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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: February ::
Re: Chance
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0283  Friday, 14 February 2003

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Feb 2003 08:09:51 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0272 Chance

[2]     From:   Al Magary <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Feb 2003 12:45:35 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0272 Chance

[3]     From:   Claude Caspar <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Feb 2003 16:35:29 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0272 Chance


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Feb 2003 08:09:51 -0800
Subject: 14.0272 Chance
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0272 Chance

Claude,

I don't know of any studies that will suit your interests, but you may
want to throw *A&C* into the mix as well.

All the best,
Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Al Magary <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Feb 2003 12:45:35 -0800
Subject: 14.0272 Chance
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0272 Chance

At first I thought Claude Caspar's anthology was sly commentary on an
impending war, but I will take him at his word in his epilogue that his
focus is on the "accidental" suicides in R&J and JC.

The Tudor writer I am working with, Hall (1550), repeatedly uses the
word (almost always spelled "chaunce").  I have of course learned that
he can use the same word to mean different things, and of course not to
read using today's definitions.  As a convenient resource I have the New
Shorter OED lodged in my CD-ROM drive.  Looking up "chance" now I find
these definitions current in Hall's and Shakespeare's time:

A n. 1 The way things happen of themselves; the absence of design or
discoverable cause; the course of events regarded as a power; fortune,
fate. ME.

[Obs.] b One's fortune or lot. ME-E18.

2 An event that is without apparent cause or unexpected; a casual
circumstance; an accident. ME.

3 An opportunity, as of escape, of dismissing a batsman in cricket, of
scoring a goal in football, etc. ME.

B adv. By chance. arch. M16.

chanceful a. (arch.) (a) casual, accidental; (b) unpredictable,
eventful:  L16.

chancefully adv. (arch. rare) ?(a) unfortunately; (b) in a chanceful
manner: ME.
--------

I want to particularly note "one's fortune or lot" (and "fate") and "an
opportunity" among the definitions, not just "accident." These suggest
to me the possibility of chance being a particularly tragic circumstance
in character-driven plots, including Macbeth.  If chance is one's fate,
then the outcome is destiny.  If chance is an opportunity, then the
outcome may depend on free will.  Both suggest entirely different
interpretations of what might seem chancy, roll-of-the-die outcomes.

Al Magary

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Claude Caspar <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Feb 2003 16:35:29 -0500
Subject: 14.0272 Chance
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0272 Chance

I should mention the most telling instance of chance in all of
literature, and hope others raise their own examples from Shakespeare.

Hamlet!  If only Claudius had been closer to Gertrude when she selects
the poisoned chalice, he could have dashed it from her hand- he just
happens to be out of position.  And, this one haphazard moment
determines the outcome.  No one claims Claudius doesn't love Gertrude, I
believe.  In fact, he gives himself away, perhaps, at least to Gertrude,
herself, when he orders her not to drink.

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