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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: November ::
The Rude Mechanicals
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1905  Thursday, 17 November 2005

[1] 	From: 	Donald Bloom <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 16 Nov 2005 12:15:31 -0600
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 16.1894 The Rude Mechanicals

[2] 	From: 	Peter Groves <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 17 Nov 2005 09:19:06 +1100
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 16.1894 The Rude Mechanicals


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Donald Bloom <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 16 Nov 2005 12:15:31 -0600
Subject: 16.1894 The Rude Mechanicals
Comment: 	RE: SHK 16.1894 The Rude Mechanicals

Whether Shakespeare thought of the rude aristocrats as arrogant, 
obnoxious twits, and thus wrote them that way, or whether we are 
imposing modern standards of pity on an age with rather different 
standards cannot be easily answered.

Would someone out there know what the accepted ideals of politeness were 
in Elizabethan England? Was it acceptable for aristocrats to say any 
snide, cutting thing they wanted to a member of the lower classes? Was 
it more acceptable (or less unacceptable) in certain circumstance- such 
as a wedding feast? (In Shrew the aristocrats spend most of their time 
trying to put each other down.) Does the audacity of the mechanicals 
(and that of Holofernes et al. in LLL) in pretending to put on real 
drama relieve the aristocrats of any responsibility of being polite? Or 
does their genuine absurdity make it impossible for any literate person 
to keep countenance?

Certainly, both Theseus and Hippolyta have qualms or questions about 
watching such laughable stuff, and then laughing at it. Has anyone 
worked this out?

Cheers,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Peter Groves <
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Date: 		Thursday, 17 Nov 2005 09:19:06 +1100
Subject: 16.1894 The Rude Mechanicals
Comment: 	RE: SHK 16.1894 The Rude Mechanicals

Michael Egan writes:

"Peter Groves writes, re my comments about stylometrics:

I'm puzzled: what have "word-occurrence or usage" to do with the 
distinction between verse and prose [?]'

and then answers his own question:

'except in the trivial sense that  changing (say)  "This was the noblest 
Roman of them all" to "This was  the noblest demise of them all" turns 
pentameter into something else (either prose or napestic/dactylic 
tetrameter)?'

To labor the point, word-occurrence/usage affects (at the very least) 
rhyme, rhythm, sense, and aesthetics. Neither individually nor 
collectively do any of these variables strike me as trivial, especially 
when it comes to analyses which stand or fall by predicting 
Shakespeare's word-choices."

	*  * * * *

I'd better explain my puzzlement, which was due to the fact that in 
stylometric (as opposed to literary-critical) studies word-occurrence is 
a statistical issue, not a matter of specific local effects (such as 
whether a given line is metrical or unmetrical): I'm the last person to 
think the difference between metre and prose "trivial".  Where metre is 
concerned, however, the issue is not word-occurrence but the occurrence 
of particular phonological patterns in relation to the metre.  To take 
an example, the metrical issue is not whether, how often or in what 
generic or semantic contexts Shakespeare might use "demise", but 
whether, how often or in what relation to the metre he uses disyllabic 
oxytones (such as "demise", "divine", 'explain", and so on).

Peter Groves

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