The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0032 Wednesday, 7 January 2004
Date: Tuesday, 6 Jan 2004 13:09:46 -0500
Subject: TGV Rape Scene
In the concluding scene of Two Gentlemen, much depends on the stage
direction ("Swoons") added for Julia by Alexander Pope when she says,
"Oh me unhappy" (First Folio, TLN 2208). As a matter of fact, only one
character is ever directed to "swoon" in the Folio, and that character
is King Henry VI, in 2H6: "King sounds" (TLN 1729) or "The King falls
in a sound" (Quarto). The dialogue surrounding this SD is instructive:
Queen: How fares my Lord? Help, lords, the King is dead.
Somerset: Rear up his body, wring him by the nose.
Queen: Run, go, help, help. Oh Henry ope thine eyes.
Suffolk: He doth revive again, madam, be patient.
Here is the dialogue in TGV:
Proteus: Look to the boy.
Valentine: Why, boy?
Why, wag? How now? what's the matter? Look up. Speak.
The next line is Julia's, and it is perfectly coherent.
If I were directing TGV, I would ignore Pope's added SD and direct the
actor playing Julia simply to burst into loud weeping with her head down
and perhaps her hands covering her face. This would motivate the men's
concerned questions and Valentine's direction, "Look up." Julia's doing
these things, instead of fainting, directs attention away from
Valentine's silly and impossible offer and focuses it on Julia, who then
offers the "wrong" ring, which Proteus recognizes, thus beginning to
ravel up the frayed plotlines and allowing Julia to reveal herself
beneath her disguise. Whatever Julia does when she says "Oh me
unhappy," ignoring Pope's SD allows her to take CONTROL of the scene
rather than be weakly passive in it.
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