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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: March ::
Re: WT - Act V scene 2
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0573  Friday, 21 March 2003

From:           Joanne Gates <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Mar 2003 17:01:31 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2

I have for a long time held that one unique feature of this scene
(besides the fact that to actually stage the Perdita reunion would
undercut the statue scene; in tragedy, Shakespeare does the same in
keeping off stage Gloucester's death to make more prominent Lear's), is
that Autolycus as the principal hearer of the reports by the Gentlemen
is shown up to be excluded from all festive ending and all rewards. When
the Clown and Shepherd appear (dressed in their gentlemen's clothes),
it's a further dig at this rogue who didn't reform in time to enjoy the
first-hand experience of the reunions.  The pre-eminent trickster is
left holding the bag, because he hasn't been present for the revelation
of the princess's identity.  I've seen it staged (I believe in Stratford
Ontario in the late 70s) with the three gentlemen's speeches shared as
if by individuals in a full crowd of those who witnessed the events,
buzzing with excitement at the scene they had just witnessed.

In reference to Matthew Baynham's comment also in this thread, on
audience members not knowing the end of Hamlet, I attended a "Parent's
weekend" production of Hamlet at --should I name the private college in
the same town where I took my graduate degrees at UMass /Amherst?--
Leaving at the intermission after a long but well-acted first part,
after "The play's the thing where in I'll catch the conscience of the
king," one father was heard to remark, "Very good performance," as if to
assume that it was over at that point.  No doubt it had been a long day
and he had worked hard all his life to pay for his offspring's tuition.

Joanne Gates

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