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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: April ::
We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0918  Wednesday, 21 April 2004

[1]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Apr 2004 13:39:39 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...

[2]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Apr 2004 08:10:17 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...

[3]     From:   L. Swilley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Apr 2004 08:23:38 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...

[4]     From:   Markus Marti <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Apr 2004 15:53:32 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...

[5]     From:   Markus Marti <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Apr 2004 15:53:32 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...

[6]     From:   Todd Pettigrew <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Apr 2004 10:59:08 -0300
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...

[7]     From:   Jillanne Michell <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Apr 2004 08:06:02 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...

[8]     From:   Tony Burton <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Apr 2004 11:54:28 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Apr 2004 13:39:39 +0100
Subject: 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...

 >How do you understand here "Our shows are more than will"?
 >
 >Consider the possibility of an error in textual transmission.

Surely, no such assumption is necessary, and "n'ore" seems just bizarre,
and doesn't even appear to be good Renaissance English - it certainly
doesn't seem an easier reading of the text to me.

Men's shows are more than will, says Viola, while trying to prove that
"men may say more, swear more" but prove "much in our vows but little in
our love".   We may therefore assume than women's wills are more than
they show - see Cordelia who "cannot heave my heart into my mouth" and
whose "love's more ponderous than my tongue", and who by this definition
has much more inward will to love than outward show of love.  Men, in
contrast, according to Viola's argument, heave more than they have in
their hearts into their mouth, and "show" more than they actually feel.
  They outwardly demonstrate the depth of their love in shows, but
inwardly the will is lacking.

My definition of the meaning behind this may lack clarity, but I would
suspect that this is due to me rather than Shakespeare.   I would expect
that most people understand this meaning clearly enough within "Twelfth
Night".  There does not seem to be any need whatever to alter the text
(particularly not in ways that torture rather than improve the English)
in order to find "better" interpretations.

Thomas Larque.
"Shakespeare and His Critics"       "British Shakespeare Association"
http://shakespearean.org.uk           http://britishshakespeare.ws

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Apr 2004 08:10:17 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...

 >In Twelfth Night, Act 2/Scene 5, Viola (disguised as Cesario) says:
 >
 >We men may say more, swear more, but indeed
 >Our shows are more than will; for still we prove
 >Much in our vows but little in our love.
 >
 >How do you understand here "Our shows are more than will"?

I don't think we need to assume a textual error to explain this line. I
think we have a grammatical elision of the word "our" from "Our shows
are more than [our] will." Omission of "our" preserves the line's iambic
pentameter. We swear more than we intend to do.

Jack Heller
Huntington College

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Apr 2004 08:23:38 -0500
Subject: 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...

Douglas Galbi asks,

 >How do you understand here "Our shows are more than will"?

"(To get what we wantm,) we promise more than we finally intend to
produce or give."

 >Consider the possibility of an error in textual transmission.  My work
 >(see "Sense in Communication," Section IV.C, pp. 101-112, at
 >www.galbithink.org) suggests to me that the limits of "will" is a key
 >theme of Twelfth Night, or What you Will.  The variant "Our shows are
 >n'ore than will" is easier to interpret, both in immediate context and
 >in the play as a whole.  In writing, "n'ore" is very close to "more,"
 >while in meaning "n'ore" ("not more") provides counterpoint to the use
 >of "more" in the previous line.  On the other hand, "n'ore" is not
 >printed anywhere in the First Folio.
 >
 >How would you evaluate this alternative reading?

If there is any expression anywhere else in the works of Shakespeare
that supports this, by all means have at it. (And should we extend this
way of thinking that that other meaning of "will"; it would give a kind
of "kick" to the line, although purchased by a daring bit of pornography
at a time when the mood of the scene does not invite it.

         [L. Swilley]

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Markus Marti <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Apr 2004 15:27:39 +0200
Subject: 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...

 >How do you understand here "Our shows are more than will"?

Look up "will" in Partridge, Eric. SHAKESPEARE'S BAWDY. or read sonnets
135 and 156. Or answer to one of these SPAM mails for brain enlargement.

Markus Marti.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Markus Marti <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Apr 2004 15:53:32 +0200
Subject: 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...

Addition:
Reminds me of a (feminist) joke:
Question: Why are male drivers so bad in parking their cars?
Answer: Because they think >-----< is 9 inches.

Markus

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Todd Pettigrew <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Apr 2004 10:59:08 -0300
Subject: 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...

Douglas Galbi asks,

'[In]

We men may say more, swear more, but indeed
Our shows are more than will; for still we prove
Much in our vows but little in our love.

How do you understand here "Our shows are more than will"?'

Surely these lines turns on what we take "will" to mean.  If we read it
as something like "real conviction to take action" then the line makes
perfect sense without alteration.  Our shows (what we say) exceed our
will (what we are actually willing to do), demonstrated in the fact that
we make great vows but "prove little" in our love.

Todd Pettigrew
UCCB

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jillanne Michell <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Apr 2004 08:06:02 -0700
Subject: 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...

I think it's a lot more likely that the line "Our shows are more than
will" in its context means something along the lines of "actions
('shows') speak louder than words that merely express one's intentions
('say,' 'swear,' 'vows,' 'will')."

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tony Burton <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Apr 2004 11:54:28 -0400
Subject: 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0900 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed...

Douglas Galbi asks about the meaning of the passage

"In Twelfth Night, Act 2/Scene 5, Viola (disguised as Cesario) says:

We men may say more, swear more, but indeed
Our shows are more than will; for still we prove
Much in our vows but little in our love.

How do you understand here "Our shows are more than will"?"

and he suggests "an error in textual transmission".

Don't see any need to strain over this passage.  It seems to me a
run-of-the-mill Elizabethan-Jacobean sexual joke, contrasting Cesario's
"shows," i.e., her codpiece and male attire generally, with the "will",
i.e., penis, male sexual urge, capacity, etc., that in her case is not
there at all and generally as to all other males, is a lot less than the
proud promise of the tailor's craft.  Same old familiar
duality-appearance versus reality-that Shakespeare plays with all the
time, but which was particularly in the forefront of his mind when he
was writing TN and Hamlet almost at the same time.

Unless, of course, there has been an error in textual transmission.

Tony


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