Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: September ::
Determined to Be a Villain
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1778  Friday, 12 September 2003

[1]     From:   David Cohen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 11 Sep 2003 09:31:18 -0500
        Subj:   Abuse and Neglect of Richard Gloucester?

[2]     From:   Kathy Dent <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 11 Sep 2003 15:46:33 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1771 Determined to Be a Villain

[3]     From:   David Evett <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 11 Sep 2003 11:13:38 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1771 Determined to Be a Villain


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Cohen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 11 Sep 2003 09:31:18 -0500
Subject:        Abuse and Neglect of Richard Gloucester?

Ann Carrigan writes, "I think there is a strong sense that Margaret is
driven by her own huge need for power as is Richard, but with Richard
there is that compelling back-story of abuse and neglect (from
childhood) that make a fleshier character. "

Where is the evidence of that "back-story"-that is, for any "neglect" or
"abuse" from the Richard's mother DURING HIS CHILDHOOD?  Deformities and
bad behavior would not necessarily make a mother-even a mother who
dislikes her child-abusive or neglectful. Therefore the fact that
Richard's mother doesn't love Richard-the text of Richard III (IV, iv)
makes this plain-has no bearing on whether her reactions to Richard's
awful behavior were ever "abusive" or "neglectful."

I assume that Ann Carrigan assumes that this is the period when
personality is powerfully shaped, if not determined, by quality of
parenting, though there is much evidence against this assumption.  On
the other hand, there is much evidence that a child's behavior has
tremendous influence on parents' affections and behavior.  (Psychology
is increasingly turning its experimental interest from parenting effects
on children to what I call "childing" effects on parents.)   A
psychopathic child, as a hyperactive, autistic, or temperamentally
hypersensitive child-"mother killers," as described by temperament
researchers Thomas, Chess, and Birch-can, over time, have powerfully and
increasingly negative effects on a parent.  Therefore, we may safely
conclude that any "neglect" or "abuse" (rather than dislike and despair)
DURING CHILDHOOD would be caused by Richard, whose psychopathic
development, given the high heritability of psychopathy, would follow
more or less the same trajectory regardless of maternal parenting.   So,
when tempted to conclude, No wonder little Billy is so troubled; just
look at his parents (his mother, in particular, as we are inclined to
blame mom), we should consider the reverse: No wonder his parents are so
troubled; just look at little Billy.

Incidentally, (a) even ignoring the evidence that parenting has rather
limited effects on how a child will turn out in personality,
intelligence, character, and liability to mental illness/psychopathy,
and (b)  given that [Richard's] "father loved and valued him greatly,
and . . . while York was alive Richard was prized above being just the
third son," plenty of experimental research indicates that Richard's
loving father would provide much emotional protection from any alleged
maternal "neglect" or "abuse."  If so, then biology, not parenting,
would likely explain Richard's psychopathic personality.

David Cohen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kathy Dent <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 11 Sep 2003 15:46:33 +0100
Subject: 14.1771 Determined to Be a Villain
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1771 Determined to Be a Villain

In Janis Lull's introduction to the New Cambridge Richard 3 she
comments: 'When Richard tells the audience that he is 'determined to
prove a villain', he summarises the tragic conception of the play in a
joke.  His primary meaning is that he controls his own destiny.  His pun
also has a second, contradictory meaning - that his villainy is
predestined - and the strong providentialism of the play endorses this
meaning.' (p.8)

For anyone interested in tracing the theatrical origins of Richard
Gloucester's portrayal as master of pun, proverb and topsy-turvy paradox
(as well as a refreshing antidote to some pretty tiresome and
anachronistic psychoanalysing of disability and family dysfunction that
surrounds this play) I would heartilly recommend Bernard Spivack's
_Shakespeare and the Allegory of Evil_; Alan Dessen's _Shakespeare and
the Late Moral Play_; or,in the spirit of keeping the best 'til last,
Robert Weimann's _Shakespeare and the Popular Tradition in the Theater_.

Enjoy!

Kathy Dent

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 11 Sep 2003 11:13:38 -0400
Subject: 14.1771 Determined to Be a Villain
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1771 Determined to Be a Villain

>Do other people think that? I guess I don't even see it as an *attempt*
>at tragedy in the way T.A. could be, or the way Richard 2 or R&J could
>be....

Chris Stroffolino might recognize that prior to the widespread diffusion
of Aristotelian ideas in Elizabethan England there was a medieval and
earlier early modern use of "tragedy" to label any narrative in which
large human aspirations are mocked by failure and death.  Thus the
stories in *A Mirror for Magistrates*, which recall "princes of renown,
/ That whilom sat on top of Fortune's wheel, / Now laid full low, like
wretches whirled down," as Sackville puts it in his induction to the
story of Henry, Duke of Buckingham, Richard Crookback's stooge and
hardly an Oedipus or Lear, are all called tragedies.  See Willard
Farnham, *The medieval heritage of Elizabethan tragedy*.   It's this
tradition on which the titles of the quartos of *R3* call .

David Evett

_______________________________________________________________
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.