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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: October ::
Performing Angelo
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1682  Saturday, 1 October 2005

[1] 	From: 	Larry Weiss <
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	Date: 	Friday, 30 Sep 2005 00:22:24 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1667 Performing Angelo

[2] 	From: 	Abigail Quart <
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	Date: 	Friday, 30 Sep 2005 01:51:15 -0400
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 16.1667 Performing Angelo

[3] 	From: 	Peter Bridgman <
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	Date: 	Friday, 30 Sep 2005 12:45:56 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1667 Performing Angelo

[4] 	From: 	Jim Blackie <
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	Date: 	Friday, 30 Sep 2005 08:56:28 -0400 (EDT)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1667 Performing Angelo

[5] 	From: 	John-Paul Spiro <
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	Date: 	Friday, 30 Sep 2005 10:11:02 -0400
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 16.1667 Performing Angelo

[6] 	From: 	M Yawney <
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	Date: 	Friday, 30 Sep 2005 17:01:30 -0700 (PDT)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1667 Performing Angelo


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
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Date: 		Friday, 30 Sep 2005 00:22:24 -0400
Subject: 16.1667 Performing Angelo
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1667 Performing Angelo

 >A religious vow is a matter between the individual and God.
 >In the case of celibacy, it becomes public and formalized when
 >one enters the priesthood or takes the veil, but it can easily exist
 >beforehand, and commonly does.

This is obviously so, and therein lies the rub.  The question is not 
whether the oath taker is sincere or even righteous in his or her 
obedience to the promise made to the deity, but whether the rest of the 
world is obliged to respect the oath regardless of the horrid 
consequences that ensue.  It is a smallest of steps from justifying 
Isabella's willingness to let Claudio die because she took a premature 
oath of celibacy to justifying Shylock's eagerness to have Antonio die 
because Shylock had "an oath in heaven."

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Abigail Quart <
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Date: 		Friday, 30 Sep 2005 01:51:15 -0400
Subject: 16.1667 Performing Angelo
Comment: 	RE: SHK 16.1667 Performing Angelo

D. Bloom:

 >"A religious vow is a matter between the individual and God. In the
 >case of celibacy, it becomes public and formalized when one enters the
 >priesthood or takes the veil, but it can easily exist beforehand, and
 >commonly does."

Likely so. Wildly irrelevant here, however, since Shakespeare INSTANTLY 
points out that Isabella does not refer to "we nuns" but, rather, "you 
nuns," and that she has NOT taken any vows. Shakespeare makes a clear 
distinction between Isabella and a genuine nun.

ISABELLA IS NOT A NUN.

Shakespeare is NOT dealing with true faith in this play, especially not 
true Catholic faith. He is dealing with the hypocrites who use it for 
their own ends. The Duke brags of having "confessed" Mariana! The 
Catholic religion is being used as a costume. It is being trashed from 
one end of Measure to the other.

And I thank you for the fascinating factoid that Christians originally 
considered virginity the province of men. You wouldn't have a linkable 
source for that one, would you?

P. Bridgman:

 >Thank you for responding to my question,"
 >does anyone believe she blows off
 >the Duke and returns to the
 >nunnery for her wedding date with Jesus?"

Now I know there is one.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Peter Bridgman <
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Date: 		Friday, 30 Sep 2005 12:45:56 +0100
Subject: 16.1667 Performing Angelo
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1667 Performing Angelo

Thanks to Don Bloom for his excellent post.  And for citing Christ, St 
Paul and the author of Revelations as defenders of religious celibacy. 
Here are the relevant verses ...

St Paul:  "The unmarried woman, and the virgin, gives her mind to the 
Lord's affairs and to being holy in body and spirit; but the married 
woman gives her mind to the affairs of this world and to how she can 
please her husband".  (1 Cor 7:34)

Christ:  "There are eunuchs born so from their mother's womb, there are 
eunuchs made so by human agency and there are eunuchs who have made 
themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven.  Let anyone accept 
this who can."  (Mat 19:12)

Revelations:  "These are the sons who have kept their virginity and not 
been defiled with women; they follow the Lamb wherever he goes; they, 
out of all people, have been redeemed to be the first-fruits for God and 
for the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths and no fault can be found 
in them".  (Rev 14:4-5)

Peter Bridgman

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jim Blackie <
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Date: 		Friday, 30 Sep 2005 08:56:28 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 16.1667 Performing Angelo
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1667 Performing Angelo

From: Arnie Perlstein

-""Boy Meets Girl, Boy Chases Girl, Boy Gets Girl" is best left to bad 
films and TV, not read as an underlying motive of MfM, in my mind."

AP: So you're suggesting that we toss Pride and Prejudice and 
Persuasion, among others, in the disposal? ;)"

JB: Sorry, but that would be okay with me. Austin never appealed to me. 
Texas OR Jane.

AP: "I acknowledge that it is also plausible that the Duke falls for 
Isabella during the course of the play, but I consider my reading 
equally plausible."

JB: Alright, Arnie. But I just need to see the proof in the play itself, 
and I can't find it. Have you pointed it out and I missed it? 
Suppositions of the characters' motives and back-story without textual 
authority I find fascinating and playful, but ultimately as 
insubstantial as a dinner of "Twinkies."

AP: "And that is your one giant assumption, i.e., that you know that 
Shakespeare would never write a play where he concealed (or, I'd say, 
"slyly hinted at") important information during the play. I could not 
disagree more.  ... to give the audience a visceral experience of the 
philosophical issue, i.e., to make us wonder how we (the characters, on 
one level, and the audience, on the meta level) know what we know, and 
who we can trust? So my reading is not merely arbitrary, it is derived 
from the overarching theme of the play!

JB: Giant, no. In fact, assumption, No. The assumption is yours to make 
based on what you are sure he means for us to know beyond the 
printed/spoken word. We can label it "theme" but still we are taking 
what does exist in the body of the play and extrapolating to actions 
outside of the intended scope of that play. Assumptions, like rabbits, 
must be controlled or one will find oneself overwhelmed with huge 
numbers of either hypotheses or rabbit (depending on your circumstances. 
I am not saying YOU can't take something from a play and read some 
personal message for yourself, but you probably cannot read some 
personal "meta" message to Caliban from Prospero on your reading of the 
Tempest. See my above remarks. We just disagree, Arnie.

AP: "No, again, you assume you know what Shakespeare was doing, I am 
merely reacting to the ambiguities and hints that abound in the text, 
and realizing that he was so huge a genius that he could write plays 
that worked really well BOTH as live performance AND as literature to be 
carefully read and combed."

JB: Then I can only assume WS had a publisher in mind and he handed over 
a nice, clean copy of his plays? But that wasn't the way it happened. 
Based on the few extant copies of his plays we know they morphed over 
time and from printing to printing (if we have multiple sources/copies). 
In printing the plays all these possibilities exist - 1) they were 
stolen or memorized incorrectly - 2) they were in poor shape and could 
not be properly interpreted - 3) English spelling and grammar was 
non-standard and made text ripe for error - 4) printing errors - 5) who 
knows? there has to be more!!! SO - Why, in his "dotage" did he not sit 
down and correct all the "bad" copies or just re-enscribe his work and 
sell it/give it to a publisher? Demand brought about the phenomenon of 
printed plays by WS, not pre-design. (Gee, this is beginning to sound 
like the Scopes trial, eh?) That's how I see it. Still, I enjoy 
researching and analysing nearly as much as you do. With the 
understanding that I am in Guess City most of the time. As Elliot says: 
"So how should I presume?"

"I think the rule for acceptance of a premise such as that should be "If 
it is not clearly observed, spoken or alluded to in the play, it didn't 
happen. There must be support from WITHIN the play for any 
interpretation to gain validity beyond the subjective."

AP: You mean explicit unambiguous support, and that is exactly the wrong 
way to approach Shakespeare, imnsho. Vive la difference!"

JB: You ARE persistent. I guess I admire that. Maybe. But I still like 
that definition of mine you quoted.

AP: And it is my equally firm belief that if it is important, Will will 
make you work hard to find it, because then you'll have earned it!

JB: I believe nearly as firmly that there are different types of 
awareness to his play - the face value, the examination of wordplay, the 
examination of the literary devices used, the appreciation of all three 
of the above, and then there's the "ESP" where you sit and build more 
into the play's action than is intended basing it on your own conviction 
that you know where he was going even if he never said it or showed it. 
[example] ++ Hamlet was a stupid child, and willful, as shown by the 
fact that he's nearly 30 and still going to school; his teachers at 
Wittenberg, although they all dislike him and think him too simple to 
finish his degree, will allow him to stay because his father is king of 
Denmark and he is paying them extra to ensure Hamlet finishes++

AP: Jim, she got herself to a nunnery for a reason. But let me repeat, I 
am not claiming that my reading is the exclusively correct reading, I 
assert that Shakespeare deliberately wrote a story with several 
"orthodox" readings (just read the critical literature to see the 
variety of responses he has gotten), and at least one "subterranean" 
meaning (i.e., mine). He was postmodern 389 years before the term was 
invented to describe it, and the world still hasn't caught on to what he 
was up to.

JB: OK. I'm still in his theater trying to hear the play with 
Elizabethan ears. I think I'll never catch up with post modern 
interpretation. THERE lies the difference. But I still think I know the 
difference between a hawk and a handsaw when the wind is southerly! ; )

AP: "Excuse me, speaking as a 53 year old man, the fire does not go out 
at 35 or 40."

JB: Youngster!

In summary-- That's it, Arnie. I see where you're going and understand 
where it leads, as you did well in explaining your pre-conceptions and 
interpretations. For me, that path is too steep and fraught with danger. 
Thanks for sharing those thoughts. I know you are not alone in your 
views; I respect your thoughts on the matter, but for me, you'll always 
be too speculative, just as I'm sure that, to you, I'm too pedestrian or 
thick to "get it."

Best Wishes
Jim Blackie

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John-Paul Spiro <
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Date: 		Friday, 30 Sep 2005 10:11:02 -0400
Subject: 16.1667 Performing Angelo
Comment: 	RE: SHK 16.1667 Performing Angelo

Peter Bridgman writes,

 >Of course [Isabella] "blows off the Duke".  If Shakespeare's intention is
 >that Isabella accepts the Duke's marriage offer, there is no reason
 >at all for WS not to show this.  A "happy ending" would satisfy the
 >conventions of Comedy writing, and would give the play the
 >resolution it lacks.
 >
 >WS broke with conventions and left his play with an unsatisfactory
 >ending for a very good reason.  Because it would've been dangerous
 >for WS to show Isabella returning to the convent.

Would it have also been dangerous for Isabella to say "yes"?

Is political danger the only reason for Shakespeare to keep Isabella 
silent?  Many of the comedies have deferred "happy endings": Love's 
Labor's Lost and Twelfth Night come to mind.  But only Measure refuses 
any mention of assent.  It would take many pages (pretty much my whole 
dissertation) to discuss this fully, but while we're on it, I think that 
Shakespeare made a choice to keep her silent.  It is possible, if 
improbable, that her lines just somehow didn't make it into the Folio. 
But keeping her silent and thus making the ending "unsatisfactory" (and 
it is unsatisfactory in so many ways) does not mean that she refuses the 
offer.  She neither refuses it nor accepts it.  She says nothing.

Does it matter to the Duke that she says nothing?  Could she possibly 
say no?  Considering the Duke's level of mastery over everyone in the 
play, is her assent even an issue?  The Duke does say, "Whereto if 
you'll a willing ear incline,/What's mine is yours and what is yours is 
mine" (5.1.550-51), and that "if" does grant her some choice, just as 
the Duke grants Barnardine choice to assent or not to his own execution. 
  But given everything else in the play, particularly Isabella's 
religiosity (I think it's reductive to call her virginity "a toy," 
though she often displays an obsession with it the way children become 
attached to certain objects), can we even call this a choice?

I have only questions.

John-Paul

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		M Yawney <
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Date: 		Friday, 30 Sep 2005 17:01:30 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 16.1667 Performing Angelo
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1667 Performing Angelo

The point being lost, whether one thinks of Isabella's clinging to 
virginity is a form of personal integrity/identity or a form of 
neurosis, is that what Angelo is proposing is a form of rape.

Metaphorically, he is holding a gun to Claudio's head and saying "Have 
sex with me or I pull the trigger." Surely one can understand why any 
woman, whether she is a nun or a prostitute, would not want to comply. 
True, many women would, but the issue Isabella is confronting is about 
something other than a just a vow of chastity. It is also about 
submission to violence and tolerance of tyranny.

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