"Caparisoned like the horse": Tongue and Tail in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. [1] LaRue Love Sloan, University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Critics commenting on Petruchio's diseased horse have suggested that it reveals Petruchio to be a monster of household mismanagement (Heaney), that it implies Petruchio's transformation into a monstrous centaur (Roberts), or that it "counter[s] the more usual image where a horse and rider in concord exemplify the harmony of man and nature" (Hartwig 293). Using the Early Modern English Dictionaries Database (EMEDD) and a close reading, I argue that the groom's uncooperative, diseased horse represents Kate and that Petruchio portrays the surrogate Skimmington "husband," shamed by repeated failures to manage his horse/unruly intended. Virtually every detail of the horse's appearance has a secondary, bawdy meaning so that, in good Skimmington fashion, the horse represents female unruliness of both tongue and tail. In selecting a mount for his pre-emptive Skimmington, Petruchio constructs the Kate everyone expects to see-the lame Kate "reported" to be unchaste, the Kate who certainly will get the best of her foolish husband, not only by railing, but also by cuckolding him. Paradoxically, staging his own Skimmington enables Petruchio to pass himself off as a surrogate for the henpecked husband, an actor who but plays the role in jest. The future looks somewhat less promising for Kate, however. In or out of the Skimmington pageant, she remains a woman, and thus caparisoned like the horse.

Shakespeare and the Public Discourse of Sovereignty: “Reason of State” in Hamlet. [2] Anthony DiMatteo, New York Institute of Technology.

Hamlet marks a turning point in Shakespeare's evolving sense of his function as a dramatist. An implicitly critical social theory that recognizes the danger of a new "reason-of-state" terminology and its appeal to the English and European magistracy emerges in the play through symbolic emphases of plot and diction. These political undermeanings of the play, especially in the way it recalls Virgilian poetry, offer a contemporary lesson regarding the differences of dominium and imperium or dominion and domination. Preserving this distinction promotes the interests of the commoners, one reason why Shakespeare seems to violate standards of decorum by having gravediggers, pirates, clowns, jesters and witches exchanging freely with princes and kings. Establishing a jurisprudential agenda for such dramatic infractions, Hamlet announces and anticipates a prime focus of subsequent plays, especially the tragedies. The dangers that the discourse of the absolutist state presented to legal and moral conventions of contemporary thought are stressed in provocative ways. To understand how the plays, especially Hamlet, signal their relevance in this way to contemporary political thought, one must place them against a broad spectrum of early modern views regarding sovereignty and the state running from Machiavelli to Grotius and Hobbes. Within this historical framework, one aspect of the meanings of Hamlet that needs far more recognition becomes clear. The play sounds a tragic lament for a growing loss of the once widely held belief that the family of mankind has a natural ability to govern itself.

The Muse of Mount Orgueil: a reading of William Prynne’s poetry.[4] Paul D. Green.

The author of Histriomastix, the mortal enemy of Archbishop William Laud, the man in the stocks with Burton and Bastwick: these rank amongst William Prynne's chief claims to fame, and establish him as a major player in the historiogenesis of the Civil Wars. As an important agent in the Restoration of Charles II, as Keeper of Records in the Tower of London, and as a poet, he is less well known. The corpus of Prynne’s poems was printed in London after his fêted return there in 1641. With the exception of Edmund Miller's masterfully adroit and suggestive preface to his 1984 facsimile edition of the poems, critical response is restricted to a few passing references, and to Ethyn Williams Kirby’s biography, which allots the “stern and unlovely verse” a very brief page. The DNB dismisses Prynne's verses thus: “[r]hyme is the only poetical characteristic they possess”. I will argue that, despite the apparent limitations, many of the poems are not without merit. There is freshness and spontaneity in their formulation of correspondences between liber creaturum and liber scripturum, the books of Creation and of Scripture. Their mediaeval resonances, participating as they do in the traditions of contemptus mundi, are revivified in the dramatic contexts of Prynne's imprisonments and other hardships. In this essay, I will show how the poems give effectively the impression of an in vivo record of the stream of puritan consciousness. Further, through the stern unloveliness there emerges an engaging naiveté, co-existing strangely with a brave, pregnant and consummately ambiguous wit.

© 2004-, Matthew Steggle (Editor, EMLS).