The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0146  Tuesday, 28 January 2003

From:           Ed Kranz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 27 Jan 2003 19:36:06 -0500
Subject:        Lesbian Lovers in MND

Frankie Rubinstein in A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Sexual Puns and
their Significance gives us (pp236-237):

Share (1) Fork of the body (OED; (2) Coit. Lit, possess or occupy with
 4 MND, III.ii.198. Helena rebukes Hermia, one of the 'confederacy'. Who
'conjoined', 'conspired'. 'contrived', and forgot 'all the counsel that
we two have shared' (italics added) - the shared CON (cunt) or feminine
love. She appeals to their early love, in which 'our hands, our sides,
voices, and minds' - HANDs, sides (loin - OED; buttocks - TWR), voicEs
and MINDS, each of whtch means shares- 'Had been incorporate So we grew
together,/ Like to a double cherry'

- LIKE (Gk homoios homo-) to /Two a DOUBLE (q. v. MND): to fall in love
with a double is shorthand for homosexual love. And certainly this
sounds less like friendship than a Siamese creation to be physically
'rent' or cut: 'will you rent our ancient love asunder. . . . Our sex,
as well as I, may chide you for it,/Though I alone do feel the injury.'
The speech, with it's  ambiguous 'our sex', is quite as 'passionate' as
(Hermia calls it so, l 220)- and quite similar to - an earlier one of
Lysander's (II.ii.41): (1) he wanted 'one turf' to be 'pillow' (cod:
pillow, scrotum) for them both; Helena and Hermia sat on 'one
cushion[CUSHION, buttocks]'; (2)he like Helena spoke of one heart,
though two bosoms; (3) his heart was knit to Helena's, and Helena and
Hermia with 'needles' created one flower.

Renting their ancient love asunder evokes Plato's 'ancient
woman'(ROUND), who had two sets of everything, like the incorporate
Helena and Hermia, incl. two sets of genitals, like the double CHERRY.
Jove sliced them in half to lessen their power vis-a-vis the gods, and
from these two women came Lesbians, who seek other women for completion,
for love. It 'is not friendly [Platonic]' Helena says, 'to join
[JOIN:copulate] with men'

I find the suggestion that Hermia and Helena were lesbian lovers a bit
of a stretch. It is hard for me to see how it's justified by anything in
the text, Frankie Rubinstein not withstanding. Are you persuaded? All
comments welcome.

Ed Kranz

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