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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: January ::
Re: Lesbian Lovers in MND
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0163  Thursday, 30 January 2003

[1]     From:   Peter D.Holland <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 11:02:06 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0153 Re: Lesbian Lovers in MND

[2]     From:   Karen Peterson <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 09:02:17 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0153 Re: Lesbian Lovers in MND

[3]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 13:24:43 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0153 Re: Lesbian Lovers in MND

[4]     From:   L. Swilley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 16:37:45 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0153 Re: Lesbian Lovers in MND

[5]     From:   Frankie Rubinstein <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 20:17:54 -0500
        Subj:   Lesbian Lovers in MND


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter D.Holland <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 11:02:06 -0500
Subject: 14.0153 Re: Lesbian Lovers in MND
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0153 Re: Lesbian Lovers in MND

May I, not for the first time, urge SHAKSPEReans not to trust to the
wilder excesses and strange imaginings of Frankie Rubinstein's work but
instead to turn to the very scholarly and responsible analysis of Gordon
Williams in, for instance, his Glossary of Shakespeare's Sexual Language
(1997).

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 09:02:17 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.0153 Re: Lesbian Lovers in MND
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0153 Re: Lesbian Lovers in MND

>Well, in my opposite-of-Jane-Austen way, I've never
>been with women when
>they were alone...

I have.

>and one hears stories about
>schoolgirls and so on, but,
>on the whole, my response to Rubenstein's line of
>argument can best be
>epitomized in the words:  "Oh bazz-fazz!"

Um, John?  It happens.  And not just with schoolgirls. With grown-up
women, too.

And not just with (self- or other-identified) lesbians, either.

Sorry.  Back on topic: I was not convinced by Rubenstein's argument in
itself.  But both Todd Pettigrew and Holger Schott offered persuasive
and thought-provoking comments.  If considering (even if not, finally,
accepting) the possibility of such a relationship between Hermia and
Helena lends additional depth and texture to interpretation and/or
performance of the play, that seems to me A Good Thing.

Thank you, Ed, for raising the topic.

Cheers,
Karen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 13:24:43 -0600
Subject: 14.0153 Re: Lesbian Lovers in MND
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0153 Re: Lesbian Lovers in MND

Frankly, I get weary of the assumption that friendship is perforce
homosexual in intent, and homoerotic in expression. To me, this is one
of the dumber things that Freud cooked  up for internal reasons of his
own.

I realize that I am a voice in the wilderness on this issue, but I worry
about those who either have no understanding of the immense power of
friendship, or cannot conceive of that power in any context accept the
bedroom.

Cheers,
don

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 16:37:45 -0600
Subject: 14.0153 Re: Lesbian Lovers in MND
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0153 Re: Lesbian Lovers in MND

Lesbian lovers in MND?  Apparently these ladies are not at present of a
lesbian mind; they are strongly expressing their interest in  the men.
In any case, how does their lesbianism, if it exists at all, affect the
argument of the play?

L. Swilley

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Frankie Rubinstein <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 20:17:54 -0500
Subject:        Lesbian Lovers in MND

I do not suggest the young girls are experienced "lesbian lovers" but do
find Helena's (Shakespeare's) language, her "ancient love," brings to
mind or "evokes," as I said, Plato's description of ancient woman and
lesbians.  What I definitely do suggest, however, is that Helena's
lines are the expression of the familiar school girl's "crush" on
another girl who represents all she knows of love at that romantic,
budding period of her life when, sensitive to sensual beauty --- as
Helena was to her "fair Hermia" whose "favour" she would "catch" (please
see Rubinstein "CATCH") and whose "tongue" had such "sweet melody" ---
Helena speaks of their "school days'  friendship, childhood innocence,"
before she knew her later love for a man, those days when she and her
beautiful friend would go to the wood and, as Hermia says, "on primrose
beds were wont to lie." Does the setting with its "primrose" bed not
remind you of the "primrose path of dalliance" in Hamlet; or the "pale
primroses,/That die unmarried, ere they can behold/Bright Phoebus in his
strength, a malady/Most incident to maids" in The Winter's Tale; to say
nothing of the "primrose way to the everlasting bonfire" in Macbeth?
(Incidentally, this is a kind of crush I never experienced, though I
have seen it often in the young women whom I, for a period, taught in an
all girls' school, for I was fortunate enough to have been permitted
"boyfriends" on whom I could expend romantic love, a boon that Helena,
if she had a possessive, restrictive father like Hermia's, would most
certainly have lacked.)

In construing the passages cited by Mr. Kranz, can one ignore the stress
on the girls'  "bodies,"  hands, sides, minds, hearts; as well as the
repetition of the sound of "parts"-that euphemism for private parts --
heard in their "parting" and being "seeming parted" but yet a union in
"partition;" and the contrast between the "single life" a disobedient
Hermia faces and the later likening of her and Helena to a "double
cherry" (please see Rubinstein "CHERRY:" vulva, maidenhead) ---  and
note the other cherries in MND,  Helena's "ripe" lips, described by
Demetrius as "kissing cherries,"  when he did  "superpraise my
[Helena's] parts." .  Nor dare we overlook the related humor in Thisby's
"cherry lips" that often "kissed" the "stones" (!)  guilty of "parting"
her and her "fair Pyramus" --  all metaphors reflecting Shakespeare's
wonderfully playful eroticism.

Frankie Rubinstein

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