By Ottaviano Bon, John Withers
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Could I find out The woman's part in mel For there's no motion That tends to vice in man but I affirm It is the woman's part. Be it lying, note it The woman's; flattering, hers; deceiving, hers; Lust and rank thoughts, hers, hers. . Fortunately for him, it turns out that in his case woman was not quite a "half-worker," since he was untimely snatched from his mother's womb—just such a man not born of woman as was Macduff in Macbeth or Julius Caesar first of all. It is Shakespeare's favorite quibble, though not such a quibble at last as it may first seem, since the boy whose mother dies bearing him grows up solely his father's son.
She constitutes, in fact, the sole principle of unity in a series of events otherwise rendered in all the formless confusion of the Lancastrian wars themselves. How sad, in light of all this, to see modern productions of Richard III which, heedlessly or ignorantly, cut her out, thus cheating us of that final confrontation of male and female as "hog" and "hag"—for so Shakespeare calls the humpbacked King and the aged Queen at last. In the final play of the tetralogy, the character who begins as the Duke of Gloucester and ends as Richard III remains, quite as Talbot was, an enemy to women, crying for drums and trumpets to drown them out when they rail at him ("Let not the Heavens hear these telltale women / Rail on the Lord's anointed"), and despising them when they capitulate to his evil charm ("Relenting fool, and shallow, changing woman").
Joan herself confesses the fact with a kind of pride on first meeting the Dauphin. And, whereas I was black and swart before, With those clear rays which she infused on me That beauty am I blessed with which you see. 6s THE STRANGER IN SHAKESPEARE It is the Blessed Virgin herself, "God's Mother. . in cdmplete glory," supreme symbol in die Christian world of divine womanhood, whom she claims as the source of her magical transformation. And, indeed, before that initial encounter is over, a whole gamut of mythological or semimythological females has been evoked, from classical antiquity and medieval hagiography as well as the Testaments, Old and New: Saint Katherine, Deborah, the Amazons, the "mother of Great Constantine," "Saint Philip's daughter," and at last the goddess of love herself.