Shakespearean sensations : experiencing literature in early modern England

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Hillary M. She situates the experience of hunger prompted by comic drama as a financially invested mode of theatrical impact, stimulating desire for items in fact distributed by vendors at plays. More substantially, however, Nun argues that as audience members identify with forms of hunger or deprivation experienced by characters on stage, and find themselves all too close to temptations or satisfactions nearby, they are brought into the drama as participants in moral dilemmas integral to representations of food onstage. Two essays in particular, however, take the topic of movement on as a central focus.

The brilliant afterword by Bruce R. Smith suggests as much.

Shakespearean Sensations should be of interest to students and scholars of Shakespeare, emotion and early modern literary, philosophical, medical, religious, humanist and urban cultures. Related Papers. Edited by Katharine A. By Adam Rzepka. Passionate Playgoing in Early Modern England. Neither you, nor the filmmakers you was it with will hear interesting to refresh it above. Please be in to believe your review.

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Book Shakespearean Sensations : Experiencing Literature In Early Modern England

You can preserve; be a first catalog. The word in Shakespeare is usually tamer than it is today, though it is frequently related not just to aversion and avoidance but also to awe and submission, especially with regard to sovereign authority. Powerful officials are dread lords, meaning I think dreaded lords, but dreaded for the right reason; they are powerful; they command paramilitary retinues and legal privileges; and they can do you harm.

One dreads what cannot be avoided, because it is the law, but one wants to avoid it all the same, since it is, well, dreadful. I have not put them on the list, but I remark that these terms are part our languages of fear; and if we say that a Shakespearean character or poetic speaker is worried, solicitous, or inhibited we are not necessarily wrong. As for inhibition, the psychological sense of the word familiar to us today of an inner restraint, related to a conscious or unconscious fear of what would happen if one were not restrained, was not available to Shakespeare.

We should be wary of that. They are not clinical terms, but they are much with us today. They are so much with us today, since the French Terror, the invention of horror fiction, the coming of horror movies, the terrorist movements of the nineteenth and twentieth century, and all the publicity that terrorism today both seeks and finds, that they can only with caution be used to describe a Shakespearean phenomenon. However, Shakespeare himself uses the words, and with some consistency.

As for terror, most dictionaries define it as being merely a heightened degree of fear regarding it as an umbrella term ; but terror is traditionally associated, in many European languages, with a fear that makes one tremble.


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Adriana Cavarero, who has written at length on the subject, adds that this trembling is a motor force, sending the body into motion in reaction to a perceived danger. A terrified person is apt to flee. As for horror, Cavarera goes on to say, if terror is about trembling, horror is about bristling; it is about the hair on the back of your head sticking out. More important to the meaning, though, even for Cavarero, is the association of horror with aversion or disgust. Cavarero contrasts horror with terror by adding that if terror makes one flee, the disgust of horror leads to paralysis.

If I am terrified, I may well find myself paralyzed. If I am horrified, I may well flee the scene. Especially with the word terror, Shakespeare prefers to use it for the cause rather than the effect, often applied to powerful magnates. The guilt being great, the fear doth still exceed; And extreme fear can neither fight nor fly, But coward-like with trembling terror die The Rape of Lucrece, O horrible! Most horrible! In brief, awe is in the first instance a combination of fear and reverence. But note again, like terror and horror, awe can refer either to a subjective state or to the object that causes it.

The awe of God or King is at once part of what it means to be God or a King and part of what it means to experience what God or a King are — to me.

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But the concept of awe is precisely what Cassius contests in Julius Caesar , speaking to Brutus:. I was born free as Caesar; so were you 1. The idea is that one cannot be in awe of someone to whom one is equal, especially if one knows exactly what one is. It is important to note these expressions because they indicate that fear is not just a substantive, but also a part of the grammar of emotions.

And sometimes, with these expressions, the concept of fear merges with the concept of being sorry. That is, the expression indicates a concession to the one who is spoken too. These expressions mark a kind of hesitation, mixed with uncertainty on the one hand and dread of a bad outcome on the other. They avoid committal, and they incline toward politeness — that is, toward saying not what one means, but rather saying a little bit less than one means for the sake of propriety, congeniality and safety.

And then there is a locution that indicates that one should be ready for something that one may fear: wariness, as in to be wary, or more plainly, sometimes, beware. I hardly need mention the wariness that Caesar is supposed to feel about the Ides of March.

Wariness, it would seem, is a self-defensive state of mind. A problem comes when we think we are using a univocal term. Another problem comes when we think that in referring to an affect like fear, we are referring to only an affect, only a subjective condition. Such an idea indicates a bias at least as old as William James, if not Descartes, where the affective life is psychological life, and psychological life is rooted in the physiology of the body.

Such an idea also correlates with a bias as old as Plato but that is especially pertinent today, in this age of neoliberalism, where phenomena like emotions are understood to be subjective states subject to management and therapeutic intervention. I do not, as I have indicated, object to using terms from today to describe phenomena in Shakespeare.

But I think we need to be cautious in how we use them. We need to be especially cautious about thinking that just because we have landed on a medical term and its analysis that Shakespeare may have been familiar with, we have an infallible key to Shakespearean discourse. Shakespeare can well regard the fears of his dramatis personae as being in some sense sick, or at least expressive of a character flaw.

But that is only the beginning. He may also have them and his speakers in poetry distinguish between fears of present danger and fears for a danger to come. He may show characters and poetic subjects suffering from cowardice in the face of minor evils and anxiety in the face of they know not what. He may show them terrified or horrified, or awestruck by the power of magnates or the supernatural.

He can show them obsessive or in panic. He can show them engaging in a grammar of fear partly out of respect for their interlocutors and partly out of respect for their own uncertainties. For Shakespeare also consistently shows the varieties of fears as being bound with social, political and moral life, with concepts of justice, virtue, inequality, spiritual dignity and the historical moment.

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I have already noted a few varieties of the concept of fear in the Hamlet play. The idea is not new. Kierkegaard made the claim, saying that Hamlet suffered from religious doubt and all that entailed, including an inescapable sense of original sin, and of bearing the responsibility for a crime he did not commit. Are we wrong to think that way? Again, simulations of these conditions are what is at stake, not the real thing. And he does so by underscoring the non-anxious forms of fear that Hamlet does not suffer. Am I a coward? Who calls me villain?