Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: June ::
Tiger References in Macbeth
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1310  Wednesday, 18 June 2004

[1]     From:   Martin Mueller <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 17 Jun 2004 07:32:53 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1291 Tiger References in Macbeth

[2]     From:   Pamela Richards <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 17 Jun 2004 07:15:38 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1291 Tiger References in Macbeth

[3]     From:   Pamela Richards <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 17 Jun 2004 10:47:16 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1291 Tiger References in Macbeth

[4]     From:   Norman Hinton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 18 Jun 2004 13:22:22 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1291 Tiger References in Macbeth

[5]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 17 Jun 2004 20:06:11 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1291 Tiger References in Macbeth


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Mueller <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 17 Jun 2004 07:32:53 -0500
Subject: 15.1291 Tiger References in Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1291 Tiger References in Macbeth

I have a web site about quirky Shakespearean words at
http://bistro.northwestern.edu/mmueller/ShakeQuirks/index.html and
reproduce from it. It is about the odd coincidences of the words
'adage,' 'cat', and 'tiger' in Shakespeare and may help with tigers in
Macbeth:

Most readers of Shakespeare will remember the word 'adage' from Lady
Macbeth's taunting of her husband:

                                               Art thou afeard
To be the same thing in thine own act and valor
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting "I dare not" wait upon "I would,"
Like the poor cat i' th' adage?
                                  (Mac. 1.7.39-45)

The adage is glossed by the commentators as "The cat would eat fish, and
would not wet her feet."

The only other occurrence of the word 'adage' in Shakespeare takes us to
another spectacular scene of a woman taunting a man. In the first act of
3Henry VI, Queen Margaret has captured Richard, Duke of York, who has
tried to usurp her husband's throne. The scene, which ends with the
ritual execution of Richard, begins with a mock coronation,  a rehearsal
by Margaret of Richard's crimes, and a memorable description of his sons:

Where are your mess of sons to back you now,
Thy wanton Edward, and the lusty George?
And where's that valiant crook-back prodigy
Dicky, your boy, that with grumbling voice
Was wont to cheer his dad in mutinies.
                                             (3H6 1.3.73-77)

Richard, now in the role of martyr, gives as good as he gets. He calls
her "she-wolf of France," says that it is "ill-beseeming in thy sex / To
triumph like an Amazonian trull,"  dwells at length on the poverty of
her father, who despite his titles as King of Naples, "both the Sicils
and Jerusalem,"  was not "so wealthy as an English yeoman"
(1.3.111-123), and concludes that her performance is useless

Unless the adage must be verified,
That beggar mounted run their horse to death.
                                                 (1.3.126-127)

Eleven lines later we find the famous line

O tiger's heart wrapp'd in a woman's hide
                                                 (1.3.137)

So the two occurrences of  'adage' in Shakespeare share a cat and a
demonically wicked woman taunting a man. 'Cat' is a fairly common word
in Shakespeare: it occurs in 20 plays for a total of 41 occurrences.
'Tiger' occurs 30 times in 19 plays. That cats and adages should cross
paths on the two occurrences of 'adage' is unlikely, and the
probabilities for coincidence drop further if we consider the
association of 'cat', 'tiger', and 'adage' with a wicked woman on a
grand scale. So it appears that the three words establish a link between
Margaret and Lady Macbeth, which is thematically plausible. But did
Shakespeare think of a tiger as a large cat?

He did associate cats with lions and pards, as in Hotspur's reference to
"a couching lion and a ramping cat" (1H4 3.1.151), in Ariel's definition
of a leopard as a  "cat o' mountain" (Tem.4.1.261), and in Oliver's
description of the "catlike watch" of the lioness that nearly killed him
(AYL 4.3.115).

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pamela Richards <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 17 Jun 2004 07:15:38 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1291 Tiger References in Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1291 Tiger References in Macbeth

Jeremy Fiebig asks:

 >I'm wondering if anyone has any leads on the
 >Tiger/Tygre references in
 >Macbeth:
 >
 >"master o' th' Tiger" -- Witch 1,  I.iii.109
 >"th'Hyrcan tiger" -- Macbeth, III.iv.1415
 >"tiger's chaudron" -- Witch 3, IV.i.1602

I admit that I am unaware of contemporary scholarship on this subject;
however, I do a good bit of reading of a variety of works that could
have been known to Shakespeare.  His correctness to contemporary
understanding of "black magic" was notoriously frightening to Macbeth's
Elizabethan audience.

Thus I quote a commonly read source of this sort of information.
Cornelius Agrippa, medieval writer on the subject of magic, in his Book
of Occult Philosophy, Book I part ii:

"Moreover thou must consider that the Vertues of things are in some
things according to the species, as boldness, and courage in a Lyon, &
Cock: fearfulness in a Hare, or Lamb, ravenousness in a Wolf, treachery,
and deceitfulness in a Fox, flattery in a Dog, covetousness in a Crow,
and Daw, pride in a Horse, anger in a Tygre, and Boar, sadness, and
melancholy in a Cat, lust in a sparrow, and so of the rest. For the
greatest part of naturall Vertues doth follow the species."

The use of Tygre in the witches' brew, we presume, would be intended to
bring about rage.  Chaudron is a rather obscure term for "entrails";
apparently just the thing for a witches' brew.

Hyrcania was located in the Caucasian mountains and was thought to be
heavily populated by wolves; so perhaps we can deduce that a Hyrcan
tiger would be especially fierce.

Regards,
Pamela Richards

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pamela Richards <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 17 Jun 2004 10:47:16 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1291 Tiger References in Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1291 Tiger References in Macbeth

Jeremy Fiebig asks:

 >"I'm wondering if anyone has any leads on the
 >Tiger/Tygre references in Macbeth?"

In the first instance you quote,

"master o' th' Tiger" -- Witch 1,  I.iii.109

it would almost be tempting to think of a ship christened "The Tiger",
to which the sailor, husband to the chestnut-loving woman, was "master".
  But on careful reading, the husband is described as a sailor, not a
captain; therefore, it is not likely he would be named as such a ship's
"master".  However, if we take "Tiger" to mean an irate person, the
"Tiger" in question may be the sailor's wife, who has just had a heated
exchange with the witch--making her husband, the unfortunate subject of
the witches' spell, the "master o' the Tiger".  And apparently that very
connection is the reason he is to be made to suffer.

"First Witch
A sailor's wife had chestnuts in her lap,
And munch'd, and munch'd, and munch'd:--
'Give me,' quoth I:
'Aroint thee, witch!' the rump-fed ronyon cries.
Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o' the Tiger:
But in a sieve I'll thither sail,
And, like a rat without a tail,
I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do."

Regards,
Pamela Richards

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Norman Hinton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 18 Jun 2004 13:22:22 -0500
Subject: 15.1291 Tiger References in Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1291 Tiger References in Macbeth

I'm not sure what you are asking for -- Hyrcanian Tiger is at least as
old as Virgil, and as easy to find.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 17 Jun 2004 20:06:11 +0100
Subject: 15.1291 Tiger References in Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1291 Tiger References in Macbeth

Jeremy Fiebig asks...

 >I'm wondering if anyone has any leads on the Tiger/Tygre references in
 >Macbeth:

I read somewhere recently (can't remember where) that the Tiger was a
ship that arrived back from the Far East in 1605/1606.

Peter Bridgman

_______________________________________________________________
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.