrical variety that went on in English
non-dramatic poetry of the later sixteenth century--or so challenges
actors to find and maintain the meter from form to form, or signal the
frequent shifts to prose.

Inframetrically,
David Evett

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