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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: May ::
Re: One Name, Two Personages
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0986  Tuesday, 20 May 2003

[1]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Monday, 19 May 2003 11:44:16 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0980 Re: One Name, Two Personages

[2]     From:   Geralyn Horton <
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        Date:   Monday, 19 May 2003 13:22:31 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0980 Re: One Name, Two Personages

[3]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Monday, 19 May 2003 14:12:35 -0400
        Subj:   One Name, Two Personages


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Monday, 19 May 2003 11:44:16 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 14.0980 Re: One Name, Two Personages
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0980 Re: One Name, Two Personages

The obvious answer is Comedy of Errors, but there we may be sure that
the doubling of names is wholly intentional.

Jack Heller
Huntington College

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Geralyn Horton <
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Date:           Monday, 19 May 2003 13:22:31 -0400
Subject: 14.0980 Re: One Name, Two Personages
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0980 Re: One Name, Two Personages

>What does the play gain from having these characters with the same
>name?
>
>Todd Gutmann

Are you encouraging wild speculative guesses, with no Retorts
Contemptuous?

I presume to nominate a habit I share with a couple of other
playwrights:  we have "favorite names" that have certain emotional
resonances and indicate a sort of basic character type.  Maybe it's the
name of a first love, or a kid who bullied us in school, or an actor who
excels in a particular humor.   (Shakespeare's Antonios?) We sprinkle a
first draft with such names-- what the play gains from this is that it
makes it easier for the writer to get it flowing-- and then edit them
out subsequently as the character takes on more individuality and merges
with the world of the play.   We also change names that were "good" for
us as writers if they are "bad" for actors or readers: to have names
that look or sound similar is a TERRIBLE thing-- bad enough for a novel,
where the reader must page back to see if this is the same character who
appeared in chapter 3 or a new one-- but a recipe for disaster on stage,
where the wrong actor/character may show up in the scene and ruin the
performance.  However, if the actor is doubling and the 2nd character is
so minor as to have no need for a name, it might make "backstage" sense
to use Eglamore and trust the actor to remember that in the scene he's
Not, esp if there are 2 Wms or Clowns or Johns in the troupe and using
the actor's name for a nameless character would be really confusing.

But sometimes we are careless and the "bad" name doesn't get changed.

Geralyn Horton
http://www.StagePage.Info

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Monday, 19 May 2003 14:12:35 -0400
Subject:        One Name, Two Personages

Like Dave Evett a few weeks ago, Todd Gutmann notes the two personages
in AYLI with the same name -- Jacques -- and wonders if there are other
examples, and, further,

"What does the play gain from having these characters with the same
name?"

Two good questions. As to the first, consider Lord Bardolph and the
comic character named Bardolph in 2H4.  I might add that in Part 2
Shallow even refers to an old friend called "Double":

Shallow         Is old Double of your town living yet?
Silence         Dead, sir.
Shallow         Jesu, Jesu, dead!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Shallow         And is old Double dead?  (3.2.41-44,53)

The careful reader will notice that Shakespeare "doubles" the speech
here with hilarious results: Double, dead, Jesu, even the initial
question are all "doubled." And Shallow's mind is also doubled --
flitting from past to present throughout!

Why this emphasis on doubling? It's hard to say. Perhaps the simple
answer is that this play is called "Part TWO". Or perhaps the doubling
is thematic: the play stresses the ending of one age and the start of
another. Part Two itself refers obsessively to two other plays: Part One
and, more subtly, Richard II. Scenes in Part Two seem like inferior
copies of Part One, and there are even two scenes in Part Two (4.1 and
4.2) that seem "doubles" of each other.

Maybe this is all just an in-joke; or maybe some clever scholar can
discern more in it than at first meets the eye.

I have wondered whether a thematic point of Part Two might be that "the
past repeats itself" -- but never exactly. Perhaps that's a start toward
a better answer than I have been able to give to Todd's second question.

--Ed Taft

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