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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: January ::
Malvolio and the Captain
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0031  Thursday, 17 January 2008

[1] 	From:	Jeremy Fiebig <
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	Date:	Wednesday, 16 Jan 2008 09:10:42 -0600
	Subj:	RE: SHK 19.0019 Malvolio and the Captain

[2] 	From:	Steve Sohmer <
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	Date:	Wednesday, 16 Jan 2008 14:57:40 EST
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0019 Malvolio and the Captain

[3] 	From:	Donald Bloom <
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	Date:	Thursday, 17 Jan 2008 09:00:54 -0600
	Subj:	RE: SHK 19.0019 Malvolio and the Captain


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Jeremy Fiebig <
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Date:		Wednesday, 16 Jan 2008 09:10:42 -0600
Subject: 19.0019 Malvolio and the Captain
Comment:	RE: SHK 19.0019 Malvolio and the Captain

I recently employed the doubling of the Captain and Malvolio in a 
production of Twelfth Night at my college. I wonder if the "joke" for 
Globe patrons might have been the doubling itself: the captain cannot 
come because the actor playing him is preoccupied with playing Malvolio.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Steve Sohmer <
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Date:		Wednesday, 16 Jan 2008 14:57:40 EST
Subject: 19.0019 Malvolio and the Captain
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0019 Malvolio and the Captain

Dear Friends,

St. Paul wrote to the Illyrians twice and visited them three times ... 
because the idolatrous Corinthians were having difficulty adapting  to 
his brand of Christianity. Let me enumerate some of the problems Paul 
addressed. Apparently, these were still rampant in Shakespeare's 
Illyria. There were divisions and factionalism between households (1 Cor 
1:11)-and within households. Stewards were on the verge of becoming 
unfaithful (4:1-2). Servants were seized with ambition (7:20) and 
bridling at their low station (7:21). There was fornication (5:1)-and 
raillery and drunkenness (10:21, 11:21). Unmarried Corinthian women were 
refusing to marry (8:28ff). The men had become haughty; to use Paul's 
phrase, "puffed up" (4:18)-that's Malvolio's condition-as Fabian 
observes, "see how imagination blows him" (2.5.40-1). Some Corinthians 
were speaking in strange and undecipherable tongues (14)-as do Feste, 
Toby, and Andrew. Caritas was in decline, and the collecting of alms had 
lapsed (16). Paul also reprimanded the Illyrians for bringing lawsuits 
against each other in pagan courts (6:1-6). Doesn't this explain 
Shakespeare's sudden and inexplicable allusion to Malvolio's lawsuit 
against Viola's loyal captain?

Hope this helps,
Steve

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Donald Bloom <
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Date:		Thursday, 17 Jan 2008 09:00:54 -0600
Subject: 19.0019 Malvolio and the Captain
Comment:	RE: SHK 19.0019 Malvolio and the Captain

Cary Barney writes:

 >I recently directed "Twelfth Night" for my university and we grappled
 >with the mysterious fifth act revelation that the Captain is being held
 >under arrest at Malvolio's instigation. Rather than have it come out of
 >the blue, we took the liberty of adding a dumb show in which the Captain
 >tries on Viola's "women's weeds" out of curiosity and Malvolio has him
 >arrested for cross dressing in public. Dubious, but it worked, at least
 >in the context of our production. I'm wondering if anyone knows of other
 >productions which have addressed this loose end in any way.

I certainly hope not, at least if this is exemplary. I can find no 
authority for this in the slightest. Why should Malvolio care what a sea 
captain does in his spare time? How would he find out? He has no 
authority outside the countess's household and less there than he 
thinks. Although he has some views in common with Angelo, he lacks the 
means to enforce them on much of anybody.

Second, there is no suggestion that cross-dressing is a crime in 
Illyria. Viola never says that she's in peril of arrest for what she's 
up to.

Third, this all smacks of voyeurism and a desire to be up to date. 
"We're going to show male cross-dressing, te-hee."

Granted, the line is a problem, but it is far more likely that a man 
would be arrested for debt, especially if he fell afoul of usurious 
loan-sharks, of whom it is easy to imagine Malvolio being one. However, 
it is not very important and I don't think that anybody really cares 
what the issue might have been between the captain and Malvolio.

I hate to be so harsh, but students are impressionable. Some of them 
might think this idea had something to do with Shakespeare's play.

don

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