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

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University of Delaware Press, 1993 - 314 Seiten
"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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Inhalt

Bertram at Court
17
Fashioning the Courtier
24
The Courtiers Mirror and the Mirror of the Play
32
Vile Misprision
39
By Reflection
44
Providence
52
Honor and Alchemy
58
An Equivocal Companion
64
Merely Our Own Traitors
155
SelfBetrayal and Shame
166
Reflexivity or Revenge?
178
The Clown
185
One Flesh
191
Clown versus Court
196
Wisdom and Foolish Words
206
The Courtly Mirror
216

The Fines the Crown
70
The Luckiest Stars in Heaven
76
Helenas Love
87
Inspired Merit
97
Eros versus Providence
107
Too Dear for My Possessing
113
Shakespeare and the Book of Kings
123
Ahab
134
The Happy Few
144
The Tinct and Multiplying Medicine
224
Doubly Won
237
All Yet Seems Well
247
The Date of Alls Well
254
Notes
258
Works Cited
297
Index
305
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