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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: March ::
Much Ado Questions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0607  Friday, 5 March 2004

[1]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Thursday, 4 Mar 2004 07:59:11 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0596 Much Ado Questions

[2]     From:   David Crosby <
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        Date:   Thursday, 4 Mar 2004 10:35:30 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0574 Much Ado Questions

[3]     From:   Richard Kennedy <
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        Date:   Thursday, 04 Mar 2004 09:18:02 -0800
        Subj:   Much Ado Questions

[4]     From:   Jennifer Soldanels <
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        Date:   Thursday, 4 Mar 2004 16:37:27 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0596 Much Ado Questions

[5]     From:   Alan Horn <
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        Date:   Friday, 5 Mar 2004 00:27:39 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0596 Much Ado Questions

[6]     From:   Edson Tadeu Ortolan <
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        Date:   Friday, 5 Mar 2004 03:00:56 -0300
        Subj:   Much Ado Questions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Thursday, 4 Mar 2004 07:59:11 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 15.0596 Much Ado Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0596 Much Ado Questions

I'm glad I'm not alone in finding it illogical to read "jewel"
simultaneously as male and female genitals. And it doesn't seem to have
the simultaneous meanings in popular culture either; has anyone heard
"the family jewels" to include the female genitals?

Brian Willis writes:

 >Marriage also
 >emasculates a military man, but that is another topic altogether.

Benedick makes this point about Claudio at the beginning of in Act 2,
scene 3. And by the end of the scene, after Benedick decides he too is
in love,

BENEDICK: You take pleasure then in the message?
BEATRICE: Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife's point, and
choke a daw withal.

Jack Heller
Huntington College

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Crosby <
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Date:           Thursday, 4 Mar 2004 10:35:30 -0600
Subject: 15.0574 Much Ado Questions
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0574 Much Ado Questions

Jack Heller ponders this situation in Much Ado:

 >Antonio's describes what his man overheard: "the prince discovered to

Claudio that he loved my neice your daughter and meant to acknowledge it
this night in a dance." That would seem to set up a potential
misunderstanding but it is never developed ramatically. In 2.1, Don
Pedro just simply says, "I have broke with her father, and his good will
obtained." Is that one sentence all that 1.2 was to lead to?

It seems to me it sets in train a whole series of consequences for the
play.  What Don Pedro has actually said is this: "If thou dost love fair
Hero, cherish it,/ And I will break with her, and with her father,/ And
thou shalt have her." Then we have Antonio's misinterpretation that you
have described.  Before the wooing dance can occur, there is a scene
between Don John and Borachio, that delivers a different interpretation.
Borachio says that he "heard it agreed upon that the Prince should woo
Hero for himself and, having obtained her, give her to Count Claudio."

In the next scene, leading up to the dance, Leonato tells hero:
"Daughter, remember what I told you. If the Prince do solicit you in
that kind, you know your answer." That kind refers to the previous
discussion with Beatrice about daughters being ruled by their fathers in
the choice of a husband. At this point Leonato appears to believe
Antonio's mistaken interpretation. (By the way, when Don Pedro and Hero
walk off together for the "breaking with" part of the scene, she says
that she will walk away with him in her company when she likes his
favour "for God defend the lute should be like the case." I wonder what
the bawdy implications of that may be.)

What follows is the procession of masked dancers, in which each couple
(Balthazar and Margaret, Ursula and Antonio, Benedick and Beatrice)
bandy words that play on recognizing or not recognizing the identities
of the maskers. Don John then (somewhat remarkably) says to Borachio,
"Sure my brother is amorous on Hero, and hath withdrawn her father to
break with him about it." Either Don John has misunderstood Borachio's
earlier revelation about the purpose of Don Pedro's wooing, or, seeing
him flirt with Hero, has made up his own mind about his brother's
intentions. Don John has revealed earlier that his intent is to thwart
Claudio: "If I can cross him any way I bless myself every way." He
proceeds immediately to Claudio, whom he pretends to think is Benedick,
and urges him to warn Claudio that the Prince is "enamoured on Hero. I
pray you dissuade him from her. She is no equal for his birth." Both Don
John and Borachio claim to have heard the Prince swear his love for Hero.

Claudio now comes to believe the mistaken interpretation that Antonio
conveyed to Leonato and Leonato appears to have conveyed to Hero and
Beatrice. Benedick is drawn into the same circle of misunderstanding by
Claudio a few moments later, and soon confronts Don Pedro with the
charge of having been shown Claudio's "bird's nest," and having stolen
it from him.  The Prince reassures Benedick that he "will but teach them
to sing, and restore them to the owner." And this, of course, is what he
does a few moments later in the scene when he, responding to Beatrice's
observation that Claudio has "something of that jealous complexion,"
declares "if he is so, his conceit is fales. Here, Claudio, I have wooed
in they name, and fair Hero is won."

I would suggest it is Antonio's misunderstanding which foreshadows all
the misunderstandings of 2.1, and which in turn foreshadow all the
misunderstandings that will come later when Don John accuses Hero of
being unfaithful. To me the strange thing is that Hero, submissive girl
that she is, appears equally ready to accept Don Pedro or Claudio as a
suitor, and that Leonato feels no let down when he get Claudio for a
presumptive son-in-law rather than the Prince. But these things are not
to be questioned.

So, Jack, there is a lot of development that arises from the artful
device of Antonio's misunderstanding.

Cheers, Dave

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Kennedy <
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Date:           Thursday, 04 Mar 2004 09:18:02 -0800
Subject:        Much Ado Questions

John Ramsey points out the "extended punning" re: the jewel and the
case, making it to be a charged sexual reference, and here's another, in
my opinion, Act I, Scene 1, line 145...

Benedick:  I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a
continuer.  But keep your way, a God's name! I have done.

Beatrice.  You always end with a jade's trick, I know you of old.

Once again Benedick might be working a pun.  If horse = whore, the speed
of the tongue might be understood. Or at least by Beatrice, enforcing
the pun, for a jade may be taken as both a horse and a whore.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jennifer Soldanels <
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Date:           Thursday, 4 Mar 2004 16:37:27 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 15.0596 Much Ado Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0596 Much Ado Questions

I never said detests...I said he doesn't put stock into love or women.
I disagree with the "stealing away" analysis, but I agree with the
emasculating aspect.  However, Benedick is not really afraid of
emasculation, he just is in love with himself - he's the precursor to
every guy who thinks they're James Bond.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alan Horn <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Mar 2004 00:27:39 EST
Subject: 15.0596 Much Ado Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0596 Much Ado Questions

This is my first reply to this list, so I hope I'm doing it right.

John Ramsay writes, about the pun in Much Ado,

  >Yes it makes sense. It's extended punning.
  >
  >The woman is the jewel. She could be put in a case. Or a penis could be
  >inserted into her case.

To which Sean Johnson replies,

"But the woman can't be put into her own case, so the whole selection is
confusing, if not nonsensical."

If the obscene sense of "case" was popular enough at the time,
comparable to "balls" for testicles in modern American idiom, I think
the pun would still be audible even though the referent of the original
figure has shifted. Benedick would be saying: not only can Hero be
bought, she's not a "jewel" of romantic convention--she's just a "case."

Alan H

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edson Tadeu Ortolan <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Mar 2004 03:00:56 -0300
Subject:        Much Ado Questions

Ancient Latin 'vagina' means sheath, scabbard, vagina. Similarly, in
modern day English usage Brits use the term 'sheath knife' while Yanks
use the term 'case knife' for a knife that comes with a
scabbard to cover the blade as opposed to a folding knife.

To help the question.
The Spanish/Portuguese vulgar word to vagina is "buceta" or "boceta".
This word means jewel case.

Edson Tadeu Ortolan
History of the Theatre
Campinas/Brazil

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