The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0196 Tuesday, 28 April 2009
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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