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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: January ::
Macbeth Characters
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0127  Friday, 21 January 2005

[1]     From:   Scot Zarela <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Jan 2005 13:09:44 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0115 "Macbeth" characters

[2]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Jan 2005 15:39:27 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0094 Macbeth Characters


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Scot Zarela <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Jan 2005 13:09:44 -0800
Subject: 16.0115 "Macbeth" characters
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0115 "Macbeth" characters

To John Reed:

The ridicule wouldn't be directed at you, but at the King who allowed
himself to be "attended" by a Porter.  If the King were powerless, like
Lear, the ridicule would change to pity.  But a Lord in his own castle,
surrounded by his pomp and soldiery, yet having a Porter for
"Attendant"-makes himself ridiculous, in Shakespeare's world and terms.

It can only help to be aware of this, even if you choose to disregard it.

What surprises me is that you now seem to choose to disregard it.  I had
thought you were asking about the _legitimacy_ of combining certain
speech headings into one person.  (I make no comment on your other
combinations-they may be perfectly fine; only the elevation of the
Porter goes out of bounds.)  But if you're not watching out for
legitimacy, I suppose you're asking simply if we think your version will
"play".  My answer to that is always:  It'll play if you can make it
play.  (But it still isn't Shakespeare-or anyhow, not yet.)

Godspeed,
-- Scot

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Jan 2005 15:39:27 -0500
Subject: 16.0094 Macbeth Characters
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0094 Macbeth Characters

 >I have seen three productions of King John. One conflated Hubert and the
 >First Citizen on the battlements in Act 2. The difference made by the
 >conflation had a profound effect on the play. Were these two figures
 >meant to be one character? The question impacts interpretation.

The problem to which M. Yawney calls attention arises from the fact that
the Folio introduces the Citizen in a stage direction: "Enter a Citizen
upon the walles" (2.1.201, presumably on the gallery at the back of the
stage), and three succeeding speeches presenting the position of the
people of Angers are headed "Cit." (267, 270, 281). Both King John and
King Philip address "men" of Angers (204, 205 and thereafter) and
whoever speaks for the city repeatedly uses "we" and "our"; evidently
more than one person has come on. During a brief interval during which
the kings lead their armies off to do battle, and in the absence of any
stage direction calling for his exit, this character (or these)
presumably remains in place. When the kings return, and without any
stage direction marking another entrance on the walls, the speech
prefixes for the spokesman for Angers (except for one, 368, obviously
belonging to him, mistakenly given to the King of France) name him
"Hubert".John recruits a man called Hubert (not necessarily the same
figure) to be his close associate, commanded by the King by name to take
charge of the captured Arthur: "Hubert, keep this boy" (3.2.5). ) to be
his close associate, commanded by the King by name to take charge of the
captured Arthur: "Hubert, keep this boy" (3.2.5).

There are, in fact, a good many doublings of names. Of characters not
father and son, the most intriguing is in R3, where Lord Hastings meets,
names, and converses with Hastings the poursuivant (3.2.91-103), in what
Antony Hammond can only explain as a moment of rather labored irony (ed.
338); we find also two Bardolphs in 2H4, two Cinnas in JC, two Jaques in
AYL. Within families, pairs of Antipholi and Dromii (Err, where the
confusion is explicit and intentional), Stanleys (R3), Gobbos (Mer),
Siwards (Mac), Hamlets and Fortinbras, plus various Henrys, Yorks,
Gloucesters, Edwards, Richards, etc., in the histories. In all these
cases, however, the two individuals are distinguished by family (Jaques
de Boys versus Jaques the traveler), age, status ("my lord'), function
(Cinna the conspirator vs. Cinna the poet). Only in Jn is no such
distinction made.

The fact is one of several that seem to me to support the proposition
that Hubert the citizen becomes Hubert the servant. The most important
of these is that if Hubert is also the citizen, his proposal would have
rescued John from the uncertainties of war with France and extended if
not insured his reign, albeit at the cost of most of the English
territory in France. The proposed outcome could supply grounds for the
effusive gratitude with which John greets Hubert as the latter is being
appointed the captured Arthur's jailer-especially if, as Michael Manheim
has suggested, Hubert had been a covert partisan of John prior to the
two armies' arrival in front of Angers. Assigning Hubert bourgeois
origins also helps explain Shakespeare's failure to take from Holinshed
and his other sources an explicit connection between this Hubert and the
fully historical Hubert de Burgh, already a man of some significance at
John's accession, who during the reign of John's son, Henry III, became
"the Greater Justiciar," Lord Chancellor and one of the richest and most
powerful men in the realm - a far cry from the character whom Lord Bigot
can address as "dunghill" (4.3.87).

The suggestion that the Citizen and Hubert are the same person was made
by J. Dover Wilson in his edition of the play; it was accepted by
Honigmann (New Arden), Evans (Riverside), Matchett (Signet), and
Smallwood; it was rejected or queried by Beaurline (New Cambridge),
Bevington, Braunmuller (Oxford), Jowett and Taylor (William Shakespeare:
a Textual Companion), Harrison, Ribner.

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