2003

Re: Problems in Macbeth

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0807  Tuesday, 29 April 2003

[1]     From:   Annalisa Castaldo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 28 Apr 2003 11:10:04 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0798 Problems in Macbeth

[2]     From:   Jack Hettinger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 28 Apr 2003 12:05:58 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.0798 Problems in Macbeth

[3]     From:   Tue Sorensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Apr 2003 02:21:36 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0798 Problems in Macbeth

[4]     From:   L. Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 28 Apr 2003 21:59:40 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0798 Problems in Macbeth

[5]     From:   Matthew Baynham <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Apr 2003 10:40:27 +0100
        Subj:   Problems in Macbeth


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Annalisa Castaldo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 28 Apr 2003 11:10:04 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 14.0798 Problems in Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0798 Problems in Macbeth

Robert Icke asks about the witches and their influence over Macbeth.
"...surely this partly removes the blame for his crimes from his
ambitious mind and places it upon them?"

There are probably two answers to this. The first, of historical
context, is that the new king, James, was obsessed with witches, and
surely their apparent power was a way to keep his interest.

But the more compelling and literary reason is that by introducing the
witches, but leaving their power ambiguous (while they do say "The
charm's wound up." Macbeth in several places indicates that he was
thinking along kingly lines before they ever appeared), Shakespeare
opens a debate on fate vs. free will. We can not only pity or hate
Macbeth because of his moral collapse, we can also wonder endlessly if,
or how much, he is responsible.

Annalisa Castaldo

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Hettinger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 28 Apr 2003 12:05:58 -0400
Subject: 14.0798 Problems in Macbeth
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.0798 Problems in Macbeth

Robert Icke raises what for me is the big question about Macbeth-if the
witches charm him into mischief, then our interest in a great and good
man choosing to over-reach flies out the window. I say no will, no
tragedy, at least in a modern sense.

Sounds as if Hecate and the Weird Sisters have not influenced Macbeth to
feel more "secure"; rather the opposite. Further, I don't think Macbeth
can be played as credulous of the two assurances he gets, namely, that
he's safe from every man "born of woman" (4.1.96), and of course safe
until Great Birnham Wood shows up at Dunsinane. He clings to these
equivocations, but believes them? They sound fishy, at least to my
Macbeth, regardless how alarmed he acts when the riddles are solved for
him.

Jack

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tue Sorensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 29 Apr 2003 02:21:36 +0200
Subject: 14.0798 Problems in Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0798 Problems in Macbeth

Of Macbeth, Robert Icke wrote:

>If Shakespeare's purpose is to make his audience watch
>(and pity) the descent
>and change from 'worthy' Macbeth who 'well ... deserves
>that name' to a 'dead
>butcher', why employ the witches other than to create
>drama and excitement?

Primarily because of pressure from his wife, Macbeth's rational capacity
becomes increasingly diseased and misdirected, and he extrapolates
wildly and desperately on the augurs of the witches. While essentially
true, the prophecies of the witches are being distorted and then used as
(now flawed) guidelines for action. This is not the witches' fault.
Rather, Shakespeare is illustrating what the human mind (Macbeth) does
in such a situation. In the largest perspective - applying it as broadly
as possible to the human condition -, I see a commentary on and an
intentional parallel to phenomena like religion and philosophy in this
play. In the real word, the profound prophetic wisdom of the original
scriptures are being turned into all sorts of different things by people
who can't understand the true meaning, context and background of the
texts. This play, I believe, is fundamentally about how truth is
distorted into fabricated fixations by a human mind which, for most of
human history, has no other choice because its knowledge of the truth is
so limited that fabrication is the only way to attempt to understand it
(which includes convincing itself that is *has* understood it). This
spawns panicky speculation which in many cases is fatally wrong and
leads to great oppression and suffering. So at heart the play is a
tragedy of human ignorance (which can be blamed only on natural
circumstances), with Macduff representing the hope that such ignorance
may one day be overcome by the more enterprising aspects of the human
spirit.  Most of Shakespeare's plays do not simply resolve a conflict
which restores the status quo; rather, they represent an evolution from
one state to another, from a lower level to a higher level. From fear to
confidence, from separation to unity, from ignorance to wisdom, etc.

- Tue Sorensen

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 28 Apr 2003 21:59:40 -0500
Subject: 14.0798 Problems in Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0798 Problems in Macbeth

Robert Icke wrote,

>The tragedy of Macbeth is ...[the] tragedy...
> not necessarily of a man ruined by his own flaws, but by a man
> bewitched. Presumably the witches are behind the dagger that pushes
> Macbeth to kill Duncan, and have been said also to be responsible for
> the change in Macbeth's character after the coronation; surely this
> partly removes the blame for his crimes from his ambitious mind and
> places it upon them?

If the witches are not treated as externalizations of Macbeth's own evil
motives (I, iii, 130ff), making his demise of his own doing, Macbeth is
not to be considered a tragic figure at all but merely one to be
pitied.  There are no tragic figures without moral flaws from which
their destruction follows.

       L. Swilley

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matthew Baynham <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 29 Apr 2003 10:40:27 +0100
Subject:        Problems in Macbeth

I think the answer is too psychologically simple for us now; but
probably Shakespeare uses the Witches as fairly routine agents of
temptation.  Temptation is a recurrent thread in Macbeth: the Witches
(and perhaps Lady Macbeth) tempt Macbeth; Macbeth (as I've been arguing
in another thread) tempts the Murderers; and, in some strange way in
4.3, Macbeth tempts Malcolm, too. Banquo's idea that 'The instruments of
darkness' lead human beings astray in this way was (is) orthodox
Christian doctrine; but it was (is) not thought to remove the human
agent's moral responsibility for one's own actions.

Matthew Baynham
Chaplain
Bishop Grosseteste College

_______________________________________________________________
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Re: The Date of Richard II

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0806  Monday, 28 April 2003

[1]     From:   Roger Parisious <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 25 Apr 2003 12:24:22 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0788 Re: The Date of Richard II

[2]     From:   Edward Brown <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 26 Apr 2003 16:28:30 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0788 Re: The Date of Richard II


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger Parisious <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 25 Apr 2003 12:24:22 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.0788 Re: The Date of Richard II
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0788 Re: The Date of Richard II

Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> writes,

>Roger Parisious wrote
>
>>The Shakespeare Richard II text, the only one
>>which the Lord Chamberlain's Men are on record
>>as holding, suffered from major political
>>deletions.
>
> If this refers to the fact that the abdication scene
>is first printed in
>the fourth quarto, one should in fairness point out
>the argument that
>the scene was a subsequent addition, not a deletion
>at all. That's the
>view in David M. Bergeron's "The Deposition Scene in
>Richard II."
>Renaissance Papers (1974): 31-37.

Thanks for the reference, which I, unfortunately, have no way of
obtaining in a remote Cumberlands village, and no immediate recollection
of having read. If Bergeron means a new scene which serves as a
substitute for a highly offensive and accordingly deleted abdication
scene, it is easy to go along with that as the metrical material appears
more mature in this section than most of the play, and fits easier into
Vickers time slot than the great body of the text. It would also
demonstrate that the players were being somewhat disingenuous about what
part they - and Shakespeare-played in the affair.

On the other hand, if, as Mr. Egan seems to imply, Bergeron is claiming
that there was no abdication scene in the original, I would say this is,
on the existing structure of the show, near
impossible. Its absence sticks out like a red flag in the earlier
quartos. Still may be Mr. Egan can convince us the current scene is
late. Why not?

Roger Parisious

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward Brown <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 26 Apr 2003 16:28:30 EDT
Subject: 14.0788 Re: The Date of Richard II
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0788 Re: The Date of Richard II

How can one believe the abdication scene a later addition? It's central
to the play.

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Hirsh and "To Be"

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0804  Monday, 28 April 2003

From:           Marcia Eppich-Harris <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 28 Apr 2003 00:14:36 -0500
Subject:        Hirsh and "To Be"

I am writing because I am puzzled. Have you read "Shakespeare and the
History of Soliloquies" (1997) or "The 'To Be or Not to Be' Scene and
the Conventions of Shakespearean Drama" (1981) both by James Hirsh? I'm
writing a paper on the "To be" soliloquy and ran across these two
essays. I must say, I have always been a bit puzzled by that speech in
general, so that's why I decided to write about it. In reading these two
articles, I have come to the conclusion that all conventional wisdom on
this speech is if not wrong, then sort of naive, and I'm wondering if
you could help me out a bit with this.

Here's a brief summary if you haven't read these articles: Hirsh
contends that we must look at "to be" in the context of the scene --
obviously -- but not so obviously, Hirsh says that the convention of
Shakespeare's day was that soliloquies were not "interior monologue,"
nor were they the actual thoughts of a character, nor were these
speeches protected from overhearing.  There's the rub. (Hirsh says that
the neo-classical folks were the ones who reinvented the soliloquy as we
now know it -- as interior monologue.) As much as I want to believe
Hirsh because it fits the premise of my own paper, I am wondering where,
besides literary examples, he gets evidence that THE convention in
Shakespeare's day was that soliloquies were literally just people
talking to themselves, not interior monologue, and available for all to
hear. Would there even be such a thing as non-literary evidence in this
case? I mean, I know there are a ton of examples in Shakespeare's works
alone in which speeches are overheard, but the literary tradition that I
am familiar with in regard to "soliloquy" is that it is an interior
monologue that is verbalized for the audience alone to hear. If we take
Hirsh's stance, though, then Ophelia, Polonius, and Claudius overhear
the "to be" speech, and each of them might have a different response.
Hirsh says that the speech is for Claudius to hear in order to throw
Claudius off -- in other words, if Claudius were suspicious that Hamlet
knew about the murder of King Hamlet, then the "to be" soliloquy would
be designed to direct Claudius to believe that Hamlet is really just
depressed and contemplating suicide.

In Hirsh's later essay (the 1997 one), he says that no one has ever
refuted his claim that Shakespeare soliloquies are for all on the stage
to hear, not interior monologues. That seems a little weird to me that
Shakespeareans wouldn't jump on that, unless there is some sort of
non-literary evidence to support his claim. Do you know of any? Now, I
grant that it's sort of splitting hairs in a way to say that a soliloquy
is just a speech, and not in fact interior monologue, but in the case of
"to be," this distinction seems to make all the difference in the world.
It's so impersonal and completely unlike any of Hamlet's other
soliloquies that it really makes me wonder what exactly is the answer to
this soliloquy convention thing because if the speech IS directed at
someone (or multiple people), then that changes everything.

Any ideas?

Turning the green one red,
Marcia Eppich-Harris

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Re: One name, two personages

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0805  Monday, 28 April 2003

From:           Matthew Baynham <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 28 Apr 2003 09:52:47 +0100
Subject:        Re: One name, two personages

Slightly tangential, but interesting in that it suggests a thematic use
of the double name, is Tom McAlindon's insight: 'Antony conjured up the
horrors of a Roman triumph in order to involve Eros in his suicide,
Cleopatra does the same with Iras (even the names rhyme). Antony felt
'base' because Cleopatra (as he believed) and Eros died before
him(iv.xiv.57, 95-9); Cleopatra feels the same about Iras' death
(v.ii.298).' Shakespeare's Tragic Cosmos p.255

Matthew Baynham
Chaplain
Bishop Grosseteste College

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Branagh Hamlet DVD

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0803  Monday, 28 April 2003

From:           Tanya Gough <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 26 Apr 2003 15:50:22 -0400
Subject:        Branagh Hamlet DVD

This direct from the Branagh Fan Club/Compendium...

One of their members recently accosted Mr. Branagh himself at a
conference, and was told that the Hamlet DVD would be released in early
2004.  This information comes to me directly from the individual
involved.  I hope to confirm this personally with Branagh's offices this
week, but I think we can consider it tentative, if not fairly reliable.

More information to follow when dates are finalized.

Tanya Gough
Poor Yorick Shakespeare Catalogue
http://www.bardcentral.com

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

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