“Nobody. I Myself”: Discovering What Passes Show

Joel B. Altman

in The Improbability of Othello

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780226016108
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226016122 | DOI:
“Nobody. I Myself”: Discovering What Passes Show

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  • Shakespeare Studies and Criticism


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Shakespeare's comic reflections on the psychology of mise-en-scène in A Midsummer Night's Dream open the way to think freshly about the function of rhetorical anthropology in his plays. The roles of Pyramus the lover, Thisby the lady, Thisby's mother, Pyramus's father, and Lion come ready-made in the actors' parts as originally represented in Quince's description. They are dramatis personae rather than characters. They become characters only when they are performed alongside Wall or before Ninny's tomb—that is, when time, place, and position hail them forth (qualify them, in the language of dialectical specification), for only in these particular circumstances do the actors find themselves situated and called upon to answer according to their capacities. In such represented situatings, can we find refractions of Shakespeare's practice of eliciting subject from self in the course of transforming plot to playbook?

Keywords: Shakespearean plays; Midsummer Night's Dream; dramatis personae; plot; dialectics; rhetorical anthropology

Chapter.  10224 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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