2008

An Image in Greenblatt's _Hamlet in Purgatory_

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0518  Thursday, 28 August 2008

From:       Nicole M. Coonradt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Thursday, 28 Aug 2008 18:43:51 +0000
Subject: 19.0511 An Image in Greenblatt's _Hamlet in Purgatory_
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0511 An Image in Greenblatt's _Hamlet in Purgatory_

Looking again at the image in the Greenblatt text, _Hamlet in Purgatory_ (56), 
we've not discussed the fact that there are also figures in the clouds (?) above 
the chalice to the left and right. Any thoughts on who these 
angels/saints/people may be?

Interestingly, Greenblatt only discusses the image in terms of the cauldron 
portion on the right (54). What we might apply to the image and my query above 
is this, which Greenblatt says about Fig. 4 (55): "How do we know that the vat 
is Purgatory and not Hell? Because above the vat an angel is lifting up a 
fortunate soul who has completed the term of suffering, while below a demon 
thrusts his pronged fork at the burning figures crowded into a Hell-mouth" (54). 
Perhaps in Fig. 5 there is a similar depiction if the figures in the clouds 
represent heaven? It appears that Christ is also in the center of the image 
below the cross, flanked by two others. Are they, perhaps, the "malefactors" of 
Luke 23 who were crucified with Christ? If the panel on the right (which would 
be Jesus' left in the image) is Purgatory with Hell under it (I'd guess the 
faces below it are the condemned/damned?), then the figure on Jesus' left may be 
the worse of the two men, the one who challenged Jesus and told Him to save 
Himself if He is the Son of God. Conversely, the one on what would be Jesus' 
right, nearest the Chalice image and figures in the clouds, could be the 
malefactor who defended Jesus and asked Him to remember him when He came into 
His kingdom, to which Jesus replied, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise" 
(KJV 23:43). It would make sense that "on the right hand of God [Christ]" 
appears the positive, heavenly image of salvation, and the one of the left is 
the more negative Purgatory and Hell. Each would also offer/reinforce the idea 
of man's choice.

I wish we could see the image more clearly. There is also someone/something 
above Christ in the chalice part of the panel and figures above the cauldron on 
the opposite side.

It would be great if Greenblatt could weigh in on this as he likely has the 
image to hand and has studied it further and more closely than we. Anyone have 
access to the British Library?

In the end, however, I do not see why the blood of a chalice (or baptismal 
waters of a font) would not be accessible to the human figures since it does not 
make sense that they would be cut off from grace -- especially in that more 
positive side of the image. The whole point of Christ's sacrifice was that 
through His shed blood, mankind is saved. Given that the image is Medieval 
(which I assume it is -- do we have a date?), wouldn't the story it depicts 
necessarily represent the options available to man through his free will?

Best,
Nicole

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Helens and Helenas

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0517  Thursday, 28 August 2008

From:       Arthur Lindley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Wednesday, 27 Aug 2008 21:51:14 +0000
Subject: 19.0506 Helens and Helenas
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0506 Helens and Helenas

Laurie Maguire has a relevant chapter on Helens in *Shakespeare's Names* (2007).

Arthur Lindley

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My Name Is Will

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0515  Thursday, 28 August 2008

[1]  From:    Jess Winfield <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
      Date:    Wednesday, 27 Aug 2008 13:11:51 -0700
      Subj:    Re: SHK 19.0507 My Name Is Will

[2]  From:    Nicole M. Coonradt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
      Date:    Thursday, 28 Aug 2008 17:57:13 +0000
      Subj:    Re: SHK 19.0507 My Name Is Will


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Jess Winfield <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Wednesday, 27 Aug 2008 13:11:51 -0700
Subject: 19.0507 My Name Is Will
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0507 My Name Is Will

 >I thought QE1 adopted a "Don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding
 >religion. A policy formed by her own experience having to embrace
 >Catholicism while fearing the stake at the hands of Bloody Mary who
 >burned hundreds of adults and a few children.
 >
 >Mike Shapiro

Whatever ER's personal experience and level of tolerance, her official policy 
was not nearly as benign as Mike makes it sound. Throughout  the 1580s, the 
Crown was conducting grisly executions of Catholic  priests (Campion, Cottom, et 
al) -- as well as those who secretly harbored them (including Edward Arden, a 
likely relative of Mary Arden Shakespeare). Perhaps one could argue that they 
were executed for political, not religious reasons. But after the Act of 
Supremacy in 1559, and Pope Pius' excommunication of Elizabeth in 1570, politics 
and religion were officially indivisible. To be Catholic was to acknowledge the 
Pope, not Elizabeth, as the head of the church, and that was a state crime. At 
any rate it seems that those who were  hiding priests in holes in the wall were 
trying very hard not to "tell," but were often executed nevertheless. I think 
Elizabeth let herself be guided by her more rabidly Protestant ministers 
(Walsingham especially) in this regard.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Nicole M. Coonradt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Thursday, 28 Aug 2008 17:57:13 +0000
Subject: 19.0507 My Name Is Will
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0507 My Name Is Will

Dear SHAKSPEReans,

RE: Mike Shapiro's post. I think the take on the Liz/Mary "history" may not be 
up to speed with the 21st-century. Most scholars (including even someone like 
Greenblatt) seem to accept the "revisionist" history now finally being 
revealed/discussed in the academy (though there are still some hold-outs for the 
"Great Myth" -- see Edwin Jones' _The English Nation:  The Great Myth_ [Sutton, 
1998, 2003]). Someone like the fiery William Cobbett (_A History of the 
Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland_ c. 1824-26) who based his history 
on the dreadfully ignored Lingard History was not only dismissed but was 
basically run out of town for his variously "seditious" views (he spent time in 
Newgate Prison, and also fled to both France and then America), though he was 
Protestant. A recent look at the matter that may be most useful is Arthur F. 
Marotti's _Religious Ideology & Cultural Fantasy: Catholic and Anti-Catholic 
Discourses in Early Modern England_ (Notre Dame, 2005). There are a slew of 
others as well, but I especially recommend Marotti's salient study because he 
examines non-canonical texts and is himself not Catholic and so cannot be 
accused of having "an agenda" or ulterior motive. It was, in fact, Marotti's 
friend, James Shapiro, who suggested the study saying, "Arthur, why don't you do 
Catholics?" (Marotti xi).

A peer and I recently discussed the "Bloody" Mary vs. "Good Queen" Bess issue. 
If one looks at a per year count of executions, this does make Mary look like 
the worse of the two half-sisters (by about 38%); however, given that Mary's 
reign was but five years and Elizabeth was queen for a lengthy 45 years this 
severely distorts matters (which is why one must always be wary of statistics). 
Overall, QEI killed, conservatively speaking, 300% more people than her 
half-sister during the course of her long reign. For instance, Tom Betteridge in 
_Literature and Politics in the English Reformation_ (Manchester UP, 2004) notes 
that Elizabeth ordered the execution of 700 rebels after the Northern Rebellion 
in 1570 (178), which was, of course, about the Catholic-Protestant rift. And 
certainly regarding any possible "don't ask don't tell" policy, the Jesuit 
mission was obviously secret and yet at least 124 priests were executed for 
their faith (see Peter Marshall's _Reformation England 1480-1642_, Oxford UP, 
2003), as were many of their recusant Catholic flock for attending or conducting 
secret Masses (see especially Marotti's discussion of Margaret Clitherow and 
Anne Line [48-41]). Note also that these numbers do not take into account those 
who wasted away in prison, died in prison after heinous torture, lost everything 
through fines and confiscations of property, were separated from their families 
and country through exile, and denied education and public office.

Now, let me be clear that this is in no way meant to condone or make light of 
the executions under Mary I, but, rather, to highlight the fact of Christian 
hypocrisy as seen in Christian-on-Christian violence during the Early Modern 
period in England and to avoid any continued white-washing of what occurred 
under Elizabeth's reign where "mercy" did not season "justice."

Best regards,
Nicole

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Othello and Cassio

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0516  Thursday, 28 August 2008

[1]  From:    Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
      Date:    Wednesday, 27 Aug 2008 12:31:58 -0400
      Subj:    Re: SHK 19.0504 Othello and Cassio

[2]  From:    Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
      Date:    Wednesday, 27 Aug 2008 12:53:09 -0400
      Subj:    RE: SHK 19.0504 Othello and Cassio


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Wednesday, 27 Aug 2008 12:31:58 -0400
Subject: 19.0504 Othello and Cassio
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0504 Othello and Cassio

 >Cassio is a gentleman; Iago is not. (Don't ask me to prove this -
 >I'm just recalling study from many years ago.) Therefore, Cassio
 >should be the officer, Iago the sergeant.

I believe that this is made more explicit in Cinthio, but it is surely evident 
from Shakespeare's text as well. For example, Othello is able to command Iago to 
offer his wife as a personal servant to Desdemona. No gentleman would ever 
consent to such a thing and no one but a monarch would dare ask a gentleman to 
so degrade his wife.

What I find more interesting about the class distinctions in this play is what 
it says about the Venetian meritocracy and its impact on the play's 
characterizations. Othello is clearly not aristocratic or even gentle; yet he 
has risen by dint of his skill at arms to the highest military office in the 
republic and the governorship of its most crucial outpost. Even so, his access 
to the parlours of the elite despite his foreign birth and blackness, to the 
extent of being able to woo and win a senior aristocrat's daughter (and 
obtaining the imprimatur of the Duke over the objection of the lady's father), 
is remarkable.

In this context, Iago's pique at having been passed over for the lieutenancy in 
favor of a curly-haired darling Florentine arithmetician, who can't even hold 
his liquor and spends much of his time dallying with harlots, is more 
understandable. In a strictly stratified class system Iago would not have had a 
chance, and he would have understood that from childhood and not regarded it as 
a personal affront that Cassio was promoted over him. But in a meritocracy, Iago 
(who is by far the most intelligent character in the play, and knows it) feels 
the lash of that acutely.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Wednesday, 27 Aug 2008 12:53:09 -0400
Subject: 19.0504 Othello and Cassio
Comment:    RE: SHK 19.0504 Othello and Cassio

As Don Bloom points out, Cassio is a gentleman while Iago is not. Just as 
important, Cassio knows the theory of war, Iago the nuts and bolts of how things 
get done. So it's quite normal for the ensign to feel that he knows more than 
the lieutenant. Chiefs often feel that way about young Naval officers today -- 
and they are often right.

But I don't think that Othello's choice of Cassio over Iago is the result of a 
character flaw. Othello's flaw is that he has insufficient regard for his own 
merits, but he is very shrewd about the abilities of others. His monumental 
mistake of trusting Iago is only a mistake because Iago decides to act in an 
unmilitary manner. If Iago were giving advice about, say, fortifications, 
Othello could trust him and would be right to do so.

Ed Taft


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Book Announcement: Shakespeare on Toast

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0514  Thursday, 28 August 2008

From:       Najma Finlay <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Thursday, 28 Aug 2008 10:11:14 +0100
Subject:    Book Announcement: Shakespeare on Toast

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Publication Date: 8 September 2008

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_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the opinions 
expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the editor assumes no 
responsibility for them.

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