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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: August ::
Redheads
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0565  Thursday, 30 August 2007

[1] 	From: 		David Basch <
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	Date: 		Tuesday, 28 Aug 2007 19:35:38 -0400
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0561 Redheads

[2] 	From: 		Nicole Coonradt <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 29 Aug 2007 01:24:06 +0000
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0561 Redheads

[3] 	From: 		Larry Weiss <
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	Date: 		Tuesday, 28 Aug 2007 23:05:24 -0400
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0561 Redheads

[4] 	From: 		Imtiaz Habib <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 29 Aug 2007 12:31:20 -0400
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0561 Redheads

[5] 	From: 		Bruce Young <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 29 Aug 2007 14:00:59 -0600
	Subj: 		RE: SHK 18.0561 Redheads


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		David Basch <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 28 Aug 2007 19:35:38 -0400
Subject: 18.0561 Redheads
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0561 Redheads

Don Bloom asked:"Is there any study on the folklore of hair color and 
complexion?"

About that I don't know, but reading the Bible, Samuel 1, and the 
selection of the one to be anointed king of Israel, the passage reads as 
follows:

SAMUEL 1

16:10 Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And
          Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD hath not chosen these.

16:11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he
          said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth
          the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for
          we will not sit down till he come hither.

16:12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal
          of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD
          said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.

16:13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst
          of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David
          from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

In case there is any doubt, the word "ruddy" in verse 12 means red. 
Apparently being red haired is not any kind of genetic negative sign in 
the Biblical tradition since bad and good (Esau, David) come with this 
hair color.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Nicole Coonradt <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 29 Aug 2007 01:24:06 +0000
Subject: 18.0561 Redheads
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0561 Redheads

First, in reply to Bob Lapides' comment re Dickens, my comments were in 
response to others' queries at the thread as we pondered the 
trickle-down of the myriad cultural depictions of the stage 
"conventions" re red hair.  The theatrical stepping-stones would seem to 
be from Medieval mystery plays to the Elizabethan stage (during which 
time the mystery plays had been put out of commission-- legally via the 
Tudor regime in a period of severe censorship) and so on down to 
Dickens' own time as concerns Bob's post.  So, by contemporary theater, 
we might wonder in which plays Dickens would have witnessed the 
convention.  Is Fagin a direct reconsideration/representation of Shylock 
or Barabbas despite, or rather because of, his nearly complete 
lawlessness?  Do you happen to know, Bob, which plays Dickens saw that 
depicted Jews with red hair?  Do we have some accounts of this?  It 
would be interesting to know.

RE Don Bloom's comments today, Radford based his own comments in the 
interview and his choices as a director of the Pacino film on some of 
the same accounts included in the latter part of my post to which he is 
responding, namely the travel accounts from contemporaries (please refer 
to "SHK 18.0557 Redheads, Saturday, August 25, 2007 8:59:13 AM").  And 
while Bloom **obviously** is correct in saying that prejudice/ill 
treatment against Jews was widespread in Europe-- Shylock's "the badge 
of all my tribe" as freely acknowledged by the playwright-- the usury 
that the Bard would have experienced in England was of the Puritanical 
variety and some, including John Klause, Peter Milward, and Ian Wilson 
have already written scholarly articles on the link between Shylock the 
Venetian usurer and the English Puritans who practiced usury and were 
actually called "Christian Jews".  (See especially Klause, John. 
"Catholic and Protestant, Jesuit and Jew:  Historical Religion in _The 
Merchant of V
enice_"  _Religion and the Arts_  7.1/2 [2003]: 65-102, and Wilson, Ian. 
  Shakespeare:  The Evidence-- Unlocking the Mysteries of the Man and 
His Work.  New York:  St. Martin's Griffin, 1993.)

Also, regarding the history of the Jews in England and as concerns 
Shakespeare, all I can say is:  read James Shapiro's _Shakespeare and 
the Jews_.  New York:  Columbia UP, 1996.  He's your man!  Despite their 
having been driven from the country in 1290 by Edward I, there were, in 
fact, Jews in England.  The fact that they were not "the problem," 
however, is further evidence that Shylock is the probable cover for 
another discussion-- one that could not be openly addressed-- the Bard's 
veiled political/religious statement.

Furthermore, now that we are on the topic, my own views on the matter 
are that the Jew is the cover, as suggested above, under which 
Shakespeare addresses not the "Jewish Question or *Problem*" but the 
contemporary issue of the **Catholic-Protestant** problem-- yea, 
CRISIS!-- and the hypocrisy in Christianity (namely the Protestant 
variety that was torturing and executing recusant Catholics-- several of 
the Bard's relatives and acquaintances [friends?]-- and Jesuit priests 
in the Bard's own lifetime).  See especially, Coonradt, Nicole. 
"Shakespeare's Grand Deception:  _The Merchant of Venice_-- 
Anti-Semitism as 'Uncanny Causality'  and the Catholic-Protestant 
Problem."  _Religion and the Arts_ 11.1 (2007): 76-97.  As we have been 
warned by the Bard about, "The seeming truth which cunning times put on 
to entrap the wisest" (MOV 3.2.100-101), we might note that while it may 
look a lot like Venice, his homeland is a better fit.  (Btw, I am not 
Catholic.)  For additional reading, lest
one not be convinced of this problem see Greenblatt's _Will in the 
World:  How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare_. New York: Norton, 2004, and 
also Marotti, Arthur. F.  _Religious Ideology & Cultural Fantasy: 
Catholic and Anti-Catholic Discourses in Early Modern England_.  Notre 
Dame UP, 2005, which is really excellent (Marotti is not Catholic, 
either), and was written on the suggestion of Marotti's scholar friend, 
none other than James Shapiro, who said, "Arthur, why don't you do 
Catholics" (Marotti xi)?

Regarding your repetition, Don, of the query that we are all examining 
here:  "Does anybody have a clue as to why Jews should be associated 
with red hair?"  I would offer that in the cultural "Othering" of Jews 
after Christ, one thing that makes sense to me is that red hair is the 
result of two recessive genes coming together and is therefore not a 
common occurrence (typically, **ethnically** aren't most Jews dark-- 
ergo hair, skin, eyes?  Was Jesus?), so if you're going to have a 
Jew-as-villain (the stereotype to many Christians despite the Biblical 
injunction for them to be converted-- again, see Shapiro for the whole 
and interesting study of this), giving him red hair helps to underscore 
his "Othernes" (and per the many comments from members at this thread, a 
link to malice and perversion-- often sexual in nature).  Now, having 
said that, red hair (as with several of the Tudors/Stuarts) does show up 
more frequently in the British Isles than in some other places, but, 
interestingly, the current largest population is in the US where it is 
estimated between 2-6% of the total population.  Globally it is around 
1% today.  Wish we could know what it was in Early Modern times. 
Anyway, that's my take.  In contrast, consider the preference of 
depicting the Madonna and Child as more fair than dark-- and often 
blond-- from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.  The problem?  They 
were Jewish!  It is not often that they are depicted ethnically-correct 
as having dark skin, hair and eyes, which was likely the case.

Finally, Arthur Lindley's post re the Richard II being played with a red 
wig as representing Elizabeth I makes perfect sense, especially given 
the accepted topicality of the play and the Queen's famous, "I am 
Richard II, know ye not that?!"

Many thanks to members for thought-provoking posts!

Cheers,
Nicole Coonradt
University of Denver

P.S. I *still* love this thread!

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 28 Aug 2007 23:05:24 -0400
Subject: 18.0561 Redheads
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0561 Redheads

I find it interesting that no one has yet observed that Jesus is usually 
pictured as having red hair.

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Imtiaz Habib <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 29 Aug 2007 12:31:20 -0400
Subject: 18.0561 Redheads
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0561 Redheads

Donald Bloom's assertion "there were no Jews in Elizabethan England," is 
a bit sweeping as stated: Roderigo Lopez wasn't the only Jew, there was 
Hector Nunnez, and his extended family living in the vicinity of Mark 
Lane on the east side.  There may also have been Jewish monetlenders 
operating in Cheapside--as a kind of open secret. Whether they were 
"Marranos" and "crypto-jews" is another matter.  Surely, James Shapiro 
and David Katz, among others, have been helpful on this subject?

Imtiaz Habib
Old Dominion University

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Bruce Young <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 29 Aug 2007 14:00:59 -0600
Subject: 18.0561 Redheads
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0561 Redheads

Arthur Lindley says that "Jonathan Slinger is currently playing a 
flamingly red-wigged Richard II at the RSC in Stratford.  He's meant, as 
far as I could tell, to resemble Elizabeth rather than Barabas or 
Shylock."  (For a picture, see http://www.rsc.org.uk/content/4876.aspx.)

I believe Slinger's Richard is based on portraits of both Elizabeth I 
(in particular this one: 
http://www.npg.org.uk/live/search/portrait.asp?search=ap&npgno=5175) and 
Richard II 
(http://www.history.ac.uk/richardII/images/westm_portrait.jpg), who also 
seems to have been a redhead.  Both portraits are included in the 
program and are strikingly similar--which adds point to Elizabeth's 
statement, "I am Richard II, know you not that?"

Bruce Young

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