The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0408 Friday, 23 August 2013
Date: August 23, 2013 1:27:33 PM EDT
Subject: RE: Verges
In response to Jack Heller’s query about Verges, this name has at least four metaphorical possibilities. As Heller notes, it might be a reference to verjuice, meaning the sour juice of un-ripened fruit, suggesting that the character should be played with a long face or pursed mouth. The name might also suggest that the character should carry a staff and march in front of Dogberry, as a verger would in front of a church or university authority, ridiculing thereby Dogberry’s pomposity. The word verge sometimes referred to the phallus, which might have titillated Shakespeare’s audience with Dogberry’s description of the character as a wizened old man. Finally, the word verges was used to refer to the side areas of a garden, and of course Shakespeare includes many references to gardening in his plays. Furthermore, the name occurs only in one scene. The character appears in three other scenes, and is referred to there as “partner” or “neighbor” (3.3, 4.2, and 5.1). The concept of neighbor is explicit in all but one reference to this character, and this concept is clearly implicit in the gardening metaphor and Verges’ constant presence at Dogberry’s side.
Grant W. Smith, Ph.D.
Prof. English/Coord. Humanities
Eastern Washington University
See the American Name Society at http://www.wtsn.binghamton.edu/ANS/
See the Intl. Council of Onomastic Sciences at http://www.icosweb.net/