Mentoring Ice Cream Social

On Wednesday, August 27 Honors will host an ice cream social!

This event is geared toward mentor / mentees and will begin right after dinner at 6:00 on the terrace of the Falcon Center. Be sure to come and bring your mentee/s with you!

Director's Talk for THE MANDRAKE

Honors will be sponsoring a Director's Talk with Dr. John O'Connor about The Mandrake.

Date: 16 October 2008
Time: 6:00 - Dinner / 7:30 Show
Place: 126 Education Building
Price: $20.00 Deposit



The Mandrake, written around 1518 when Florence had reverted to Medici rule, is set in 1504 during the republican interval so that the dramatist could criticize contemporary Florentine society without fear of further repercussions from patrons already ill-disposed towards him. The play's usual classification as an `erudite' comedy is due rather more to its formal elements than to any substantial derivation of its plot and characters from the classical Latin theatre of Plautus and Terence. The Mandrake begins with a chorus which, together with the four songs serving as intermezzos between the five acts, was added to the comedy for a performance planned for the carnival season of 1526. Sung by nymphs and shepherds, this opening chorus propounds the hedonistic theme of carpe diem (seize the day), fundamental both to much of Renaissance literature and to The Mandrake: since life is both short and fraught with woes, pleasure must be taken at every opportunity. The detached prologue, divided into two equal parts of four strophes each, serves as both an introduction to the play and a key to its interpretation.

After drawing attention to the originality of The Mandrake (` ... let our troupe commence/To play for you ... /A recent case that's something new') and identifying the setting as contemporary Florence, the prologue alludes to the principal characters in seemingly contradictory terms: the lawyer Nicia is `doltish'; the priest is `venal'; Callimaco Guadagni, outwardly noble and worthy of respect, is also a `wretched swain'; Lucrezia, although a `circumspect young wife', is also `hotly and at length pursued ... falsely wooed ... At last ... brought to bed ...'. Appearance, the prologue thus implies, may be deceptive, as the comedy itself then demonstrates. The focus of the second part of the prologue shifts from the comedy's constituent elements (characters, plot, themes) to the circumstances surrounding its composition. The prologue discloses that The Mandrake was written to distract the author, whose bitterness at having been excluded from the diplomatic and political life of Florence was further exacerbated by the Medici's indifference towards his political works The Prince and The Discourses. It is this particular frame of mind, as defined by the prologue, that determines the bitter cynicism which is the comedy's principal frame of reference.

In the first scene of the comedy, Machiavelli employs a conventional artifice in having Callimaco convey to the audience the drama's pre-textual situation as he recalls to Siro events with which his servant is already familiar. After a 20-year sojourn in Paris, 30-year-old Callimaco Guadagni has returned to his native Florence, attracted by the fabled beauty of Lucrezia Calfucci. All his expectations having been exceeded, Callimaco despairs of becoming her lover as she is also renowned for her chastity. His only hope for success lies in the fact that Lucrezia's wealthy husband of six years, Nicia, famed in his turn for his foolishness, is no less anxious than Lucrezia for an heir. Callimaco has secured the help of the parasite Ligurio, an acquaintance of Nicia's.

The rest of the plot (Acts II-V) centres on deceptions devised by Ligurio so that Callimaco may spend the night with Lucrezia. By ensuring the complicity of the three people closest to her, that is, those whose every effort should have been directed at protecting her virtue rather than betraying it (her confessor, Friar Timoteo, her husband, Nicia, and her mother, Sostrata), Machiavelli thus implicitly criticizes the three institutions, fundamental to society, which these three characters represent: the Church, marriage, the family.

On Ligurio's bidding, Callimaco pretends to be a celebrated Parisian doctor who specializes in curing infertility by means of a potion made from the root of the mandrake. Nicia agrees to administer it to Lucrezia, but is temporarily disconcerted when Callimaco points out that whoever first makes love to Lucrezia after her treatment is likely to die. The solution which Callimaco proposes serves his own interests if Nicia agrees to it: the first man to happen by will be placed forcibly in bed with her, instructed in what he is to do, and then released the following morning. Nicia's reluctance to be cuckolded in this way is overcome easily when Callimaco states that the king and nobles of France had no such scruples. Lucrezia's participation in this immoral scheme can only be secured by making Friar Timoteo their accomplice. Ligurio first tests the priest's probity by promising him money in return for his assistance in a fictitious enterprise: a young niece of Nicia's, entrusted to a local convent, is supposedly pregnant. Friar Timoteo is asked to take a potion to the abbess who, in turn, will administer it to the young woman to make her miscarry, thereby avoiding all scandal. By agreeing to help, Friar Timoteo discloses both the depth and breadth of the corruption in the religious community. (There are further references in the comedy to the general impiety of priests.)

With Friar Timoteo's complicity ensured, Sostrata agrees to accompany her reluctant daughter to the meeting with the priest. To his sophistical, captious reasoning (based on the Machiavellian philosophy that the end—here, the birth of a child—justifies the means—adultery and possibly homicide) Sostrata adds pragmatically that Lucrezia must have a child to guarantee her financial status should Nicia die.

The deception works flawlessly. Callimaco is overjoyed when Lucrezia, outraged at the betrayal perpetrated against her, cynically attributes it to divine will and resolves to remain Callimaco's lover, motivated as much by the desire to avenge herself against Nicia as to serve her own personal interests. Lucrezia, initially the sole morally incorrupt character in the comedy, ultimately adapts to a reality which she is powerless to oppose and far less to change. The Mandrake shows society and human nature as they are, without suggesting how they ought to be. It illustrates Machiavelli's belief that those endowed with the necessary virtù are able to overcome adverse circumstances. The bitter irony of The Mandrake is that virtue, in the English acceptation of the term, is lost in the process.

Prunster, Nicole. "The Mandrake: Overview." Reference Guide to World Literature. Ed. Lesley Henderson. 2nd ed. New York: St. James Press, 1995. Literature Resource Center. Gale. Fairmont State Univ. Fairmont, WV. 6 Aug. 2008 .



Title: Nickel and Dimed: On (NOT) Getting By in America
Author: Barbara Ehrenreich
ISBN: 9780805088380 OR 9780805063899

Because this book is being used for numerous Honors courses you may have it already! If not, you can pick up a copy of it in the FSU Bookstore or online!


Essayist and cultural critic Barbara Ehrenreich has always specialized in turning received wisdom on its head with intelligence, clarity, and verve. With some 12 million women being pushed into the labor market by welfare reform, she decided to do some good old-fashioned journalism and find out just how they were going to survive on the wages of the unskilled--at $6 to $7 an hour, only half of what is considered a living wage. So she did what millions of Americans do, she looked for a job and a place to live, worked that job, and tried to make ends meet.
As a waitress in Florida, where her name is suddenly transposed to "girl," trailer trash becomes a demographic category to aspire to with rent at $675 per month. In Maine, where she ends up working as both a cleaning woman and a nursing home assistant, she must first fill out endless pre-employment tests with trick questions such as "Some people work better when they're a little bit high." In Minnesota, she works at Wal-Mart under the repressive surveillance of men and women whose job it is to monitor her behavior for signs of sloth, theft, drug abuse, or worse. She even gets to experience the humiliation of the urine test.

So, do the poor have survival strategies unknown to the middle class? And did Ehrenreich feel the "bracing psychological effects of getting out of the house, as promised by the wonks who brought us welfare reform?" Nah. Even in her best-case scenario, with all the advantages of education, health, a car, and money for first month's rent, she has to work two jobs, seven days a week, and still almost winds up in a shelter. As Ehrenreich points out with her potent combination of humor and outrage, the laws of supply and demand have been reversed. Rental prices skyrocket, but wages never rise. Rather, jobs are so cheap as measured by the pay that workers are encouraged to take as many as they can. Behind those trademark Wal-Mart vests, it turns out, are the borderline homeless. With her characteristic wry wit and her unabashedly liberal bent, Ehrenreich brings the invisible poor out of hiding and, in the process, the world they inhabit--where civil liberties are often ignored and hard work fails to live up to its reputation as the ticket out of poverty. - From amazon.com

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