Shakespeare's Courtly Mirror: Reflexivity and Prudence in All's Well that Ends Well

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University of Delaware Press, 1993 - 314 pagini
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"A leading premise of Haley's book is that modern psychological constructs are inadequate for understanding the courtly humanism dramatized by Shakespeare down to 1604. Renaissance culture knows nothing of the bourgeois subject of Locke, Freud, and Lacan. Shakespeare defines aristocratic identity in epic terms and presents not an autonomous individual but a hero whose persona is determined publicly in the "courtly mirror." That exemplary mirror, from Henry IV to Measure for Measure, reflects the heroic actions of rulers and courtiers. The historical self-awareness of Henry, Hal, and Brutus assumes a more contemporary aspect in the courtly self-consciousness of Hamlet, Duke Vincentio, and the three main characters of All's Well That Ends Well: Bertram, Helena, the King." "The "reflexivity" in the title does not indicate the self-referentiality of language, nor does it refer to the traditional paradigm of consciousness implying stable self-knowledge. Courtly reflexivity is oriented toward praxis rather than introspection. Before taking action, the courtier or cortigiana - Helena is a good example - knows only that (s)he is not what (s)he is. The courtier's deliberation is guided by a reflexive, self-regulating prudence that is usually identified with honor or love. In All's Well, Shakespeare contrasts this self-providence or heroic prudence with Divine Providence, but he does so obliquely. While focusing exclusively upon a court which prizes worldly action, he sustains his contrast through a series of ironical allusions to Scripture." "Beginning with a prologue on the problems raised by structural and theatrical interpretations of Bertram's role, Haley goes on to introduce his concept of reflexivity by way of an exchange with the new literary historicism. Chapters 1 to 3 follow the courtly debate over providence and honor, through Helena's triumph in act 2 to Bertram's deserting her. The collapse of her providential design coincides with the crisis of the sick King's honor - a crisis which Shakespeare describes alchemically, implying that alchemy, understood as reflexive chemistry, offers another mirror of the courtier's self-providence." "Chapter 4, the center of the book, brings together historical providence and Boccaccian prudence (avvedimento) in the figure of Ahab, with whom Shakespeare compares both Bertram and the Hal of Henry V. Chapters 5 to 7 pursue Shakespeare's ironic parallel between biblical Providence and courtly prudence, examining specific scenes of self-judgment and self-betrayal in the Henriad and Measure for Measure, as well as in All's Well."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Merely Our Own Traitors
SelfBetrayal and Shame
Reflexivity or Revenge?
The Clown
One Flesh
Clown versus Court
Wisdom and Foolish Words
The Courtly Mirror

The Fines the Crown
The Luckiest Stars in Heaven
Helenas Love
Inspired Merit
Eros versus Providence
Too Dear for My Possessing
Shakespeare and the Book of Kings
The Happy Few
The Tinct and Multiplying Medicine
Doubly Won
All Yet Seems Well
The Date of Alls Well
Works Cited
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Pagina 79 - Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie, Which we ascribe to heaven : the fated sky Gives us free scope; only, doth backward pull Our slow designs, when we ourselves are dull.
Pagina 116 - Farewell ! thou art too dear for my possessing, And like enough thou know'st thy estimate : The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing ; My bonds in thee .are all determinate.
Pagina 155 - Dangerous it were for the feeble brain of man to wade far into the doings of the Most High; whom although to know be life, and joy to make mention of his name; yet our soundest knowledge is, to know that we know him not as indeed he is, neither can know him ; and our safest eloquence concerning him, is our silence, when we confess without confession, that his glory is inexplicable, his greatness above our capacity and reach. He is above, and we upon earth; therefore it behoveth our words to be wary...
Pagina 170 - The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together: our virtues would be proud if our faults whipped them not ; and our crimes would despair if they were not cherished by our virtues.
Pagina 160 - Could trammel up the consequence, and catch With his surcease success : that but this blow Might be the be-all and the end-all here, But here, upon this bank and shoal of time, We'd jump the life to come. But in these cases We still have judgment here ; that we but teach Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return To plague the inventor ; this even-handed justice Commends the ingredients of our poison'd chalice To our own lips.
Pagina 153 - t, my lord. [Exit. K. Hen. 0 God of battles ! steel my soldiers' hearts! Possess them not with fear ; take from them now The sense of reckoning, if the opposed numbers Pluck their hearts from them ! — Not to-day, O Lord, O not to-day, think not upon the fault My father made in compassing the crown...
Pagina 57 - Ham. Sir, in my heart there was a kind of fighting-, That would not let me sleep : methought, I lay Worse than the mutines in the bilboes.* Rashly, And prais'd be rashness for it, — Let us know, Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well, When our deep plots do pall : and that should teach us. There's a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-hew them how we will.* Hor.
Pagina 37 - God! that one might read the Book of Fate, And see the revolution of the times Make mountains level, and the continent, Weary of solid firmness, melt itself Into the sea : and, other times, to s'ee The beachy girdle of the ocean Too wide for Neptune's hips...

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