SHAKESPEARE ALOUD

Two Gents Act 2, Scene 7 – on the River Seine

Ah the Seine.  What a gorgeous day to be doing all this.  These boats that stop at the various touristy places we decided to take was pretty packed to the gills.  It felt shameful to be doing this somewhere no one could escape from or turn a blind ear to.  I tried not to be too big – but many were watching.

The boy seated across from me that I don’t think you can see in the video was extremely alarmed by the Yorick.  His mother asked me if I’d let him hold him – the poor kid didn’t even want to touch the thing.  Yorick brings out some strong reactions in people I must say.  I usually say ‘he’s not that great at first impressions.’

I wasn’t looking at the views of Paris behind me but they’re great, aren’t they?  Got a whole swath here on one side for you as a backdrop to this great girly scene between Julia and Lucetta.

 

THE SCENE

We start with a Rach Rhythm (as in, ‘Cease to persuade’ and ‘Cease to lament’): ‘Counsel, Lucetta; gentle girl assist me,’

This is a charming scene between the two – it’s brisk and mirrors later moments in Shakespeare; it has the energy of Margaret dressing Hero for the wedding in Much Ado, some of Helena’s reality from All’s Well going forth as a pilgrim, and finally Rosalind’s exile and transformation into Ganymede in As You Like It.  Here we have the first pants role of them all take shape.

Try the regular scansion on:

11            Much less shall she that hath Love’s wings to fly.

What a great passage this is:

LUCETTA            Better forbear till Proteus make return.

JULIA            O, know’st thou not his looks are my soul’s food?

16            Pity the dearth that I have pined in,

17            By longing for that food so long a time.

18            Didst thou but know the inly touch of love,

19            Thou wouldst as soon go kindle fire with snow

20            As seek to quench the fire of love with words.

Now for all the times we say ‘Proteus’ in this play and are required to stress the first and last syllable, that does not mean everyone does it that way all the time.  Here we have the faster and more contemporary version, where the third syllable is unstressed and the word becomes a triplet.  This way, ‘Better forbear’ and ‘Proteus make’ come out similarly, which is picked up on two lines later in Julia’s ‘Pity the dearth…’  In the middle we have a fabulous monosyllabic line. ‘O knowst thou not his looks are my soul’s food?’  It’s as if every word is stressed.  Then she goes to Lucetta’s rhythm with ‘Pity the dearth’ – a compassionate rhythm begging for compassionate pity.

She’s attracted to the monosyllabic words in this speech, and has set herself up for another whole line in 18, but violates it with an extremely evocative line of Shakespeare’s: ‘Didst thou but know the inly touch of love.’

Now, I’m no Freudian, but ‘inly touch of love’ would seem to strongly connote that they’ve made the beast with two backs.

If you’re curious, ‘inly’ is only used three other times in the canon – Tempest, Henry V, and Comedy of Errors.

She finishes the speech with another monosyllabic beauty, on line 20 that doesn’t have the rhythmic impact of the first but is rife with alliteration: k’s, f’s, w’s.

Then on 24 she has another:

20            The more thou damm’st it up, the more it burns.

This is another installation in the fire leit motif:

First, from their first scene, Lucetta’s ‘Fire that’s closest kept burns most of all,’ then at the end of Act I, Proteus:

Thus have I sunn’d the fire for fear of burning,

And drench’d me in the sea, where I am drown’d.

As well as the ‘kindle fire with snow’ reference from this very scene.

Here’s a good use of music in the verse, still from Julia:

27            But when his fair course is not hindered,

28            He makes sweet music with the enamell’ed stones,

29            Giving a gentle kiss to every sedge

30            He overtaketh in his pilgrimage.

Sedge/pilgrimage is almost an Auden rhyme – it’s either very self-conscious, or she gets swept up in the ‘sweet music’ he’s making on the stones.

Good lord give Julia courage for the pain that’s sure to ensue from such a passionate promontory.

BB

, , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Website designed by Studio Two