Joan La Pucelle & Her Shakespearean “Sisters”

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.340  Thursday, 23 July 2015

 

From:        Arnie Perlstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         July 22, 2015 at 4:51:20 PM EDT

Subject:    Joan La Pucelle & Her Shakespearean “Sisters”

 

Anna Kamarilla responded to my initial post as follows: 

 

“I think what you have observed is less a specific parallel between Joan and Rosalind than one of Shakespeare’s recurring go-to character/situation favourites, namely, a smart woman claiming nominally male space. It is a scenario he returns to over and over throughout his writing career.”

 

Thank you for your very interesting reply, Anna. While I still think there is an extra dimension to the Joan/Rosalind parallel regarding a woman presenting a strongly masculine persona, that goes beyond the more general pattern you have identified, I do agree that the pattern you describe is as you say and is also significant. Powerful women provoke anxious, sexist responses from men, especially those in the military or at a court. I did some quick Googling, and found two earlier scholarly tidbits that address the pattern you mentioned in insightful ways:

 

First, Russell Fraser, in his 1985 edition of AWTEW, at xvi-xvii, connects Rosalind, Helena, and Cressida:  

 

All’s Well…shares a skeptical view of war (and a character called Helen) with Troilus and Cressida. Rosalind in As You Like It has, like Helena, lost a father at the beginning of the play, though while Helena's father is dead Rosalind's is in exile and recoverable. Both women find themselves turning to new male interests. Helena says of her father: ‘What was he like? I have forgot him. My imagination Carries no favour in’t but Bertram’s.’

 

This seems a hard-edged version of Rosalind’s ‘what talk we of fathers, when there is such a man as Orlando?’ (3.4.38-39). Cressida joins the group when her father arranges a prisoner exchange that will take her from Troy and Troilus, and she declares, ‘I have forgot my father’ (4.2.96).”

 

And second, David Bevington, in his 1989 essay “All’s Well That Plays Well”, points out the really striking parallelism between Joan La Pucelle and Helena, including his catch of a whiff of Cressida in Helena: 

 

“...Scene 2 of Act 1 is an entirely male-dominated scene…Perhaps, by overvaluing military prowess as the way to valorize one’s sense of manhood, the male and patriarchal world at the court of France devalues more quiet achievement. ……[Consider] the extraordinary theatrical energy of Helena’s arrival at court. She is the only woman onstage in her first long scene there (2.1) and in the subsequent scene of her choosing a husband (2.3). Helena’s arrival is remarkably like that of Joan of Arc at the court of Charles VII, even in Shakespeare’s disparaging treatment of her in 1 Henry VI. Like Joan, Helena at once convinces her listeners that she has supernatural power; as Lafew insists, she can ‘breathe life into a stone’. Lafew, so ready to detect sham in Parolles, risks the humiliation of being thought gullible by undertaking to bring Helena before the King. The mood of belief quickly infects the King, though he must also protect his self-regard by professing a skeptical stance. All those present are impressed with how quickly all this happens. “This haste hath wings indeed!” 

 

We are thus prepared, in the theater, for an entrance of unusual impact. A repeated pattern in blocking helps to underscore the effect. Lafew, who earlier conducted Bertram before the King, now escorts in a single woman with no conventional credentials for being there. This repetition, coupled with the social irregularity of the second entrance, establishes a visual link between Bertram and Helena in a way that also gives to Helena’s entrance the aura of something miraculous. Moreover, the encounter of Helena is charged, as in the case of Joan of Arc and another French king, with sexual energy. The verbal dueling of Helena and the King is not debased, as it is in 1 Henry VI, but it certainly flirts with erotic suggestion. Old Lafew, saying “Come your ways,”, in the best tradition of the bawd, jests that he will play the role of “Cressid’s uncle”, Pandarus, by daring to “leave the two together’. Even before he escorts her in, Lafew has spoken of this “Doctor She” as one …

 

…whose simple touch,
Is powerful to araise King Pepin, nay,
To give great Charlemain a pen in's hand,
And write to her a love-line.

 

Surely it is no coincidence that Lafew’s phrase ‘a pen in ‘s hand,’ reminds us of the word penis, for the whole passage is replete with images of arousal and quickening. 

 

These erotic suggestions need to be balanced, however, against the danger of devaluing Helena’s innocence of purpose. Helena is very much a woman, but to present her as sexually aggressive is to run the risk of heightening those very male anxieties that Bertram has not yet learned to resolve. Helena tells the King she dare venture ‘Tax of impudence’ if she is found guilty of “A strumpet’s boldness’, but this is only if she fails; and to prevent that, she unhesitatingly calls on “The great’st grace lending grace.” The King is attracted to her, but in a fatherly or avuncular way…”

 

As Bevington’s analysis shows, Shakespeare obviously meant to very strongly echo Joan La Pucelle in Helena’s characterization—they are two versions of women perceived as, and also presenting themselves, powerful witches—a dangerous way of being perceived by such men.  

Cheers, ARNIE

 

MV Dialog

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.339  Wednesday, 22 July 2015

 

[1] From:        Pervez Rizvi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         July 20, 2015 at 4:29:14 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: MV Dialog

 

[2] From:        Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         July 20, 2015 at 4:41:12 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog 

 

[3] From:        William Blanton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         July 21, 2015 at 9:55:36 AM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Pervez Rizvi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         July 20, 2015 at 4:29:14 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: MV Dialog

 

The bark/bay association that Jim Carroll points out is interesting. He also says:

 

Shakespeare habitually echoed certain consonants in association

>with certain words, including “Mantua”, which appears repeatedly in

>some plays, a total of 19 times by my count, not including the 

>emendation in Merchant. 

 

Based on the evidence he gives I think he is seeing significance where there is none. There are 109,220 through lines in the Folio. By my count 41,671 of them contain a word beginning with ‘m’ (other than Mantua itself). That’s 38%, so more than one in three. Therefore, given any line containing the word Mantua, it is not in the least surprising to find a word beginning with ‘m’ on that line or on the line above it or below it. 

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         July 20, 2015 at 4:41:12 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog

 

the point about “no power can alter a decree” and “’Twill be recorded for a precedent” seems to me a strong one.  The point is not what happens, it is what Portia says here. If no new legal proposition can alter a decree, it can’t become a precedent, good or bad.  Shakespeare here seems to be hesitating between two different legal systems (perhaps one Venetian, one English), or trying to conflate them through quick juxtaposition.  Again, Drakakis is missing the point.

 

There is no inconsistency here, and no need to postulate two legal systems.  Portia’s objection to altering a “decree established” was in response to Bassanio’s per vi argument “Wrest once the law to your authority: | To do a great right, do a little wrong.” The law referred to, I infer, was the principle that solemn contracts must be adhered to; or else, as Portia says, the mercantile basis of Venice’s wealth would be in danger.  Her solution ingeniously retains and, indeed, applies, the principle:  She awards Shylock all the flesh he was owed (no more, no less) but not a jot of blood, as it is not called for in the contract.  There is a world of difference between overruling a precedent and distinguishing it; and in this case the defense didn’t even have to do that, they just showed that the precedent was inapplicable, indeed, that it required a result contrary to the claim.  I am astounded that Mr. Blanton, who tells us that he is an experienced litigator, missed this point.

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        William Blanton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         July 21, 2015 at 9:55:36 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog

 

Many thanks to all who have responded to my post regarding contradictions in the play. I did not intend to trigger any controversy, although I am glad to read these diverse opinions. This is just the sort of dialog I had hoped for. 

 

Will someone please explain to me why the song with the verse lines that rhyme with lead is not a hint to Bassanio. I gather that “old chestnut” signifies that scholars have debunked this possibility. However, John’s footnote number 65 on page 296 indicates that the song is a hint. I’m confused.

 

Clearly I will have to address the Mantua/Padua issue sooner than anticipated.

 

Shakespeare has Portia send Balthaser (F1 spelling) to Bellario in Mantua. (3.4.49) Perhaps a sizable number of those in Shakespeare’s audiences would have remembered when a Balthazar was sent to Mantua in RJ. This self-reference helps to date the first performance of RJ to some time before late 1596.

 

Portia and Nerissa are to wait at the traject for Balthaser to return with notes and garments. (3.4.51-55) She and Nerissa then take the “common Ferry” to Venice. 

 

Shakespeare does not send anyone to Padua. Portia and Nerissa never meet with Bellario. Balthaser does not travel with them to Venice.

 

Salerio announces that a messenger with letters from Doctor Bellario is “New come from Padua!” (4.1.107-08) When Nerissa, disguised as a lawyer’s clerk, enters carrying a letter, the Duke asks (unnecessarily): “Came you from Padua from Bellario?” Nerissa then lies through her teeth: “From both! My lord, Bellario greets your grace.” Nerissa then hands the Duke the very important — although seemingly commonplace — letter.

 

Shakespeare’s audiences would have heard just moments ago the matters related in Act 3 Scene 4. They would have thought to themselves, “Hey! Wait a minute. I thought Bellario was in Mantua, not Padua, and I distinctly remember that Nerissa did not go to Bellario at either place but rather waited at the traject. WTF is going on here?”

 

Shakespeare got their attention. What’s going on is Shakespeare’s effort to highlight what appears to be nothing more than a simple letter of introduction. 

 

Consider closely what happens next.

 

While the Duke reads the letter to himself, Bassanio and Shylock engage in another slanging match (which no real court would tolerate).

 

The Duke then says, “This letter from Bellario doth commend /A young and learned doctor to our court./ Where is he?” (4.1.142-43)

 

Nerissa replies: “He attendeth here hard by /To know your answer whether you’ll admit him.” (4.1.144-45) I emphasize hard because it suggests that the young doctor has a hard-on.

 

While awaiting the arrival of the young and learned doctor, the Duke reads the letter a second time, this time out loud and to the entire court (and to the audience). (4.1.149-62)

 

When he finishes reading the letter, the Duke says: “You hear the learned Bellario, what he writes.” Yet another reference to the letter highlighting its significance.

 

When Portia enters (as Balthazar), the Duke says: “And here, I take it, is the doctor come. /Give me your hand. Come you from old Bellario?”

 

Portia replies: “I did, my lord.” She does not correct the Duke’s impression of her identity as “the doctor,” and she “of wondrous virtues” (1.1.163) lies to the Duke’s face. She was not the Balthasar (F1 spelling) whom Bellario described in his letter, and she certainly did not come from old Bellario.

 

Now, with all that focus on Bellario’s letter, just who is that Balthasar, what does Bellario mean, and where did Balthasar go?

 

It is unfortunate that editors do not use the F1 spellings of Balthaser (he to Mantua), Balthasar (he who met with Bellario), and Balthazar (she who appeared in court). Many readers believe that Portia did meet with Bellario, and that is how she came to know so much legal business. I know I did the first time I read the play (Norton, Greenblatt). No one on stage addresses her as Balthazar, but only as Doctor or Judge. That name appears only once, in the stage direction for her entrance.

 

Again, many thanks.

 

Bill

 

 

Rosalind and Joan La Pucelle

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.338  Wednesday, 22 July 2015

 

From:        William Blanton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         July 21, 2015 at 10:00:42 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Joan

 

Re: Joan

 

Let’s not forget Portia in The Merchant of Venice.

 

 

Bill 

 

CFP: 7th Biennial British Shakespeare Association Conference, 8-11 September 2016

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.337  Wednesday, 22 July 2015

 

From:        Richard Meek <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:        July 21, 2015 at 11:03:53 AM EDT

Subject:    CFP: 7th Biennial British Shakespeare Association Conference, 8-11 September 2016

 

7th Biennial British Shakespeare Association Conference 

Shakespearean Transformations: Death, Life, and Afterlives

University of Hull, 8-11 September 2016

www.hull.ac.uk/bsa2016

 

Keynote speakers:

 

Susan Bassnett (University of Warwick)

Andrew Hadfield (University of Sussex)

Michael Neill (University of Auckland)

Claudia Olk (Free University of Berlin)

Barrie Rutter (Northern Broadsides)

Tiffany Stern (University of Oxford)

Richard Wilson (Kingston University)

 

CALL FOR PAPERS

 

‘Remember me!’ commands the ghost of Hamlet’s father at a moment in English history when the very purpose of remembrance of the dead was being transformed. How does the past haunt the present in Shakespeare? What do Shakespeare’s works reveal about the processes of mourning and remembrance? Shakespeare breathed new life into ‘old tales’: how do his acts of literary resuscitation transform the material he revived and what it signifies? This major international conference will investigate the ways in which Shakespeare remembered the past and we remember Shakespeare. 

 

The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death offers us a timely opportunity to reflect upon the continuation of his life and art diachronically, spatially from the Globe across the globe, and materially on stage, page, canvas, music score, and screen. How does Shakespeare continue to haunt us? The second strand of the conference focuses on Shakespeare’s literary, dramatic, and transcultural afterlives. The conference thus also seeks to explore the various ways in which Shakespeare’s ghost has been invoked, summoned up, or warded off over the past four centuries. 

 

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Shakespearean transformations: borrowing/adaptation/appropriation/intertextuality 
  • Shakespeare and death 
  • Speaking to/of and impersonating the dead in Shakespeare 
  • Shakespeare, religion, and reformations of ritual 
  • Shakespeare and memory/remembrance 
  • Shakespeare and time: temporality/anachronism/archaism 
  • Shakespeare and early modern conceptions of ‘life’ 
  • Emotion and embodiment in Shakespeare 
  • Performing Shakespeare: now and then 
  • Transcultural Shakespeare 
  • Critical and theoretical conceptions of/engagements through Shakespeare 
  • Textual resurrections: editing Shakespeare 
  • Rethinking Shakespearean biography 
  • Enlivening Shakespeare teaching 
  • Shakespeare in a digital age

The conference will be held in the official run-up to Hull’s year as the UK’s City of Culture in 2017. The programme will include plenary lectures, papers, seminars, workshops, and performances at Hull Truck and the Gulbenkian Centre. There will also be special workshops and sessions directed towards pedagogy.

 

We welcome proposals for papers (20 minutes), panels (90 minutes), or seminars/workshops (90 minutes) on any aspect of the conference theme, broadly interpreted. Abstracts (no more than 200 words) should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 15 December 2015.

 

Participants must be members of the British Shakespeare Association at the time of the conference. Details of how to join can be found here: www.britishshakespeare.ws

 

MV Dialog

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.336  Monday, 20 July 2015

 

[1] From:        Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         July 17, 2015 at 5:12:29 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog 

 

[2] From:        William Blanton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         July 18, 2015 at 6:03:39 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog 

 

[3] From:        Richard A. Strier <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         July 18, 2015 at 2:00:43 PM EDT

     Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER:  MV Dialog 

 

[4] From:        Jim Carroll <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         July 19, 2015 at 9:55:41 AM EDT

     Subject:    Re: MV Dialog

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         July 17, 2015 at 5:12:29 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog

 

(1) One contradiction occurred right off the bat. Salarino postulated that Antonio was sad because he was worried that all of his merchandise might be lost at sea.

 

 

ANTONIO

    Believe me, no. I thank my fortune for it,

    My ventures are not in one bottom trusted,

    Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate

    Upon the fortune of this present year:

    Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad.

1.1.40-44.

 

A short while later, Bassanio asked Antonio for another loan. Antonio replied:

 

 

ANTONIO

    Thou knowst that all of my fortunes are at sea;

    Neither have I money, nor commodity

    To raise a present sum; therefore go forth:

    Try what my credit can in Venice do…. .

1.1.177-180.

 

It can’t be both.

 

Yes it can.  There is no contradiction between these two speeches.  In the first, Antonio says that he is not concerned about the safety of his capital as he has diversified his investments so that one loss will not destroy him.  In the second speech he says that he is fully invested, so he has no ready cash.  Both are distinctly possible.

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Richard A. Strier <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         July 18, 2015 at 2:00:43 PM EDT

Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER:  MV Dialog

 

Dear Folks,

 

While I think that in general I am more in line with Professor Drakakis, I think that he is a bit too glib and confident in relation to the contradictions (or apparent contradictions) that are at issue.  I see no reason why they all have to be resolved or dismissed.  They might be puzzles or genuine sloppiness.  I think this list of apparent contradictions is very useful, and very shrewd, and (as I said) not to be dismissed easily.  They should, I think, trouble us.  To spot them (aside from the rhyme on lead thing, which is indeed old hat), did require close and intelligent reading.

 

To start with the first example:  The “not in one bottom” claim is certainly true, but the claim about “this present year” is troubling.  Of course Antonio (like almost everyone, at least in England) is short of ready cash, but “ALL my fortunes” is indeed a troubling line, especially since he is speaking here to his beloved friend, with whom, one presumes, he is being completely candid.

 

The “rival place” thing is also interesting, since it only makes sense if Portia could choose her suitor.  Clearly one would not want to present oneself to a grand lady in a shabby fashion.  But the whole thing only makes sense if the casket business is a secret, unknown to Bassanio.  It is clarifying to assume this, and I feel grateful to have the issue raised.

 

Shylock’s change of mind about the dinner invitation may or may not be a problem.  He does give a reason for it, but it is true that the initial refusal is much more powerful (and historical) than is the later decision to attend.

 

The business about never to woo and “take what wife you will” is, I think, a genuine contradiction, and should, I think, simply be acknowledged as such.  Shakespeare forgot that he had upped the ante.  “Loveless sex” has nothing at all to do with the problem.

 

The stuff about appearances and reading the inscriptions and “treason” does seem to me off base.  Here I agree with Drakakis.

 

However, the point about “no power can alter a decree” and “’Twill be recorded for a precedent” seems to me a strong one.  The point is not what happens, it is what Portia says here. If no new legal proposition can alter a decree, it can’t become a precedent, good or bad.  Shakespeare here seems to be hesitating between two different legal systems (perhaps one Venetian, one English), or trying to conflate them through quick juxtaposition.  Again, Drakakis is missing the point. 

 

The Mantua-Padua thing does seem to be a case where Shakespeare changed his mind, but did not go back to eliminate the contradiction.  Again he should be seen as hesitating between two perfectly reasonable choices, each of which can be explicated.  I suppose editors are right to make the change, but obviously the change needs to be identified as an emendation.

 

As I said, and will say again for a final time, It think it is very useful to have these contradictions, some of which are real, pointed out, and I think it bad reading to dismiss them as only apparent or not important.

 

Richard Strier

University of Chicago

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        William Blanton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         July 18, 2015 at 6:03:39 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: MV Dialog

 

To John, in reply to your response, dated 7/17/15:

 

I was looking forward to your theories about the contradictions I had discovered, only to find out that you denied that any of them were contradictions. I will briefly reply to your comments.

 

(1) re: Antonio’s fortunes. As I mentioned, we can all imagine reasons why Antonio told Salarino one thing and Bassanio another, which is what you have done in your response. My point still remains: what Antonio said to Bassanio contradicts what he had just said to Salarino. And my question still remains: why would Shakespeare create such an obvious contradiction in such a short space of time?

 

(2) re: Hold a rival place. You are probably right. Bassanio may not have known about the conditions of the competition for Portia’s hand and may have expected her to be able to choose freely. Shakespeare does not say either way, although in Il Pecorone Giannetto did know exactly what he was getting into.

 

(3) re: dining with Bassanio. Your response puzzles me. Shylock could have accepted the first invitation and not have eaten the pork; however, he said that he did not want to risk having to smell pork. In addition, he flatly stated that he would do some things with Christians, but would not dine with them. It still strikes me as a contradiction.

 

Please explain what you mean by “a characteristic perversion of a particular social ritual.”

 

(4) re: Arragon and marriage. I’m confused by your response. You say that the scroll says nothing about marriage, but how can Arragon take what wife [he] will to bed without marrying that wife?

 

(5) re: the old chestnut. I agree that Portia knows which casket contains her portrait by the time Bassanio comes to his election. This does not exclude the possibility that she knew all along. Remember when she told Nerrissa to put a glass of Rhenish on a contrary casket so that she would not have to marry the Duke of Saxony’s nephew. 1.2.90-94.

 

It can be no coincidence that the lines in the song rhyme with lead. If this is not a hint to Bassanio, what, then, is it?

 

I did not say that Portia was in a dilemma. I said that the song may be a contradiction to her declaration that she would never be foresworn. I do not put Portia past being devious; she certainly was in the Trial Scene. It is a pity that we have no indication as to how this incident would have been played by Shakespeare’s acting company.

 

What “ideology” makes it necessary that Bassanio choose correctly? What does “miscegenation” have to do with it?

 

Re: Inscription on the casket. I’m reading your edition, John. 3.2.131 quotes the scroll, not the inscription.

 

(6) re: by the view. Although it is unclear, as I said, I believe that Bassanio chose “by the view”; that is, he chose the lead casket because of its paleness, which is precisely what he says is the basis for his choice. What the scroll says may contradict what actually happened, which would invalidate the alleged wisdom of Portia’s father.

 

In any event, I believe that Bassanio chose the correct casket because he was predestined to do so.

 

(7) re: rack, torture, treason. “Flyting” is new to me. Wikipedia defines it as a contest consisting of the exchange of insults, often conducted in verse, between two parties. Bassanio and Portia were not insulting one another.

 

To which “proverbial sayings” do you refer? I rather think that these are original with Shakespeare, or that he changed a proverbial saying such as confess and be hanged into its opposite, confess and live.

 

I am not pulling a red herring. Torture was not normal in the jurisprudence of sixteenth century England, although it may have been on the Continent. English law courts did not use torture, although some specialty courts of the Privy Council did use it for particular offenses, such as treason. To convict an accused of treason, the prosecution had to present either the testimony of two witnesses or a confession.

 

Confessions obtained under torture were easier to obtain, particularly when the accused was not guilty of the crime. For instance, the patriarch of the Arden family, Edward Arden, who was (probably) falsely accused of participating in the so-called Somerville Plot, was tortured, “confessed”, and was drawn and quartered when Shakespeare was 17 years of age. I rather doubt that Shakespeare considered talk of torture to be “playful.”

 

I have looked at a book review of Langbein, The Death of Legal Torture by Mirjan Damaska, 87 Yale L.J. at 865; online at http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2585&context=fss_papers:

 

“Apparently, however, torture for interrogative purposes was legitimate in England only for a brief period during the reign of the Tudors and Stuarts and was limited to the practice of a central governmental agency -- the Privy Council.” 

 

Can you provide me with an example of a sonnet sequence in which the lover feels tortured? I don’t recall any of Shakespeare’s sonnets doing so.

 

You may be the one making an assumption: that the connection between “love talk” and “torture” was playful. As you pointed out, we do not know how the actors delivered the lines. On the page, these lines appear to be playful, but Shakespeare has warned us against judging by appearances. 

 

Are you aware of any instances in which lovers compare their love to American professional wrestling?

 

(8) re unalterable and precedent. I think you missed the point. Yes, Portia did not alter the law. However, she implied that she could have altered the law and thereby set an undesirable precedent.


(9) Mantua/Padua. I will discuss this in more detail later. 

 

I mentioned that the RSC version claimed to be based on F1, which did use Mantua, but nonetheless emended Mantua to the non-Shakespearean Padua. Mantua was no confusion, as the RSC editors and many others have assumed. I am glad that you at least retained Padua, even though you did state your belief that Shakespeare was confused. Readers of your edition will at least know what Shakespeare actually wrote instead of what some editor thinks he should have written.

 

It is only too true that we have no idea how Shakespeare’s company performed MV, especially what tone they used when speaking the lines. We have only the words themselves. We need to ask ourselves why Shakespeare might have chosen those particular words, especially when those non-trivial words and references appear to be mistakes. It is far more likely that we do not recognize the reason for the apparent mistake than that Shakespeare made one.

 

Thank you again for your thoughtful reply.

 

Bill

 

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Jim Carroll <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         July 19, 2015 at 9:55:41 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: MV Dialog

 

I agree with John Drakakis that “Mantua” for “Padua” is probably a confusion. 

 

Shakespeare habitually echoed certain consonants in association with certain words, including “Mantua”, which appears repeatedly in some plays, a total of 19 times by my count, not including the emendation in Merchant. In most of these an “m” word is close by:

 

Tra. What country MAN, I pray?

Ped.                             Of Mantua.

Tra. Of Mantua, sir? MArry, God forbid!

And come to Padua, careless of your life?

Ped. MY life, sir? How, I pray? for that goes hard.

Tra.  'Tis death for any one in Mantua         Shrew IV-ii:77–81

 

2. Out. And I from Mantua, for a gentleMAN,

Who, in MY MOOD, I stabb'd unto the heart.     TGV IV-i:48–49

 

To Mantua, where I hear he MAkes abode;        TGV IV-iii:23

 

Upon the rising of the MOUNTain foot

That leads toward Mantua, whither they are fled. TGV V-ii:46–47

 

MY lord and you were then at Mantua —          R&J I-iii:28

 

Sojourn in Mantua.  I'll find out your man,    R&J III-iii:169

 

To Mantua, with MY letters to thy lord.        R&J IV-i:124

 

"An" if a MAN did need a poison now,

Whose sale is present death in Mantua,         R&J V-i:50–51

 

Welcome from Mantua!  What says Romeo?

Or, if his MIND be writ, give me his letter.   R&J V-ii:3–4

 

So that MY speed to Mantua there was stay'd.   R&J V-ii:12

 

But I will write again to Mantua,

And keep her at MY cell till Romeo come        R&J V-ii:28–29

 

I brought MY MAster news of Juliet's death,

And then in post he came from Mantua

To this same place, to this same MONument.     R&J V-iii:272–274

 

So in Merchant, in the line before the Mantua/Padua emendment, there appears

"man":

 

And use thou all th' endeavor of a man.

In speed to [Padua].                          MOV III-iv:48–49

 

The “man” in the previous line probably caused Shakespeare to think “Mantua” when he meant “Padua”.

 

This kind of analysis can be used to demonstrate that Shakespeare must have written Act 1 of Titus Andronicus. 

 

Hail, Rome, victorious in thy mourning weeds!

Lo, as the bark that hath discharg'd his fraught

Returns with precious lading to the bay

From whence at first she weigh'd her anchorage,          Titus I-i:70–73

 

“Bark” (meaning “boat”) is one of Shakespeare’s favorite words, and it is also a source for many metaphors and similes, 14 by my count. Not only does the “bark” metaphor appear repeatedly in Shakespeare, but Shakespeare echoes the “b” of “bark” with “bay”, as in Titus 1.1, several times:

 

You sent me to the bay, sir, for a bark.                Comedy IV-i:99

 

And I, in such a desp'rate bay of death,

Like a poor bark of sails and tackling reft,            R3 IV-iv:233–234

 

How like a younger or a prodigal

The scarfed bark puts from her native bay,              Merchant II-vi:14–15

 

These examples, like Titus, were all written relatively early in Shakespeare’s career.

 

Peele uses “bark” (meaning “boat”) only once, and that instance is literal, a part of a list of the bounties of England:

 

The sailor that in cold and quaking tide 

The wrathful storms of winter's rage doth bide, 

With streamers stretch'd prepares his merry bark, 

For country's wealth to set his men a-wark.   

 

The Device of the Pageant (1585)

 

Jim Carroll

 

 

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