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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: August ::
Just My Imagination
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0506  Wednesday, 8 August 2007

[1] 	From: 		John Wall <
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	Date: 		Monday, 06 Aug 2007 10:42:47 -0400
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0502 Just My Imagination

[2] 	From: 		Richard Regan <
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	Date: 		Tuesday, 07 Aug 2007 00:46:58 -0400
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0502 Just My Imagination

[3] 	From: 		Chris Whatmore <
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	Date: 		Tuesday, 7 Aug 2007 15:18:28 +0100
	Subj: 		Re: Just my imagination


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Wall <
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Date: 		Monday, 06 Aug 2007 10:42:47 -0400
Subject: 18.0502 Just My Imagination
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0502 Just My Imagination

My touchstone for the imagination in Shakespeare is Theseus' speech 
about the lunatic, the lover, and the poet. Theseus offers us a range of 
the imagination's possible manifestations:

Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!

Clearly, Othello and Leontes in effect make a bush a bear, or a green 
eyed monster, as Bruce Young says, letting their imaginations "get away 
from them," with tragic consequences.

I think I have tended to see the way the imagination can affect 
Shakespeare's lovers and poets in more benign terms, but Theseus seems 
to be more even-handed, or even-handedly apprehensive.

I suspect, for example, that at least some members of Shakespeare's 
original audience might well have viewed the way Romeo and Juliet regard 
each other as being just as excessive or dangerous, or at least as 
socially disruptive, as the way Othello comes to regard Desdemona or 
Leontes to regard Hermione. JNW

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Richard Regan <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 07 Aug 2007 00:46:58 -0400
Subject: 18.0502 Just My Imagination
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0502 Just My Imagination

Antony Sher gives a convincing account of Leontes "morbid jealousy" from 
a psychologist's point of view in the RSC casebook video of The Winter's 
Tale, in which Sher is a tortured Leontes. It's a brilliant production 
with wonderful comedy as well as wrenching scenes of cruelty and loss.

Richard Regan
Fairfield University

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Chris Whatmore <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 7 Aug 2007 15:18:28 +0100
Subject: 	Re: Just my imagination

Bruce Young wrote:

 >I think Mike Shapiro is looking
 >for characters whose (dramatically represented) imaginations get away
 >from them rather than characters who demonstrate Shakespeare's
 >imagination getting away from him.

Yes, I think you're right: on revisiting the examples in Mike S's 
original post, I can see that I paid rather too much attention to 
Jonson's verdict on WS and not quite enough to Romeo's on Mercutio or 
Theseus's on poets, lovers and madmen.

If we're considering the effects of runaway imaginative powers on 
individual characters, your example of Leontes and his "diseased 
opinion" is spot on. Those who experience the many dreams and visions in 
the plays would also, I'm sure, prove interesting in this regard, 
especially when their dreams turn to nightmares. (Here we might add 
Brutus and King Richard III to Macbeth and the other tragic heroes 
mentioned so far). Even in the comedies, nightmares and madness are 
never far from those with an over-active imagination. To take the 
cruellest case, the fantasies unleashed in Malvolio's mind by the Cs, Us 
and Ts of Maria's letter lead directly to the farcical equivalent of 
Bedlam, from which humiliation he never fully recovers.

cw

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