2008

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0469  Friday, 15 August 2008

From:       Jack Heller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Thursday, 14 Aug 2008 16:38:34 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:    Helens and Helenas

Colleagues:

While in Stratford, ON, last week, I began thinking about characters named Helen 
or Helena. Three come immediately to mind: Helen of Troy (who shows up in 
TROILUS AND CRESSIDA), Helena in MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, and Helena in ALL'S 
WELL THAT ENDS WELL. ALL'S WELL is currently on stage in Stratford. It seems 
that Helen may be used to name a sexually-motivated female character, and in 
some ways, Helena in All's Well is an opposite to Angelo in MEASURE FOR MEASURE. 
I suggested this possible approach to considering her character, but the 
response was that she is motivated for marriage to Bertram. My response back is 
that "avoiding fornication" is the third notable reason to marry in the wedding 
service of the 1559 Book of Common Prayer. If we read ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL 
as a comedy of the frustration of sexual desire, does it necessarily remain a 
problem play?

Jack Heller
Huntington University

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