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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: October ::
Observation about ducdame
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0659  Wednesday, 3 October 2007

From: 		Mark Alcamo <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 2 Oct 2007 10:28:54 -0700
Subject: 18.0655 Observation about ducdame
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0655 Observation about ducdame

If I may clarify some on my ducdame comment:

- I was not at all suggesting an emendation, mine was an interpretation 
of WHY Jaques had used the word. I just noted as others have, that there 
is friction between Jaques and the others (Arden Forest isn't the 
stereotypic Paradise Pastoral after all. Remember all the newcomers are 
starving, etc. ...) Whether the word is Welsh and Jaques is 'sending up' 
the others are comments consistent with my observation. We 'know' Jaques 
is a chronic unhappy (melancholic), seeing him mock Duke Senior, in his 
mind, as Duke Dame, I think, reveals more character and heightens our 
'appreciation' of Shakespeare's pathological penchant for wordplay. It 
has been commented Jaques had time to write this parody for the singers, 
most Editors show Jaques reading or singing the lines but we know it's 
ambiguous in the First Folio, OBVIOUSLY, we have no idea how they 
pronounce it (it's up to those Theatre Collaborators, right?) ...

In a nutshell, I'm saying some future enlightened Editor of Shakespeare 
may want to put in the notes that 'ducdame' may be wordplay on 'Duke Dame.'

I am still working my way through the play, but I am not unhappy to 
report I like the way it is playing out. The fact Jaques is actually 
happy the next time we see him may be a reflection of his thinking he's 
just put one over on the others.  'Yes,' I know he has also just met Jay 
Leno (Touchstone) and that put him in a good mood hearing how bored he 
is in his new environs. What a hoot ...  Note how Touchstone has led 
Jaques to think about the passage of time, and now he is so pleased with 
himself he has to go on and on about the Stages of Man. And of 
course(r), there is still the readily observable undercurrent of tension 
(snipping) between Jaques and Duke Senior ...

My thanks to Mr. Stone for bringing up topical issues the entitled and 
groundlings may have related to, but I honestly see it as a simple case 
of right and wrong, where two wrongs don't make a right.

Duke Frederick 'coup d'etat's' what is 'rightfully' Duke Senior's. 
(Primogeniture was also a prominent issue of the day ...)

Duke Senior rolls over (or turns the other cheek) and does not visit 
violence on the Dukedom.

... and accordingly the reluctant courtier Jaques has lowered his mask 
some with his Artistic self-disclosure:

If it do come to pass
That any man turn ass,
Leaving his wealth and ease,
A stubborn will to please,
Ducdame, ducdame, ducdame:
Here shall he see
Gross fools as he,
An if he will come to me.

To me, it looks pretty clear:  'Duke Senior 'turned ass' because he left 
his 'wealth and ease.'  His 'stubborn will' was nonviolence ... Duke 
Dame, duke dame, duke dame ...  You're all a bunch of fools, boo-hoo.'

(...  Analogous to King Claudius killing King Hamlet the Ghost and 
Hamlet having moral reservations about tit for tat. (I haven't seen the 
Oedipus Hamlet because my mother was not that physically attractive, I 
had much 'hotter' aunts ...) ;-)

For now, I am satisfied with my 'ducdame' interpretation and if I decide 
I'm wrong after working my way further through the play, I'll post my 
'mea culpa' and beg alms for the poor or some other penance. My word. (I 
have no problem admitting my shortcomings, in fact, I had to double 
check on the definition of emendation and look up the word animadverted.)

Thanks,
Mark Alcamo

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