The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1883 Wednesday, 3 November 1999.
Date: Tuesday, 2 Nov 1999 21:51:39 -0000
Subject: 10.1864 Re: Productions of Much Ado
Comment: RE: SHK 10.1864 Re: Productions of Much Ado
Paul Swanson wrote:
>I was fascinated by Pervez Rizvi's insight that Innogen, Leonato's wife
>who may or may not be a character in Much Ado, could have such a
>profound impact on the nature of the play.
Credit where it's due: the insight was by John Drakakis, not me. I'm
actually not convinced by it: (i) The absence of Innogen is paralleled
by the absence of mothers in several plays, presumably because there was
a limited number of boys capable of playing maternal roles. (ii) Fathers
try to exercise their 'right' to choose their daughters' suitors in
several plays, so Leonato's telling Hero what her answer to the Prince
shall be is nothing peculiar to this play. (iii) This just leaves
Benedick's "Peace, I will stop your mouth" upon which to build a case
for the silencing of women in this play. I don't think it's enough.
Rather than singling out this play, it's more profitable to consider why
women in a number of Shakespeare plays are silent at key moments.
Peter Hyland wrote:
>Thersites in TROILUS AND CRESSIDA announces his bastardy only in
>his final speech
I certainly don't want to defend this to the death as it's a minor
point. But I can't help feeling that Thersites' being a bastard is
different to the other examples: Edmund, Falconbridge, and Margareton
(the bastard son of Priam in T&C). For each of these three, we have the
evidence of speech-prefixes ("Bast.") and stage directions ("Enter
Bastard") in the original texts, presumably deriving from Shakespeare's
own manuscripts. Thersites' claim to being a bastard reads merely like
his predictable response to Margareton's mention of the word.
P.S. The information I gave this morning about Double Falsehood needs to
be corrected: the theatre that burned down was Covent Garden, not Drury
Lane, and it appears that the play had a limited success before it
disappeared from the stage. You can find detailed information in, among
other places, the latest issue (December 1998) of Shakespeare Survey.