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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: December ::
Rhyming Couplets in "All's Well"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2362  Monday, 15 December 2003

[1]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 Dec 2003 14:20:55 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2349 Rhyming Couplets in "All's Well"

[2]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Saturday, 13 Dec 2003 11:05:54 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2349 Rhyming Couplets in "All's Well"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Friday, 12 Dec 2003 14:20:55 -0000
Subject: 14.2349 Rhyming Couplets in "All's Well"
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2349 Rhyming Couplets in "All's Well"

>Helena  as a
>linguistically empowered character - indeed she is the only socially
>upward character in all of Shakespeare's plays, and a woman to boot.

I think this has to be qualified heavily.  Edmund in "King Lear" and
Richard III, among many other (especially usurpers of various kinds),
are upwardly socially mobile  in Shakespeare - from bastard younger son
with no prospect of rank or money to Duke of Gloucester and potential
husband of a female ruler (are Lear's daughters Queens?), and from a
distant relative of the King to King (Richard's last step is from Uncle
of the prospective King to King, but he starts out as the son of a
rebellious nobleman with royal ancestry and it is suggested that he is
fighting for his own advantage as much as for his family's).  Claudius
poisons his way to the crown.  Then there is Perdita who moves downward
from Princess to shepherd's daughter, and then up again to prospective
wife of a future King.  Then there is Miranda, who shifts from daughter
of a poor exile who has lost his Dukedom to, again, wife of a future
King.  Various other women marry Kings either before or during plays.
Othello went from slave to General.  In "Winter's Tale" the poor
shepherds who find Perdita are first transformed into rich shepherds (as
she is accompanied by money) and then - when her identity is revealed -
into gentlemen, as a reward for rescuing her.  Maria marries Sir Toby
Belch, Uncle to a Countess, and may herself have come from a lower class
(though this is open to dispute).

There may be something that makes Helena's upward mobility unique within
Shakespeare, but this needs very careful definition, as there are many
others who cross social and class barriers during the plays.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Saturday, 13 Dec 2003 11:05:54 -0500
Subject: 14.2349 Rhyming Couplets in "All's Well"
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2349 Rhyming Couplets in "All's Well"

Michael Skovmand's proposition that Helena is "the only socially upward
character in all of Shakespeare's plays, and a woman to boot" is belied
by Falconbridge in *Jn*, Orlando in *AYLI* (a gentleman's younger son
who marries a duke's daughter), Edmund in *Lr*, and doubtless others
I've forgotten.

David Evett

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