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What does Shakespeare mean in plain english

by tomishere
Tags: english, plain, shakespeare
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zoobyshoe
#19
Jan12-13, 06:04 PM
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Quote Quote by AlephZero View Post
Back on topic: why does the dialog have to mean anything at all? Isn't the scene about a bunch of retards pretending to be intellectuals?
Which "bunch" do you mean? The Royals or the Rude Mechanicals, or the participants in this thread?
tomishere
#20
Jan12-13, 09:14 PM
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zoobyshoe coincidentally ive been reading johnsons preface, ..i just jumped ahead to see notes on msnd but he doesnt notate that play for some reason. But he doees say in preface that shakespeares sources were common knowledge in his day..also that shakespeare's plays have a decided lack of in-jokes., and this is what largely contributes to the timelessness of his characters --at least this is what i get from johnson (its pretty dense reading fyi) ( i can provide the quotes if u are still interested in this topic) but despite that, i think the fox/lion/goose were allusions common then but lost on todays reader. I think thats what u said earlier anyway, no?
alephzero, the exchange is between the intellectuals; they are commenting on the retards, thats why i think the allusions must have made some sort of sense to an elizabethan audience.
ImaLooser
#21
Jan13-13, 03:50 AM
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Quote Quote by tomishere View Post
Its from midsummer nights dream, act 5 scene 1. Quince is giving his perfomamnce as a lion, and he has just assured the audience that he isnt really a lion, hes just acting one out.
So what i dont understand is the analogies that are used --fox, goose, valour, wisdom etc --- and how they all fit together. What are they saying in plain english?? (ive already looked at alot of other plain english versions but they are also confusing (to me)
thanks for any help

DEMETRIUS:
The very best at a beast, my lord, that e'er I saw.

LYSANDER:
This lion is a very fox for his valour.

THESEUS:
True; and a goose for his discretion.


DEMETRIUS:
Not so, my lord; for his valour cannot carry his
discretion, and the fox carries the goose.


THESEUS:
His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his valour;
for the goose carries not the fox. It is well. Leave it to his
discretion, and let us listen to the moon."

Geese are very noisy and aggressive birds, and not very smart. They haven't got any discretion, so the commentary is facetious. Comparing a person to a goose is implying that he-she is an empty-headed blabbermouth.

If a fox catches a goose it carries it in its mouth.

In those days conversation was much more of an art than today: they didn't have TV to entertain them, so witty repartee like this was prized.
zoobyshoe
#22
Jan13-13, 11:42 AM
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Quote Quote by tomishere View Post
zoobyshoe coincidentally ive been reading johnsons preface, ..i just jumped ahead to see notes on msnd but he doesnt notate that play for some reason.
Sorry to hear this. But I'm glad you checked.

But he doees say in preface that shakespeares sources were common knowledge in his day..also that shakespeare's plays have a decided lack of in-jokes., and this is what largely contributes to the timelessness of his characters --at least this is what i get from johnson (its pretty dense reading fyi) ( i can provide the quotes if u are still interested in this topic) but despite that, i think the fox/lion/goose were allusions common then but lost on todays reader. I think thats what u said earlier anyway, no?
Yes, I've read that preface, which is why I was confident in saying that, whatever the allusions meant, they would have been clear to his audience at the time.
Jimmy Snyder
#23
Jan13-13, 11:43 AM
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But they're clear today. They come from Aesop's fables.
Jimmy Snyder
#24
Jan13-13, 12:10 PM
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Perhaps he also had these in mind:
Fox and goose constellation.
Fox and goose song.
zoobyshoe
#25
Jan13-13, 12:13 PM
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Quote Quote by Jimmy Snyder View Post
But they're clear today. They come from Aesop's fables.
I've never read them. I'm aware from other sources that the fox is linked to cunning, craft, sneakiness. Therefore:

"This Lion is a very fox for his valor."

should mean that the lion's demonstrated bravery is actually a ruse. The thing is, Lion doesn't demonstrate either bravery or cowardice. What he actually demonstrates is concern; "good conscience."

These two responses make sense:

"THESEUS
A very gentle beast, of a good conscience.
DEMETRIUS
The very best at a beast, my lord, that e'er I saw."

but going on to call him a fox for his valor seems to miss the target.

Had the line been, "This lion is a very fox for his deceitfulness" then we could understand him to be being mocked for his conscience-ridden unwillingness to even try to deceive.
AlephZero
#26
Jan13-13, 12:49 PM
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Quote Quote by tomishere View Post
alephzero, the exchange is between the intellectuals; they are commenting on the retards
But as Zooby already pointed out: which are really the intellectuals, and which are really the retards?
256bits
#27
Jan13-13, 01:00 PM
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in a manner of saying, Shakespeare wrote tongue in cheek, and the audience of the day would have appreciated double meanings of phrases and words.

These two responses make sense:

"THESEUS
A very gentle beast, of a good conscience.
DEMETRIUS
The very best at a beast, my lord, that e'er I saw."
Do real beasts have a conscience? and are lions gentle?
DEMETRIUS is playing with the audience by stating that the performance is the best he has ever seen, meaning obviously the opposite - that the portrayal of the lion by the performer is beastly.


LYSANDER:
This lion is a very fox for his valour.

THESEUS:
True; and a goose for his discretion.
Foxes are timid, not brave.
I am not sure here whether by discretion shakespeare is referring to wisdom, which geese supposidly lack (in contrast to Mother Goose), or by the cackling off at nothing which geese seem to do.


DEMETRIUS:
Not so, my lord; for his valour cannot carry his
discretion, and the fox carries the goose.
This lion has shown no great bravery, yet a timid fox can catch a goose.( predator catching prey)

THESEUS:
His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his valour;
for the goose carries not the fox. It is well. Leave it to his
discretion, and let us listen to the moon."
this lion is certainly not wise enough to be brave.
Well, this lion is what he is.
we might as well listen to the moon than him.
zoobyshoe
#28
Jan13-13, 01:17 PM
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Quote Quote by 256bits View Post
in a manner of saying, Shakespeare wrote tongue in cheek, and the audience of the day would have appreciated double meanings of phrases and words.



Do real beasts have a conscience? and are lions gentle?
DEMETRIUS is playing with the audience by stating that the performance is the best he has ever seen, meaning obviously the opposite - that the portrayal of the lion by the performer is beastly.
I'm sorry but, "Duh."
Foxes are timid, not brave.
No. They are not known for either bravery or timidity. They are tricksters, crafty, cunning.
256bits
#29
Jan13-13, 01:25 PM
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The contrast with a lion and a fox, which is what shakespeare is doing here, he is contrasting bravery or valour of a lion with the timid( run away from a fight ) behavior of a fox., with what LYSANDER and THESEUS state.
Bravery does not contrast with being tricky, crafty, nor cunning in this exchange.

when DEMETRIUS and THESEUS exchange, then you can add in the cunning of the fox to catch the prey.

as I said Shakespeare uses the same word in different passages in a diferent meaning.

and the "Duh" seems an appropriate exclamation in the interpretaion of shakespeare, would you not agree.
zoobyshoe
#30
Jan13-13, 02:07 PM
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Quote Quote by 256bits View Post
The contrast with a lion and a fox, which is what shakespeare is doing here, he is contrasting bravery or valour of a lion with the timid( run away from a fight ) behavior of a fox...
You are imposing this "timid" behavior on the fox from nowhere. This is not the meme about foxes. The meme is: craft, cunning, skill.

There is no natural 'dipole,' as it were, composed of craftiness and timidity. Craftiness is not adopted to cover for, or make up for, timidity. A good con often requires great boldness. Craftiness might make up for an imbalance of physical strength, such as when Odysseus tricks the Cyclops, who is much too huge for him to directly fight, but you can't call Odysseus "timid" for not even trying. He's smart: knows his limitations, not timid.

Fox and the Crow: the fox gets the crow, perched high in the tree, to drop his piece of cheese by flattering him on his beautiful singing voice and asking him to sing something. The fox is certainly not afraid of the crow. He just can't reach him.
256bits
#31
Jan13-13, 03:17 PM
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This makes me wonder if after the show in Shakespeaer's time the audience debated after the performance on what the lines meant as is being done here . This is only one small passage in the play . Did the writer choose carefully his words and phrases or just had a natural gift. Intriguing.
tomishere
#32
Jan13-13, 11:11 PM
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256bits was that you who said something about "darwintunes" a while back?? if so, did you read the whole paper by any chance?
256bits
#33
Jan14-13, 02:37 PM
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Quote Quote by tomishere View Post
256bits was that you who said something about "darwintunes" a while back?? if so, did you read the whole paper by any chance?
in reference to what exactly, at the moment i do not recall darwintunes.


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