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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: September ::
Lavatch's Riddling Limerick
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1558  Monday, 19 September 2005

From: 		Arnie Perlstein <
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Date: 		Sunday, 18 Sep 2005 08:39:24 -0400
Subject: 	Re: Lavatch's Riddling Limerick

Dale wrote: "I would think the "one in ten" is a reference to the 
Biblical story (Luke 17:11-19) of Jesus' healing of ten lepers, of whom 
only one returned to thank him." Great stuff! First, I note that Naseeb 
Shaheen sees Luke lurking ("luking"?) behind several lines in AWTEW, 
although I think he is reaching on several of them. But he does not pick 
up on the passage you cite, which is:

"Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between 
Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had 
leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud 
voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" When he saw them, he said, "Go, 
show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. 
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a 
loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him-and he was a 
Samaritan. Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other 
nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this 
foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you 
well."

I certainly can see a foreshadowing of the King's gratefulness to Helena 
for curing him, which is exactly what she seeks when she goes to the 
King, i.e., a way to marry Bertram. And Lavatch is thus saying, in his 
last line, the King could be the one good one in ten, which is all that 
Helena needs.

I now also see that the Clown's last line also does "double duty" in 
also foreshadowing Helena's selection of Bertram from among the line of 
potential husbands (who have all assembled before the "priests", i.e., 
the King and his court), except that he most pointedly turns out to be 
the furthest thing from the one good one in ten!

I'd sure call that a bull's-eye, thanks! It clearly provides at least 
one significant underpinning of the meaning of Lavatch's limerick.

Edmund wrote: "One possible reason for the clown's riddle is that Helena 
may be no Helen. In other words, what if Helena is rather plain looking 
and thus hardly the kind of face "that launched a thousand ships"?  Of 
course, there are many other possibilities, but I find this an 
interesting one." And I do, as well, thanks! That would certainly 
explain part of Bertram's violent aversion to Helena. I wonder whether 
there have been productions where Helena was deliberately cast (and 
perhaps also made up) as unattractive physically? My guess would be, 
not, because the desire to cast an attractive lead would have overridden 
such a subtle consideration as yours.

Edward wrote: "...find a copy of Charles Williams' "The English Poetic 
Mind", in which he argues that "Troilus and Cressida" is, in fact, the 
keystone of the arch you are looking for."  I have ordered that book 
from Interlibrary loan and will report back here as soon as I get it and 
have a chance to follow up on your very tantalizing instruction, thanks!

I must say, I am really impressed, my first question posed to the group, 
and I get such on-point and high-grade replies!

Arnie Perlstein
Weston, Florida

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