View Full Version : A very racy (but scholarly) interpretation of JC (this is probably PG13 or higher)

01-27-2008, 03:06 PM
Ok, take a deep breath. I blushed reading this, so be warned! :blush: In all seriousness, though, do you guys think this has any merit as an interpretation? I feel like some of these puns are quite a stretch. I think it would be hilarious if they staged the play with all of the words that she inserts in brackets included, though ;)

The article is "The Whore of Babylon and Shakespeare's Julius Caesar" by Barbara L. Parker.

Here is her basic thesis: "It is this concept-prodigious or unnatural love--which, I will argue, constitutes the subtextual theme of the play. Conveyed primarily through a pervasive pattern of sexual puns, this theme is part of a larger satire on papal Rome, with Caesar the parodic savior or Antichrist."

Here is an excerpt:

Caesar's marital frigidity is affirmed in his dialogue with Decius, which pointedly juxtaposes that with Calphurnia. The conspirators' chief concern is "Whether Caesar will come . . . to-day" (II.i.194), a double entendre repeated six times in the first fifteen lines of dialogue between Decius and Caesar. Caesar, however, declines to "come," not, he insists, because he "cannot" or "dare not" but because he "will not" (II.ii.62-4). Caesar qualifies this refusal with a further sequence of sexual puns that, together with Decius's explication of Calphurnia's dream, reveal the full significance of Caesar's "femaleness." Caesar claims that the cause of his refusal is in his "will" (penis) and that this reason should "satisfy" (sexually gratify) the Senate. However, for Decius's "private [genital] satisfaction," and because, as he assures Decius, "I love you," he reveals Calphurnia's dream of his statue...

...Caesar's phallic enormity is at once the root of Cassius's jealousy ("Such men as he be never at heart's ease / Whiles they behold a greater than themselves" [I.ii.205-6]) and of Caesar's political power. "Common suitors" (II.iv. 35; the phrase applies equally to the patricians), attracted by his hugeness, perpetually throng around him, jockeying for his favor in a ceaseless ritual of Petrarchan adulation. The journey to the Capitol is accordingly construed as a series of rival solicitations, all of which Caesar, true to his vow of sexual abstinence, rejects. The first is that of Artemidorus:

Here will I stand [maintain an erection] till Caesar pass along, And as a suitor [wooer] will I give him this.

The missive is signed "Thy lover, Artemidorus" (II.iii.7-10).[18] Caesar, however, insists that "What touches [erotically caresses] us ourself shall be last serv'd" (III.i.8), a statement presaging his posthumous union with the mob. He likewise declines the "suits" of Trebonius (III.i.4-5), Metellus Cimber (III.i.33-5), Brutus (III.i.52-4; note also II.iv. 42-3), and Cassius (III.i.55-7), all conceived in Petrarchan terms: Brutus kisses Caesar's hand and Metellus proffers "curtsies" and "sweet words" (III.i.42-3), Metellus, Cassius, and Brutus each bowing or kneeling to Caesar in a show of abject adoration (III.i.36, 56, 75).

The article is quite long, but if you would like more of it, I would be happy to post it. She talks about the "group marriage of the Conspirators" and the "Friends, Romans, Countrymen" speech as "subtextually replicat[ing] all the stages of the sex act, from arousal to coitus to orgasm."

All I can say is...oh my goodness

01-27-2008, 05:20 PM
The article is "The Whore of Babylon and Shakespeare's Julius Caesar" by Barbara L. Parker.

The article is quite long, but if you would like more of it, I would be happy to post it.
It's very interesting to read *your* thoughts on this article :) but please bear in mind copyright issues (http://www.online-literature.com/forums/showpost.php?p=423882&postcount=3), which apply to Parker's article (http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0039-3657(199521)35%3A2%3C251%3ATWOBAS%3E2.0.CO%3B2-2).

01-27-2008, 06:13 PM
Oh, of course. I did not mean that I would post the entire article, only other quotes/passages. It is about 20 pages long, so I really couldn't post anywhere close to all of it. I'm sorry if I spoke carelessly. I will not post more though, and If I've already posted too much, I'm very sorry. I would be happy to pare it down. I simply wanted to discuss her ideas, and I didn't feel that it would be fair to do so without giving everyone at least some sense of her style and general form of argumentation. I feel that Parker is over interpreting much of Shakespeare's language, and so I was concerned that in paraphrasing I would not give her argument as strong a voice as she has given it. I believe that Shakespeare was extremely clever and gifted at constructing double entendres, but that when Artimidorus said "here will I stand," that is truly all that he intended to imply. It raises an interesting question for me, though. How can you ever know if subtex is imagined or real?

Sorry again