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Group Readings > Act 3-Troilus And Cressida

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message 1: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2728 comments Mod
message 101: by Gabriel Jan 10, 2017 12:20AM
Gabriel | 71 comments Thomas wrote 'S certainly does not believe that men and women are equal, but that women's nature, women's fearfulness can have a redemptive function...' Redemptive function is good. I'm wary, though, of saying what S believes, as distinct from what his characters say. What's indisputable is that women were in a weaker position in terms of power and custom - Cressida says 'I wished myself a man/Or that we women had men's privilege/ Of speaking first' (III.2). Women are also more vulnerable in sexual relations simply in the sense that if something goes wrong, they're left holding the baby, with all that that entails. I don't think the fact that, by custom, they are allowed to SHOW their fear means that they are (or that S believes them to be) more fearful, or that men are more reasonable - just that custom ascribes to women the role of expressing human fear (and not having to show martial courage), whilst men have the complementary role. But given the different risks for men and women, Cressida is showing more courage in having the relationship with Troilus than he is, simply because she's more aware of everything that could go wrong, while he's on cloud nine and promising the earth. I think they both genuinely fall in love, but him in an impulsive way, she with much more awareness of the complexities and dangers - and perhaps that is more characteristic of women because of their experience and situation, and that's why we might hope that more equal power of women in society should lead to more rounded solutions, though as Candy says, that doesn't work if women have to become like (traditional) men in order to get that power. I think there are many examples in Shakespeare where women show greater SOCIAL courage than men, eg Pauline in The Winter's Tale. And Queen Margaret and Joan of Arc in Henry VI even show more martial courage. Your example of Lady Macbeth is perhaps the key test case. She's clearly, in some sense, more resolute about murder than Macbeth is, but when it comes to the deed she expects him to do it, and says 'Had Duncan not resembled my father as he slept, I'd have done it myself'. So in spite of 'unsexing' herself, she, unlike Macbeth, has a built-in human empathy that she can't quite get rid of. It's that, rather than fear. Macbeth, however, IS fearful - of moral retribution - but once he gets over that he loses all sense of empathy and meaning.

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message 102: by Candy Jan 10, 2017 06:00AM
Candy Minx | 1426 comments
Mod
I agree that there are many portrayals f women as leaders, moral and intellectual well-adjusted people.

I think the point of trying to understand the use of "rape" in this play...it's meaning is valuable.

I think there is still the question....is Shakespeare portraying the psychological and lower ends of war in a favorable light? Or objectively? Does the audience accept the dirty side of war?

Even though "rape" did not mean sexual assault in this play...in the second Act, does that mean that "pillage/force/steal" usage is acceptable?

Is the behavior acceptable to Shakespeare's audience...or to us?

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message 103: by Candy Jan 10, 2017 06:09AM
Candy Minx | 1426 comments
Mod
Gabriel said..."and that's why we might hope that more equal power of women in society should lead to more rounded solutions, though as Candy says, that doesn't work if women have to become like (traditional) men in order to get that power. "

I am thinking that it is important to me, to say, that I think the traditional role of men is actually....something created out of maintaining power in a specific economic structure.

so, rather than men being the source of attitude towards culture and society...I think it is that men and women were defined different roles because the economic structure demanded those roles be enforced.

So...in totalitarian agriculture, where we lock food up, and strip our land from food sources and energy (ruining land by farming and drilling for oil and minerals, risking habitat) we amplify the need for war and dominance.

That environment produces hierarchy , generally built on gender roles being very strict.

We are watching....in Shakespeare many times, that strict sense of gender and sex being tested.

Gender and sexual differences and roles were social constructs...born out of the economy of extreme farming (as opposed to substance farming)

I just wanted to clarify how I see gender and sexual stereotypes....and that that they aren't the "fault" of one gender over another....but were developed in order to maintain one type of economy and distribution of the resources.

http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.ph...

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message 104: by Thomas Jan 10, 2017 02:11PM
Thomas (Thomas156) | 15 commentsCandy wrote: "I agree that there are many portrayals f women as leaders, moral and intellectual well-adjusted people.

I think the point of trying to understand the use of "rape" in this play...it's meaning is v..."
This behavior is definitely portrayed as unacceptable, and I believe that S is generally very sceptical about the issue of 'honour'. In the present case S's negative attitude is made manifest by the fact that both Troilus and Paris mention honour, but neither of them acts honourably with regard to women.
Cressida may well complain about not being allowed to "speak first", but the fact is that in spite of society's restriction, quite a few 'honourable' young women in S do speak first: Juliet, Rosalind, Miranda (who tells Ferdinand: "hence, bashful cunning./ I'll be your wife if you will marry me./ If not; I'll die your maid").
I think it is remarkable that in Scene 3.2 neither Troilus nor Cressida mentions marriage - and I cannot help feeling that we are meant to consider their 'union' - brought about by Pandarus - filthy and dishonorable - like that of Paris and Helen.
Concerning Gabriel's comment: I do not think that S sets women's fearfulness against 'male rationality' but rather against male boastfulness and self-assertion, and the outdated concept of chivalrous valour. In many cases S's women are clearly more reasonable than are their husbands/partners: Juliet, the wives of Hotspur and Caesar, Desdemona, Hermione - but I do not think that Cressida or Helen belong to this Group.

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message 105: by Gabriel Jan 10, 2017 11:41PM
Gabriel | 71 comments Good points, Thomas. I've just come to a small section that seems to shift the balance of the rest. In mid III:iii, after Ulysses has spent a long time trying to goad Achilles into action, Achilles says 'Of this my privacy/I have strong reasons'. To which Ulysses says 'Tis known, Achilles, that you are in love/ with one of Priam's daughters'. (Priam being the king of Troy, and the daughter evidently being Polyxena, we learn a few lines later.) And soon after, Patrochlus also says he has 'little stomach to the war'. I think all this confirms not just the senselessness of the war but the sense that the whole thing is only half-hearted, and actually, with slightly different attitudes, the two sides could have loved each other rather than killed each other. But there's something chilling in Ulysses' revelation that Achilles' private affairs are all known in detail to 'the state': 'All the commerce that you have had with Troy/As perfectly is ours as yours, my lord'. Shades of Walsingham's spy network for Elizabeth!

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message 106: by David Jan 11, 2017 09:25PM
David (Shaxton) | 102 commentsThomas wrote: "I believe that S is generally very sceptical about the issue of 'honour'. In the present case S's negative attitude is made manifest by the fact that both Troilus and Paris mention honour, but neither of them acts honourably with regard to women."

Interesting point about 'honour,' Thomas, and I see what you're saying (even if I'm not sure I agree). But I was wondering if you could point to other places in this play or other Shakespeare plays where Honor is held in low esteem?

When I was reading the play, I found myself rather amused when I came across the refs to Honor, not so much because I thought Shakespeare was snickering but because I was contrasting that word du siecle (pardon my French) with our own times, when that word is rare indeed and instead (in war flicks) we find the obligatory (but nearly meaningless) word Freedom.

I'm not arguing that Shakespeare held Honor up on some pedestal. I'm not sure he held anything, or anyone, up on a pedestal (well, maybe his Fools). But my knee-jerk reaction in the past was to think he regarded Honor in a generally positive light, not a generally negative light (whether that honor was on the battlefield or at Court).

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message 2: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2728 comments Mod
message 107: by David (last edited Jan 11, 2017 09:42PM) Jan 11, 2017 09:37PM
David (Shaxton) | 102 comments “A generation of vipers”

PANDARUS
In good troth, it begins so.
Sings
Love, love, nothing but love, still more!
For, O, love's bow
Shoots buck and doe:
The shaft confounds,
Not that it wounds,
But tickles still the sore.
These lovers cry Oh! oh! they die!
Yet that which seems the wound to kill,
Doth turn oh! oh! to ha! ha! he!
So dying love lives still:
Oh! oh! a while, but ha! ha! ha!
Oh! oh! groans out for ha! ha! ha!
Heigh-ho!

HELEN
In love, i' faith, to the very tip of the nose.

PARIS
He eats nothing but doves, love, and that breeds hot
blood, and hot blood begets hot thoughts, and hot
thoughts beget hot deeds, and hot deeds is love.

PANDARUS
Is this the generation of love? hot blood, hot
thoughts, and hot deeds? Why, they are vipers:
is love a generation of vipers?



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message 108: by Janice(JG) Jan 11, 2017 10:06PM
Janice(JG) George | 13 commentsDavid wrote: "But my knee-jerk reaction in the past was to think he regarded Honor in a generally positive light, not a generally negative light (whether that honor was on the battlefield or at Court)..."

I don't think it is honor that Shakespeare is disparaging, but the use of it on the tongues of these supposed warriors... they claim it as if they know what it is, which clearly in this play they do not.

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message 109: by Gabriel Jan 12, 2017 11:08AM
Gabriel | 71 comments David - your question about other places in Shakespeare where honour (or honor, if you like) is held in low esteem: Falstaff in Henry IV pt one, V:i:
'Honour pricks me on. Yea, but how if honour prick me off when I come on? How then? Can honour set a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honour hath no skill in surgery then? No. What is honour? A word. What is that word honour? Air – a trim reckoning. Who hath it? He that died a Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. ’Tis insensible then? Yea, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore I’ll none of it. Honour is a mere scutcheon – and so ends my catechism.'
Of course, Falstaff is a (partly) comic character, so we can choose to laugh at this. But I think it's still powerful. I don't think it means S doesn't believe there's such a thing as honour - and I think Hector in T&C has some genuine honour - but it's used many times in the English history plays in contexts which suggest hypocrisy, much like 'noble' and 'gentle', - three attributes which the 'nobility' frequently claim for themselves but are never ascribed to the lower orders.

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message 110: by David Jan 12, 2017 12:35PM
David (Shaxton) | 102 commentsGabriel wrote: "David - your question about other places in Shakespeare where honour (or honor, if you like) is held in low esteem: Falstaff in Henry IV pt one, V:i:
'Honour pricks me on. Yea, but how if honour p..."

Yes, Gabriel, an excellent choice, and I can kick myself for not thinking of Falstaff's most memorable words.

I did a quick search of the word 'honour' in all the plays. It occurs hundreds of times, as you might expect, and with many, many nuances--some clearly negative, some clearly positive. Here's a rather famous one from the mouth of Hamlet, when he's telling Polonius what an ass he (Polonius) is for not wanting to treat the players well:

HAMLET: God's bodykins, man, much better: use every man
after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?
Use them after your own honour and dignity: the less
they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.

I'm also amused by Shakespeare's use of the word 'honour' at the very beginning of Act 3 of T&C, when Pandarus is talking to a servant who's determined to trip him up on every word.

PANDARUS
You know me, do you not?
Servant
Faith, sir, superficially.
PANDARUS
Friend, know me better; I am the Lord Pandarus.
Servant
I hope I shall know your honour better.
PANDARUS
I do desire it.
Servant
You are in the state of grace.
PANDARUS
Grace! not so, friend: honour and lordship are my titles.

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message 111: by Thomas Jan 12, 2017 01:39PM
Thomas (Thomas156) | 15 commentsDavid wrote: "Thomas wrote: "I believe that S is generally very sceptical about the issue of 'honour'. In the present case S's negative attitude is made manifest by the fact that both Troilus and Paris mention h..."
Thank you for asking me, David. The best known instance is certainly "Julius Caesar": In Scene 1.2 Cassius begins his long speech by which he seduces Brutus into conspiring Caesar's death by saying: "Well, honour is the subject of my story" . When, after killing Caesar, Brutus defends this deed to the people (scene 3.2) he asks them to "Believe me for mine honour, and have respect to mine honour". Antony can easily change the people's attitude by means of irony: "Caesar was ambitious, and Brutus is an honorable man". Antony is of course even less 'honorable' than Brutus, but it is Brutus' mistaken sense of honor which will ultimately lead to the catastrophe of civil war.
Henry V several times refers to honour in his famous Agincourt speech, but so does his Antagonist, the Constable of France (scene 3.5) - and the costs of this war are demonstrated quite clearly, as well as the doubts about its justification: "But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make", as the king (in disguise) is told by a soldier.
Honour need not be held "in low esteem", but it is at any rate a highly ambiguous concept which in S often serves as a cover for less noble motivations and as an excuse for unreasonable and inhuman actions.

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message 112: by David Jan 12, 2017 03:00PM
David (Shaxton) | 102 commentsThomas wrote: "The best known instance is certainly "Julius Caesar": In Scene 1.2 Cassius begins his long speech by which he seduces Brutus into conspiring Caesar's death by saying: "Well, honour is the subject of my story" "

Thanks, Thomas--the perfect example. I had forgotten that Cassius introduces his story of swimming with Caesar with this remark about honor. I suppose it's Mark Antony's repeated 'And Brutus is an honorable man' that has resonated more loudly.

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message 113: by David Jan 13, 2017 09:53PM
David (Shaxton) | 102 comments For what it's worth, here's the line count for the main characters in the play (according to this site: https://sites.google.com/a/shakespear...)

Troilus 537 lines
Ulysses 488
Pandarus 394
Cressida 295
Thersites 284
Hector 213
Agamemnon 195
Achilles 190
Aeneas 146
Nestor 158
Paris 98
Priam 20

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message 114: by Candy Jan 14, 2017 07:42AM
Candy Minx | 1427 comments
Mod
You all have embraced a very valuable observation about discussing human ideals and the passage of time. With the word honour: how can we possibly talk about honour with each other...unless we know what each of us means by honour, and then what Greeks meant by honour....and is Shakespeare suggesting his audience needs to know what honour means?

Aladair MacIntyre wrote about the fragmentation of meaning due to the idea that we are using words or perhaps misusing words....that had a different meaning a thousand years ago, and 400 years ago....and today.


message 3: by Candy (last edited Jan 18, 2017 08:12PM) (new)

Candy | 2728 comments Mod
A page summarizing some of MacIntrye's work...

"MacIntyre begins After Virtue by asking the reader to engage in a thought experiment: "Imagine that the natural sciences were to suffer the effects of a catastrophe…. A series of environmental disasters [which] are blamed by the general public on the scientists" leads to rioting, scientists being lynched by angry mobs, the destruction of laboratories and equipment, the burning of books, and ultimately the decision by the government to end science instruction in schools and universities and to imprison and execute the remaining scientists. Eventually, enlightened people decide to restore science, but what do they have to work with? Only fragments: bits and pieces of theories, chapters of books, torn and charred pages of articles, hazy memories and damaged equipment with functions that are unclear, if not entirely forgotten. These people, he argues, would combine these fragments as best they could, inventing theories to connect them as necessary. People would talk and act as though they were doing "science," but they would actually be doing something very different from what we currently call science. From our point of view, in a world where the sciences are intact, their "science" would be full of errors and inconsistencies, "truths" which no one could actually prove, and competing theories which were incompatible with one another. Further, the supporters of these theories would be unable to agree on any way to resolve their differences.

Why does MacIntyre ask us to imagine such a world? "The hypothesis I wish to advance is that in the actual world which we inhabit the language of morality is in the same state of grave disorder as the language of natural science in the imaginary world which I described" (After Virtue 2, After Virtue 256). People in the modern liberal capitalist world talk as though we are engaged in moral reasoning, and act as though our actions are chosen as the result of such reasoning, but in fact neither of these things is true. Just as with the people working with "science" in the imaginary world that MacIntyre describes, philosophers and ordinary people are working today with bits and pieces of philosophies which are detached from their original pre-Enlightenment settings in which they were comprehensible and useful. Current moral and political philosophies are fragmented, incoherent, and conflicting, with no standards that can be appealed to in order to evaluate their truth or adjudicate the conflicts between them – or at least no standards that all those involved in the disputes will be willing to accept, since any standard will presuppose the truth of one of the contending positions. To use an analogy that MacIntyre does not use, one might say that it is as if we tore handfuls of pages from books by Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Danielle Steele, Mark Twain, and J.K. Rowling, threw half of them away, shuffled the rest, stapled them together, and then tried to read the "story" that resulted. It would be incoherent, and any attempt to describe the characters, plot, or meaning would be doomed to failure. On the other hand, because certain characters, settings, and bits of narrative would reappear throughout, it would seem as though the story could cohere, and much effort – ultimately futile – might be expended in trying to make it do so. This, according to MacIntyre, is the moral world in which we currently live.

One consequence of this situation is that we have endless and interminable debates within philosophy and, where philosophy influences politics, within politics as well (After Virtue 6-8, Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry 7 and Chapter 1). MacIntyre demonstrates this with regard to philosophers by a comparison of the positions of John Rawls and Robert Nozick on what justice is, positions which are mutually exclusive, but internally coherent. Each conclusion follows reasonably from its premises (After Virtue Chapter 17). Each position has many adherents who can point out the flaws in the other but cannot successfully defend their own position against attack. In the political world, one of the examples MacIntyre uses is the abortion issue in the United States. One side of the debate, drawing largely on a particular interpretation of Christian ethics, asserts that abortion is murder and hence is both morally unacceptable and deserving of legal punishment; the other side, usually drawing either on a conception of privacy or of rights or both, asserts that women should have the right to make a private decision about terminating a pregnancy, and therefore abortion, while poss

while possibly morally problematic, deserves the protection of the law. In either case, the conclusion follows logically, that is, reasonably, from the premises. But the starting premises are incompatible, and there is no way to gain everyone's agreement to either set of premises, nor is there even any agreement on what kind of argument might be able to gain a consensus. (And a look at public opinion polls about abortion taken in the United States shows that the percentage of people for or against legal abortion in particular circumstances has basically remained unchanged since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973).

It is also the case, according to MacIntyre, that those involved in these philosophical and political debates claim to be using premises that are objective, based on reason, and universally applicable. Many of them even believe these claims, misunderstanding the nature of their particular inadequate modern philosophy, just as the people in MacIntyre's post-disaster world misunderstand what it means to be doing real science. But what they are really doing, whether they recognize it or not, is using the language of morality to try to gain their own preferences. They are not trying to persuade others by reasoned argument, because a reasoned argument about morality would require a shared agreement on the good for human beings in the same way that reasoned arguments in the sciences rely on shared agreement about what counts as a scientific definition and a scientific practice. This agreement about the good for human beings does not exist in the modern world (in fact, the modern world is in many ways defined by its absence) and so any attempt at reasoned argument about morality or moral issues is doomed to fail. Other parties to the argument are fully aware that they are simply trying to gain the outcome they prefer using whatever methods happen to be the most effective. (Below there will be more discussion of these people; they are the ones who tend to be most successful as the modern world measures success.) Because we cannot agree on the premises of morality or what morality should aim at, we cannot agree about what counts as a reasoned argument, and since reasoned argument is impossible, all that remains for any individual is to attempt to manipulate other people's emotions and attitudes to get them to comply with one's own wishes.

MacIntyre claims that protest and indignation are hallmarks of public "debate" in the modern world. Since no one can ever win an argument – because there's no agreement about how someone could "win" – anyone can resort to protesting; since no one can ever lose an argument – how can they, if no one can win? – anyone can become indignant if they don't get their way. If no one can persuade anyone else to do what they want, then only coercion, whether open or hidden (for example, in the form of deception) remains. This is why, MacIntyre says, political arguments are not just interminable but extremely loud and angry, and why modern politics is simply a form of civil war.

4. The Absence of Meaningful Moral Choices

But there is another problem. Just as no one can win an argument with anyone else by persuading them with reasons, no one can win such an argument with himself or herself in trying to determine what their own moral commitments should be. In other words, no one can have real reasons for choosing the moral positions and values that they do, and no one can have any real reasons for choosing any way of life over any other as the best possible life. So any choice about the kind of life one will lead (and of course these choices have to be made, either consciously or unconsciously) must be arbitrary; any individual could always just as easily have chosen some other life which would have a very different set of moral positions and values (After Virtue Chapter 4). And if I can choose to be anything, but have no way of discovering reasons that might persuade me that some choice is the best, then it is impossible for me to make any kind of meaningful commitment to any of my choices, and it will be extremely easy to revise my morals in the name of expediency. The temptation will therefore be strong to choose moral principles on the grounds of effectiveness. I will choose my values at any given time because they happen to be useful as a way of attaining something else I value, rather than rationally choosing the best possible life and then letting that choice of the best life determine what I should value and what I should do. Perhaps I will choose values that enable me to be more popular in my community, or values that are useful for justifying my desire for money, or values that I believe will make me more successful at my job. What most people cannot do and are not even aware that they should do is tie their moral positions to a coherent and defensible version of the good life for human beings. The modern philosophies that have received the most attention and support – theories of utility such as those put forward by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, and theories of rights such as those advanced by John Locke and John Rawls – cannot provide such a description of the good life for human beings, and MacIntyre regards them as having failed in their ambitions to do so and therefore to have failed in their project of creating new moral systems even on their own terms (After Virtue Chapter 6)."

from here:

http://www.iep.utm.edu/p-macint/


message 4: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2728 comments Mod
message 115: by Gabriel Jan 14, 2017 09:11AM
Gabriel | 71 comments Hi Candy. It seems to me, from what you say, this Macintyre person is just making grand-sounding absolutes out of relativities. Of course there are big gaps in our knowledge and a lot of mutual incomprehension of each others' meanings, but I'm sure that was always the case. When was this supposed era of moral certainty that we have lost? Certainly not in Shakespeare's time. It might have appeared to be stable earlier in Britain, or in Spain, under Catholicism but how would anyone know, since alternative views were repressed? And science itself was only built up through trial and error and reason - there's no point at which it's final. We have reached a point now where science is incredibly powerful, and yes, that knowledge could be lost again. But morality never was in that state to start with. The imposition of moral codes was inseparable from power. That's not to say they were entirely bad either - they helped to hold a society together, but at a cost. There certainly is huge conflict about morality now, but I don't see that as meaning there has been no progress and it is all totally subjective. Democracy means letting the different views argue it out - with as much reason and evidence as possible, and without violence. There are big areas of agreement between large numbers of people. For me humanitarianism is the top principle, and I'm sure it is for millions, but how to achieve it always needs to be debated as conditions change. But isn't this exactly what Shakespeare's about? Trying to find moral, emotional and human bearings in the midst of turmoil and misunderstandings? Each of the characters in T&C makes sense of life in their own way and often tries to impose it on others, but they're not in total disarray - they do influence each other, there are overlaps of meaning, and the ultimate effect depends on how all these meanings interact. T&C is a play where the level of disintegration is high. It's more unified in some others - but always with deep questioning. MacInteyre has (as you reflect him) some good descriptions of the way that, for example, your president-elect abuses reason. But to say that's true of the whole society today is sheer defeatism. For me, there is great appeal to reason, as well as emotion, in the way that Shakespeare shows us people MISunderstanding each other or abusing reason. To be able to see many sides of a question and why they can't see each other is a great gainin reason. But it is never absolute.

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message 116: by Steve Jan 14, 2017 10:47AM
Steve Evans (SteveEvansofPahiatua) | 39 comments Well, that is fascinating. I've read After Virtue, a long time ago, and what it seemed to me to miss was an understanding of how our real lives create our mental ones. It is another of many examples of people wishing to avoid having to deal with Marx. They think philosophy, ethics, morals etc are somehow "out there", when they are actually products of the lives we live. Marx outlined this quite succinctly in a few pages of the preface to the Critique of Political Economy. These pages are not difficult, or revolutionary. They are just observations but they carry a ring of truth quaintly disregarded by those who should know better.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, who is usually considered the founder of linguistic philosophy, had a long regular conversation in Cambridge with a Marxist economist and philosopher, Piero Sraffa*. Sraffa broke off the talks and refused to re-engage with Wittgenstein, but the text of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, published after his death, had a significant acknowledgement of what Marx was on about, via Sraffa. This single remark really matters: it places philosophy where it belongs.

The way I see Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeare is portraying a wide range of false values on both sides of the Greek-Trojan "argument". The Trojans must keep Helen, but hand over Cressida. Yes? The high-falutin words and devious machinations of both sides are, to use a technical term, bullshit, and Shakespeare means to show that, it seems to me, and to draw conclusions about the nature of war and politics that for all people in our time make provocative and often uncomfortable reading, but in Shakespeare's own may have had a more partial end in view.

The person who sees the cant throughout is Thersites. In our discussion of the play it has surprised me to see so little reference to him. As the "fool" in other of Shakespeare's plays, he "speaks truth to power" as the saying goes today, able to do it because he has a get out of jail card.

We have so few certainties about Shakespeare that reading and seeing his work can become a quest that is unable to be fully satisfied, but is always enriching. What he "really meant" as opposed to described is typically an open question. How complex and detailed this can be never ceases to instil in me a sense of wonder and beauty. Harold Jenkins' edition of Hamlet is one example, and Bevington's of Troilus and Cressida is another.

*Sraffa was a mate of Antonio Gramsci, a lion of today's "left".

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message 117: by Thomas Jan 14, 2017 01:43PM
Thomas (Thomas156) | 15 comments Thanks, David, for the line count statistics. Troilus does indeed talk an awful lot - and most of what he says is rather immature - an instance of the fact (as I see it) that S in T&C exposes the weaknesses rather than the strengths of humanity.
Thanks, Candy, for outlining the problems connected to ethical decisions we are facing today. I do not, however, agree with MacIntyre that these problems are due to liberal capitalism or indeed that it was easier to reach ethical consensus in a pre-Enlightenment Age; I do not no of any other age that was more troubled by these problems than S's own time, which harbored so many competing and incompatible discourses (Christianity, Stoicism, Platonism, chivalry, science etc.). Neither do I think that the 'language of morality' has changed significantly over the last 400 years - the fact that S can still speak to us, that we can relate to him, seems to prove the contrary. And 'honor' (quite often in the form of 'national honor') is still an issue in contemporary international politics, just as the questions of how important it is or should be.
And, Steve, I beg to disagree with your (and Marx's) contention that our morals are "products of the life we live". No, they aren't. Candys example concerning attitudes to abortion is a good example. People generally take strong views on this issue, are either 'pro-life' or 'pro-choice'. This division is prevalent in all classes of society, in all countries (as far as I know)´. Rich people are divided among themselves on this issue, so are poor people, old people, young people, women, men, Americans, Asians, Europeans ...
Moral opinions may be due to education, to the books we read, to chance meetings or experiences, to our individual genetic makeup - and very little to our material conditions of life. From the material point of view S's life was very different from ours, but still the issues he addresses, the questions he raises, the points he makes are our own issues, questions, points ...
So I think that the conclusions about war and politics which we may derive from T&C do not only "make provocative and uncomfortable reading" in our own time, but did at all times, just as at the time when the play was written.
And then I recall discussions about Shakespeare with people living in India, the Philippines, Turkey, France, Canada, the US - in spite of our widely diverging material Backgrounds and living conditions, the ethical issues raised by S were largely the same.

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message 118: by Steve Jan 14, 2017 02:51PM
Steve Evans (SteveEvansofPahiatua) | 39 comments You misread me, Thomas.

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message 119: by Candy Jan 14, 2017 03:37PM
Candy Minx | 1430 comments
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Great posts the last few days! Really making my head work!

This is a great robust set of posts as is the whole discussion!

I'm on my way to work....but just wanted to check in and say hi....and I am re-reading the whole last few days of posts while I ride the train.

You folks have really inspired me to think!

Outstanding!

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message 120: by Jonathan Jan 17, 2017 12:40AM
Jonathan Moran | 4 commentsDavid wrote: "The Promised Largeness The ample proposition that h..."

Tough metaphor David, the picture is a great help. Tx


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