The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0196  Tuesday, 28 April 2009

From:       Jim Ryan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Tuesday, 28 Apr 2009 11:13:49 -0400
Subject: 20.0189 Much Ado "Picture"
Comment:    RE: SHK 20.0189 Much Ado "Picture"

Regarding my comments on language and the imagination in Much Ado, David 
Schalkwyk asks where I'm taking the argument. My observations derive 
from an old-fashioned formal analysis of the play's structure, which 
reveals the chiastic pattern of its essential actions. The same action 
occurs in corresponding scenes of the first and second halves of the 
play, yielding an arch-like design: ABCBA. Claudio twice agrees to marry 
Hero, once as Leonato's niece (2.1 and 5.1); Benedick and Beatrice both 
exhibit symptoms of lovesickness (3.2 and 3.4); Claudio's slander of 
Hero is a specific instance of Benedick's more general slander of women 
(2.3 and 4.1); Hero denigrates Beatrice's wit as Dogberry denigrates 
Verges' wit (2.4 and 3.5). In addition to mirroring character actions, 
corresponding scenes begin and end plot actions, such as the initiation 
and exposure of the window trick (2.2 and 4.2), or the beginning and end 
of Claudio's courting of Hero (1.1 and 5.4). Excepting the focal central 
scene, every scene is paired in this way. This chiastic pattern 
underlying the narrative gives structural emphasis to those actions in 
the play involving language and imagination and connects them to the 
extraordinarily subtle food-related imagery in the play, from the biting 
wit that does so much damage (e.g., 1.3.33; 4.1.169) to the wine that 
cures consumption (e.g., 1.1.241; 5.4.96). This is clearly not an 
analysis that can be explained in a short posting, but I hope it gives 
some indication of the tack I've taken.

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