Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: May ::
Re: Mercutio = Marlowe
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0923  Tuesday, 13 May 2003

[1]     From:   Katryna Scott <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 12 May 2003 17:26:33 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0902 Re: Mercutio = Marlowe

[2]     From:   Tue Sorensen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 13 May 2003 06:46:10 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0902 Re: Mercutio = Marlowe


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Katryna Scott <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 12 May 2003 17:26:33 -0700
Subject: 14.0902 Re: Mercutio = Marlowe
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0902 Re: Mercutio = Marlowe

Sue,

You will definitely want to check out Joseph Porter, who defends the
Mercutio connection in: "Marlowe, Shakespeare and the Canonization of
Heterosexuality" In _The South Atlantic Quarterly_, 88:1, Winter 1989,
Duke University Press. (127-147). Also see Porter's  _Shakespeare's
Mercutio_ .

Cheers,
Katryna Scott

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tue Sorensen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 13 May 2003 06:46:10 +0200
Subject: 14.0902 Re: Mercutio = Marlowe
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0902 Re: Mercutio = Marlowe

Comments to several SHAKSPERs here:

Colin Cox writes,

>There is a long history of Mercutio being Marlowe, certainly amongst
>actors.  I have played the part several times and always am struck by
>the sense that this is Christopher Marlowe. As a director, I always
>instructs the actor playing Mercutio to study Marlowe's life. I have
>converted quite a number to the belief that Mercutio is Marlowe by this
>process.

I'm very glad to hear it! I'm intrigued that this is a common idea in
performance, but apparently not in scholarship. Makes me wonder which
other gems the thespian tradition has been keeping from us! :-)  While
the analogy undoubtedly has its limits, I do think the relationship of
Romeo and Mercutio describes, on some level, that of Shakespeare and
Marlowe. It shows Marlowe as a mentor figure to Shakespeare, though Will
also acts overbearingly towards him in the realization that they are
very different types of people. I can enormously easily envision Marlowe
as rash and bold, and trying in vain to influence Will the gentle
dreamer in the same direction.

>I also believe that Rosalind is Marlowe; no mere coincidence she's the
>only female character with an epilogue.

Whereas I, however, do not. I have not pegged any other Marlowe
character in Shakespeare. For the much more consistently pleasant
Rosalind's identity I think we should look elsewhere. I was interested
to read Abigail Quart's comment in the current "A Problem Like the
Sonnets" string. She says:

"Then there is the nervous-making Sonnet 20, a private joke consisting
of 14 feminine endings, the only known Shakespeare sonnet to do so.
Sonnet 20 picks up the "mundus" definition of "dress (of women)" and
runs with it. The question it brings up for me is whether the subject of
the sonnet might not have been playing women's roles in the plays"

I believe the Sonnets and the plays are intensely intertwined in their
themes and characters, and in my view Rosalind belongs to one of
Shakespeare's main classes of stock characters/archetypes. Of
transmutable gender, she is his prime problem-solving agent, praised in
the Sonnets and corresponding to such colleagues as (female:) Helena in
All's Well, Cressida, Isabella in Measure and (male:) Puck, Edgar,
Pericles and the act 5 Hamlet - among others. This archetype, I
estimate, is a sophisticated literary version of the same which in more
recent times has manifested as Hollywood action- and super-hero, from
Korben Dallas in The Fifth Element to Neo of the Matrix movies. A figure
which finds ways solve problems of paramount concern to the human
condition, and teaches us to do likewise.

I also believe that Shakespeare wrote himself into most of the plays
(and may even have performed most of those characters on-stage); I
consistently perceive his voice through that of the fool/jester
character (except for Trinculo in The Tempest), and also in the lines of
many minor characters (Iago's wife Emilia, for instance), as well as
major ones like Hamlet and Romeo, of course.

>I wrote a screenplay on Marlowe's life and work and have a ton of
>'circumstantial' evidence (isn't it all circumstantial in the end?)
>about Marlowe being Mercutio if you're interested.

If it's something you can email me, I'm extremely interested!

Thanks for responding!

Jan Pick writes,

>It occurred to me on my MA Shakespeare course just a few weeks ago -
>ideas obviously travel through the ether!

Well, the idea first struck me a couple of years ago, actually... :-)

Lisa Hopkins writes,

>No, Shakespeare could not have been present at the brawl where Marlowe
>met his end, and he is unlikely to have been elsewhere in the house
>because it was not a tavern.  The coroner's report makes it perfectly
>clear that the only other people in the room besides Marlowe were
>Nicholas Skeres, Ingram Frizer, and Robert Poley.

OK, I admit it is far-fetched to speculate that Shakespeare was present
when Marlowe was killed. But if Mercutio *is* supposed to be Marlowe,
that possibility *is* implied in the play... I will not take this detail
any further, however, but leave it unresolvable. More than likely,
Shakespeare's presence at Marlowe's death was in spirit rather than in
the flesh.

>I have seen somewhere the suggestion that there is a connection between
>Marlowe and Mercutio.  I'm afraid I can't recall exactly where, but I
>think it may have been in Joseph A. Porter, 'Marlowe, Shakespeare, and
>the Canonization of Heterosexuality', South Atlantic Quarterly 88:1
>(1989), pp.127-147.

Thanks!

Don Bloom writes,

>I wonder about the kind of person it would make WS out to be. We have
>three ideas presented: (1) WS and CM were close friends after the
>fashion of Romeo and Mercutio; (2) WS used the character of Mercutio to
>portray CM; (3) WS not only used the stabbing to death of Mercutio to
>remind the audience of parallel stabbing of his good friend, but also
>made a lot of bawdy puns about it during the play.
>
>I don't dispute that there are people who would do such a cold, callous
>and despicable thing as to make the death of a good friend the occasion
>of public entertainment and ribald laughter. But I hope WS wasn't one of
>them.

I don't agree that this would necessarily be (nor specifically was) a
cold, callous and despicable thing to do. Mercutio is described as a
noble and complex (if racy) character, and the things he says can be
construed in several different ways. I am of the conviction that
altogether too much attention is being devoted to Shakespeare's bawdry,
because the vast majority of it also have other and more sophisticated
meanings (which tend to be overlooked or dismissed by the bawdry
glossers). I don't think a Shakespeare play was performed in the same
way for the common crowd and for the educated court. The playwright
deliberately and manipulatively uses double entendres, and frequently
for effects of - simultaneously - comedy and high drama. The japes are
just there to make the plays appeal broadly, and brilliantly proliferate
the more important literary depth in the process. This fluidity is also
why the plays are as timeless as they are.  They successfully adapt to
any context and any time frame, and the more substance you breathe into
them, the more their sails will swell.

Thanks for everyone's responses,

- Tue Sorensen

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail 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.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.