The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1028 Tuesday, 31 May 2005
Date: Sunday, 29 May 2005 21:54:14 +0000
Subject: Antony and Cleopatra's Worm
Comment: SHK 16.0994 Antony and Cleopatra's Worm
Jack Heller writes, "Here, I think, the bawdiness is fully intended."
Heller and Bevington are exactly right.
To reiterate: in Shakespeare (as Freud would be the first to admit), a
cigar/worm is never just a cigar/worm. To the London audience of the
day, many of them frequenting the neighborhood stews and pubs, the
phallic association of worm/aspic with coition would be immediate and
dominant. Death and orgasm were intimately linked to this lusty lot, not
to be denied their cakes and ale despite the thunderings of their
preachers. As Bevington notes, the scene is suffused with "erotic
violence." Cleopatra will become a morsel not for the monarch Caesar but
for the emperor worm, the organ of both life and death.
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