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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: February ::
William Richardson - Female Characters
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0199  Wednesday, 5 February 2003

[1]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 5 Feb 2003 11:39:40 -0000
        Subj:   William Richardson - Female Characters

[2]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 5 Feb 2003 13:12:17 -0000
        Subj:   William Richardson - Female Characters (Now Available)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Wednesday, 5 Feb 2003 11:39:40 -0000
Subject:        William Richardson - Female Characters

I am currently transcribing a new addition for my website; William
Richardson's "On Shakespeare's Imitation of Female Characters" - the
first detailed consideration of Shakespeare's female characters as a
subject in themselves ever to be published.

This was originally published in 1788 along with an essay on Falstaff,
under the title "Essays on Shakespeare's dramatic character of Sir John
Falstaff: and on his imitation of female characters; To which are added,
some general observations on the study of Shakespeare", but I am working
from "Essays on Some of Shakespeare's Dramatic Characters" (5th edition,
1797), an early collected edition of Richardson's Shakespeare
scholarship.

Unfortunately I seem to have come across a misprint or dropped word
during the transition from one page to the next, and would be very
grateful if somebody with access to the original 1788 printing of the
text would let me know what the original essay said at this point.  The
sentence appears in Richardson's discussion of Beatrice (part 3. of his
section on individual female characters) and reads in my source text:

"Without it, they would perhaps fly from society, like the melancholy
Jacques, who wished to have, but did not possess a very" [NEW PAGE]
"distinguished, though some portion of such ability."

I am not sure whether I am misreading, but I am left wondering "a very
distinguished" what?  I would be grateful to know if there is an extra
word in the original essay.

Of course, I could publish the exact 1797 text and leave my readers as
puzzled as I am by the printed version, but I would rather find the
missing word if there is one.  I would be very grateful for any help
offered.

Thomas Larque.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 5 Feb 2003 13:12:17 -0000
Subject:        William Richardson - Female Characters (Now Available)

I have worked more quickly than I expected, and can now announce a new
addition to my "Shakespeare and His Critics" website.

I have now uploaded William Richardson's "On Shakespeare's Imitation of
Female Characters" (complete with probable 18th century printing error)
at http://www.shakespearean.org.uk/fem1-ric.htm where it joins a variety
of other sources on Shakespeare's women (mostly concentrating on 19th
century works on Ophelia, so far).

William Richardson's Essay "On Shakespeare's Imitation of Female
Characters" ... first published in 1788.  The first ever detailed
examination of Shakespeare's female characters to be published.
Richardson attempts to defend Shakespeare from accusations that his
female characters are too similar to each other, and less interesting
and less well portrayed than his men.  Richardson argues that
Shakespeare is justified in producing less varied female characters,
since real women show less diversity of character and occupation than
men.  In trying to show the artistic value of Shakespeare's women, he
concentrates upon the "propriety" and "discrimination" of their
characters, arguing that they show proper female reserve and delicacy.
The disdain for Shakespeare's female characters to which Richardson was
responding is probably at least partly explained by the change in
attitudes that accompanied the introduction of female actors in the
mid-seventeenth century.  Shakespeare's plays were considered old
fashioned, since their female parts were written for boys playing
supporting roles, while the more modern playwrights wrote specifically
for female actors and audiences with more interest in leading female
parts.  Richardson particularly discusses Miranda, Isabella, Beatrice,
Portia, and Cordelia.

Thomas Larque.
"Shakespeare and His Critics"
http://shakespearean.org.uk

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