The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1758 Wednesday, 7 August 2002
From: Michael Shurgot <
Date: Tuesday, 6 Aug 2002 14:43:56 -0700
Subject: 13.1704 Re: Her C's . . .
Comment: RE: SHK 13.1704 Re: Her C's . . .
I appreciate David Evett's two responses to my post. On his first
point, I note that David mentions some truly superb actors as having
shown the ability to cross genre lines: i.e., Neville, Hutt, Ustinov.
These actors's names seem to confirm my actual statement, which read ".
. . only a very few actors can cross genre lines . . . ." How many
other actors would one put into the same class with the above three?
On his second point, about my calling Malvolio a "cynical creep," with
which he says few readers of these notes would agree, I would respond
that I see in Malvolio a character much like many people I have met in
my life. Malvolio, I would argue, sees the absurdity and depravity of
those he serves (i.e., Olivia), and her ilk, and despises them for their
obviously fatuous waste of time and talent. Yet, and this is for me the
central point, he accepts his situation as one who serves fools
unquestionably (including drunks like T. Belch), and refuses to
criticize them. He is a sycophant, who debases himself in the service of
those he detests, and such people strike me as cynical about the
possibility of happiness or even the possibility of honest human
emotional experiences and responses. In his straight-laced outfit (as he
is usually played), he severely covers and restrains those very emotions
he feels are beneath him and not worth the effort to engage. Yet he
indulges himself in the service of this stupid high-brow woman and
thinks himself thereby elegant and important. Is this not cynical?
Thus when he "falls" in love, he is, yes, pitiful and terribly abused,
but also pathetic as he tries vainly to embrace what he has always
detested and thought worthless and base. All the more painful on stage,
then, that his ego should overwhelm the cynicism that has aided his
severe repression (as in the "cakes & ale" scene) of the very
possibility of human joy, emotional, sexual, etc.
More anon, I trust.
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