Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"I am tied to the stake, and I must stand the course."

An image from a map of London date 1572. These circular buildings, labeled “The Bowell Bay-tyng” and “The Beare baiting,” are south of the river, near the ground where the Rose and, eventually, the Globe were built.
In all of my Shakespeare courses, I make a big point of the popularity of the Renaissance theatre—but I always mention that going to hear a play (in Hamlet’s phrase) wasn’t the only popular entertainment of the time.

Bear baiting, for example, was quite as popular. Images of baiting even make their way into Renaissance drama. The quote above is from King Lear, but Macbeth (in Macbeth) also alludes to bear baiting:
They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly,
But, bear-like, I must fight the course. (V.vii.1-2)
Shakespeare has generally continued to be popular, I have argued, while bear baiting has slipped in popularity.

Fortunately, that’s mostly true. However, a diligent student happened upon this news story about attempts to curb the bear baiting traffic in Pakistan. According to the source, Pakistan is the only nation in which this practice continues.

I think we need to get some productions of Macbeth up in that country as quickly as possible! Anything to stop the baiting! STOP THE BAITING!

Thank you.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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