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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: June ::
Re: Suicide
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1487  Tuesday, 4 June 2002

[1]     From:   Helen Ostovich <
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        Date:   Monday, 3 Jun 2002 00:43:43 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

[2]     From:   Rick Jones <
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        Date:   Monday, 03 Jun 2002 11:52:16 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

[3]     From:   Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Monday, 3 Jun 2002 11:26:13 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

[4]     From:   Peter Hyland <
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        Date:   Monday, 3 Jun 2002 14:35:59 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

[5]     From:   Markus Marti <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 04 Jun 2002 01:35:35 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

[6]     From:   Charles Weinstein <
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        Date:   Monday, 3 Jun 2002 23:23:54 -0400
        Subj:   Suicide


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Helen Ostovich <
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Date:           Monday, 3 Jun 2002 00:43:43 -0400
Subject: 13.1480 Suicide
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

Sordido, in Every Man Out of his Humour, in 3.2 (Revels).

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rick Jones <
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Date:           Monday, 03 Jun 2002 11:52:16 -0500
Subject: 13.1480 Suicide
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

>Does anyone know of any play, other than A&C, in which a character tries
>to commit suicide and fails?

I'm not sure if Marvin Rosenberg's question refers specifically to
Shakespeare.  If not, there are certainly a number of examples, the best
known (at least off the top of my head) being Chekhov's _Sea Gull_.

Rick
Stephen F. Austin State University

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <
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Date:           Monday, 3 Jun 2002 11:26:13 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.1480 Suicide
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

Lear - Gloucester on the cliffs at Dover.

Brian Willis

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Hyland <
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Date:           Monday, 3 Jun 2002 14:35:59 -0700
Subject: 13.1480 Suicide
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

Would Gloucester's "leap" from the cliff at Dover be classifiable as
attempted suicide?

Peter Hyland

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Markus Marti <
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Date:           Tuesday, 04 Jun 2002 01:35:35 +0100
Subject: 13.1480 Suicide
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

> Does anyone know of any play, other than A&C, in which a character tries
> to commit suicide and fails?

The most tragic character I know in this respect is Papageno in the
Magic Flute, but I am also happy that he fails. The comic relief with
the Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-geno-Pa-pa-pa-pa-gena- duet is too nice.

And then there are, of course, most characters in Beckett's plays. And
there are Harold and Maude. Or does it have to be characters in a play
by Shakespeare?

And what is it that you are looking for? Is it a suicide that we would
not like to happen? Or do you just want to see people trying to kill
themselves without success?

- Hamlet seems to consider a suicide or two from time to time, but
unfortunately he has not got the guts to do it - the play could be much
shorter otherwise, and less blood would be spent. Try to think of it
from the perspective of the other people in the play. From the middle of
the play onwards he begins to kill other people: Is that better?

- Orsino or Olivia in 12th Night: But we all know that boredom or
exaggerated mourning is not the best means to kill oneself - although it
might lead to an entry in the Guiness Book of records. Still, it is a
failure. Unless you think that matrimony is another way of suicide.

- Pyramus and Thisbe try hard to kill themselves, and their attempts
seem ridiculous, but they do not really fail, do they? Romeo's and
Juliet's deaths are somehow ironic, but they are not really "failed
suicides".

- Timon of Athens seems to need several attempts, because he writes
several epitaphs. But then, with the Roman plays and the histories
things get more problematic anyway: Is there not a suicidal element in
the mere idea to be, to stay or to become a ruler? Julius Caesar
succeeds in having himself killed. Do not also both Brutus and Mark
Antony play with the possibility that they might get killed by the
populace? What about Cinna the poet -why does he not say that he is a
mender of soles?

-Or Richard III, does he know that Lady Anne will not kill him, or is he
just gambling for his life? Does he really think he will get away with
everything, or does he just try to go on till he is stopped?
Why does Macbeth follow what seems to be his destiny? Why does anybody
want to become a king or ruler? Do not those who become the HEAD of a
society at the same time cry for their henchman: Here is my head - chop
it off or hang me? At the end of Titus Andronicus, the remaining
Andronici become leaders because they threaten to kill themselves
otherwise. What about duels? Hotspur seems to succeed as a suicidal
maniac, Prince Hal doesn't.

Ducking my head,
Markus Marti

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Weinstein <
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Date:           Monday, 3 Jun 2002 23:23:54 -0400
Subject:        Suicide

In Act III of The Seagull Treplev enters with his head bandaged:  he
tried to kill himself with a pistol-shot, but failed.  At the end of the
play he tries again; this time he succeeds.  Neither incident is shown:
the failed attempt occurs in the interval between Acts II and III; the
final suicide takes place offstage, though the gunshot is heard.
Perhaps, then, one could say that Antony and Cleopatra is the only play
that depicts a failed suicide attempt onstage.

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