Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Second Exam L220 Summer (1) 2017

Second Exam: The Merchant of Venice and Antony and Cleopatra

Due Friday, 23 June, 9 a.m. via email:

4-5 pp. 

Shakespeare seemed to have loved women, and infused their roles in his plays with as much vigor and subtlety as he believed the boys playing their parts could manage credibly in their impersonations of femininity. This was at odds with early modern culture, which promulgated misogyny and stereotyping that any twenty-first century woman would ruefully recognize. However, some commentators believe that Shakespeare could not escape the limitations in which his society was so deeply dyed.  Based on your reading of Portia and Cleopatra, and to a lesser extent Charmian and Nerissa (and Viola and Rosalind if you like), what do you think? 

Here are some passages to get you started.  Feel free to incorporate others.

If it be love indeed, tell me how much (Ant. 1.1)

Excellent falsehood!
Why did he marry Fulvia, and not love her? (Ant. 1.1)

She is cunning past man's thought (Ant. 1.2).

I am quickly ill and well,
So Antony loves (Ant. 1.3)

As well a woman with an eunuch play'd
As with a woman (Ant. 2.5).

These hands do lack nobility, that they strike
A meaner than myself; since I myself
Have given myself the cause (Ant. 2.5)

Show me, my women, like a queen: go fetch
My best attires: I am again for Cydnus,
To meet Mark Antony (Ant. 5.2)

My resolution's placed, and I have nothing
Of woman in me: now from head to foot
I am marble-constant; now the fleeting moon
No planet is of mine. (Ant. 5.2)

The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark,
When neither is attended, and I think
The nightingale, if she should sing by day,
When every goose is cackling, would be thought
No better a musician than the wren.
How many things by season season'd are
To their right praise and true perfection! (MV 5.1)

There's something tells me, but it is not love,
I would not lose you; and you know yourself,
Hate counsels not in such a quality.
But lest you should not understand me well,--
And yet a maiden hath no tongue but thought,--
I would detain you here some month or two
Before you venture for me. (MV 3.2)

You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand,
Such as I am: though for myself alone
I would not be ambitious in my wish,
To wish myself much better; yet, for you
I would be trebled twenty times myself;
A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times more rich;
That only to stand high in your account,
I might in virtue, beauties, livings, friends,
Exceed account; but the full sum of me
Is sum of something, which, to term in gross,
Is an unlesson'd girl, unschool'd, unpractised;
Happy in this, she is not yet so old
But she may learn; happier than this,
She is not bred so dull but she can learn;
Happiest of all is that her gentle spirit
Commits itself to yours to be directed,
As from her lord, her governor, her king. (MV 3.2)

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