The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1918  Wednesday, 1 October 2003

From:           David Evett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 30 Sep 2003 20:51:55 -0400
Subject: 14.1847 Determined to Be a Villain
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1847 Determined to Be a Villain

Sorry about the laggard response.  Took me longer to return from
Wittenberg than I expected.

Kenneth Campbell says, anent R3, " I have always experienced the play as
a dark comedy until he sits in the chair. Getting to the throne is where
the dream ends."  Quite so.  Comedy is about getting there; it typically
ends at the altar, not the marriage bed.  As Susan Snyder taught us a
ways back, comedies prolonged beyond the altar turn dark (*Shr*, *AWW*),
or tragicomic (*WT*), or comi-tragic (*Rom*,  *Tro*, *Ant*).  The
crucial issue is (ir)revocability.  Until pretty recently, most people
could not unsay the wedding vow or recall or intercept or disarm the
launched sperm: no second chances there.  Kingship carries similar
burdens: when Richard the wooer of Buckingham makes promises, they are
so much pie in the sky; but Richard the King has the power to make them
happen, and the price of reneging is that the pie explodes in your face
(more precisely, their faces).  This irreversible directionality (you
can never in our universe get the cream out of the coffee once you've
stirred it in) gives Richard II's attempt to unsay his royal vows its
pathetic force--there's a real sense in which that's darkly comic, too.

Dave Evett

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