Christy Desmet

in The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199566105
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature


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More recent attempts to recuperate literary character as a legitimate category for critical discussion generally move the discussion in one of three directions. The first attempts to define the concept of ‘character’ historically, to imagine early modern dramatic persons in relation to ‘real’ early modern persons as products of intersecting networks of discourse. The second, a form of neo-humanism, argues that there are ‘essential’ continuities in human experience which permit a direct moral identification between Shakespeare's audiences and his characters. The third can be described as a ‘rhetorical’ approach to literary character that seeks to define the social operations of language which informed early modern, and now contemporary, receptions of Shakespearean character. This article argues that the rhetorical approach is best suited to new experiences of Shakespearean character made possible in the age of computers.

Keywords: literary character; Shakespearean character; neo-humanism; moral identification; rhetorical approach

Article.  8342 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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