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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: December ::
Macbeth Characters
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.2139  Tuesday, 21 December 2004

From:           Kathy Dent <
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Date:           Monday, 20 Dec 2004 14:40:10 +0000
Subject: 15.2130 Macbeth Characters
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.2130 Macbeth Characters

John Reed:

 >Modern scripts seem to adopt the practice of using a Speech Prefix as a
 >unique identifier, sort of a social security number for a character.

..

 >I'm looking at a script of Star Wars ...   Every time Luke says
something, it is noted with the prefix
 >LUKE.  This is modern convention, as everyone knows.  Macbeth F doesn't
 >look like this.

..

 >But I am still wondering whether we have even identified all the
 >anomalies, let alone resolved them.  Equating Lady, La, and Lad with
 >Lady Macbeth might be an easy one.  I notice in Act 5 there is a scene
 >with Maca, Macb, and Macd.  What happened to Macc?

Okay, John, but what's yer point?  Renaissance play books didn't
standardise speech prefixes.  Modern texts on the whole do (although not
always - check out the Random Cloud article in the aforementioned book
by Williams).  Modern editors of Shakespeare do us a grievous disservice
in this regard because if you're looking into the New Bibliographical
arguments about foul papers etc. you actually WANT to know where speech
prefixes seem anomalous and, if the modern editor has silently
standardised them, this evidence has been lost.  However, as far as the
F Macbeth is concerned, there's really no problem in identifying who is
talking because when you read the speech prefixes together with the
stage directions there is never any ambiguity (as far as I can see,
anyway).  If, however, you're after a real puzzle, try working out the
speech prefixes for the 'Gentleman' characters in the Folio Alls Well ...

Kathy Dent

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