The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1479  Monday, 3 June 2002

From:           Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 01 Jun 2002 11:15:35 -0700
Subject: 13.1477 Stop Your Mouth
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1477 Stop Your Mouth

Just two thoughts about "Peace, I'll stop your mouth", Benedick or
Leonato's line in MND.

First, Phyllis didn't mention, though I'm sure that she'll have come
across, the rapine use of the phrase in Titus Andronicus 2.3, where
Chiron cuts short Lavinia's protests before both raping and literally
silencing her by cutting out her tongue.

Secondly, it strikes me that there are two questions here:  who speaks
the line, and who is it addressed to?  Even if Benedick does kiss
Beatrice, "your" could refer to Don Pedro, since he responds or even the
men in the plural.  Benedick's subsequent declaration that "a college of
wit-crackers cannot flout me out of my humour" might be an expansion on
the theme of stopping his (or their) mouth(s).  If Leonato speaks the
line, he might be addressing both Benedick and Beatrice, using "your" as
a plural.  Of course, this would require "mouth" to also be plural, or
at least be a collective, corporate "mouth", although it's written in
the singular.

The best precedents I can find of "mouth" being written in the singular
when it should be in the plural are as follows:

King John 2.1:  "Austria and France shoot in each other's mouth:" Henry
V 5.2:  "and the liberty that follows our places stops the mouth of all

These aren't very strong, but I was using a search engine that draws on
the Moby Shakespeare, and perhaps more incidents could be found by
searching through an uncorrected and unconflated text.

Good luck!


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